Archive for October, 2010

A life in the service of others

29/10/2010

Truly beautiful.

Burke speaks

29/10/2010

Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke speaks correctly, however he fails to realise that the GOP have done nothing to stop abortions on a national stage – and nor will they, despite their rhetoric – as most people believe this.

Burke also speaks about homosexuality as those who “suffer from this attraction”  he says that they should “correct in themselves” this orientation, however that goes against the Church’s teaching which says people are born that way – top marks for consistancy.

As if that wasn’t enough Rocco points out that there is talk of “another consistory of elevation could be held by the end of 2011″. He continues saying fascinatingly, that “ten more conclave seats will open in 2011. Another 13 cardinals reach the ineligibility age of 80 in 2012, with an additional 10 in 2013. As a result, having already chosen 50 voting red-hats since his 2005 election, by his eighth year on Peter’s chair, B16 could choose 70% of the Conclave that will elect his successor”.

Reality bites

26/10/2010

Last week the future of the UK Armed Forces was decided for many years to come. The Coalition government that was elected in May is being forced to introduce massive spending cuts due to the previous Government’s gross incompetence.

The Ministry of Defence itself has said that it will save £4.3 billion over the next four years, in addition to the delaying of the Trident nuclear weapons system until 2015. Regarding service equipment and personnel 7,000 jobs will be lost in the Army while 5,000 will go in the Royal Navy with a further 5,000 in the RAF. In addition to this there will be 25,000 civilian jobs lost at the MoD. In terms of equipment, the RAF will lose the Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft programme, the entire Harrier jump-jet fleet will be scrapped also.

Meanwhile in the UK National Security Strategy, the first since 1998, was released last week. It gave public priority to cyberwarfare/cybercrime, with an extra £500 million going to the security services to stop leaks and enhance security in government computers. The “UK’s communications intelligence agency GCHQ gave some indication of the scale of the problem when it revealed that each month more than 20,000 ‘malicious’ e-mails were sent to government networks, of which 1,000 were deliberately targeted at them”.

While these cuts may be extremely painful they is little other choice. However, other more old fashioned threats have not gone away. The same article ominously notes how “Admiral Lord West, who was the country’s first cyber security minister, said the UK faced co-ordinated cyber attacks ‘on a regular basis’ from other countries including Russia and China”.

While thr UK will be without an aircraft carrier that will be able to carry aircraft until 2020. Prime Minster David Cameron said  “Britain has traditionally punched above its weight in the world, and we should have no less ambition for our country in the decades to come, but we need to be more thoughtful, more strategic and more co-ordinated in the way we advance our interests and protect our national security”.  Putting the political rhetoric aside, can the UK seriously claim to be a world power, or is this the culmination of the process that began at the end of the Second World War with the rapid collapse of the British Empire?

With the cuts that are being implemented, apart from the delayed renewal of Trident, it would seem that the UK has joined a club of middle ranking powers with nuclear weapons such as France. However is was theorised that in order to use the cliche and “punch above weight” the UK supposedly “will do this by recognising the general alignment of interests it feels with the United States and aiming to keep its Armed Forces above a threshold that the US takes seriously”.

Importantly there is an appreciation that “the generally benign conditions of a decade ago may be wearing off quickly. Destabilising wars in places that matter to us; the loss of political influence in regions from which we buy energy; the prospect of renewed military competition, after a 30-year interregnum, between the great and emerging powers of the world, where Britain will have to decide on its loyalties – all of these affect the national interest and provide reasons for keeping forces geared to high tempo operations”.   

Yet with the acknowledgement that things will not be so rosy in the future, the UK is in the awkward position of having to choose between further and deeper EU integration, in which case it will be handing over more of its sovereignty, or closer links with the United States, principally in the form of NATO. However,  Hillary Clinton sent out warnings recently that while the UK is meeting its NATO obligations in the form of 2% of GDP spending on defence, other nations are unwilling/unable to meet even this target. Some have even questioned the future of NATO itself envisioning a senario where the organisation could drift into irrelevance with America supporting it more than it currently does.  

If the major European NATO members don’t change course in the next few years then they will cease to be be effective at all and will punch according to their weight, if even that, and could just be bystanders in future conflicts between East and West.

If only……..

25/10/2010

What an excellent idea. Apparently “The town’s council also wants to ban men and women from wearing low-slung jeans as part of a list of 41 new rules that ‘every good citizen must respect'”, the article goes on to say “The centre-Right mayor, Luigi Bobbio, said it was all part of an effort to ‘restore urban decorum and improve coexistence’ by targeting people who were ‘rowdy, unruly or simply badly behaved'”.

Decline of the West?

24/10/2010

The West as we know it seems to be collapsing in on its own greed, individualism and immorality.

This is being witnessed most dramatically in France currently with most of the major cities seeing riots and destruction on a vast scale all beacuse President Sarkozy wants to raise that retirement age from 60 to……….62. The protests were “accompanied by job stoppages and a growing number of service stations running out of gasoline as a strike at France’s 12 oil refineries went into a seventh day”. Part of these strikes and protests is the French doing what the French do best, strike, but the measure has all but passed the French legislature. 

Now however the government must crack down hard on these protesters who seem to be living in a different universe, totally detached from reality, and restore order and end the destruction of public and private property such as the “middle school in the city of Le Mans [that] burned down overnight following a student protest during which the gates to the school were blocked”, not only that “youths threw petrol bombs at police outside a school in another Paris suburb, Combes-la-Ville, police said. In Lyon, hooded youngsters burned at least three cars they had overturned during clashes with riot police”.

In addition to the French protests, people in Athens “Dozens of workers had shut down the Acropolis on Wednesday morning, demanding two years of back pay.They had barricaded themselves inside, padlocked the entrance gates and refused to allow in tourists.The protesters said they intended to blockade the Acropolis, Greece’s most famous tourist attraction, until 31 October. They have vowed to return to the site on Friday.Greece has seen waves of strikes and protests over austerity measures agreed by the government to in order to secure a huge bail-out from eurozone countries”. While the workers in Greece should be owned what is due to them, it must not come at the expense of the common good.

What is interesting to note however is that such demonstrations would not be tolerated in China where the state is extremely centralised with a role in much of what people do as well as the economic life of what is fast becoming an increasingly powerful country. There is great stablilty, for now, in China with a new leader expected to take power in 2012. How long this powerful and highly cetralised state will last into the future is unknown, but what is clear is that it is a model that the Chinese are exporting with great success to countries like Russia and Cuba.

Consistory 2010:the names

20/10/2010

The names of those to be elevated on 20 November in order of precedence:

  • Angelo Amato SDB, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
  • Antonio Naguib, patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts
  • Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum
  • Franceso Monterisi, archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
  • Fortunato Baldelli, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary
  • Raymond Leo Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
  • Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
  • Paolo Sardi, pro-patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta
  • Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy
  • Velasio de Paolis CS, president of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs of the Holy See
  • Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture
  • Medardo Joseph Mazombwe, archbishop emeritus of Lusaka
  • Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, archbishop emeritus of Quito
  • Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa
  • Paolo Romeo, archbishop of Palermo
  • Donald William Wuerl, archbishop of Washington DC
  • Raymundo Damesceno Assis, archbishop of Aparcedia
  • Kazimierz Nycz, archbishop of Warsaw
  • Malcom Rajith, archbishop of Colombo
  • Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich

Non voting:

  • Jose Manuel Estepa Llaaurens, archbishop emeritus of the Military Ordinarate of Spain
  • Elio Sgreccia, president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life
  • Msgr Walter Brandmuller, president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences
  • Msgr Domenico Bartolucci, maestro emeritus of the Sistine Chapel

There are twenty cardinal electors who by the date of the consistory on 20 November will take the number of the College of Cardinals to 121, one above the limit set by Paul VI. What is notable is to have two emeriti on the list, the emeritus of Lusaka will  be 80 next August, not only that those that did not make the list are notable, Francesco Coccopalmerio, Antonio Maria Vegliò, Claudio Maria Celli who were are all serving before the appointments of Cardinals-designate Piacenza, Sarah and Koch. Those archbishops from dioceses that did not make the list this time around include,  John Dew, Braulio Rodriguez Plaza, Giuseppe Betori and Peter Takeo Okada.

What is also interesting is that some of the names of the curialists are not strictly in order of precedence of their dicastary, for example Archbishop Sarah is above Archbishop Piacenza.

These names are not cardinals and should the pope die tomorrow they have no rights to enter the conclave, they are  cardinals-designate.

Dangers of the herd

19/10/2010

Moving to secular politics for now, tomorrow’s a different story, the Irish “government” is floundering waiting for spring when it can call early elections.

Recent polls show that voters are “deeply pessimistic about the future of the economy and a majority does not think an alternative government would do any better”. This reflects, not only a justified pessimism but also the fact that humans swing from deep despair to extreme happiness, also the fact that there is, especially in times of upheaval a herd mentality and an increased sense of the loss of rational thought. The article notes how people “Asked if they thought a change of government would improve the economic situation or have no impact on it, 45 per cent said it would have no impact, 39 per cent said it would improve the situation, 6 per cent thought it would make thinks worse and 10 per cent had no opinion”.

This shows little change from the fact that most people in Ireland can’t see any difference between the two main party leaders and thus the result is that “Two fifths of voters do not want either Brian Cowen or Enda Kenny as taoiseach [prime minster]”.

Things are not helped by the fact the the current incumbent is either wholly incompentent or deeply indecisive. Only when the Irish party system collapses and is reborn for the twentienth century (no, not an error) will any semblance of order begin.

Consistory 2010:possible names

18/10/2010

The creation of new cardinals has at last been confirmed. The announcement will take place on Wednesday after the General Audience. While there is no sure way of knowing exactly who will be chosen people can take an educated guess. Below is a list of 21 electors who will get a red hat eventually, and who should be chosen this time around, but some of those listed here might not make it. Formally there will only be 19 vacancies in the electoral college come the day of the consistory next month. As has been said here before, Pope Benedict, should exceed this limit and include the six cardinals who reach 80 by 11 April 2011 and give himself more slots to fill for this consistory rather than having to wait.  

  • Angelo Amato SDB, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
  • Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy
  • Fortunato Baldelli, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary
  • Raymond Leo Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
  • Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
  • Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts 
  • Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture
  • Velasio De Paolis CS, president of the Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
  • Francesco Monterisi, archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
  • Paolo Sardi, pro-patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta & vice-camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church
  • Józef Kowalczyk, archbishop of Gniezno & primate of Poland
  • Donald William Wuerl, archbishop of Washington D.C.
  • John Dew, archbishop of Wellington  
  • Braulio Rodriguez Plaza, archbishop of Toledo & primate of Spain
  • Giuseppe Betori, archbishop of Florence
  • Paolo Romeo, archbishop of Palermo
  • Thomas Christopher Collins, archbishop of Toronto
  • Peter Takeo Okada, archbishop of Tokyo
  • Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa
  • Albert Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo
  • Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich 

The above is just an educated guess, there are also (theortically limitless)  possibilities of creations of those over 80 who will be unable to vote but whom Benedict wishes to thank for their service to the Church. Among the names mentioned are Msgr Walter Brandmuller, president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences and Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life. These names, like those to be cardinal-electors are however solely at the discretion of the pope so chosing exactly who will be named is difficult. Other possibilities have already been listed here.

Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

17/10/2010

On this the Twenty first Sunday after Pentecost there is a beatiful Gospel, the parable of the Unforgiving Servant:

The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who would take an account of his servants. And when we had begun to take the account, one was brought to him that owed him ten thousand talents: and as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. But that servant falling down, besought him saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And the lord of that servant, being moved with pity, let him go; and forgave him the debt. But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow-servants that owed him a hundred pence: and laying hold of him, he throttled him, saying: Pay what thou owest. And his fellow-servant falling down besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not; but went and cast him into prison till he paid the debt. Now his fellow-servants, seeing what was done, were very much grieved; and they came and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him, and saith to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me; shouldst not thou then have compassion also on thy fellow-servant, even as I had compassion on thee? And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers, until he paid all the debt. So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.
 

We should take a number of lessons from this, firstly ten thousand talents was an enormous sum of money, it is difficult to place a figure in today’s currency, but some have suggested $3 billion. To forgive this debt, the king, God, shows how much he loves the servant even though he has done nothing to deserve his mercy and love. Yet at the same time God shows justice when he punishes the servant for not forgiving a much smaller debt.

It is a valuable reminder that we must forgive each other while at the same time remember that enternal and infinite love of God for each one of us.

Mixed feelings

17/10/2010

There is a certain amout of respect that should be given to the Tea Party. However recent developments have done little to endear their cause to the people during the upcoming midterms.

Carl Paladino, who is running to become governor of New York, has made some misinformed statements about homosexuality when he said “That’s not how God created us”.  He was attempting to distance himself from his rival who once took his daughters to a gay pride parade. Mr Paladino however made a fair point when  he said that “‘They wear these little Speedos and they grind against each other and it’s just a terrible thing,’ he said. ‘Why would you bring your children to that?'” His other remarks that he doesn’t want his children “brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option – it isn’t” are ill informed and dangerous and belie an ignorance that is unsettling for someone trying to reach high office.  Former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani said “He should recognize his remarks were highly offensive and he should apologize for them”.

The article makes the point that the remarks of Paladino highlight a steady “trend for eccentric or offensive comments in the current election cycle, which has been attributed to the appearance of inexperienced candidates, mostly under the Tea Party banner”.

The recent remarks of Christine O’Donnell in Delware’s senate election of how her opponent, Chris Coons, is “a Marxist” underscore a trend that will only continue. In the debate with Coons, O’Donnell was asked which Supreme Court decision she disagreed with, to which she replied that “Right off the top of my head, I know that there are a lot, but I’ll put it up on my Web site, I promise you”. Mr Coons replied to the question immediately, citing Citizens United v Federal Election Commission.

The Tea Party should be admired for staunchly supporting their, some would say, uncompromising belief in a reasonably well defined set of principles. Yet their repeated and well documented gaffes, coupled with their policy inexperence, only harm their cause and therefore their ideology.

There is a case for the party, at a regional level at the very least, to select its own candidates rather than have peddlers of such dangerous populism chosen by the people themselves. If the party is unable or unwilling to do this then the two party of system in the United States has ceased to work, and other parties should be formed with a party list system as the mode of voting.

Two sides of the same coin?

15/10/2010

In a scathing piece on the departure of General Jim Jones as President Obama’s NSA David Rothkopf describes how Gen Jones “will go down in history as the least successful national security advisor since Adm. John Poindexter”. Jones was planning to leave after the midterms but his departure was sped up for Jones’ sake.

Rothkopf goes on to say how President Obama hired him on the logic that Jones was a military man, but Rothkopf points out that “military experience is no guarantee of success in the job. Poindexter’s predecessor, Robert MacFarlane, also had an extensive military background, and he was another disaster”.  He points out how the model of the NSA is “Scowcroft [who] came into office with a deep, personal relationship with the president. Jones and Obama, aloofness squared, never got there”.

He goes on to laud Scowcroft as “an extraordinary man. No one who ever had the job worked harder. No one was smarter. No one had a better, more nuanced worldview, and I include in that Scowcroft’s boss when he was deputy, Henry Kissinger, who was almost certainly the second-best national security advisor ever”. Well into the article Rothkopf rightly brings in some nuance, noting how Obama was very inexperienced with little or no formal foreign policy experience to speak of, “He [Obama] didn’t know what he wanted. He vacillated on key issues. He simply demonstrated the problems America repeatedly has when it hires men with no foreign-policy background to take on the most important international job in the world”. He makes the point the Obama whether on purpose or by accident had his “campaign foreign-policy deputies to continue to report directly to him, and this led to some public and private backdooring of Jones that undercut his authority”.

Turning to Tom Donilon as the incoming NSA, he makes the point that Obama has a much better relationship with him but as has been mentioned, Donilon has no military experience whatsoever. Obama seems to have gone from one extreme to the other with his appointment of Donilon. As Rothkopf says “The question is whether he will imprint the process with his own stamp or whether he has been hired to make the memos run on time, eliminate controversy, and fade into the woodwork”. Fairly however he argues that “Just because Donilon has never done anything to suggest that he was a policy guru or someone who could regularly stand up to a president doesn’t mean he can’t do it”.

Stephen Walt on his blog asks if Donilon has “expressed an interesting or novel foreign policy idea, or shown that he has a larger vision for what the United States’ position and strategy ought to be”. Not only that he asks if “Donilon [has] ever taken a position that involved some level of moral courage? Has he ever done or said anything that might be regarded as controversial inside the Beltway?”.

This shows the importance of having the right personnel not just in officialdom but everywhere.

World peace imminent

13/10/2010

We can all relax, the UN Security Council is more balanced. America can take five, supposedly.

The trouble with capitalism, again

12/10/2010

Profit before morality.

It’s back

12/10/2010

Last Sunday at his Angelus, it was noticed that something had changed. And a welcome change at that, after five years of this, the tiara’s back to its rightful place.

Other news suggests that there maybe a consistory in November, or maybe not. What should just be done is include those replacements for cardinals that turn 80 in the first half of next year (Bernard Cardinal Panafieu, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Agustín Cardinal García-Gasco Vicente, Camillo Cardinal Ruini, William Henry Cardinal Keeler and Sergio Cardinal Sebastiani) in the consistory in November rather than having to wait until June next year.

Problem solved…………………..

Party funding and the quality of discourse

10/10/2010

On this day 10/10/10, with the midterms only a few weeks away it seems increasingly likely, barring any dramatic upsets that the Dems will lose the House next month. 

However, Andrew Sullivan, ever fawning on President Obama, does interestingly makes the point that Obama’s poll numbers are “pretty stable” and indeed slightly better than President Reagan’s were before the 1982 midterms where the GOP lost twenty eight seats in the House.   

In related developments it was well reported that the elections of this year are breaking all spending records. It would appear that the “amount spent on midterm campaigns will by one estimate surpass $4 billion, easily passing the previous record of $3 billion in 2006. The increase has been caused by a January ruling from the country’s highest court that decreed that corporations and associations could donate money directly to political campaigns”. The case was mentioned during President Obama’s State of Union in late January amid much controversy.

This raises broader questions over the funding of political parties. There are of course dangers which ever position is being taken. Those that favour funding of parties being both unlimited by size or source run into problems. As political parties are esentially run for the purposes of a small number of wealthy businesses or individuals. This leads to the common good being negated when these parties go from representing a firm political ideology with its adherants to becoming the political wing of a narrow section of interests. Not only that, those with the most money control most of the political discourse. For example, a media tycoon who owns much of a country’s media gives large amounts of money to a certain political party, which is then all but obliged to say whatever is in this businessman’s interests, irrespective of what it does to society as a whole.

The other option is barring all business donations and only allowing small donations from private citizens. It seems best for the rest of the money to come from the State, based on a calculation on how successful each party was at the last election. This would mean that parties would not be controlled from below by having to rely on donations, and equally not having to depend on a few wealthy donors, which would almost certainly threaten the common good. It fundamentally depends on the arguments/ideology that the voters are most persuaded by during elections.  

However, for the above to be fair and work properly it would ideally mean having some kind of proportional representation, as has been advocated here before in June, a party list system is best rather than first past the post.

As long as large business and wealthy individuals are able to give almost unchecked sums of money then the discourse will be skewed towards their interests and it will not serve its main purpose of being open and honest. Some are saying it could threaten the future of whole countries.

Unrepentant, undeserving bankers

09/10/2010

People are justifiably outraged at news that most of the bankers in the City of London will recieve bonuses worth £7bn. When the chairman of RBS, which is almost wholly owned by the UK government after a massive bailout, says something then you know things must be really bad.

The chairman, “Sir Philip, who has previously revealed that RBS paid more than 100 bankers in excess of £1m, told a conference that the bank was ‘paying a lot of people who aren’t worth it’ and suggested that the issue could only be tackled through regulation”.

This is proof, if proof were needed, that people cannot be trusted to do what is right. Therefore, they must be guided, or in some cases, ordered to take the correct course of action that is best for all of society and not merely the company or the shareholders. To think that bonuses should be paid out when the world economy is still on its knees is a worrying sign indeed. The British government could step in, and in the case of RBS, order that the bonuses not be paid, however that would worry “the markets” about government interference in business, nevermind that many of the biggest banks in the world came cap in hand to the world’s governments during the market meltdown in 2007-8.

The article notes that “Bankers, fund managers and other City staff are expected to take home around £3.8bn after paying income tax and national insurance contributions.But the taxman is set to receive around £4.1bn as a result of the bonuses”. As if this were some kind of justification for this despicable behaviour. The article seems to imply that the more the banks payout in bonuses the better off for the government!

Others would argue that they should recieve this money as it will benefit society as it will trickle down to everyone else. That is what many neoliberals/Reaganites have been saying for decades but in fact the vast majority of the monies remains in the hands of the very wealthy, it just gets moved around.

If this rampant individualism and greed is not checked by each individual government then society will have learnt nothing much faster than anyone could have imagined. There is a role for sensible regulation to be enforced by the State. The government’s of the world are on their own.

Curial appointments

07/10/2010

As predicted on 24 August, Paul Cardinal Cordes was formally retired today as president of the Pontifical Counil Cor Unum. His replacement however, was not as thought, the nuncio to Italy, but Archbishop Robert Sarah who had been serving as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of the Peoples.

Also unexpectedly Claudio Cardinal Hummes was retired as prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, and strangely replaced by his No.2, Archbishop Mauro Piacenza.  Cardinal Hummes was appointed in October 2006 and was thought that he would complete his five year term of appointment before being retired.   

Both the appointments are unusual as they are promotions from with the Curia itself and not from diocesan bishops who were called to Rome as has been the case for many of Pope Benedict’s appointments. It is unclear if Benedict made these moves today so these names could be included in the consistory for the creation of new cardinals that is expected to take place in November.

The lighter side of demagoguery

06/10/2010

A prescient warning against demagoguery in a light hearted form. It’s up to both parties, and society as a whole to see that it is stopped and the quality of discourse improves.

Credit where credit’s due

06/10/2010

The EU, no friend of these pages, has done something quite remarkable. It seems to have had a sudden dose of common sense.

The great premise of the French Revolution, believed unquestioningly throughout the halls of power in much of Europe and beyond, is that everyone is equal. Taken to its logical conclusion “the widely-held practice of setting different [insurance] rates for men and women based on their sex violates EU anti-discrimination laws”.  The final ruling will be made by the end of the year.

It seems as though “the move has been attacked as ‘madness’ by politicians and ‘potentially damaging’ by the insurance industry, who said it would mean higher premiums for women and the loss of many jobs. Should the ECJ agree with Ms Kokott [EU Advocate-General], the ruling would also stop firms using gender to set premiums on other products such as life and medical insurance. It could also stop pensions providers offering different annuity rates to men and women”.

The notion that women should get cheaper car insurance is nonsense simply because they supposedly drive better than men and cause fewer accidents. However what people fail to realise is that they cause not no accidents but only fewer accidents, it is of course the kind of accidents that they cause that makes the supposedly safer.

The ECJ will now have to choose which it values more, feminism or equality, both of which it holds dear but when they come into conflict it’s anyone’s guess which will get the upper hand.

Maybe people aren’t so equal after all?

There is always nuance

04/10/2010

It must never be forgotten that people are not mere cartoons but are deeply complex.

EU sinks to a new low

03/10/2010

The EU seek every opportunity, no matter how cyncial or immoral, to destroy of idea of the sovereign nation state. No nation’s government will be forgiven if they bow to the pressure which results in the dissolution of their nation.

Emanuel leaves

01/10/2010

Long the worst kept secret in DC, Rahm Emanuel is leaving the White House to run for mayor of Chicago to be replaced by Pete Rouse, senior adviser to President Obama since January 2009. Rouse will serve as Acting Chief of Staff for the time being. The announcement was made as “Cabinet members and senior staff members packed the ornate East Room, a setting often reserved for visits of heads of state, for the official word that Emanuel, the hard-charging leader of the staff, was on his way out”.

Rouse, longtime Obama aide and skilled Washington hand will replace Emanuel, for now. However given his mastery of the Hill and the expcected loss of the House to the GOP in next month’s mid terms, it would not be suprising to see him confirmed in the position, yet no decision is expected for “several months”.

The departure of Emanuel will set off a chain reaction that will see many leave the administration after 2 November. With Larry Summers already confirmed as leaving, returning to Harvard to teach, Bob Gates leaving next year being possibly replaced by Hilary Clinton. Also NSA Gen Jim Jones is rumoured to have underprerformed and is expected to leave shortly after the mid terms also.

With the midterms brings the “checks and balances” that the founders thought would curb the power of the executive. They would never have dreamt of the Tea Party however, and the possible gridlock that will ensue if enough are elected. Rouse will need all his skill to navigate the minefield that is “increasingly dominated by wingnuts whose main goal is to enrich themselves by spouting fact-free accusations”.

Rouse will work with others but the question is, is there anyone to work with?