British flight attendant fired for refusing to behave as a Muslim

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from the Maritime Sentry! A conservative blog without peer. I see they have posted a new Michele Bachmann video, but I can’t see it from work. Can someone watch it and leave a comment about it?

Wow, check out this Washington Times article I just found on OneRedThread. Apparently, female flight attendants on British Midland Airways have got to start acting as if they are Muslims, in order not to offend Muslims. Excuse me? THEY AREN’T MUSLIMS. Why should people be forced by the state to act as though they accept a religion (or no religion), when that’s not what they believe???

This is insanity:

…British Midland Airways is going to absurd and insulting lengths to patronize backward habits of the Middle East by forcing its female flight attendants to dress and behave in a stereotype of subservient Saudi women. When flight attendant Lisa Ashton stood up to the policy, she was fired.

…In addition to wearing the traditional abaya, the policy stated that, “it is expected that female crew members walk behind their male counterparts in public areas such as the airport, no matter what rank.”

Miss Ashton’s union representative told her the abaya was considered “an item of uniform” and that refusal to wear it should be treated as “a potential disciplinary matter.” Miss Ashton went to great lengths to avoid coming into conflict with the policy. … When her time finally came to fly to Saudi Arabia, she refused, and was suspended.

… She appealed her case but a labor tribunal accepted BMI’s argument that the airline introduced the requirements “entirely from the need to conform to local customs, practices and law in Saudi Arabia.”

I have an idea. How about everybody has free speech and freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, and the people who get offended by those rights can just grow up. Why is it that on any given day you have some atheist, and/or left-wing activist is complaining that other people have human rights and that the free exercise of these rights should be prevented by the state?

This is exactly the same as the recent case where the Christian nurse was suspended because an atheist complained when the nurse offered to pray for her. Newsflash! Let people act on what they believe! Don’t try to change them so that they believe what you believe, using the power of the state. That’s fascism – the state overriding the values of individuals.

Excerpt:

The incident which led to her suspension took place at the home of a woman patient in Winscombe, North Somerset.

“It was around lunchtime and I had spent about 20 to 25 minutes with her. I had applied dressings to her legs and shortly before I left I said to her: ‘Would you like me to pray for you?’.

“She said ‘No, thank you.’ And I said: ‘OK.’ I only offered to pray for her because I was concerned about her welfare and wanted her to get better.”

However, after the incident on December 15, she was contacted by the trust and asked to explain her actions.

Everyone: stop being offended victims!

Which is more cruel and immoral? Waterboarding or abortion?

UPDATE: Hot Air reports: Sweden legalizes sex-selection abortions! Sweden, the most secular nation on the planet!

Dr. Frank Turek has a post here, examining whether pro-abortion Democrats are inconsistent for calling waterboarding torture, when the procedures used to kill the unborn can be far more cruel and painful. Turek is a former naval fighter pilot (8 years served), who served in the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.

Turek actually was waterboarded as art of his SERE training, in case of capture and interrogation. He’s now a full time Christian debater, and he now debates people like Christopher Hitchens. Christianity is definitely a step up in terms of excitement and danger from his previous job, where I imagine he spent time on dull chores such as landing on pitching carrier decks at night, dodging SAMs and triple-A, etc.

He writes:

Now, despite decades of its use on American service members, President Obama declares that waterboarding is torture when used on terrorists.  Is it?  Reasonable people cannot disagree whether scalding a person’s skin, dismembering him, or beheading him constitutes torture.  Those are undeniably torturous acts that our enemies have inflicted on Americans.  But since waterboarding leaves no permanent physical damage, reasonable people can disagree over whether or not it’s actually torture and should be used on terrorists.

He then goes on to talk about whether the Democrats are being inconsistent on what counts as torture.

Despite being against waterboarding, President Obama does not seem to think that scalding, dismembering, or beheading is torture in all circumstances.  In some circumstances, the President actually approves of such treatment, so much so that he is now exporting it to other countries with our tax dollars.  He’s even thinking of forcing certain Americans to inflict it on the innocent.

In fact, the President along with most in his party and some in the Republican Party, think that such brutality is a Constitutional right, which they cleverly disguise with the word “choice.”  Choice in these circumstances actually means scalding, dismembering, or de-braining a living human being—which is literally what saline, D&C, and partial birth abortions respectively accomplish.

I won’t give the whole article away, but you must read it. I don’t link to Turek a lot, but this is awesome.

Further study

Evaluating Democrat policies on the budget, health care and cap and trade

A Harvard economist says that tax hikes will kill the recovery: (H/T John Boehner, Mike Pence)

Harvard economist Martin Feldstein writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Even if the proposed tax increases are not scheduled to take effect until 2011, households will recognize the permanent reduction in their future incomes and will reduce current spending accordingly.  Higher future tax rates on capital gains and dividends will depress share prices immediately and the resulting fall in wealth will cut consumer spending further.  Lower share prices will also raise the cost of equity capital, depressing business investment in plant and equipment.

Tax hikes for the poor:

Mr. Obama’s biggest proposed tax increase is the cap-and-trade system of requiring businesses to buy carbon dioxide emission permits. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the proposed permit auctions would raise about $80 billion a year and that these extra taxes would be passed along in higher prices to consumers. Anyone who drives a car, uses public transportation, consumes electricity or buys any product that involves creating CO2 in its production would face higher prices…

But while the cap-and-trade tax rises with income, the relative burden is greatest for low-income households. According to the CBO, households in the lowest-income quintile spend more than 20% of their income on energy intensive items (primarily fuels and electricity), while those in the highest-income quintile spend less than 5% on those products.

Bye-bye, American manufacturing sector. Or maybe Obama will nationalize the entire industry, who can say? He’s already practically doing it now.

Remember the no tax increases pledge that Obama made? Kevin Boland writes:

If you drive a car or flip on a light switch – Democrats have a new national energy tax for you.  If you’re a small business owner or if you’re employed by one – Democrats have a new tax for you.  If you’re a charity – Democrats have a new tax for your donors.  If you’re looking to produce more American energy – Democrats have a new tax for you.  If you own stock – Democrats have a new tax for you.  And when you’re finally able to relax – after paying all your taxes to Uncle Sam – and you want to kick back, relax, and have a cold beer, you guessed it, Democrats may have a new tax for you too.

USA Today asks where the promised fiscal restraint of Mr. ACORN lawyer has gone off to. (H/T Mike Pence)

When it comes to federal spending, there’s a pattern emerging with President Obama, and it’s not a flattering one. The president says all the right things about the importance of getting the deficit under control, but his actions don’t come close to matching his rhetoric.

An early sign of the disconnect was his heavily publicized demand last month that his Cabinet secretaries shave $100 million from their administrative budgets. Obama said the cuts would “send a signal that we are serious about how government operates” and would help close the “confidence gap” with skeptical Americans. Those cuts amounted to a less-than-confidence-inspiring 0.003% of the 2009 budget, or about 3 cents out of every $1,000.

Then, when he unveiled his 2010 budget last week, Obama made a big deal of his demand for $17 billion in cuts, insisting that the cuts “even by Washington standards … are significant” and that $17 billion is “real money.”

The president got it backward. Out in the rest of the world, $17 billion is a ton of money. But in Washington, where the president is proposing to spend $3.6 trillion next year, $17 billion looks puny – a little less than half a percent of the budget, or the equivalent of cutting a $100 grocery bill by handing back a 50-cent pack of gum.

Anybody who read David Freddoso’s book or looked up Obama’s voting record could have known that his rhetoric was just lies for the gullible.

Over to the health care issue, where John Shadegg explains how capitalism is the right way to reduce health care costs.

President Obama’s pledge to work with health care providers and insurers to scale back costs misses the entire point: health care costs are so high because we are not giving patients choice and forcing insurers to compete.  We need robust market reforms – not symbolic gestures.  The way to lower prices is to put control in the hands of patients.  We need to empower Americans by giving them the freedom to either keep their employer plan or purchase the plan of their choice through a tax credit.  Choice and competition will drive prices down and quality up.

Shadegg goes on to explain why the Obama plan does none of this. And why should it? We already know that the Democrats want private health care to fail, so they can usher in single-payer health care. (Just they want private industry to fail so they can nationalize more of the free market)

Putting 120 million Americans on government coverage will create a monopoly that sends costs skyrocketing. Choice will be lost because the enormous government-run plan will put the private plans out of business.  In other words, if you like what you have, you will lose it.  And while health insurance will be provided, health care will not – like every nationalized health plan across the world, as costs escalate, care will be slashed, patients waitlisted, drugs denied.

Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann notes the looming entitlement crisis is now closer than ever, with the Medicare insolvency date moving earlier.

Yesterday, the Medicare and Social Security Trustees issued a new report that laid out unequivocally that our current Medicare and Social Security programs are on a path for financial implosion and are in need of serious reform.

In fact, the Medicare insolvency date has moved up to 2017.  And, that doesn’t include the impact of the so-called “stimulus” bill, which could accelerate insolvency by about 6 months.

And, we’re facing a strain on Social Security like never before, with nearly 80 million retiring Baby Boomers tapping into the funds soon we’ll be spending more to pay benefits than what the system receives in payroll taxes. Yet, we continue to carry on with the status quo, every now and then saying that we need to reform it, but not actually doing anything about it.

Michele is trying to do something about it, but the House is filled with Democrats who never ran a business in their entire lives.

I’ve introduced the Truth In Accounting Act to make government finances truly transparent and open.  Not only would financial commitments be crystal clear to Congress, but also to the taxpayers.

Currently, when Congress and the President prepare budget proposals and pass spending bills, they have the luxury of ignoring shortfalls year after year.  They prepare, present, and approve budgets which project these estimates over the short-term – usually five or ten years.  And, there are a lot of things that can be done on paper to paper over the long-term shortfalls.

My Truth in Accounting Act would require the President to consider these long-term shortfalls when he proposes his budget.  And, it would require both the GAO (Government Accountability Office) and the U.S. Treasury to report this information to the Congress so that the numbers can be used when we’re finalizing the annual budget.

Furthermore, my legislation would require that the report be translated into easily comprehensible terms so that nothing could be hidden by complex jargon.  The government’s fiscal imbalance would be presented in the whole, and as distributed per person, per worker, and per household.

I hope she is somehow able to pass this bill.

The relationship between science, faith and academic freedom

I blogged recently about atheist philosophers Thomas Nagel and Bradley Monton, informed atheists, who both support the idea that intelligent design could potentially be researched using ordinary scientific methods. I thought it was interesting especially in the case of Nagel, who has this famous quote about his reasons for adopting atheism:

“In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper–namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.
(”The Last Word” by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press: 1997)

The thing is, Thomas Nagel has written a paper supporting ID as science, and now I’ve learned that he is rejecting Darwinism as a full explanation of human origins. (H/T Denyse O’Leary’s related post at the Post-Darwinist). Nagel contrasts the idea that natural selection is responsible for our mental capacity, or whether some other explanation is needed.

Nagel writes:

I see no reason to believe that the truth lies in the first alternative. The only reason so many people believe it is that advanced intellectual capacities clearly exist, and this is the only available candidate for a Darwinian explanation of their existence. So it all rests on the assumption that every noteworthy characteristic of human beings, or of any other organism, must have a Darwinian explanation. But what is the reason to believe this? Even if natural selection explains all adaptive evolution, there may be developments in the history of species that are not specifically adaptive and can’t be explained in terms of natural selection. Why not take the development of the human intellect as a probable counterexample to the law that natural selection explains everything, instead of forcing it under the law with improbable speculations unsupported by evidence? We have here one of those powerful reductionist dogmas which seem to be part of the intellectual atmosphere we breath.

It’s interesting that Nagel is breaking from the pack, because my post about A. N. Wilson’s return to faith highlighted the peer-pressure that atheists feel with regards to the need to project intelligence to their peers. It’s almost as they feel the need prove themselves as better than other people, perhaps to make up for some past rejection that gave them a deep sense of being unworthy.

Wilson said:

If I bumped into Richard Dawkins (an old colleague from Oxford days) or had dinner in Washington with Christopher Hitchens (as I did either on that trip to interview Billy Graham or another), I did not have to feel out on a limb. Hitchens was excited to greet a new convert to his non-creed and put me through a catechism before uncorking some stupendous claret. “So – absolutely no God?” “Nope,” I was able to say with Moonie-zeal. “No future life, nothing ‘out there’?” “No,” I obediently replied. At last! I could join in the creed shared by so many (most?) of my intelligent contemporaries in the western world – that men and women are purely material beings (whatever that is supposed to mean), that “this is all there is” (ditto), that God, Jesus and religion are a load of baloney: and worse than that, the cause of much (no, come on, let yourself go), most (why stint yourself – go for it, man), all the trouble in the world, from Jerusalem to Belfast, from Washington to Islamabad.

Anyway, Denyse O’Leary also talks about some research done by Jeffrey Schwartz on her blog the Mindful Hack. I saw Schwartz present this research before in a live debate with Michael Shermer, another atheist I like somewhat. (I own, and have watched dozens of debates and hundreds of academic lectures – and I sponsor them, too! I love civil, fact-based disagreements!)

Denyse cites from a forthcoming paper of hers, as follows:

UCLA psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, a practitioner of Buddhist mindfulness, saw OCD as a good candidate for a non- pharmaceutical—essentially non-materialist—approach to treatment….

Schwartz used neuroscience techniques to identify the cause of the disorder. Specifically, the cause is most likely a defect in the neural circuitry connecting the orbitofrontal cortex, cingulate gyrus, and basal ganglia, from which panic and compulsion are generated. When this “worry circuit” is working properly, we worry about genuine risks and feel the urge to reduce them. But, Schwartz found, when that modulation is faulty, as it is when OCD acts up, the error detector can be overactivated. It becomes locked into a pattern of repetitive firing. The firing triggers an overpowering feeling that something is wrong, accompanied by compulsive attempts to somehow make it right.

He then developed a four-step program (Relabel, Reattribute, Reassign, and Revalue) to help patients identify and reassign OCD thoughts, until they felt that they were diminishing in severity. Schwartz was not simply getting patients to change their opinions, but to change their brains. Subsequent brain imaging showed that the change in focus of attention substituted a useful neural circuit for a useless one. For example, it substituted “go work in the garden” for “wash hands seven more times.” By the time the neuronal traffic from the many different activities associated with gardening began to exceed the traffic from washing the hands, the patient could control the disorder without drugs. The mind was changing the brain.

Schwartz called this “mental effort” in the debate, and he used the treatment successfully on people like Leonardo DiCaprio.

The issue of mind as a non-material cause is an area of specialty for Denyse. She recently wrote a book on it for Harper-Collins called “The Spiritual Brain”. I bought 7 copies of that book and gave them to 6 of my friends for their Christmas presents. (One was for me!) Check it out. I hate (but use) philosophical arguments for substance dualism. Her book provides lots of hard scientific evidence that I prefer to use instead.

Atheism, science and free speech

As Denyse O’Leary notes in her post on Colliding Universes, Christian researchers in the sciences have to jump through hoops to keep their jobs and get tenure, in an establishment dominated by activist atheists. She links to this story in Science, regarding a Christian professor who is brilliant, but who has to watch his step in secular-leftist-dominated academia.

Szilágyi sees his religious faith and his research efforts as two complementary aspects of his life. Within the scientific environment, “I have some options where I can express my faith,” Szilágyi says. He directly referred to God both in the acknowledgements of his master’s and doctoral dissertations and while receiving his awards. He runs a Bible-study group for young adults, and together with a friend he founded a Christian scientific group.

But although Szilágyi’s views often lie far outside the scientific mainstream, he expresses those views only off-campus and in his personal time. For him, “the debate over evolution, design, creation, supernatural intelligence, etc., is not a scientific question in the first place but the collision of worldviews, the confrontation of materialism and idealism,” he says. He takes the Bible literally, but when he lectures on the subject–outside of work–he presents what he calls “the options” and indicates which one “to me … seems to be more probable.” But he insists that it is up to “everybody to make his or her own decision.”

“As a Christian who works in the field of science, I find it quite important to deal with the relation of Christianity and science,” Szilágyi says. But “I know that it is a minefield in today’s scientific life and can be quite dangerous for one’s scientific career. … Therefore, I do these activities absolutely separately from my university work. … I am very cautious and careful that whenever I am talking [about these issues] I do not represent my university.

“My belief is very important for my career because this is the first thing that gives me my motivations so that I could work hard and I could achieve the best I can,” Szilágyi says.

Denyse, who sees the battlefield better than anyone I know, comments:

It is sad when talented people must grovel and cringe just to keep their jobs. The thing is, in the end, that never works.

“Theistic evolution” is just a way of adjusting to a world run by atheists.

Practical questions like “Does the world show evidence of design” are scientific if the answer appears to be no, but unscientific if it appears to be yes.

Denyse also wrote about this comment on the Post-Darwinist, which emerged during the recent Texas School Board hearings.

“If our students do not feel the freedom to simply raise their hand and ask a question in science class, then we are no longer living in the United States of America.”

Common sense, combined with the pressure of at least 14,000 constituent communications in favor of allowing students to discuss all sides of science theories, finally prevailed.

You may also remember the case of Guillermo Gonzalez, who, despite outperforming virtually everyone in his department, was denied tenure thanks to a crusade by an activist atheist professor of religious studies, Hector Avalos. Persecution of outspoken Christians by secularists goes on all the time in academia. If you come out as a Christian, the secularists will be offended, and then you have to suffer the consequences.

And don’t forget, as public Christianity declines in the face of persecution by secularists, so has the right to free speech. The Democrats have recently tabled bills to enact hate crime laws and to imprison bloggers who are critical of the government.

How progressive social policy enlarges the size of government

Great editorial by Ed West writing in the UK Telegraph. Is it possible to be a social leftist and a fiscal conservative? Or does the former impact the latter negatively? West’s editorial assesses the impact of feminism and sex education on government budgets, which receive much funding from the productive private sector.

First, Britain’s social program for unwanted children is seeing record enrollment:

Last night’s Rageh Omaar programme, Lost in Care, is timely. The number of unwanted children in Britain has reached 80,000, and that figure was calculated before the recent Baby P surge. Of those unwanted kids, 10,000 live in children’s home.

And what are the costs to the taxpayer for this skyrocketing number of unwarranted children?

The show reminded us how awful the statistics are for care home children; only 13 per cent get good GCSEs [high school diplomas] and almost half achieve no qualifications. One in four prisoners were in care, as were one in three homeless. and one in five girls in care are pregnant within a year of leaving. No wonder there is currently a desperate drive to find more foster parents, a calling that is seriously heroic.

Well, I already talked about how leftist domestic policies destroy marriage here (socialism), here (same-sex marriage) and here (no-fault divorce). But the interesting thing is the cost of the anti-family, anti-child policies of the left. They were in such a rush to rebel against social conservatives, that it never occurred to them that those moral rules were in place to protect the interests of all parties.

Recklessly impregnating someone or getting pregnant without the ability or willingness to look after that child ruins another person’s life, and also costs the state £25,000 a year for that matter.

This is the problem with people who enact policies based on the need to feel compassionate and superior, while disregarding the logical consequences. Should we really be voting in people who undermine traditional morality run our government? If we do, it will cost us. To see more about how leftist policies increased the size of government and raised tax rates, see this previous post.

For more news from abroad, check out my recent post on the state of free speech in Canada, the United Kindom and Cuba.

UPDATE: Just noticed this over at OneNewsNow: Obama would ax abstinence-only funding.

Excerpt:

If Congress approves President Obama’s budget requests, there will be no more federal funding of abstinence-only education programs.

Barack Obama has recommended completely zeroing out Title V abstinence programs to states, as well as abstinence education programs to community-based organizations (CBAE) and replacing them with more than $100 million for contraceptive-based sex-education programs. The massive omnibus bill signed by the president had already reduced funding to abstinence programs by $14 million.

And then there is this story from mensactivism.org, entitled “Number of Unwed Moms in the U.S. Rising.

Story here. Excerpt:

‘(AP) The percentage of births to unmarried women in the United States has been rising sharply, but it’s way behind Northern European countries, a new U.S. report on births shows.

Iceland is the leader with 6 in 10 births occurring among unmarried women. About half of all births in Sweden and Norway are to unwed moms, while in the U.S., it’s about 40 percent.

France, Denmark and the United Kingdom also have higher percentages than the United States, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.’

Oh, well. Ideology beats out fiscal prudence, I guess. I don’t think that immorality of the parents is too good for the children who are affected, either. Bible: 1, Atheists: 0.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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