August 11, 2011

Why is Britain Burning?

You can thank the postmodern welfare state for that. "Years of liberal dogma have spawned a generation of amoral, uneducated, welfare dependent, brutalized youngsters " -- so says Max Hastings in London's Daily Mail.

Regarding the the youthful thugs in the streets, he observers:

They are illiterate and innumerate, beyond maybe some dexterity with computer games and BlackBerries.

They are essentially wild beasts. I use that phrase advisedly, because it seems appropriate to young people bereft of the discipline that might make them employable; of the conscience that distinguishes between right and wrong...

The depressing truth is that at the bottom of our society is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations. They do not have what most of us would call ‘lives’: they simply exist.

Nobody has ever dared suggest to them that they need feel any allegiance to anything, least of all Britain or their community. Not only do they know nothing of Britain’s past, they care nothing for its present.

Read the whole piece, here.

And below is a BBC interview with two young people who elaborate on why they enjoy looting -- it's to show the "rich" and the police what they can do.

August 10, 2011

In riot-torn Britain, AP Bureau Chief Paisely Dodds injects her lefty views into news coverage

By David Paulin

In an article about how social media is helping to energize Britain’s youthful rioters, the left-leaning views of AP's London Bureau Chief Paisley Dodds were on display -- yet again.

Dodds, the American-born daughter of hippie parents, is known for her sharp-elbows and "attitude" among AP colleagues. And in past articles about Britain, Dodds has been clear about one thing. The country, she firmly believes, is brimming full of "white male privilege" and class-conscious "elites." Writing about the role of social media in fueling the riots, she injected her political views -- from out of the blue -- into her reporting in order to put the rioting into context. She wrote:
"Britain is full of contrasts between the haves and have-nots, where areas of soot-stained apartment buildings are a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace. It is also a place where the class system is imprinted on the country's social fabric, seen clearly in the political and business elite.
"Prime Minister David Cameron, known for his posh accent and privileged education, is thought to have lost votes in last year's election because he was seen as too much of an elitist who couldn't understand the common man."
Those are pretty sweeping statements -- and just how true they are in Britain today is highly debatable, especially in respect to Britain's "class system." But no doubt, those statements say much about Dodds and the agenda she is perusing as a journalist, not to mention her ego.

Before her London gig, Dodds was news editor in the AP's Caribbean bureau in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There, she and long-time gal pal Michelle Faul, who was bureau chief, pushed a common theme in their Guantanamo reporting: The people imprisoned there were innocents being held illegally -- "without charges"! Or as Dodds said on MSNBC in 2005: "The biggest issue is that you have about 550 men who are presumed innocent, who have been held at the prison camp for more than three years."
Presumed innocent? Held without charges? Hey, Paisley, maybe you can explain something: If any Japanese pilots had been shot down and captured during the attack on Pearl Harbor, would you have insisted that they be tried as common criminals in America's court system?

As London and other cities in Britain burn, be on the look out for Dodds to subtly inject into her reporting the notion that the thugs in the street are rebelling against Britain's "elites," "white male privilege," and various social "injustices."

Dodds, incidentally, is more than 40 years old, but the only AP photo that's available of her is one in which she appears to be in her mid 20s.

Also see a related post at this blog: "A Story the AP Plays Down: Released Guantanamo Inmates Return to the Battlefield." And see this post as well: "Kuwait's Gitmo solution: Kill them!"
No comment....Dodd's Twitter photo:

August 5, 2011

Church Bombers Handed Death Sentences; A Victory for Iraq On Anniversary of Steven Vincent's Murder

By David Paulin

Iraq achieved another milestone this week: the three masterminds of last year's bloody church siege, involving al Qaeda suicide bombers, were sentenced to death by an Iraqi court.

Sixty-eight people died in one of the worst attacks ever against Iraq's Christian minority on Oct. 31. Worshipers were held hostage in a Baghdad cathedral, until al Qaeda suicide bombers detonated their explosive vests.

Coincidentally, the death sentences were issued on Tuesday, August 2, exactly six years after freelance journalist Steven Vincent, 49, was kidnapped and murdered in Basra, Iraq.

Vincent was one of the most gifted American journalists in Iraq -- and unlike most Western reporters, Vincent, an art critic-turned war reporter, was not a cynic. He believed that remaking Iraq into a decent country was possible.

Tuesday's death sentences provide more evidence that Iraq has a functioning rule of rule -- even when it comes to seeking justice for crimes committed against its Christian minority. The death sentences follow two successful parliamentary elections held after the U.S.-led invasion and liberation of Iraq in 2003.

During the U.S-led occupation of Iraq and the subsequent war, most Western reporters focused endlessly on the issue of Iraq's supposedly nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. Vincent, on the other hand, dealt with a more interesting aspect of that controversy: It was a non-issue to most Iraqis.

Vincent, to be sure, had in the last months of his life grown increasingly uneasy about how the war was going

"America rid us of one tyrant, only to give us hundreds more in the form of terrorists," he quoted one man as saying in Umm Qasr, a port city near Kuwait, in an article in National Review.

In his book "In the Red Zone," he elaborated: "Were we wrong in Iraq? Yes, in one major sense, beyond even the shortage of troops, failure to anticipate the Baathist-led insurrection and Abu Ghraib: we did not, and still don't understand the regressive, parasitical, unreasonable presence of tribal Islam -- the black hole in Iraqi and Arab cultures that consumes their best and most positive energies. Because of our blindness, we find ourselves fighting an enemy we do not see, comprehend, or even accurately identify."

He nonetheless argued that much still depended on America's willingness to "stay the course."

Vincent's translator, Nour al-Khal, was kidnapped with him -- then shot and left for dead. Vincent's widow, Lisa Ramaci-Vincent, later brought Nour to America, making a home for her in her Manhattan apartment. She thereby honored her husband's pledge to remove his translator, an aspiring poet, from harm's way in Iraq.

Interestingly, the story about Iraq's conviction of three Al Qaeda terrorists was reported only in a article by the Associated Press. This reflects the fact that major news outlets have cut back their staffs in Baghdad. The reason, of course, is that Iraq is no longer considered a major story. Curiously, The New York Times' online edition ran just a two-sentence version of the AP's 430-word article; The Times apparently didn't regard this as a significant story.

Vincent's murder occurred just three days after he published an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times, "Switched off In Basra," which criticized the increasing infiltration of the Basran police force by Islamic extremists. Amid Basra's repressive religious atmosphere, he wrote, most police officers were putting their faith in the mosque, not the state. In his Op-Ed, he blamed British troops who had secured the city.

"Fearing to appear like colonial occupiers, they avoid any hint of ideological indoctrination: in my time with them, not once did I see an instructor explain such basics of democracy as the politically neutral role of the police in a civil society," wrote Vincent, whose murder remains unsolved.

It was a dreadful example of nation building. Since then, Iraq's success stories have outweighed such failures -- as was underscored by Tuesday's death sentences which were welcomed by Iraq's Christian community.

Increasingly, Iraq appears to be the country where an "Arab Spring" is truly occurring. It's sad that Steven Vincent didn't live to see it.

Originally published at The American Thinker blog. Below is a response from Lisa Ramaci-Vincent to this blog article, as published at The American Thinker:

David - A heartfelt "Thank you" and deep gratitude for your continuing to remember and write about Steven. You have no idea what it means to me and his family (to whom I forwarded this post) that attention is still being called to him, to his fate, by people such as yourself. Today is my birthday, and this is the best present I could have gotten. Again, thank you so very, very much.

August 1, 2011

Learning the Work Ethic Young

By David Paulin

In America's rural Midwest, an annual ritual is underway in the vast cornfields that stretch to the horizon. Tens of thousands of American teenagers, in a rite of passage, are doing the kinds of farm work more commonly performed by visitors from south of the border.

The teens are detasseling seed corn.

Going from one stalk to another under the blazing sun, they yank off the uppermost tassels in various rows. Some detasselers walk their rows. Others ride in baskets extending from tractors.

It's exhausting work -- dirty and sweaty. But poor and uneducated migrant laborers are nowhere to be found in most fields. Rather, it's fresh-faced rural teens, usually 13 to 15. They do this work to earn extra money over their summer vacations. What's more, in the rural Midwest detasseling is regarded as a character-building experience.

Scrapes, sunburns, and twisted ankles are the worst things that usually befall the young detasselers, boys and girls employed by subcontractors for giant seed companies. It's unheard of to have serious accidents. But last Monday, a freak accident in Illinois claimed the lives of two 14-year-old detasselers, Jade Garza and Hannah Kendall, both of Sterling, Illinois. They were electrocuted near an above-ground irrigation system. Two fellow female detasselers, both sisters, also were injured in the water-soaked field by an electrical current.

Jade Garza and and Hannah Kendall were best friends, and their tragic deaths are getting prominent news coverage in newspapers in the Midwest. A Facebook page set up for the girls quickly received 11,000-plus tributes to the teens.

The accident also has called attention to the epic effort each summer to detassel seed corn that, due to culture and custom in the Midwest, is reserved exclusively for young teens.

In some parts of the country, many middle- and upper-middle-class teens spend their summers doing fancy internships. But not in the rural Midwest. There, large numbers of teens eagerly work as detasselers, a job they proudly list in their resumes, and that many of their parents also did as teens.

Not long after dawn, the young detasselers cheerfully ride in buses that take them from staging areas to outlying cornfields. By 6 or 7 a.m., they're in the thick of dew-covered stalks. To stay dry, they wear ponchos or cut-out plastic garbage bags over their heads, removing them as the sun burns off the dew and the fields heat up.

It's a ritual that's now in high gear. By detasseling some rows of corn, other rows planted with different seeds will cross-pollinate the detasseled stalks, producing hybrid seeds commanding high prices.

The detasseling season lasts a few short weeks -- but the pride and work ethic it instills in rural youngsters benefits them for a lifetime, say current and former detasselers.

To be sure, rural youngsters detasseling corn are nothing like the migrant laborers one might associate with grueling agricultural work. On the contrary, they are middle-class kids. And they are overwhelmingly white, a fact reflecting rural America's demographics.

Detasseling is the first job many rural teens have, and they're proud of that fact. The CEO and executive vice president of Country Financial, Barb Baurer, proudly lists her very first job in high school: corn detasseling.

"Fancy internships don't reflect the work ethic that you learn in a cornfield," wrote Mary Gustafson in an article fondly recalling her days of detasseling as a young teen. When not working in the cornfields, she worked in her family's True Value hardware store. Her father pushed her into corn detasseling for her own good, brushing aside her desire to spend the summer writing a novel.

Detasselers earn up to $1,300 or more for a few weeks of work -- a small fortune for young teens in junior high or high school. Most couldn't earn that much money at other jobs available to teens who are less than 17. Fast-food restaurants, after all, don't generally hire kids who are 13, 14, and 15. Rural teens who work as detasselers are thus getting their first taste of financial independence and pride in hard work. In many cases, the young teens are supervised by college students who themselves started working as detasselers as young teens.

For the thousands of teens now working the fields in America's corn belt, the deaths of two of their own has darkened a detasseling season that is normally filled with camaraderie and good times, as is reflected in the amusing YouTube clips some make to celebrate a special time of their lives. In one, detasselers dance in the corn fields to pop music; another features a busload of detasselers enjoying an impromptu drum solo from a fellow detasseler.

Writing on the Facebook page dedicated to the two teenage detasselers and best friends who died in an Illinois cornfield, Sheri Reimers-Smith wrote: "My thoughts and prayers go out to all family and friends due to this accident. An accident that will never be forgotten and a community that has pulled together to comfort one another. R.I.P. sweet angels. You are both in wonderful hands! Praying for strength to help deal with such a tragedy."

For the teenage detasselers now in the fields, this season will be bittersweet.

Below is a 3 minute YouTube video on detasseling which evokes a certain charm.

Originally published at The American Thinker

First McDonald's in Bosnia Drawing Huge Crowds

By David Paulin

Whatever happened to the Ugly American? He exists in President Obama's mind, and in those of anti-American elites at home and abroad -- but he's nowhere to be found on Marshal Tito street in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

That's where Bosnia's first McDonald's just opened -- and the fast-food restaurant is now drawing huge and adoring crowds of ordinary Bosnians, most of them young people under 40.

First Lady and diet scold Michelle Obama must be having fits.

It's been 16 years since U.S.-led NATO air strikes were carried out over Sarajevo to stop a brutal civil war in Europe's backyard. Now, all-American McDonald's is providing Bosnians with a oasis of American culture -- not to mention jobs and a sense that the country has taken a major stride forward with the arrival of the golden arches and Big Mac.

It's an inspiring story; yet outside of Bosnia it has gotten little news coverage in the mainstream media. One exception is an excellent article by Rusmir Smajilhodzic of Agence France-Presse (AFP), which is worth reading in its entirety.

Here's an excerpt:

"It took four years, a lot of red tape and a little local jealousy but the Big Mac is the new hero on Marshal Tito street in downtown Sarajevo and, for many, a milestone in Bosnia's post-war recovery.

In the week since the country got its very first McDonald's, crowds -- mainly young people under 40 -- have poured non-stop into the gleaming new franchise of the US food giant. [snip]

The splashy opening last week drew hundreds of eager Sarajevans who lined up on the main thoroughfare named after the late communist dictator to get a taste of the West, via American-style hamburgers and fries.

"We are becoming a part of western Europe, of a world from which we were cut off," local politician Aner Begic, 32, said as he munched on his meal. [snip]

EU hopeful Bosnia is one of the last countries in Europe to get McDonald's. Only Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo are still without, while Serbia and Croatia have had it for years.

The head of the three-member presidency, Zeljko Komsic, US Ambassador Patrick Moon and Sarajevo Mayor Alija Behmen were all on hand, with Behmen given the honour of buying the first burger in what not long ago was a rundown, two-storey university restaurant.

Ambassador Moon, in comments sure to rankle the First Lady, was quoted at the U.S. Embassy's website as saying:

"The opening of McDonald's is a visible symbol to the rest of the world that Bosnia and Herzegovina is open for business. McDonald's represents a U.S. tradition of entrepreneurship, innovation, quality, efficiency, and corporate social responsibility.

"The McDonald's story is a true testament to entrepreneurship - one that I hope inspires other entrepreneurs in Bosnia and Herzegovina to move forward with their own unique and innovative ideas."

The Sarajevo restaurant is just the start for Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald's, which says it's looking for new franchise partners to set up its golden arches elsewhere in Bosnia.

In its most recenl quarterly statement, incidentally, McDonald's yet again reported strong earnings at home and abroad. The fast-food giant has more than 32,000 restaurants in 117 countries, and employs 1.7 million employees worldwide. Fifty-six percent of McDonald's restaurant are overseas.

Interestingly, McDonald's over the years has reported some of its strongest sales in former cold war enemies China and the former Soviet Union -- and it has been a big hit in anti-American France, too.

To the alarm of French bakers, McDonald's is now adding baguette sandwiches at its French outlets -- a move intended to boost sales by appealing to potential customers who don't want an all-American meal. "The French love the baguette. We are just progressively responding to a natural demand," said McDonald's senior Vice President for France and Southern Europe, Nawfal Trabelsi.

Click here for a charming YouTube clip set to soft piano music of Bosnia's first McDonald's, made during a quiet moment at the restaurant. It apparently is from an independent filmmaker who is a McDonald's fan.

And below is a must-see local television report of McDonald's big opening night, including ribbon-cutting ceremonies in which Ambassador Moon (the man with the beard) participated. It's nice to see a career foreign service officer like Moon doing such a great job representing the United States abroad.

Photo credit: United States Embassy, Bosnia

Originally published at The American Thinker blog.