Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mid-Week Post

On the other side of Narnia…

Trinity Western University’s plans to open its own law school, which would require students sign a pledge not to engage in activities deemed contrary to Judeo-Christian beliefs, have been delayed because of a motion rejecting the institution:

Lawyers in British Columbia have rejected a Christian university's plans to open a law school — a result that, while not binding, represents a strong rebuke of the school's policies forbidding sex outside heterosexual marriage.

The vote is the latest setback for Trinity Western University, a school with about 4,000 students in B.C.'s Fraser Valley, and is sure to amplify an ongoing debate over the rights of a private institution to impose its religious views about homosexuality on students.

The university, which plans to open a law school in the fall of 2016, requires students to sign a so-called community covenant. The document includes a passage that forbids sex outside of marriage, defined as between a man and a woman, and students can be disciplined for violating it.

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the Law Society of B.C.'s benchers have already voted to accept graduates of Trinity Western, which has also been accredited by the province's Advanced Education Ministry.

But more than a thousand B.C. lawyers signed a petition asking that the issue be put to the B.C. society's general membership, which happened at various locations throughout the province on Tuesday.

Lawyers voted 3,210 to 968 in favour of a motion calling on the society's benchers to reject the school.

The vote doesn't have any immediate effect, but the results will likely put considerable pressure on the law society's benchers to reconsider their earlier decision.

If the benchers don't substantially implement the results of the vote within a year, lawyers can submit another petition that could trigger a binding referendum.

University president Bob Kuhn described the results as "highly disturbing" and said the vote was driven by emotion rather than the law.

"It's effectively a rejection of freedom of religion in the context of equality rights," Kuhn said in an interview shortly after the results were announced.

"I think the decision is one of the majority and it's failing to protect the minority. ... It was simply: same-sex relationships trump religious freedom every time."

Trinity Western has also faced resistance elsewhere.

The Law Society of Upper Canada's board of directors voted not to accredit graduates from the school, while the council of Nova Scotia's law society voted not to accredit graduates unless the school either exempts law students from its covenant or removes the offending passage from the document.

The school has launched legal challenges of the decisions in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

If the B.C. law society's benchers implement Tuesday's vote, a similar challenge is almost certain to be filed in the province, though Kuhn said it was too early to speculate about whether that would happen. In addition, Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby has filed a lawsuit in B.C. objecting to the provincial government's decision to accredit the school.

The issue could very well end up at the Supreme Court of Canada, which has previously ruled in the school's favour on the very same issue.

I find it discriminatory to take student fees and then declare that the student body of X university is “pro-choice” or that Israel should be boycotted and Israeli professors should be banned. I find extremely disturbing that a body can ban a competent lawyer from practising simply because of the university they chose to attend. As there are several schools of law one can attend in Canada and codes of student conduct are no indicator of one’s fitness as a lawyer, the purpose of banning a law school (yes, banning) because of a pledge that some reduce to discrimination against homosexuals (wait- are gay relationships about love or sex?) is not just discriminatory but self-defeating. The academic and professional fate of any one student should not be in the hands of a cultural oligarchy. The expense of competent professionals will prove to be too high sooner rather than later.

China is seen more as a trade threat than an opportunity, according to Canadian respondents of an online survey conducted on behalf of the Asia Pacific Foundation.

The annual survey, in its tenth year, was conducted by the Angus Reid polling firm, between Feb. 25 and March 7, 2014, and received responses from 3,487 Canadian adults.

The participant responses suggest that uncertainty about closer trade ties extends to all of Asia. …
The poll also suggests a disconnect between the trade relationships respondents believe are important, and the actual economic impact of Canada's trade relationships.

About a quarter of respondents view Australia as "very important" to Canada's prosperity, while half that amount felt the same way about South Korea.

Australia is not even among Canada's top 10 trading partners, while South Korea ranks seventh.
China is Canada's second largest trading partner, behind the United States.

"We may have a situation here where Canadian attitudes and perceptions are not in sync with the economic realities," said Yuen Pau Woo, president of the Asia Pacific Foundation.

This year, the survey delved into the reasons behind the shrinking support for trade with China and Asia overall.

The concerns range from a loss of Canadian jobs, to human rights, to national security.

"In short, I would say we fear or we are hesitant or reticent about things we don't know and don't understand," Woo said.

But Woo said Canada needs China and more trade with Asia overall for its own economic security in the future.

(Sidebar: what about female infanticide don’t people understand?)

If Canadians see China as a threat to trade, then why do it? The saturation of cheaply-produced Chinese products has been made possible by craven governments on both sides of the Pacific as well as indifferent consumers.

That and the fact that the tiger is truly a paper one. Mr. Woo’s statement that Canada needs China isn’t wholly accurate. It’s quite the other way around.

No, Ted! We could have made beautiful music together!

Canadian-born U.S. Senator Ted Cruz has made good on a promise to renounce his birth country’s citizenship, amid speculation he could make a run at the White House in 2016.
Sad Cat is inconsolable.

Hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, a climate change activist and staunch opponent of the prospective 1,179-mile pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to Cushing, Okla., has hired retired Navy SEAL chief David “Dave” Cooper to assess how vulnerable the Keystone XL might be to deliberate sabotage.

Did Mr. Steyer pour money into determining how railways or oilfields could be prone to terrorist attacks?
This looks like grasping at straws. I would expect someone of his wealth to panic more convincingly.

The Obama administration only finalized the exchange of the last remaining U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan for five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo a day before the June 1 swap, a top Democratic lawmaker said Tuesday. He said American officials didn't learn the pickup location for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl until an hour ahead of time.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2-ranked Democrat, presented the timeline as an explanation for why President Barack Obama didn't inform Congress 30 days before the deal. Republicans and some Democrats have sharply criticized the president for failing to notify them and claim he broke the law. Obama says he acted legally. 

"They knew a day ahead of time the transfer was going to take place," Durbin told reporters in the Capitol, where military officials briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee behind closed doors. "They knew an hour ahead of time where it was going to take place."

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel – not President Obama – executed the administration’s final call to proceed with the prisoner exchange of five ranking Taliban detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, administration officials told Congress today in a classified briefing today.

The Teflon Don-in-Chief doesn’t just hand things off just like stand-down orders don't disappear in a puff of smoke or that things are fine in Iraq.

It’s time to impeach the b@$#@^%.

“We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” Clinton said. “We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.”

Any effort to humanise Hillary Clinton is going to be a failed one. This woman has nothing on Lady MacBeth.

(Sidebar: China? Really? Weren’t there any democracies to go to?)

Newton North High School senior Henry DeGroot was visiting a school outside Beijing on a semester abroad this year when he decided to have some fun and also make a point by writing prodemocracy messages in the notebook of a Chinese student.

“Democracy is for cool kids,” he recalls writing. “Don’t believe the lies your school and government tell you,” said another message, and “It’s right to rebel.” 

But when Chinese school officials found out, he had to serve five hours of detention. And when he returned home, it got worse: Newton school officials barred DeGroot from his prom.

Newton school officials say he violated semester abroad rules, embarrassed the principal of the Chinese school that was hosting Newton students, and showed so much disrespect for the Chinese that the longstanding relationship with the school may be harmed.

DeGroot sees it differently.

He says his rights were abridged by the Newton school system. The school system, he says, taught him the importance of civil disobedience and speaking his mind, but then punished him when he practiced what he learned.

Instead of the prom, DeGroot said he and his date, dressed in formal attire, went to Five Guys, the local burger restaurant. “I’m missing a lifetime of memories,’’ he said. 

(Another sidebar: a much better use of time.)

As someone who didn’t go to the prom, I can’t say young Master DeGroot is missing much... or anything. Why not stay home and get drunk? And, really, is some trumped-up dance the pinnacle of your life? If that is how one sees it, that’s so pathetic that it needs to be fed Xanax and booze. Life is much bigger than a dance. It is a passage and a myriad of experiences and people that shape you and form your memories. No bundle of streamers and crappy pop music can do that. (Shut up. It’s true.)

That being said, banning someone from a school dance because he left pro-democracy messages in a craphole communist dictatorship (hi- Tiananmen Square) is appalling and baffling. It should be rewarded, not punished.

Home-schooling and charter schools look better by the minute.

Disney’s most popular villainess may have made herself a new enemy. While in China, on a promotional tour for Maleficent, Angelina Jolie sparked an international kerfuffle by referring to China and Taiwan as if they were separate countries. The controversial statement came up when Jolie was asked to name her favorite Chinese director; she identified Life of Pidirector Ang Lee, who is Taiwanese-American.

“I am not sure if you consider Ang Lee Chinese, he’s Taiwanese, but he does many Chinese-language films with many Chinese artists and actors,” Jolie answered. “And I think his works and the actors in his films are the ones I am most familiar with and very fond of.”

Chinese social media has since reportedly blown up, with comments  calling Jolie “traitorous” and a “deranged Taiwan independence supporter.” Some threatened to boycott her for, in the words of one user, “disrespecting Chinese sovereignty.” Meanwhile, Taiwanese internet users are said to be praising the actress, with one calling her a “brave and brilliant woman.”
Taiwan: these colours don't run.

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