urkey Blocks EU from NATO Summit unless OIC also Attends
By Servet Yanatma, Today's Zaman
Ankara says it will block EU participation in an upcoming NATO summit unless the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is also allowed to be present.
EU member states had proposed participation by some of the top EU bureaucrats, including European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, who are now unsure whether they will be able to attend the summit taking in Chicago on May 20-21 as representatives of the union due to the objections from Turkey, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Friday. Raising the EU's commitment to a NATO peace mission in Afghanistan, EU member countries including France had argued that the EU should be represented, while Turkey is maintaining that there should only be member state participation in the summit, the WSJ claimed.
“If non-NATO members will also participate, the OIC should be represented [in the Chicago summit] first and foremost,” Turkish diplomatic sources said in explaining Ankara’s position, speaking to Today’s Zaman on Sunday. The sources claimed that the OIC’s commitment exceeded the EU contribution in the Afghanistan peace mission.
The EU has exerted efforts for the reconstruction and democratization of Afghanistan in preparation for the post-NATO-mission period in the country. The EU launched a rule of law mission (EUPOL) under the banner of the European Security and Defense Program (ESDP) in June 2007. The union has also initiated a program for justice reform and is helping to fund civilian projects in NATO-run Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs).
Meanwhile, the OIC, a bloc of 56 countries, is also taking a growing interest in the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in 2010 it accepted a proposal by member states Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to appoint an OIC permanent representative for Afghanistan.
The US administration has joined the push for greater OIC involvement in Afghanistan for the last couple of years, which would bring benefits in efforts towards reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The Turkish diplomatic sources also noted that the different proposals coming from NATO members on who will participate are still being discussed and there is not an ultimate decision yet. They added that there are also objections from other non-EU NATO members to the proposed EU participation in the Chicago summit.
The background to Turkey’s objection to EU participation in NATO activities involves a more long-standing dispute. Greek Cyprus, representing the entire island as a full member of the EU, blocks Turkish participation in European defense institutions such as the European Defense Agency (EDA). Turkey, a NATO member, has responded by obstructing the EU’s integration in NATO activities.
Rejection of Israeli partnership in NATO
Turkey has also blocked Israel’s participation in the summit in a sign of Turkey’s determination to prevent its new foe from cooperating with the alliance following a deadly ship raid.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said during a NATO meeting in Brussels on April that Turkey will not allow Israel, a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue, a NATO outreach program including seven non-NATO nations, to take part in the alliance’s new “Partnership Cooperation Menu (PCM).
Turkish-Israeli relations worsened in May 2010 and have remained strained since then after Israeli naval commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara, a ship carrying humanitarian aid to breach Israel’s Gaza blockade, killing nine Turkish civilians.
Turkey insists that NATO-Israel relations cannot be restored until Turkey-Israel relations are normalized.
A one-time elite footballer is among the men held for attempting to transfer assault weapons.
A court in Copenhagen has ordered three men suspected of planning a terrorist attack held on remand for four weeks. The men were arrested last week on charges of illegal weapons possession at a suburban Copenhagen train station after one of the suspects, a 23-year-old Turkish citizen who lives in Denmark, attempted to transfer two AK-47 assault rifles to a 21-year-old Dane who resides in Egypt.
Both men pleaded innocent, but the third suspect, a 22-year-old Jordanian who has not present when the arrests were made at Herlev Station, has pleaded guilty to the charges of weapons possession. A fourth man, a 24-year-old Palestinian, was also arrested and charged with being in Denmark illegally.
There was a large security force on hand when the suspects were arraigned on Saturday. The arraignment was held behind closed doors and prosecutors said there was the possibility of further charges, including terrorism, being brought against the men.
Politiken reported over the weekend that the 22-year-old suspect had posted anti-Semitic and pro al-Qaeda messages on his Facebook page. One message stated his desire to burn the Israeli flag and attack “every goddamn Zionist pig". He also wrote that he respected al-Qaeda because “you knew where they stood. They have principles.”
The man also appeared to have connections with the criminal community. One of his Facebook friends is a known member of AK81, a group suspected of working closely with the Hell’s Angels.
Politiken also reported that as a teenager, the 21-year-old Danish-Egyptian suspect was considered one of the most promising young footballers in Denmark. He turned down an offer in 2009 to play for the Danish U-18 national team and instead joined the Egyptian squad. The suspect was born in Denmark, but when he was arrested, his address was listed as being in Cairo, Egypt.
I am happy to be in New York again, even though in my country today it is Queen’s day, a national celebration. This is why I am wearing my orange tie.
Thank you, Nina, for organizing this event and giving me the opportunity to address all of you. It is always good to be among friends. It is an honor to be here in the presence of so many people who care for the preservation of freedom in our civilization.
It is great to be in America, the beacon of liberty, the land of the free, the land where people are still allowed to speak freely. I know what I am talking about. I was acquitted after a legal ordeal that lasted almost 3 years. I had been brought to court for criticizing Islam.
Though at the end of the day I was acquitted, the court case had been a disgrace. It was a time-, money- and energy-consuming nightmare. This charade that happened in the Netherlands for the last few years could not have happened in your great country, where the First Amendment guarantees people the freedom to express their opinions.
The first Amendment is what we need in the Netherlands and Europe.
I am in New York for the release of my book “Marked for Death”. It explains why Islam is the largest threat to freedom which the world is currently facing. It argues why Islam is a totalitarian ideology rather than a religion. It reveals how Islam has already profoundly changed Europe in the last decades. It exposes the cultural relativism which has affected Europe so deeply that many in Europe refuse to stand for liberty and prefer to appease Islam.
As you know, people who speak out like myself and I pay a steep price for speaking these truths. Apart from legal attempts to silence me, there are also the threats by radical Muslims to kill me. I have been living under permanent police protection for almost eight years now. People like me pay this price for speaking the truth about Islam. But I do not regret one word. I see it as my duty to warn the West.
I have traveled widely in the Islamic world. I have read the Koran. I have studied the life of Muhammad. It made me realize that Islam is primarily a dangerous ideology rather than a religion. This is the truth. This violent ideology wants to impose Islamic sharia law on the whole world, including us the Kafirs, the non-Muslims. This inhumane ideology is also outspokenly anti-Semitic.
This ideology also harms Muslims. Islam believes that everything men have to know can be found in the Koran. As such, it is hostile to all forms of innovation. But without innovation there can be no progress and people cannot prosper.
Many people unfortunately are blind to the true nature of Islam. They are blind because they do not realize what Islam is and mistakenly believe that it is a religion just like any other religion.
I have written my book to inform them.
Islam fails four major tests that religions should fulfill:
1 Adherence to a religion must be a personal choice;
2 no religion should demand that those who leave it be killed;
3 a religion must never mandate the subjugation of those who do not belong to it;
4 a religion must be in accord with basic human rights.
I have also written my book because I am not a defeatist. The West is able to defeat totalitarian Islam just as it defeated Nazism and Communism in the past.
My book is dedicated to freedom. It is inspired by many freedom fighters, from previous generations but also people from our age. As it happens, two people, whom I refer to in the book, are present in this room here today: Andy Bostom and Ibn Warraq.
Fortunately, we are not alone in the fight for freedom. We are in the company of heroes and friends. This gives us the strength to continue.
In order to defeat Islam so, we must do four things.
The first and most important is to speak the truth, always and everywhere also about islam. Like the Americans, the people in the Netherlands and other European countries desperately need a First Amendment.
That will allow them to tell the truth about Islam and Muhammad. In doing so we will expose this dangerous ideology and its founder. We must encourage Muslims to leave Islam and to choose for freedom and prosperity.
Secondly, we have to believe in the superiority of our Western values. If we do not believe in our own Western values, we will not be prepared to defend them. That is why we have to end the biggest disease in the world today, the cultural relativism which pretends that all cultures are equal. This is simply not true. Our Judeo-Christian and humanist civilization is far superior to any other civilizations like the barbaric Islamic civilization. We should not be afraid to say so. It is more free, more democratic, more tolerant than any civilization the world has ever seen.
Thirdly, we must stop the Islamization of our societies, by restricting immigration from Islamic countries, and expelling those who violate our laws and commit violence. If you respect our laws you are welcome to stay; if you don’t you do not belong here and we will send you packing.
And fourthly, we must reassert our national identities. The nation-state enables self-government and self-determination. This insight led the Zionists to establish Israel as the homeland of the Jews.
Zionism teaches us one of the most important lessons which the modern world needs today. Theodor Herzl argued that a Jewish state would facilitate “a new blossoming of the Jewish spirit.” Today, we need our own respective nation-states to preside over a new blossoming of our own Western spirit.
Our nations are the homes in which freedom and democracy prospers. This is true for the Netherlands. This is true for America. This is true for Israel.
Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. It is a beacon of freedom in an unfree region, a beacon of life in a place of darkness. If Israel falls, the West falls.
Mothers in the West can sleep safely because Israeli mothers at night worry about their sons in the army. Their fight is our fight. We should support it.
Israel is, indeed, a vital outpost of Western civilization. That is why Islam conditions the faithful to hate the Jewish state and to view its destruction as an imperative. It is our duty to stand with Israel.
All these arguments are made in my book, in which I also explain how we can defend freedom and oppose Islamization and cultural relativism in a non-violent and democratic way. In fact, that is what my party, the Party for Freedom, is doing in the Netherlands.
When I began to speak out against Islam 10 years ago, two things happened. Extremist Muslims from the Netherlands and all over the world marked me for death, but Dutch people came to me to express me their support. In 2010, we became the third biggest party in the Netherlands. Though the PVV did not become a coalition partner in the Dutch government, for almost two years we supported a center-right minority government in return for measures to roll back Sharia in Holland, stop the Islamization process, and counter cultural relativism.
The Dutch government even had the audacity to speak out against the powerful OIC, the Organisation of Islamic Conference. The OIC is an international organization of 57 Islamic countries, most of them barbaric tyrannies.
This OIC constitutes the largest voting bloc in the United Nation. It had criticized the fact that Dutch judges had acquitted me of all charges in my court case. But the Dutch government made it clear to the OIC that freedom of speech will not be muzzled in the Netherlands. It told the OIC very bluntly: “The Dutch government dissociates itself fully from the request to silence a politician.” Never before had a European government had the courage to confront the OIC in such a forceful way.
Unfortunately, last week, the Party for Freedom decided to end its support for the government. As you can imagine, this was a difficult decision for us, given the many things also on the subject of islamization that we were still to achieve. Unfortunately, however, previous Dutch governments– as governments elsewhere in Europe – have signed away a significant part of our own sovereignty to the EU, the European Union, a supranational institution run by unelected and undemocratic bureaucrats.
The EU controls our borders and decides over most immigration rules. The EU also imposes a policy of austerity on our country.
When the government, in order to comply with the EU rules, decided to raise taxes and slash the budget at the expense of the citizens rather than by trimming the government, my party had no other option but to bring the government down and we did so last week.
We are now heading for elections, which will be held on September 12th. Our electoral campaign will focus on the need to restore our national sovereignty, because without our sovereignty we cannot defend our identity and fight against islamization.
My friends, we continue our efforts. Our opponents have not been able to bully me. They have not been able to silence me. They shriek and yell, but we will never give in. One of my favorite presidents Ronald Reagan once said: “The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted.”Reagan was right. The future belongs to us.
In 2008, I released Fitna, a documentary about the true message of the Koran. Tomorrow, I release my book. I wrote it to inform people and also to encourage freedom loving Muslims to leave Islam. And to see islam for what it really is.
I wholeheartedly support those who struggle for freedom in the Islamic world. The Arab, Turkish, Iranian, Pakistani, and Indonesian people have tremendous potential. If they could liberate themselves from the yoke of Islam, if they would stop taking Muhammad as a role model, and if they get rid of the hateful Koran, they would be able to achieve amazing things.
As I say in my book – my message to them, to all the muslims all over the world, is clear: “Fatalism is no option, Inch’Allah is a curse; Submission is a disgrace. Free yourselves. It is up to you.”
I receive hundreds of emails from all over the world. From people in Islamic countries, and from people in Western countries begging for help. They, too, want to fight for freedom and stop the Islamization process
We have to advise and help.
I leave you with another Reagan quote: “We need to act today, to preserve tomorrow.” Indeed, my friends, there are so many things which we can do. Things which we must do. But we can do them only if we can count on each other. You can count on me. I spoke, I speak, I shall continue to speak. I hope I can continue to count on your support.
We are fighting for the future of our children, the survival of the Western spirit, the preservation of our liberty and democracy, our Judeo-Christian and humanist heritage.
We must be brave and save our heritage and our own constitution. The West is in danger, but we can still prevail. Even when we are insulted, even when we are harassed and intimidated, even when we are marked for death – we must stand up for our values, tell the truth and never ever be silenced.
A suspected terrorist plot to drive a toy car loaded with explosives under the gates of a Territorial Army base and blow it up has been smashed by police.
Detectives believe the device was to have been detonated in Luton as part of a campaign of terror attacks in Britain.
They are accused of taking their lead from copies of the Al-Qaeda magazine Inspire which contains blueprints for home-grown attacks.
The alleged complex 16-month plot emerged as four British Muslim men appeared in court yesterday charged with a raft of terrorist offences
Zahid Iqbal, 30, is accused of leading a terror network under the instruction of shadowy Al-Qaeda masterminds in Pakistan.He was joined in the dock by close friends Mohammed Sharfaraz Ahmed, 24, Umar Arshad, 23, and Syed Farhan Hussain, 21.
The gang are accused of working to recruit others to fight Jihad and raising vital funds
They were arrested at their homes in Luton last week after a multi-million pound investigation that began last year.
The men had been arrested and their homes searched last September but it is understood police needed more time to piece together the plot. Westminster Magistrates' Court heard the men bought survival equipment, downloaded Al-Qaeda terror manuals and discussed methods and targets
One was overheard saying: 'You don't want to be expecting something huge and then something little going off.' Another said: 'I was like driving past the TA centre … if you had a small toy car, there's a small gap under the gate. You could drive it under a vehicle that they use.'
The four men were remanded in custody at top security Belmarsh Prison and will appear at the Old Bailey next week.
byGyörgy Faludy (1910-2006) Translated from the Hungarian and edited by Thomas Ország-Land (May 2012)
A hundred libraries and parks surrounded
the university where mosques and fountains
and jasmine, myrrh and passion's honey scent, and
night revellers mingled with the olive trees.
His sword was fine, his charger black as ravens. more>>>
W hen the legendary investor Warren Buffet advocated higher rates of income tax for high earners, such as himself, incidentally noting that his secretary paid a higher percentage of her income than he did with his contribution of six-plus million bucks (on what gross, he didn’t say), he was grandstanding, as we say, incidentally being more than a bit disingenuous. more>>>
I. Introduction: Shakespeare and the Moment of Love
It is worth observing that on more than one occasion Shakespeare audaciously presents the very instant when his characters are swept off their feet by love. This vivid transformation comes not in response to mere physical comeliness, noble deeds or flattery, but rather to improvised poetry. more>>>
“With women the heart argues, not the mind.” – Mathew Arnold
Mother’s Day is a lovely idea, but like many good notions, a kind of cultural decay often sets in and the institution becomes the enemy of the idea. The original Mother’s Day in America seems to have been proclaimed in the wake of the Civil War by Julia Ward Howe in 1870, as a day to think about disarmament; a way to honor sons fallen in battle. more>>>
Hardly anyone uses the term, “Jewish nationalism”, nowadays, yet it would not be difficult to identify various aspects of Jewish tradition and culture to which the term could legitimately be applied. more>>>
The West Faces Rising Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East
by Jerry Gordon and Mike Bates (May 2012)
“April is the cruelest month,” a line from T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Wasteland, was very much in evidence given the eruption of conflicts in the troubled Muslim realms of the Middle East and North Africa. The yearlong rebellion in Syria against the minority Alawite Baathist regime of Bashar al-Assad reached a bloody climax with more than 11,000 slaughtered in the streets of Homs, Damascus and Daara by security forces. more>>>
April 26 this year, according to the corresponding date of the Jewish lunar calendar marks the 64th anniversary of Israel’s Declaration of Independence (May 15, 1948).
Since then, Israel has been constantly in the news and with the passage of time subjected to the growing myth never challenged by the media, that the United States was wholly or largely responsible for fully supporting Israel on the ground from the very beginning, a claim that is without any foundation in fact. more>>>
In the 1950s and early 1960s as a student of classical singing at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto I was exposed to the full range of European Art music, from Bach to Rachmaninoff. There I learnt that Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Bruckner had all come from Germany but so did my pediatrician for that matter, a German Jewish refugee from Hamburg, more>>>
On Saturday, April 21st, Geert Wilders, populist leader of the PVV Freedom Party in the Netherlands walked out of intense negotiations with the ruling minority center-right coalition government headed by PM Mark Rutte of the VVD Liberal Party. Wilders and the PVV had sought to protect the pension rights of average citizens in Holland in the current budget crisis. more>>>
Readers of my work will know that I often try to say something honest and straightforward about Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein or Heidegger, not least as an antidote to the baleful effect of the scholarship industries that have grown up around all three of them. Anyway, this little piece is about Heidegger, and I hope it will strike a chord with anyone who senses he is important but can’t get clear of the lingering suspicion that he isn’t. more>>>
There may be a certain danger to having talks like this with one’s children (or writing it up as a column or giving it as a speech) if one does not convey a deeper spiritual reality transcending the genetic code and its mundane, corporeal effects. Only the awareness of a higher reality (the values, God and his Love) can mitigate the harsh logical consequences of seeing human beings as genetically determined material objects. How do we measure human value? more>>>
Recently, the first of my contemporaries died. She was a student of languages when I was a medical student. My fellow medical students and I diagnosed the chronic illness from which she was to die more than forty years later, the last fifteen of them too incapacitated to do the teaching work that she loved. more>>>
Tom Chivers in The Telegraph on the "estate agent's self" and how it impacts our linguistic bottom line:
I call it the "estate agents' self": the pointless upgrading of "me" to "myself", or "you" to "yourself". "We'll arrange a meeting between the client and yourself at a later date"; "Myself and the vice-president of accounts will be reviewing your pay scale at the end of the fiscal year."
If you watch The Apprentice, you'll know what I mean. Roughly half of all discussions go: "Who came up with this bladdy stoopid idea?" "That was myself, Lord Sugar." But it's spreading beyond its natural home among pinstriped management-consultancy graduates, and into into the wider world.
This week England's Jonathan Trott said of his relationship with his fellow batsman Ian Bell: "Belly and myself are working just as hard as each other." At the Leveson inquiry, we heard James Murdoch refer to "my father or myself" and "the company and myself"; Tom Crone, his former lawyer, complained about "Mr Murdoch's attack on Colin Myler and myself." And, most shameful of all, Jeremy Hunt, the culture (!) secretary, told the House of Commons about "correspondence between News Corporation and myself."
Myself-abuse is just the tip of the iceberg. When faced with intimidating social or professional situations, we naturally try to make ourselves sound more intelligent, more commanding. Unfortunately, that sometimes means using words that we don't fully understand, or that don't actually add anything to our meaning. "Whilst" and "amongst" instead of "while" and "among" are prime examples. Management-speak is filled with this nonsense: "action" as a verb rarely means anything that "do" doesn't; "impact", while not being any longer than "affect", sounds more important, because it's newer and therefore more exciting.
Some good takeaways from this piece, which I will action -- or perhaps re-visit next time I'm in the loop.
This is from the Swedish edition of The Local. The Scottish legal system is completely different to the English one (it really is another country and they do things differently there) and I can find no reference to it so far in the Scots press.
Nazzedine Menni, the student who allegedly helped plan the suicide bomb attack in Stockholmin 2010, stands trial in Glasgow on Monday for what is anticipated to be a 12 week court case.
The man, who denies the charges, risks life imprisonment.
He is suspected of aiding Taimour Abdulwahab, an Iraqi-born Swede, who was the only fatality of the twin blasts in Drottninggatan, central Stockholm, on December 12, 2010. According to the Aftonbladet newspaper, Menni helped finance the attack, partly due to claiming benefits through eight of his different aliases.
The man, who studied in the English town of Luton, was arrested under the name of Ahmed al-Khaledi, which has since been formally changed in legal documents a number of times, with courts recently settling on Nazzedine Menni.
Despite it being 18-months since the attack, and five countries being somehow related to the incident, Menni and the bomber himself are still the only two people suspected of any crime.
The 12 week trial, which begins on Monday, has 250 possible witnesses to be called upon, according to TT news agency.
A British Muslim leader has been caught on camera advocating female genital mutilation.
Mohammed Abdul, the Imam of a Bristol mosque, was filmed urging a follower to take women and girls abroad so they can be circumcised legally.
The practise was banned by law in 2003, and it's illegal to help or encourage anyone to carry out the barbaric procedure overseas.
The footage was obtained by an undercover reporter working for the Sunday Times newspaper, who posed as a Muslim seeking advice.
During a meeting with Mohammed Abdul at the Masjid al-Huda mosque: 'In this country, it is not possible, we cannot do that. (For) any other Muslim who likes to practise the way of Prophet Muhammad, the best way is to go to other countries. Some families, they go to Africa or Arab countries. In this country you have to fight for your religion, your cultures, They (the British) don't like your Muslim cultures.'
As I told the Editor of The American Thinker, Tom Lifson:
“Although lengthy, this review-essay will provide readers with a definitive understanding of one of the West’s most important political leaders, whose grasp of the civilizational jihadist threat, and willingness to combat it, are unequalled.”
Both part1and part 2 are now posted at The American Thinker.
The Amsterdam Rijksmuseum’s current exhibit “Ottomania” punctuates ongoing commemorations marking 400 years of Dutch-Turkish relations. With depressing predictability, the Turkish media erupted in furyover a 1683 print on display which celebrates the defeatof the Ottoman jihad campaign against Vienna . Consistent with disparaging images commonplace in that late 17thcentury era, the print depicts Mehmed IV, the Ottoman sultan (r. 1648-1687), lying forlorn in bed following the humiliating defeat of his grand vizier Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha at Vienna. A salient detail of the print shows the royal bedside commode adjacent to a Koran, placed, ostensibly, for use as toilet paper.
Shortly afterward, during his recent visit to the Netherlands as part of the same commemorations, Turkish President Abdullah Gul labeled Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders an “Islamophobe.” Interviewed by the Dutch mass-circulation daily De Telegraaf, Gul claimed Wilders represented “an extreme voice, which feeds radicals.” Gul further accused Wilders of engendering“a negative us-against-them climate [that] is developing in the whole of Europe , which is laying the foundation for ethnic religious discrimination.” Responding to Gul’s denunciation, Wilders tweeted with appropriate disdain, “Turkish humor: Christian-teaser, Kurd-basher, Hamas-friend and Islamist Gul complaining about tolerance.”
In 2009, Turkey declinedto receive a Dutch parliamentary delegation if it included Wilders. At the time, a Turkish spokesperson insisted that Wilders was “such a fascist that besides in Turkey , he would not be welcome in other European capitals.” Wilders, in turn, this past November, 2011 observed, aptly
Gul’s Islamic regime and his party colleague, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, are no friends of the West and therefore not of the Netherlands either. President Gul is not welcome. Turkey has no place in the community of European values and there’s no reason for a party. Anyone who looks further than their own nose can see that the regime of Gul and Erdogan is killing off Turkey ’s secular constitution in order to re-Islamise the country. (Read More)
Most people of a certain age, including me, like to think that they are irreplaceable. It’s a delusion that, like osteoarthritis, is almost inevitable after one has passed the meridian of one’s life.
How pushy all those young people are, how eager to take one’s place, when one knows perfectly well that they are not yet ready (from the point of view of skill and experience) to do so! They never will be ready, of course, because the world has gone steadily downhill ever since one’s childhood. Really, they all have unresolved Oedipus complexes, these youngsters. That’s why they are so eager to take over.
And yet, on the other hand, one will be quite relieved to retire, to be subject no longer to the day-to-day pressure of work, to be free to do all those things that one had no time for while one’s whole body was pressed to the grindstone, to take off at a whim to an exotic location or just spend the day pottering about without feeling guilty. One must never forget that doctors who retire at the last possible moment have a much reduced life expectancy by comparison with those who retire before they are actually forced to go. In other words, one should retire to something and not just from something.
Like everyone else, people of potential retirement age – the elderly are those who are more than five years older than oneself – don’t like being told what they must or mustn’t do: retire or not, they want to make the decision for themselves.
Recently, we have grown accustomed to the idea that no one has the right to dismiss us just because we have reached a certain age, and indeed, that we must work longer because our pensions are unaffordable. But now the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way, because the young in these times of dearth need their chance of employment, and so once more we must retire. Whatever the old do now – retire or keep working – they are selfish brutes.
What the law can give, the law can take away. A recent ruling by the Supreme Court gives back to employers the right to dismiss old people because they are old, at least in certain circumstances. The ruling makes chilling reading.
The case was that of a partner in a firm of solicitors. The partners had agreed by private contract to retire at the age of 65, but when the partner who subsequently brought the case reached the age of 65, he found that he could not afford to do so. In the meantime, age discrimination had been outlawed, so when the other partners refused to allow him to continue in the practice, he brought a case against them. The Supreme Court has ruled against him, not on the grounds that he wanted to break the contract, but on other, potentially sinister grounds.
The judgment is complicated, but the overall impression it gives is that a person may be lawfully dismissed on grounds of age if such dismissal meets social objectives as laid down by the government; for example, to meet the need for “intergenerational fairness” in the distribution of jobs, or to reduce unemployment among the young. But people cannot be dismissed if it is for “purely individual reasons particular to the employer’s situation, such as cost reduction or improving competitiveness”. In other words, the employer must consider everyone’s interests but his own.
The problem with what the judgment considers legitimate objectives is that they are contradictory, especially today, when the number of jobs available is smaller than the number of people wanting to work. We want to reduce youth unemployment, and one means of doing so is to get older people to retire, so that young people can climb on to the job escalator; on the other hand, we want to delay the retirement age because the cost of pensions is a drag on the economy. Besides, people are not only living longer, but are healthier; they do not want to don the carpet slippers too soon. So there are good reasons to permit discrimination on grounds of age and equally good reasons not to do so.
According to the judgment, only the state can adjudicate between the competing claims of discrimination and non-discrimination. The image of Solomon and the two putative mothers of the child comes to mind. But how Solomonic is the state? After all, it created a large part of the mess in the first place. People have to work so long partly because for years the state, in its Solomonic wisdom, has been operating an unfunded pyramid pension scheme that makes Mr Madoff seem like a small-time operator.
So, are the old or ageing selfish for continuing to work? Or are they selfish for having retired too soon? Now one, now the other; both and neither. The problem is that the circle cannot be squared, not even with age and experience.
A man set off a grenade during a church service in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Sunday, sowing chaos and killing one worshipper.
"It was horrible. People were screaming all over and blood was all over," resident Samuel Kimani Mwandati said outside the God's House of Miracles Church in Nairobi's Ngara neighbourhood.
The area police chief, Joseph Gichangi, said there had been "one fatality," and later police estimates put the number of injured at 15.
Nairobi has been hit by a series of unclaimed blasts since late 2011, which Kenyan officials have blamed on Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab Islamists. "We have not known the motive of the attack, but we can't rule out anything," said Nairobi deputy police chief Moses Nyakwama.
Gichangi said the assailant was reportedly a member of the congregation and fled immediately after setting off the grenade. Witnesses said he was armed. Police said witnesses provided a description of the attacker and urged the community to assist their investigation. "With the help of the public, we will get him," Nyakwama said.