June 13th 2009

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Beijing mocks Universal Declaration of Human Rights

EDITORIAL: Recession: end of the beginning ... or beginning of the end?

EUTHANASIA: Dr Death's travelling road show

POPULATION: Billionaire club seeks to curb world's population

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Is Barnaby Joyce a leader in the making?

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Why Rudd's emissions trading scheme should be defeated

GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS: Fundamental change is needed, but probably won't happen

GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR: FBI foils new terrorist attack on New York

SRI LANKA: Mass carnage of Tamils in war without witnesses

INDIA: India's Congress alliance's strengthened mandate

CHINA: Growth slump worries Beijing leadership

ASIA-PACIFIC REGION: Japan set to expand its naval capabilities

OBITUARY: Jerzy Zubrzycki MBE CBE AO - A champion of human freedom and dignity

OPINION: Employee share ownership under threat

AS THE WORLD TURNS: The word is out/ Sharia law vs. prairie law

Housing affordability and land prices (letter)

Religious zeal (letter)

Fuddled logic (letter)

Contrarianism? (letter)

CINEMA: 'The Baader Meinhof Complex' - film whitewashes notorious terrorist gang

BOOKS: I AM MELBA: A Biography, by Ann Blainey

BOOKS: AN AWKWARD TRUTH: The Bombing of Darwin, February 1942, by Peter Grose

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The word is out/ Sharia law vs. prairie law

News Weekly, June 13, 2009
The word is out

Kim Jong-il, the charismatic and popular (if you are a Pyongyang resident and covet a life expectancy of more than 24 hours) Dear Leader of North Korea, is on his sixth or seventh missile this week. See the pretty vapour trails streak across Asian skies, in an impressive firework display to celebrate the arrival of President Pantywaist in the Oval Office.

School's out! Suddenly it is playtime for all the naughtier elements in the more "reclusive" parts of the world who enjoy kicking Uncle Sam's butt but didn't much relish tangling with Dick Cheney and (what was that other guy's name?).

This time Comrade Kim is really throwing his toys out of the playpen. He has even unilaterally revoked the 1953 armistice between the Korean War belligerents, which means, in case anybody is interested, that North and South Korea are once more at war.

So, what is the response of the Messiah in the Oval Office? Really severe rhetoric, is the answer. The soundbite manufacturers have been burning the midnight oil and the auto-cue is going into meltdown. So is the confidence of Asian leaders.

The word is out: the most powerful nation on earth has got itself a pussycat for a president and all the bad guys are queuing up to give him the finger.

- extract from Gerald Warner, "Barack Obama: all the bad guys are giving President Pantywaist the finger", The Telegraph (UK), May 29, 2009.
URL: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/gerald_warner/blog/2009/05/29/barack_obama_all_the_bad_guys_are_giving_president_pantywaist_the_finger


Sharia law vs. prairie law

In a Toronto apartment building, a feud has broken out over a neighbourly "hello". What hath multiculturalism wrought?

When the landlady of my Toronto apartment building said an outraged neighbour had filed a complaint about me over an apparently inappropriate hallway interaction with his wife, my mind raced through the countless conversations I've had with fellow tenants, none of which seemed a possible source of offence.

It turns out, it wasn't a salacious transaction that had caused the complaint, but rather a neighbourly and - to me - entirely forgettable greeting, little more than a brief "good morning" as I passed my neighbours on the way to work.

Still, it was enough of an affront for the man - once a doctor somewhere in the Middle East, my landlady clarified - to feel I had broken a cultural taboo. The incident started an awkward feud which has involved warnings not to repeat my indiscretion and one face-to-face shouting match, which included allusions to my impending death.

His Muslim upbringing has ingrained in him a sense of entitlement to demand I not speak directly to his wife; and my prairie upbringing has ingrained in me a duty to strive for polite cohesion with my neighbours.

Life among neighbours has become increasingly complicated by multiculturalism, in this case making even the most affable salutation or good Samaritan gesture a practice in walking on eggshells. But in trying to adapt to a patchwork of often conflicting cultures, has civility become the casualty of accommodation?

I grew up in Manitoba, where it was an affront to your neighbour not to be cordial. If you didn't greet them by name you could be talked about in hushed voices and risked being labelled standoffish. Community amongst neighbours was not something to consider, it was a way of life. Call it prairie law.

- extract from Matthew Coutts, "Hallway culture clash", National Post (Toronto, Canada), May 22, 2009.
URL: http://www.nationalpost.com/story.html?id=1618828

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