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The deep Crisis of the West
Switzerland draws a line on immigration
20.02.2014. Switzerland is a small, prosperous country which during World War II managed not to become part of the Nazi empire and during the postwar era has succeeded in staying out of the EU. Nonetheless, like other European countries whose citizens have voted to stay out of the EU, Switzerland – in exchange for participation in free trade with EU members – has signed treaties that subject its citizens to EU regulations. Among those treaties is a seven-year-old agreement that grants most EU citizens the right to live and work in Switzerland. Thus writes Bruce Bawer in an article in FrontPage Magazine. He continues (links in original):
In a referendum on February 14, however, the Swiss electorate voted by a slim majority for a proposal by the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) that will invalidate that treaty. The Washington Post‘s Anthony Faiola, in his report on the vote, provided a fine example of the way in which the left-wing media routinely reduce real-life concerns to obnoxious caricatures, all the while acting as if the people they’re condescendingly mocking are the ones purveying the caricatures: the Swiss vote, he wrote, was the result of the mischievous efforts of “right-wing populists” who worry that their “idyllic Swiss lifestyle” is “being trampled by hordes of foreign newcomers.” Faiola went on to compare Swiss voters to “the paramilitaries of the Golden Dawn” in Greece and the “anti-immigrant, anti-Roma and anti-Semitic” members of the radical-right Jobbik Party in Hungary. The New York Times took a similar approach: “Far-right parties with anti-immigrant platforms in France, the Netherlands and Norway have gained strength in recent years,” wrote Melissa Eddy and Stephen Castle (the Norway reference obviously being to the center-right Progress Party, which is closer to the American political center than any other party in Norway).
But that’s not enough for the EU masters. They can’t stand that a rich country like Switzerland (Norway, too) isn’t fully within its grasp. And for Bern to withdraw itself from the EU’s clutches in the matter of immigration is more than the power-hungry men and women in Brussels can stand. “The message is clear today: free movement of people is a sacred right for the EU,” said European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen.
Yes, “sacred.” How interesting to learn that this, of all things, is what’s “a sacred right for the EU.” We know, after all, that freedom of expression doesn’t make the cut: in 2006, the European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy (i.e. Flunky in Charge of EU-Arab Relations) told journalists that self-censorship for the sake of “mutual respect and understanding” between cultures was “a vital part of the fight against racism and xenophobia” and that freedom of expression doesn’t mean “the freedom to insult or offend”; in 2007, the EU made “incitement of racism, xenophobia, or hatred against a racial, ethnic, or religious group” punishable by up to three years behind bars; the EU’s 2007 Lisbon Treaty provides for automatic arrest and extradition of persons accused of racism and xenophobia.”
So, no, freedom of speech isn’t “sacred” in the EU. What’s “sacred” is the right of busloads of gypsies to cross into Switzerland and start gathering up goodies. What person in his right mind wants to belong to a congregation for which this is what’s holy? Good for Switzerland’s voters. More power to them.
Read the entire article in FrontPage Magazine.
Der Spiegel interviews SVP leader Christoph Blocher
19.02.2014. In a SPIEGEL interview, Christoph Blocher, the leader of the Swiss People's Party discusses the success of his recent campaign in a referendum against "mass migration" and Switzerland's future relationship with the EU. Christoph Blocher, 73, is Switzerland's most controversial politician. The billionaire entrepreneur transformed the Swiss People's Party (SVP) into a right-wing populist organization that campaigns against the European Union, immigration and Islam. It was Blocher, educated as a lawyer, who led the successful campaign against Switzerland joining the European Economic Area in 1992. From 2004 to 2007, he served as a member of the government before getting voted out of office. He remains a leader in Swiss politics and recently financed the campaign against "mass immigration" to the tune of 3 million francs (€2.45 million). SPIEGEL interviewed Blocher in the wake of the Feb. 9 referendum in Switzerland in which 50.3 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of capping immigration from the EU. Swiss Populist Leader Blocher: 'We Are a Sovereign Country':
SPIEGEL: Mr. Blocher, after the referendum you said that the European Union would be the supplicant in coming negotiations with Switzerland. Are you suffering from delusions of grandeur?
Blocher: Excuse me, but just take a look at reality. The EU wants Switzerland to bring its tax laws into line. Second, it wants us to expand the taxation on interest on bank accounts belonging to EU citizens. Third, they want us to become so institutionally interconnected that Switzerland would have to automatically adopt European laws in the future. And then they want us to allow the European Court of Justice to decide on treaty disputes. These things are all in the EU's interest. If the EU now threatens to cut off bilateral relations, then it can do so. That wouldn't cause Switzerland to go down.
SPIEGEL: Do you seriously want to end negotiations and breach agreements?
Blocher: Switzerland can't breach treaties and it will not do so. But certain negotiations -- namely over binding our institutions -- should be suspended. We won't be concluding any colonial treaties -- not even with the EU. The European Commission's attitude is this: What do you want, little Switzerland, what occurs to you? I thought we'd gotten past such thinking after the world wars and decolonization. Everybody talks about people's right to self-determination. Is that now no longer the case? It appears I was wrong. Small countries are punished just like little boys. Switzerland cannot put up with that.
SPIEGEL: You're presenting your country as the victim of sinister powers. The fact is that Switzerland agreed to a package of treaties with the EU of its own volition. Why should the EU allow Switzerland to curtail the right to free movement of persons?
Blocher: We finalized a treaty that includes review clauses and cancellation periods. We will adhere to those. But because the free movement of persons is leading to a catastrophe, the Swiss people have decided to move away from it. Under the treaty, it was agreed that the deal would have to be revised if there were economic or social difficulties. Of course one could claim that there are no such disturbances. But more than 50 percent of voters have determined differently. Some 23.8 percent of Switzerland's population is comprised of foreigners, and almost 15 percent are first-generation naturalized Swiss citizens. No similar European state has anything like that.
SPIEGEL: Most of your applause is coming from right-wing extremist parties. Do you feel comfortable in the company of these groups?
Blocher: No, I do not associate with this lot. But it isn't possible to prevent such applause. The SVP has nothing to do with xenophobia. I also reject the accusation that Switzerland is xenophobic. We don't have the kind of foreigner ghettos that other European countries have and there is no right-wing extremist party.
SPIEGEL: So it's just the result of some big misunderstanding that your SVP is considered to be a far-right party?
Blocher: That is vilification from opponents and journalists. SVP is currently the largest party and it will soon turn 100 years old. It is business-friendly and conservative. We are committed to making sure that Switzerland remains the direct democracy that it is today.
SPIEGEL: Do you consider yourself to be a European?
Blocher: Yes, absolutely. But I'm sorry, the EU is an incorrectly designed and overly complicated construct. It has also shifted far away from being an idealistic peace project.
Reading the entire interview in Spiegel Online. Hat tip Document.no.
Scientists identify gene linking brain structure to intelligence
12.02.2014. For the first time, scientists at King’s College London have identified a gene linking the thickness of the grey matter in the brain to intelligence. The study is published today in Molecular Psychiatry and may help scientists understand biological mechanisms behind some forms of intellectual impairment. The researchers looked at the cerebral cortex, the outermost layer of the human brain. It is known as ‘grey matter’ and plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language and consciousness. Previous studies have shown that the thickness of the cerebral cortex, or ‘cortical thickness’, closely correlates with intellectual ability, however no genes had yet been identified. Continue reading at King's College London.
Differ in specific brain structures
12.02.2014. Reviewing over 20 years of neuroscience research into sex differences in brain structure, a Cambridge University team has conducted the first meta-analysis of the evidence, published this week in the prestigious journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. Thus reports Medical Xpress:
They found that males on average have larger total brain volumes than women (by 8-13%). On average, males had larger absolute volumes than females in the intracranial space (12%; >14,000 brains), total brain (11%; 2,523 brains), cerebrum (10%; 1,851 brains), grey matter (9%; 7,934 brains), white matter (13%; 7,515 brains), regions filled with cerebrospinal fluid (11.5%; 4,484 brains), and cerebellum (9%; 1,842 brains). Looking more closely, differences in volume between the sexes were located in several regions. These included parts of the limbic system, and the language system.
Specifically, males on average had larger volumes and higher tissue densities in [...]. By contrast, females on average had higher density in [...]. The results highlight an asymmetric effect of sex on the developing brain. [...]
Professor Suckling added: "The sex differences in the limbic system include areas often implicated in psychiatric conditions with biased sex ratios such as autism, schizophrenia, and depression. This new study may therefore help us understand not just typical sex differences but also sex-linked psychiatric conditions. It is important to note that we only investigated sex differences in brain structure, so we cannot infer anything about how this relates to behaviour or brain function. Integrating across different levels will be an important goal for future research."
Professor Baron-Cohen commented: "Although these very clear sex differences in brain structure may reflect an environmental or social factor, from other studies we know that biological influences are also important, including prenatal sex steroid hormones (such as foetal testosterone) as well as sex chromosome effects. Such influences need to be teased out, one by one."
Read the entire article in Medical Xpress.
Egypt's El-Sisi calls for ijtihad
12.02.2014. General El-Sisi, the commander of the Egyptian Armed Forces and current head of state, is essentially calling for a reformation in Islam. Continue reading at The Clarion Project.
Roger Scruton on the real meaning of freedom
10.02.2014. We need conservatism now more than ever, writes Roger Scruton in Stand up for the real meaning of freedom in The Spectator:
When pressed for a statement of their beliefs, conservatives give ironical or evasive answers: beliefs are what the others have, the ones who have confounded politics with religion, as socialists and anarchists do. This is unfortunate, because conservatism is a genuine, if unsystematic, philosophy, and it deserves to be stated, especially at a time like the present, when the future of our nation is in doubt.
Conservatives believe that our identities and values are formed through our relations with other people, and not through our relation with the state. The state is not an end but a means. Civil society is the end, and the state is the means to protect it. The social world emerges through free association, rooted in friendship and community life. And the customs and institutions that we cherish have grown from below, by the ‘invisible hand’ of co-operation. They have rarely been imposed from above by the work of politics, the role of which, for a conservative, is to reconcile our many aims, and not to dictate or control them.
If you see things in that way, then you are likely to believe in conserving civil society, by accommodating necessary change. New Labour sought to weaken our society externally and to divide it internally by its unquestioning acceptance of the primacy of EU supranational authority, internally by indiscriminate immigration, class warfare and the ‘reform’, which usually meant the politicisation, of our hallowed institutions. Conservatism, by contrast, aims at a cohesive society governed by laws of its own and by the institutions that have arisen over time in response to its changing needs and circumstances.
Such a society depends upon a common loyalty and a territorial law, and these cannot be achieved or retained without borders. But we find ourselves bound by a treaty devised by utopian internationalists in circumstances that have long ago disappeared. The EU treaty obliges its member states to permit the ‘free movement of peoples’, regardless of their desires or their national interest. With its open welfare system, its universal language, its relative wealth and its carefully defended freedoms, our country is the preferred destination of Europe’s new wave of migrants. At the top of every conservative’s agenda, therefore, is the question of immigration: how to limit it, and how to ensure that the newcomers integrate into a civil society in which free association, freedom of opinion, and respect for the law are all axiomatic.
Conservatives recognise that the right to vote out our rulers and to change our law is the premise of democratic politics. Whenever possible, they believe, our law should be made in Westminster, or in the common-law courts of our kingdom, not by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels nor by courts of European judges.
Continue reading in The Spectator.
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