Monthly Archives: December 2008

Crime and punishment in this liberal la-la land

Teenager Mark Knight was found guilty of stealing £25,000 worth of lead from the roof of Rochester Cathedral, which he then sold on for a mere ninety pounds.

On 19th December he appeared before Maidstone Crown Court for a confiscation hearing.

Judge James O’Mahony settled for the sum of one pound. Yes, one hundred pennies; the price of a small bar of chocolate; a week’s pocket money for a five year-old.

Wright had already received a two year jail sentence before the confiscation hearing which saw his defence claim he was homeless and had never received any state benefits.

The court heard how Knight sold the lead to Medway Metals in his hometown of Strood, with ‘no questions asked’.

I got the impression that young Mark Wright was perhaps one of those fellows who has never managed to fit into society, even to the point of not being able to get himself to the benefits office.

Obviously, I don’t condone what he did, but I wondered why the newspaper article said nothing about punishment for the company who received the stolen goods, so I emailed Medway Metals, as follows:

Good afternoon,

I operate a news website – – which has no connection to the UK Labour Party.

I read in the Daily Mail online that you paid a teenager, Mark Knight, £90 for £25,000 worth of lead.

Your website states that you were established in 1999, so I find it strange that you would not have been pretty certain that the lead had been stolen; after all, who would sell such a large amount of lead for such a small price?

Perhaps I am missing something, but I would have thought that a genuine owner should have some idea to its value and that an honest scrap dealer would have paid a much fairer price.

Like I said, perhaps I am missing something and if so, I hope you will clarify the situation for me.

I also wondered if you will be helping the people at Rochester Cathedral to replace the stolen lead.

I just wanted to give you the opportunity to help me to understand the situation to the fullest as I wish to write about it this evening and do not want to misrepresent you.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Kind regards,

Stewart Cowan

That was six days ago and I am still awaiting a reply, so I think I can safely say they are not interested in defending themselves and that I am free to offer my opinions.

Perhaps they have all gone off to the Caribbean for the winter on their ill-gotten gains?

Imagine if anyone other than a scrap metal dealer had handled £25,000 worth of stolen goods, almost certainly knowingly. They would have been frogmarched off to the police station faster than you could say ‘Rochester Cathedral’.

Somehow, the Arthur Daley types always seem to get away with it.

The financial breakdown of the case seems to be as follows:

Mark Wright – pays £1.00.

Rochester Cathedral – lose £25,000 worth of lead.

The Taxpayer – pays around £50,000 to keep Mr Wright in prison for two years, plus extra money for police time and legal aid.

Medway Metals – increase the value of their stock by £24,910 net, which I hope the local tax office has noted.

So who pays the least – the thief.

Who pays the most – everyone else, except:

Arthur Daley, who makes a great big profit.

That’s justice in Britain, where two wrongs make a right and us taxpaying mugs can just shut up because the ‘authorities’ really are tough on people who leave their bins open six inches and on primary schoolchildren who are overheard calling someone ‘gay’ in the playground or who don’t have any fruit in their lunchboxes.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Heroes and Cowards, Moral Meltdown

Criminals and fatties: come and join the British Army

We usually have to catch up with the Americans on the latest craze and so it is again this time, as the Army prepares to spend twenty million of our pounds on a campaign to recruit hitherto undesirable types.

The US Army has been hiring felons for some time now, many believe to produce a morally-deficient force that can be used against the people in a state of martial law, and now the Ministry of Defence wants to solve our soldier shortage this way.

The Daily Mail reports, “As well as lowering the barrier to allow more ex-offenders to join, the Army is considering accepting criminals freed from prison on licence – meaning they can be sent back to jail if they breach parole conditions.”

The British Army – fighting the enemy flab.

Tattoos on hands and necks will be acceptable, giving a new meaning to military tattoos.

Overweight people have also been given the chance to become cannon fodder in the next war for oil:

“Plumper soldiers may also soon be the norm, as the review looks to relax standards on Body Mass Index, allowing more overweight youngsters to start initial training.”

“In 2006, the Army raised the BMI barrier for male recruits from 28 to 32 – two points above the World Health Organisation’s definition of clinically obese. Army insiders insist the changes will not lead to poor-quality soldiers on the frontline, as all recruits must reach the same high standards by the end of their training.”

Hopefully the overweight soldiers will be given adequate body armour, unlike some of their slimmer predecessors who paid for Government scrimping with their lives.

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So this is Christmas

As a Christian, I try and honour Christ all year round. I fail more than I ought to, as I am a frail and fallen man.

He gives me the strength and the reasons to carry on, which is wonderful, especially these days of moral confusion and the misery of the here-and-now that the lack of an eternal prospective can foster.

Worried about the future? Deep in debt? Scared? Ill? Ashamed?

The babe who grew up and went to the Cross in our place, to defeat death and Hell and to save us from our sins did this for us.

For everyone who will follow Him.

I am about to partake of one of the Christmas traditions of gluttony. Circumstances demand that I eat myself silly as I have been invited for ‘lunch’ at 11.30, then to friends’ for a roast dinner at 1.0 sharp.

When I return home, I will probably delve into the chocolates and biscuits I have received as presents – only to be polite and show appreciation, of course.

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Blix may testify against Iraq war makers

Don’t sleep so easily, war criminals of New Labour:

Mon, 22 Dec 2008
Press TV, Iran

A former UN chief weapons inspector says he is ready to testify about the false US allegations which led to the Iraq war before a tribunal.

Hans Blix, in a Sunday interview with Al Jazeera television said he and the Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, were subjected to implicit threats from US Vice President Dick Cheney in the run-up to the Iraq war.

The former top UN inspector said Cheney had also threatened to defame ElBaradei and him if they refused to provide the “required” information on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.

“The Bush administration misled Americans and the world by creating a hype about weapons of mass destruction in order to justify the invasion of Iraq,” Blix added.

The Swedish constitutional lawyer had earlier in 2004 told NBC News that, “It is probable that the governments were conscious that they were exaggerating the risks they saw in order to get the political support they would not otherwise have had.”

Blix, who was the director general of the IAEA from 1981 to 1997, added that he is ready to testify about the false US allegations before an international tribunal.

After the invasion of Iraq and the US failure to find the alleged WMD in the country, intelligence officials were severely criticized for relying “too much on defectors and exercising too little critical judgment in assessing their information.”

Earlier in January 2008, members of the House Judiciary Committee called for starting impeachment hearings against Cheney.

The House Judiciary Committee members accused Cheney of “manipulating intelligence to deceive Congress and the American people about a fabricated threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and an alleged relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.”

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney made a false claim on NBC that Iraq had been the ‘geographic base’ for the attacks.

However, President George W. Bush acknowledged on September 17, 2003 that, “We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the 11 September attacks.”

From: Press TV, Iran

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Filed under Iraq, Labour Lies, Media Conditioning, US Politics

“Gay rights” causing division again in the fight for tolerance!

It seems that after a couple of desperate decades of training the proles to be tolerant, there is very little tolerance left.

Lillian Ladele is back in the news. “Threatening to fire a Christian registrar who asked to be exempt from registering homosexual civil partnerships was not an act of discrimination by Islington Council, a court has decided.

“The ruling, published today by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, overturns a previous decision that found in favour of Miss Lillian Ladele.

“Miss Ladele intends to appeal today’s ruling to the Court of Appeal.”

Lillian Ladele: she was
shown no mercy

The Council could easily have allowed Lillian Ladele to continue registering only heterosexual couples as she had done for many years previously, but guess what? They have equality legislation which must be rigidly adhered to.

The fuss which was created unnecessarily led to Miss Ladele to be mistreated by her fellow workers (more of that tolerance, eh?).

On Miss Ladele ‘s refusal to work on same-sex partnerships, despite other registrars being willing and able to do the job, the employment appeal tribunal’s judgement states:

“The council were entitled to take the view that this would be inconsistent with their strong commitment to the principles of nondiscrimination and would send the wrong message to staff and service users.”

Are any people involved in this or just staff and ‘service users’? Most people have consciences and will not always do what they do not believe in.

Views from readers of Pink News are, as usual, mostly unforgiving. Well, she dissed the tribe, didn’t she? No mercy!

Here are some of the views expressed:

This is truly great news. I carry out training on sexual orientation issues within equality and diversity and the issue of religion vs sexual orientation often comes up. I always state that employees cannot be allowed to use religious belief as grounds for discriminating against someone because of their sexual orientation. The appeal tribunal’s ruling backs this up and is very welcome.

Comment by PlainJane — December 19, 2008 @ 16:03

If we turn that around and say – employees cannot be allowed to use sexual orientation as grounds for discriminating against someone because of their religious belief – is this not fair? Is this ‘equality’?

Why are homosexuals so keen to deny themselves the thrill that we heterosexuals are encourged to experience through ‘celebrating diversity’?

More comments:

It’s made even worse by the fact she wasn’t even born in the U.K

Comment by Andrew Quick — December 19, 2008 @ 17:35

Andrew Quick is slow to celebrate our various people groups.

She can now get a job at Primark where she will doubtless attempt to take them to an employment tribunal for making her sell mixed fibres.

Comment by Ivan — December 19, 2008 @ 22:47

One of the downsides of the internet is that people can show their ignorance. Ivan pretends he knows the ins and outs of Mosaic Law.

# This is a great shame, her rights have been trumped by the liberal fascists. Hopefully this will wake people up to fight for freedom even harder as the state onece again tightens its grip over us. Marx, Hitler, Stalin, Mao etc live on!

Comment by Simon Bellord — December 20, 2008 @ 4:33

Steady on there, Mr Bellord. You need re-educating, like the Glasgow firemen who refused to have anything to do with ‘Gay Pride’.

AdrianT, while agreeing with Lillian’s dismissal, at least shows grace and humanity by saying that it’s unfair to label Ms Ladele as ‘nasty’, ‘a bigot’ etc. and I have no reason to doubt she is sincere in her beliefs.

He quotes Thomas Paine: The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall.

Comment by AdrianT — December 21, 2008 @ 0:01

Reason – now when will the ‘authorities’ start to promote this, I wonder?

The Christian Institute has a legal defence fund to help Christians who are being discriminated against. I give them money and I urge you to help them too if you are able and after prayerful consideration.


Filed under Social Engineering

Labour’s Families in Britain paper admits married parents are best for children

Steve Doughty
Daily Mail
19th December 2008

(My emphasis in bold; my comments in italics):

Labour has finally admitted that married parents are better for children than parents in live-in partnerships, and that they stick together more than twice as long.

Broken families and missing parents are bad for children and for the country, ministers said, in a Government paper on the state of family life that marks a U-turn on previous party thinking.

The document accepts that ‘some family forms face greater challenges than others‘.

This is because the only natural family is, er, a natural one, not any old arrangement, defined as family, by any pressure group that demands recognition and preferential treatment.

Seven out of ten young criminals come from single parent homes that make up only a quarter of all families, it says, adding that stepfamilies can also be difficult for children. But the report still falls short of declaring that marriage is a good thing.

I guess there would be far too many self-appointed ‘experts’ jumping up and down if the Government were to admit the realisation, finally, that, political correctness really has “gone mad”.

The ‘evidence paper’ – produced by Children’s Secretary Ed Balls and Cabinet Office minister Liam Byrne – rejects the idea of any state support for marriage and married couples.

What, support the majority? Do the right thing? Use their own evidence of the problems caused by marriage breakdown and change policies to improve society?

Instead it says the answer to family crisis at the heart of what critics call ‘broken Britain’ is more money for the poor and more counselling to encourage ‘quality relationships’.

I thought they just rejected supporting married couples, so what is this supposed to mean? What is a “quality relationship” in Ed Balls’ world?

What does this mean in plain English? It means they will keep on promoting all types of relationship and stuff marriage as a special and very valuable way of life.

I wonder what form the ‘counselling’ will take, when schoolchildren are increasingly being led to believe that any relationship is acceptable.

Don’t governments just love to break things and then offer ‘solutions’?

The admission that stepfamilies are often troubled and that two parents are good for children reverses the official thinking that all kinds of families are equally good. The paper was published as Mr Balls met a group of media agony aunts at a ‘relationship summit’ to discuss help for families that are breaking up.

He said: ‘We know how important stable family relationships are to the well-being of both adults and children.’

The Families in Britain paper was the first major Government statement on family life since 1998.

It accepted a mountain of evidence that single parent families and step-families are not as good for children and the rest of society as families headed by married parents.

It said that seven out of ten young criminals come from single parent families, that children of single parents do worse at school, that two thirds of such families are poor, and a third of single mothers are depressed.

An absent parent can be associated with adverse material and emotional outcomes,’ the paper found.

Step-families, it found, produce outcomes for children ‘similar to those growing up in lone parent families’. Their children ‘show more psychological and behavioural problems than children in biological two-parent families’.

Married couples are happier and richer, and their children are better behaved and do better at school, the paper said.

Marriages last on average more than 11 years, it admitted, while only a fifth of cohabitations last as long as five.

The paper conceded that all studies have shown that the beneficial effects of marriage are greater than can be explained by the greater wealth or better education of married couples. But nevertheless it found the evidence ‘ambiguous’.

Ambiguous? Does the evidence look ambiguous to you? The social engineers really have a problem accepting reality, don’t they?

It concluded: ‘The quality of relationships matters most regardless of the legal form.’

This is a cracker! So after all that, they still ignore their own evidence and will continue to betray children, the country and common sense and decency.

Tory families spokesman Maria Miller called for state support for marriage and said the tax and benefits system is biased against two-parent families.

P.S. I have respect and admiration for single people who do the best they can for their children, but a society that promotes any other form of relationship than marriage between a man and woman does the children a great disservice.

It is that simple. It is also very important for the whole of society, as is evidenced by the prison figures and the massive numbers of other dysfunctions exacerbated by the dumbing down and general re-engineering of civilisation as we used to know it.

Labour – do the RIGHT thing for once and promote and support marriage!

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Filed under Labour Lies, Moral Meltdown, Social Engineering, UK Politics

An eminently sensible politician (sadly he’s in the Lords, in opposition)

I spotted this speech made last week by Lord Waddington which he gave on the fourth day of the debate on the Queen’s Speech.

I am not a Tory, but imagine if we had Lord Waddington, a former home secretary, to replace the present holder, Jacqui Smith.

Lord Waddington (Conservative) | Hansard source

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Quin, will forgive me if I do not follow her in her remarks, although I found them interesting. I know that noble Lords will appreciate it if I do not add to the sea of words about Damian Green, but perhaps I will be forgiven for saying something about policing.

These days, the priorities of the police do not seem to correspond very neatly with the priorities of the public. Chasing around the country to arrest a man for making a tasteless joke at a country fair, questioning a woman for doubting the wisdom of gay adoption, investigating remarks made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester and arresting a man the other day for making a bonfire on bonfire night and charging him with arson all seem a daft use of police time.

Of course the police have to respond to complaints and follow procedures, but a little common sense along the way might come in handy. The enthusiasm with which in recent years the police have set about responding to the Government’s often zany priorities and the massive resources employed to hunt down those responsible for leaking government documents that in no way damage national security but expose government incompetence sit rather oddly with the reluctance of the police to deal with offences such as burglary, which really do concern the public, with a plea of a lack of resources. All is not well. I make only one suggestion today, perhaps with my tongue in my cheek. Perhaps it would help if there were fewer sociologists at the top and more down-to-earth coppers such as those whom we are privileged to have in this House.

In these stirring times, people may be surprised to hear that I have some sympathy with the Home Secretary. She must have been pretty horrified by the latest revelations of incompetence in the Home Office, particularly coming so shortly after she had gone into her office and found the shambles of immigration control there. It is about that shambles that I should now like to speak. I am afraid that I do not at all agree with the remarks made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth.

Let us go right back to 1997. Labour’s 1997 election manifesto stated that all modern countries,

“must have firm control over immigration and Britain is no exception”.

That was a clear promise that the control would continue, but Labour abandoned its promise and abandoned the control, doing its best to conceal from the public what it was up to. In fact, it was a lot worse than that. Decent people who expressed concern about what was going on, and who fully recognised the great contribution made by newcomers over the years but doubted whether we could continue with an almost open door, were branded racists and the Government made every effort to stifle debate.

I do not know precisely why things happened as they did. The Government may have concluded that it was easier to import people to fill vacancies than to take unpopular steps to get back to work the millions of economically inactive people already here. Probably they just allowed the Home Office to become so inefficient and demoralised as to be incapable of operating the control effectively. They allowed it to become, in the words of John Reid, “unfit for purpose”.

Whatever the reason, the control collapsed, and the figures are there to prove it. There should be no room for argument about this. In the 1980s, net immigration was below 50,000 a year and in 1997 it stood at 48,000, but by 2004 it had soared to 586,000. A lot of people left in that year, but even if we take account of the leavers the net number of permanent entrants was an enormous and unprecedented 244,000. The net figure for 2006 was a little lower, but last year it was back to 237,000, even though by then there was a pronounced downward trend in people coming from eastern Europe. I am talking about legal immigration. Like Mr Blunkett, we do not have a clue how many are here illegally, but there must be hundreds of thousands of them because 285,000 failed asylum seekers are unaccounted for.

A few weeks ago there was an outbreak of common sense, but it was very short-lived. Mr Phil Woolas said that there was a need for a cap on immigration and that he would not let Britain’s population go over 70 million. The next day, after, apparently, having received a rocket from the Secretary of State and after a Labour colleague had accused him of “pandering to right-wing extremists”, he recanted. However, he started a debate that will not be so easily stifled this time.

Recently, this House debated a report of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee and its conclusion that Britain had not benefited from the influx of newcomers over recent years. Even if we reject the committee’s conclusion, we still have to ask ourselves whether in the long run it is really in anybody’s interest for the population of our tiny island to continue to grow at the rate at which it has been growing recently. In October 2007, the Office for National Statistics predicted that Britain’s population, which grew by 2 million between 2001 and 2007, would, with 70 per cent of the increase due to new immigration, surge to 71 million by 2031, 75 million by 2051 and 85 million by 2081, making us by then by far the most densely populated country in Europe.

How will we house these people? What will be left of our countryside when we have done so? Between 1997 and 2005, the last period for which figures are available, no fewer than 592,000 houses were needed solely for new immigrants. According to the Library of the House of Commons, 41 per cent of the 3 million houses that Mr Brown says he is going to have built by 2020 will have to be built only because of the new immigration that is at present forecast—that is, new immigration from now.

According to the CPRE, 3 million more houses by 2020 means our having to lose an area of greenfield land the size of Birmingham to accommodate them. That would be an environmental disaster, but it is one that can still be avoided. We have to stop saying, “X number of people are going to come, so Y number of houses must be built”. Instead, we must ask ourselves whether the vast number of new homes that we are told immigration policies require is not in itself an argument for stemming the flow. If we can bring immigration and emigration into a rough balance—if we can achieve a situation in which those coming match those leaving—the need for additional housing identified in the Barker report will largely be removed.

There is nothing in the gracious Speech that is calculated to achieve a result remotely like this. Let us be clear: the Government’s points system, which places no limit at all on work-related immigration, actually guarantees further immigration growth. How can it be otherwise when, as newcomers fill vacancies, their demand for services creates others? How can it be otherwise when the Government boast of 800,000 jobs being available to non-EU immigrants without their even having to be advertised here? These are not highly skilled jobs, but jobs such as care workers and cooks—not Gordon Ramsays, but people capable of earning £8.20 an hour. How can it be otherwise when the government scheme allows people with skills to come here on spec and then take unskilled work?

There is only one answer, which is an annual limit on non-EU immigration designed to achieve a rough balance between leavers and entrants—the cap on immigration that Mr Woolas advocated. So one or two cheers for Mr Woolas and a plague on his bullying detractors.

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Filed under Immigration, Labour Lies, Social Engineering

The politics of sex: Labour miss their “targets” as teenage pregnancies rise

The news is out – the rate of teenage pregnancies rose 2.7% last year, despite the blitzkrieg of “safer sex” propaganda.


No, because of, in my opinion and as I have been saying for years now.

Registered “charities” like FPA (formerly Family Planning Association) and Brook peddle their sick propaganda to a dumbed-down youth in a disintegrating society and the Government is only too happy to base policies on their advice – advice that will ensure that these providers of contraception and abortion ‘services’ keep busy in the future.

There were 42 conceptions for every 1,000 girls aged 15-17 in the 12 months to September 2007. The last three months of the year traditionally bring the highest pregnancy rates and this figure is expected to rise further.

Jill Kirby, from the think tank Centre for Policy Studies said, “It is very worrying, given teenage pregnancy rates are already ahead of those in the rest of Europe, that the slight decline has now gone into reverse.”

“We need a new policy of parental consultation, limited access to contraceptives and a climate in which sexual activity among teenagers is discouraged rather than encouraged.”

It is encouraging that so many people are waking up to the 1984-style manipulation that we proles are being subjected to.

What is happening is that a band of business and minority interest groups disguised as ‘charities’ are being tightly-knit with officials disguised as part of an elected government for the express purpose of re-engineering society.

They know that by encouraging sex, individuals will suffer and society at large will also pay a heavy price. They do not care because they are on a mission and the suffering of others is a necessary by-product.

The family and society as we know it must be destroyed for the ushering in of a new world order of peace (war), freedom (slavery) and strength (ignorance).

Marie Stopes opened Britain’s first birth control clinic in 1921. She was a feminist, eugenicist and Nazi sympathizer who called for non-whites and the poor to be sterilized.

Like Adolf Hitler, to whom she sent poems, she was a racist and anti-Semite and she favoured selective breeding in an attempt to achieve racial purity.

Stopes was a ‘pioneer’ in family planning, so it is hardly surprising that the whole industry is depraved and manipulative.

Of the 200,000 abortions carried out in Britain last year, over 98% were for ‘social’ reasons.

Children as young as five will soon be expected to start sex and ‘relationship’ lessons and parents who object will be expected to shut up and leave their youngsters in the class. No opt-outs in a totalitarian system.

In the next few years, they will learn that abortion is good and a woman’s right. They will learn that sodomy is good and just a way to show love. They will learn that marriage is nothing special and children are a curse.

All because of whose say so? Tiny groups of spiteful people in possession of registered charity numbers who can work gullible politicians like glove puppets.

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Filed under Education, Moral Meltdown, Social Engineering

Romantic comedies ruin love lives, warns scientist

Christian Institute
Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Hollywood romantic comedies give “unrealistic expectations” of relationships and could ruin people’s lives, scientists have warned today.

Researchers claim that romantic comedies often portray an idealistic view of the ‘perfect’ relationship and blur the reality of the need to invest time and energy.

Unsurprisingly the study shows that fans of films, such as Sleepless in Seattle, frequently failed to communicate successfully with their other half.

Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist, led the research at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

He said a common theme which ran through the films included the idea of a pre-destined “soul mate” who should know us instinctively so well they could “almost read our minds”.

Mr Holmes said: “Marriage counsellors often see couples who believe that sex should always be perfect, and if someone is meant to be with you then they will know what you want without you needing to communicate it.”

He went on to warn: “We now have some emerging evidence that suggests popular media play a role in perpetuating these ideas in people’s minds.

“The problem is that while most of us know that the idea of a perfect relationship is unrealistic, some of us are still more influenced by media portrayals than we realise.”

Another researcher on the study, Kimberly Johnson, commented: “Films do capture the excitement of new relationships but they also wrongly suggest that trust and committed love exist from the moment people meet, whereas these are qualities that normally take years to develop.”

For more comprehensive findings, the researchers have now launched a larger international study into the effects of media on relationships.

Earlier this year a realistic Christian movie about long-term commitment in marriage surprised critics and exceeded all box office expectations to reach number four in the US movie charts.

The film, Fireproof, focuses on the importance of learning to love unconditionally in marriage, especially when the going gets tough.

In the movie US television star Kirk Cameron plays Caleb Holt, a fireman, whose marriage is disintegrating.

Rather than pursuing a divorce, Caleb is challenged to win his wife back using Christian teaching which coaches married couples to love one another unconditionally.

from Christian Institute

See also Telegraph Article.

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Filed under Media Conditioning, Moral Meltdown, Social Engineering

Alternative Currencies Grow in Popularity

Judith D. Schwartz
Dec. 14, 2008

Most of us take for granted that those rectangular green slips of paper we keep in our wallets are inviolable: the physical embodiment of value. But alternative forms of money have a long history, and appear to be growing in popularity. It’s not merely barter, or primitive means of exchange like, say, seashells or beads. Beneath the financial radar, in hip U.S. towns or South African townships, in shops, markets, and even banks, throughout the world people are exchanging goods and services via thousands of currency types that look nothing like official tender.

Alternative means of trade often surface during tough economic times. “When money gets dried up and there are still needs to be met in society, people come up with creative ways to meet those needs,” says Peter North, a senior lecturer in geography at the University of Liverpool, author of two books on the subject. He refers to the “scrips” issued in the U.S. and Europe during the Great Depression that kept money flowing, and the massive barter exchanges involving millions of people that emerged amidst runaway inflation in Argentina in 2000. “People were kept from starving [this way],” he says. (Find out 10 things to do with your money.)

Closer to home, “Ithaca Hours,” with a livable hourly wage as the standard, were launched during the 1991 recession to sustain Ithaca, New York’s local economy and stem the loss of jobs. “Hours,” which are legal and taxable, circulate within the community, moving from local shop to local artisan and back, rather than “leaking” out into the larger monetary system. The logo on the Hour reads: “In Ithaca We Trust”.

See also: The Lewes Pound (below)

Alternative (or “complementary”) currencies range from quaint to robust, simple to high-tech. There are “greens” from the Lettuce Patch Bank at the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in rural Northeastern Missouri. In Western Massachusetts one finds fine-artist-designed BerkShares, which are convertible to U.S. dollars. According to Susan Witt, Executive Director of the E.F. Schumacher Society (the nonprofit behind the currency) more than $2 million in BerkShares “have been issued through the 12 branches of five [local] banks.” And in South Africa, proprietary software keeps track of Community Exchange System (CES) “Talents”; one ambitious plan is to make Khayelitsha, a vast, desolate township of perhaps a million inhabitants near Cape Town, a self-sustaining community.

The currencies are generally used in conjunction with conventional money, as in using local currency at the farmer’s market and regular greenbacks at the supermarket. “It doesn’t try in any way to replace cash,” says Christoph Hensch, a Swiss national and former banker now living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Rather, it offers a way “for people to share and redeem value they have in the community.” He says the currencies are most useful in geographical areas or social sectors where money doesn’t flow sufficiently, citing for example New Zealand’s Golden Bay, which is so remote that it sometimes nearly functions as its own economy.

Advocates of alternative currencies say that they are a means of empowerment for those languishing on the margins of fiscal life, granting economic agency to people like the elderly, disabled, or under-employed who have little opportunity to earn money. For example, in some systems one can “bank” Time Dollars for tasks like childcare and changing motor oil. It’s not whether you’re employed or what financial assets you have that matter, says Les Squires, a consultant on social networking software who has been working with groups developing alternative currencies. Each person has “value” which is “exchangeable” based on time spent or a given task.

Read the rest of the article here (includes UK examples): TIME

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Filed under Economy