Quick Bites: Last Call for Ramen Nagi's Tokyo Sukiyaki King...   

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Ever wished for tender strips of savory beef on your ramen? Well, the ramen gods have heard you...


Ramen or Sukiyaki? Now you can have both with the Limited Edition Tokyo Sukiyaki King from Ramen Nagi for an exciting and new ramen experience.


It's another flavorful creation from Ramen Nagi, one more tasty innovation in a long list of special Limited Edition ramen (for more on Ramen Nagi's creative ramen variants, see my posts, Perfect Pair: The Ebi King, Ramen Nagi's Newest Limited Edition Ramen from two years back, A Spicy Encounter with Ramen Nagi's Nagoya King and Last Chance for Ramen Nagi's Limited Edition Oyster King... from 2017). And perfect too for the constant rains this past month.

Ramen and the rainy weather just matches up well, and Ramen Nagi's regular offerings hits the spot all the time (more on Ramen Nagi's signature ramen on my posts, The Original King: Ramen Nagi's Classic Butao on a Rainy Day and Ramen Nagi: Your Favorite Ramen Opens at Robinsons Galleria). But when you have the rich and mildly sweet notes of tender beef sukiyaki on a comforting bowl of ramen, you won't mind the usual sudden downpour with Ramen Nagi's Tokyo Sukiyaki King


Pair your ramen with Ramen Nagi's popular Gyoza (P 235), savory dumplings served with fresh and crisp bean sprouts...


...before indulging in a sip of the rich broth. The new Tokyo Sukiyaki King (P 495) has the classic tonkotsu broth as the base, topped with thin strips of tender beef, tofu and the comfortingly familiar sweet notes of traditional beef sukiyaki. The bowl is finished with an egg yolk, just like sukiyaki, for that extra punch of creaminess.


The thick milky broth delivers a creamy and unctuous finish with each sip, draping the palate with a savory richness. The tender beef adds a whole new level of both depth and flavor to the bowl of noodles. That distinct sweetness from the special sukiyaki sauce completes the flavors. Sadly, the Limited Edition Tokyo Sukiyaki King will only be available until September 30. But if you happen to be near any of Ramen Nagi's branches, go have a bowl of the new Limited Edition Tokyo Sukiyaki King...and enjoy the rains.

Ramen Nagi is located at the Ground Floor, Robinsons Magnolia, New Manila, Quezon City or call 470-1356 for inquiries and more information. You can also visit their FB Page at https://www.facebook.com/RamenNagiManila for updates.

Dude for Food is now on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, check out the social media accounts for regular updates on good eats. Better yet, click "Like" and "Follow" and enjoy the ride...just look for the FB and IG widgets on the right sidebar.

          

Simon and Jackie Go Crazy   

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So, I visited Montreal Simon to read his latest post, which was a condemnation of the Scheer Conservatives and their fans who are bringing USA-Repugnican style hatred and violent rhetoric up here. It started off well with a picture of some sub-literate right-wing moron holding up this ridiculous (and frightening) hand-made sign:


I've said on numerous occasions that stupid people must have the same right to vote as non-stupid people. But there needs to be gatekeepers to prevent the rise of stupid ideas and rage-fueled political movements from having any prominence greater than the level of three city blocks. Alas, for reasons of selfish cynicism our media and corporate elites see fit to pander to these cretins and stir them up. As well (whose kidding who?) from their own behaviour and the words that flow from their mouths, pens, pencils, keyboards, many among our elites aren't all that intelligent either.

Montreal Simon goes from trashing right-wing assholes calling for Trudeau to be "hung" (or run over by a truck) for taxing them, for verbally acknowledging global warming, for admitting Syrian refugees, for marching in PRIDE parades, and etc., ... where was I? .... Oh yeah, ... Simon goes from condemning those assholes to conflating them with progressives who yell at him for buying the TMX pipeline (so as to bail-out the Bay Street parasites who invested in that bitumen project) and praises Trudeau for asking his supporters (booing the guy) for tolerance as he lets his security drag the man away.

Immediately afterwards Simon mentions a guy who threw an egg at Trudeau during a climate march in Montreal, but it's unclear from the Global News video what that guy's agenda was. Personally, I've never gotten too incensed about ordinary people throwing pies (or, now, eggs) in the faces of politicians.

"What if that pie/egg had been a gun or a bomb or a knife?!?"

Yeah. But you're missing the important point that it wasn't a gun or a bomb or a knife. It was a cream-pie/egg. You could just as well shriek that the hand of someone extended for a handshake could have been a gun. But it wasn't. The person sticking their hand out to a passing politician just wants a handshake. Just as the person with the pie wants to make a statement and not kill anybody.


Simon then starts his spiel about how Justin Trudeau is the most activist politician fighting climate change EVAH!!!! because of his carbon tax and his investments in renewable energy industries. But, if Simon were honest (or not honestly ignorant) he would know that this is mere tinkering and that it is all cancelled-out by his continuing to develop the Tar Sands. Which is par for the course for a liberal politician. They're the masters n' mistresses of using empty words to gull their deluded followers. They "feel your pain." They "want to see all people rise to their full potential." They "don't want to see anyone left behind." They say the things we want to hear in order to get elected and continue to say those things as they enact policies that contradict their flowery words.

The end result of political cowardice and deliberate deceit by politicians like Justin Trudeau is going to be the extinction of most of the earth's life-forms. It will AT LEAST mean the deaths of tens of millions of people. Given this, it was justified for that protester to yell at Trudeau for his sickening devotion to the TMX pipeline. And it is the height of stupidity to conflate environmentalists with legitimate grievances with Islamophobic, racist, right-wing homophobic shit-heads threatening all their adversaries with murder. (Notice how that protester at the Liberal rally stayed right where he was and didn't make a step towards Trudeau.)

And, of course, the first "commentor" was Simon's in-all-but-name co-blogger "Jackie Blue." I haven't (and won't) read her entire densely-packed, extended comment. But she basically says that leftist "shit-disturbers" are as big a threat (to "rational centrists") as right-wingers. Now, given the evidence from Simon's own post, anyone not an idiot can see that isn't true. She then goes on to whine about the progressives who didn't vote for mass-murderess, corrupt scumbag Hillary Clinton. Because "Jackie Blue" continues with the bullshit story that she's a US-American and she continues with the bullshit belief that Hillary Clinton wasn't a murdering scumbag.

Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War you stupid fuck! She voted for a war based on obvious stupid lies. The war she voted for has KILLED ONE MILLION IRAQIS and maimed and traumatized millions more. And that's only one of her colossal "mistakes" that she made while servicing the oligarchy and becoming a multi-millionaire herself. And it was Hillary's own sense of entitlement that led her to rig the Democratic primary to defeat Bernie Sanders and thereby bring on the presidency of Donald Trump. Hillary gave us Trump you imbecile!

As a species, we have to do the hard work of overthrowing his rotten, inhuman, ecocidal system. And the longer that (mostly decent-minded) people like Montreal Simon pledge hysterical allegiance to hucksters like Liberals, the longer (and perhaps TOO LATE) will it take to start that job in earnest.


(I'll end by saying that I probably won't be voting. My riding is a contest between the Libs and the Cons. And, from reading this article, I'm pretty much deflated about my choices anyway.)

          

BABA YAGA LAID AN EGG by Dubravka Ugresic   

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Baba Yaga is a star player in Eastern European myths. The Russian version involves a crackly old witch ready to spark terror in children’s hearts. Croatian author Dubravka Ugresic, in her wonderful book, BABA YAGA LAID AND EGG, lays out modern-day interpretations of this age-old myth. These “witches,” Ugresic tells us, are all around us—old women limbs curling from arthritis, shuffling along, waiting, pondering the end of their lives. The book is laid out in three sections—each a different take on the myth.
          

Frozened out?   

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HALLIE EPHRON: "I want a show that has a boy inside it." That was the plaintive cry of my adorable (just ask me) three-year-old grandson. He shares an iPad with his six-year-old sister, she of the generation of toddler girls who wear Elsa dresses and can belt out Frozen's "Let it go, let it go!" from start to finish.

Watching her, I'm transported back to the 1970s we were roaring, "I am woman!" Back then Disney hits featured girls who had to clean the kitchen and pass out in order to get her prince. In Frozen the prince is a jerk.

But I can't help wondering if my grandson has a point. He carries around action figures -- Batman (his favorite) and Robin and Superman and Spiderman. But they're creatures invented in another era, and all the Disney princes of late have been duds, cast as the villain not the hero of their tale.

Dare I ask, has kid-culture become overly girl-oriented and is it time for boys to get a boost? Or is it jut that my granddaughter is bigger and controls the iPad?

JENN McKINLAY: No, and I say this as the mom of two hooligans who had PLENTY of boy based movies/shows all over the place - Disney, Pixar, and regular TV. The thing is boys don't want to be princes like girls seem to want to be princesses (I'm still not convinced that this isn't shoved down our throats from birth). Boys want to be heroes, adventurers, musicians, and dragon tamers and they get to be -- in Big Hero 6, Toy Story, Coco, and How to Train Your Dragon, not to mention that all boys want to be superheroes and Into the Spider-Verse was all kinds of awesome!

I think the bigger question is why girls don't get the same diversity of movies that boys get? As a very non-princess girl (shocker, I know), I'd have much rather had movies about girls taming dragons or having super powers when I was growing up. And for Pete's Dragon's Sake (Ha!) can a girl's value not be centered around a stupid boy? Thank you, Moana! Talk about a breath of fresh air. Sorry, Hallie, I think you plucked a nerve. LOL!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I think it can seem like it's all-princesses, all the time, but that's because Disney is such a colossus, bestriding the entertainment landscape. Once you get out of their shadow, there's a lot of variety. My now-six-year-old nephew loved Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and reruns of Thomas the Tank Engine, both with male protagonists. When the Sailor was a preschooler, he loved Caillou and Bob the Builder and, of course, Barney. Preschoolers seem to respond strongly to books and shows with animal protaganists - it kind of takes the girl-boy edge off a bit.

Hallie, another thing to try for your little guy - nonfiction! Little Sailor adored simple real-life videos about trucks, construction equipment and monster trucks. Both he and Tiny Smithie loved shows about sharks and dinosaurs and wild animals. This did NOT work for Youngest, who got so upset at the beginning of MARCH OF THE PENGUINS when - spoiler alert - an egg escapes from its father to freeze on the ice, we had to turn the TV off. I never have seen the rest of the documentary!

RHYS BOWEN: Hallie, I'm so glad there are finally movies with strong heroines. My kids still had to watch Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, both waiting to be rescued by a Prince. And how many movies and TV shows actually had female lead roles in which the females were pro-active? Now we've had Mulan, and Pocahontas and even a kingdom governed by Elsa, and Belle is a great example of how a girl can be compassionate, smart and stick up for herself.

Your little guy gets Toy Story, Cars, Ice Age, all the dinosaur movies, all the dragon movies.

By the way, I hate Frozen. What sort of message does it give? If you are cursed, you run away? Isn't that female as victim again?

LUCY BURDETTE: We had a good window into our grandkids' and nephews' heroes this summer (don't get to see them enough--wah!) Thea is definitely absorbed with Frozen. They live in LA so have been to Disney many times. The princesses are the biggest hit. Last we face-timed, her father was taking her on a date to see Rapunzel. That's not a feminist movie unless they've changed the story...

Our nephew on the other hand, wanted nothing but Thomas the Tank Engine. He knew all the names of the engines and watched and read the stories over and over. Here's an interesting article from the New Yorker, saying the Thomas show has a repressive, authoritarian soul.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I wonder if boys identifying with inanimate things like trains (authoritarian or otherwise) and diggers is a biologically wired thing? Female infants respond more strongly to faces, male infants to objects. 

At any rate, I think boys have plenty to watch and that girls are still catching up. And, like Jenn, I want to see more diverse roles for
girls. More diverse roles for boys, too! Our three-and-a-half year old granddaughter loves Frozen, but not so much for the princesses. When I asked her last night who her favorite character was, she said, "Sven!" Reindeer rule! She also loves Miguel in Coco, and Johnny the Gorilla in Sing (which I adore.)

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, my grandsons both loved Thomas the Tank Engine. I was...baffled. I thought Thomas and his pals were creepy and super-authoritarian. It was disturbing, and even scary, and I thought it was like a cult. They both grew out of it,  though, and at some point, it was completely discarded. If I'd mention it, it was like a forgotten language. Good riddance, I say, although it did mean something to them, so maybe it's all about age and timing. 


They're all into Magic cards now, and those "heroes" are essentially genderless creatures I can't even describe. (I mean, Eli is studying law and social justice now, so bye bye Thomas) I have not felt that boys were ignored when it came to heroes--in my early days, Supergirl and BatGirl and was there an Aquagirl? And even Catwoman. Seemed like--no, WERE--secondary and lip service. 

Still,  Hallie, if your grandson feels that way, that's fascinating, And superly wonderful that he can articulate it.  

HALLIE: So how does it look from where you sit? Are boys being Frozened out, or is it a welcome correction, or is it still a boys' world?

Red hot news from the Jungle Reds

JENN: My publisher is having a sweet Mutt and Mistletoe giveaway with THE CHRISTMAS KEEPER included! Enter here: http://bit.ly/2k86Fw6

HALLIE: There's a fantastic interview, me talking to Lori Rader-Day about CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR at the Chicago Review of Books.

HANK: This is the LAST DAY for the e-book SALE of TRUST ME! Just $2.99!  Reds, and readers--please--if you don't have this, now's the time! (No pressure, just my career. :-) Maybe buy it for a friend?) https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780765393081

JULIA: Today is also the last day to get A FOUNTAIN FILLED WITH BLOOD, the second Clare Fergusson/Russ van Alstyne mystery, for only $2.99. Starting tomorrow, October 1 (where did the month go?) the Edgar Award nominated third book in the series, OUT OF THE DEEP I CRY, goes on sale, also for $2.99. Bookmark these links for tomorrow: 
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2kYY5R2

DEBS: THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS, Kincaid/James #15, is available on Kindle Unlimited for $0.00!

It's not too late to order signed copies of A BITTER FEAST  from The Poisoned Pen and Barnes and Noble.

My book tour for A BITTER FEAST starts next Monday! Here's the schedule!

          

   

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Stop this foolish war on meat! Eating it could help save the planet

Last night, I ate a steak. Very good it was too. A plump, exquisitely marbled slab of sirloin, beautifully seasoned and cooked blushing pink. It had come from Martin Player, a proper Cardiff butcher, who takes his meat, as well as the animal’s welfare, very seriously indeed. Just like any other decent butcher.

Grass-fed, fully traceable and properly hung, it was a paean to not just fine flavour, but first- class farming practice too. Sensible, sustainable agriculture, where the welfare of the animal is every bit as important as its impact upon the environment.

Yet this magnificent piece of beef is no longer mere dinner. Instead it has become a pawn in the gathering war on meat: a hysterical, ill-informed, one-size-fits-all assault that demonises farmers, butchers and consumers alike. A weapon, if you like, of grass destruction.

Take the decision made by the University of Cambridge catering service to remove beef and lamb from its menus to cut food-related carbon emissions. The head of the service, Nick White, claimed this was because ‘sustainability is extremely important to our students and staff’ and scientists have claimed beef and lamb produce most farm greenhouse gasses.

A few weeks back, beef was also banned from the cafeteria of Goldsmiths College in London for the same reason, to ‘drastically’ cut its carbon footprint.

But the concerns are not only environmental. I have little time for witless attacks on vegans or vegetarians but there is undoubtedly a creeping spread of anti-meat militancy. This week it emerged the vice-chairman of the RSPCA – a vegan and co-founder of Animal Rebellion, an offshoot of the Extinction Rebellion environmental movement – was forced to step down after calling on animal rights protesters to shut down Smithfield meat market in London.

Jane Tredgett, 52, was in charge of training activists in ‘non-violent direct action’, while the group has compared its efforts to the struggles faced by Martin Luther King and the Suffragettes. Seriously.

Each week seems to bring a new threat or outrage, with meat-eaters being turned into social pariahs. Michael Mansfield, QC, a man who should know better, last week suggested that eating meat should be made illegal, with offenders thrown into jail. And he’s not alone in his extreme (and publicity-seeking) views.

Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, declared that meat-eaters should be treated like smokers and be made to sit outside restaurants. Because meat is ‘bad for the planet and our health’.

What next? Could meat become illegal, butchers forced to deal black pudding and chipolatas in back alleys and pub loos? Custodial sentences for eating chops? Life for a leg of lamb? Should we be eating meat at all?

The arguments against meat are so widespread, it’s no wonder they seem overwhelming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has declared that we must drastically cut our meat consumption to save the planet. We must shift towards ‘healthy and sustainable’ diets ‘based on coarse grains, pulses and vegetables, and nuts and seeds’. The EAT-Lancet Commission, set up to look at how the world’s growing population can eat healthy, sustainable food, goes further still. Over three years, 37 scientists came up with the ultimate ‘plant-focused’ diet ‘for planetary health’. They argue this diet, which contains virtually no meat, would ‘transform’ the planet’s future. Under it we’re ‘allowed’ no more than one serving of red meat, a couple of servings of fish and an egg or two. Per week.

It’s an argument that meat is bad, plants are good. But not everything is quite so black and white. Far from it.

Many of the militants’ reasons for ditching meat are, in fact, completely misleading. Because properly farmed meat is not only entirely sustainable, but good for the environment and economy too. We should be celebrating good farming practice, not condemning it. There’s no doubt that there are some completely legitimate concerns about food production. Not all chickens, for example, are raised equally. On the one hand, you have an old-fashioned free-range chicken, allowed to scratch and peck outside. Slow growing, traditional breeds, bred for flavour. On the other, the wretched intensively farmed bird, which is crammed into vast, stinking sheds, with no more space than an A4 sheet of paper. Profit, not welfare, is its producer’s only concern.

The same goes for intensively farmed pigs, raised in cruelly confined squalor. We should be saving our ire and ammunition to rail against this factory farming. The long-term cost of intensively farmed meat is ruinously expensive, both for our health and for the environment. It follows, then, that the best quality meat will always be more expensive than the cheap, imported stuff. British farming standards are among the highest in the world, yet another reason to buy British meat.

And it’s important to recognise that, despite all the hand-wringing about carbon emissions, livestock production can actually be good for the environment.

Grassland absorbs carbon dioxide, reducing the amount of carbon that is released into the atmosphere. Two-thirds of the UK is still made up of grassland, and it is essential it remains that way to preserve the carbon in the soil. At the moment, traditional grass-fed cattle and sheep, kept at a low density, are helping to maintain that status quo. But if we reduce the demand for these animals in the food chain, then this delicate balance is bound to change.

We’re also reminded frequently about all the methane produced by cows and other ruminants. So doesn’t that damage the environment? There’s an immense difference between the emissions of the grain-fed cattle in American super lots and sustainably farmed, grass-fed British cattle. Patrick Holden, CEO of The Sustainable Food Trust, explains: ‘The methane emissions from those ruminants are offset by the carbon gain in the soil.’

He also points out that, to be useful for agriculture, arable land must go through a ‘fertility building phase’ lasting three or four years which involves it – by necessity – being grazed with animals such as cows and sheep. Lose those animals, the message is, and we lose that ability to keep our farmland versatile and healthy.

Also – and more controversially – does that mean you should eat MORE beef to save the planet?

‘Yes!’ comes the emphatic response from Holden. ‘Traditional grass-fed beef and lamb can help maintain the soil carbon bank.’

For years, I’ve believed the mantra of eat less meat, but eat better. It’s certainly a good starting point. There have already been huge changes to our diets in the past 100 years. At the start of the 20th Century, Holden points out, 80 per cent of our dietary fats came from animal sources, and only 20 per cent from plants. Today, it’s the other way around.

The surprising – and often overlooked – fact is this: the production of many of those plant fats can be just as environmentally unsound as those vast US intensive farming lots. According to Frédéric Leroy, a professor in food science and biotechnology at the VUB university in Brussels, a shift from animal products to ‘plant-based’ scenarios could make things worse.

They may have vast implications that will generate their own sets of serious concerns, including limiting the land’s ability to grow more than one crop, depleting top soil, using more fertilisers, the potential for nutritional deficiencies and the disturbance of ecosystems,’ Prof Leroy argues.

As far as methane emissions are concerned, he continues, they are real but need to be put in perspective. ‘If a Westerner goes vegetarian or vegan, this leads to only about a two to six per cent drop in their carbon footprint, which is far from being the best thing one can do for the planet.’

There are other, far more effective, ways to reduce carbon emissions – by reducing our reliance on air travel, for example.

Farmer and butcher Peter Hannan agrees. ‘Compared to our appetite for air travel alone, my beef farming pales into insignificance.’

What about the rest of us, then; the responsible meat lovers, caught in the scientific and moral crossfire? Is it really necessary for vegan activists to spray fake blood around McDonald’s? Or harangue and bully butchers and farmers – even Waitrose – in real life and on social media?

Of course not. Whatever happened to decency, common sense, and the ability to listen to both sides of a debate? It is possible to eat meat and have the utmost respect for vegans and vegetarians too. In fact, a couple of meat-free days a week is eminently sensible. So buy British, and the best you can afford. Trust in your butcher. And experiment with more unusual cuts too. Eat good meat and save the planet. Now THAT really is a radical idea.

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California shocked to find bill decriminalizing retail theft resulted in… more retail theft

This is typical Leftist refusal to look ahead

A few years ago, California passed one in a series of bills aimed at emptying the jails and prisons. Proposition 47 carried the disingenuous name of “the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act and its stated purpose was to keep non-violent offenders out of jail. To achieve this goal, the state decriminalized a number of lesser offenses, including retail theft. The law raised the value of the amount of merchandise someone could steal while still only being charged with a misdemeanor to nearly one thousand dollars.

To the great surprise of the government, people noticed this change and began taking advantage of it. They have now recorded multiple years of steadily increasing, organized robbery. These plots are known as “mass grab and dash” thefts and they generally involve large numbers of young people all entering a store at the same time, grabbing armfuls of merchandise and dashing back out to their vehicles and hitting the highway. Not only are robberies on the rise, but arrests and prosecutions are down. Who could possibly have predicted this? (CBS Sacramento)

After searching police reports and arrest records, CBS13 found that while the rate of these grab and dash crimes is on the rise, the rate of arrest is down. We turned to law enforcement and the retail industry for answers. Both blame a California law intended to make “neighborhoods safe.”

“It’s a boldness like we’re seeing never before and just a disregard for fellow human beings,” said Lieutenant Mark Donaldson, Vacaville PD.

He explained these crimes have evolved into more than just shoplifting. It’s organized retail theft and he says it’s happening across the state. Cities like Vacaville, with outlets and shopping centers located near major freeways, tend to be a target for these organized retail crime rings.

Nobody is seriously contesting the numbers. The local and state police organizations blame prop 47. FBI crime data supports the contention. Retail sales organizations have tracked this trend and agree.

This is a trend that’s been building in a number of blue states and now it seems that the petty crime chickens are coming home to roost. The fact is that there are always going to be a certain number of people who will be willing to break the law if they don’t feel the risk of significant punishment is too high. An understanding of this fundamental principle is why the “broken windows” policies enacted in New York City and other municipalities in the 90s were so effective. If you crack down on even smaller crimes, you lower crime rates overall.

Sadly, liberal elected officials paint a picture of racism and inequity behind effective law enforcement initiatives. The people committing these thefts frequently end up being young black and Hispanic robbers because they are more likely to come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. This leads to laws like prop 47 hoping to keep more of them out of the “school to prison pipeline.”

But when you make it easier and less risky to steal larger amounts of goods, people will steal more merchandise. Did it really take a rocket scientist to figure this out? California basically incentivized crime and potential criminals answered the call. And since many of them were only getting the equivalent of a parking ticket for stealing 900 dollars worth of goods, police frequently didn’t expend much energy trying to catch them.

The ball’s in your court, California. Do you plan on doing something about this? Or will you essentially just legalize theft and tell the retailers that they’re on their own?

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Once Again, Progressive Anti-Christian Bigotry Carries a Steep Legal Cost

Masterpiece Cakeshop continues to pay religious-liberty dividends.
Last summer, in the days after the Supreme Court decided Masterpiece Cakeshop on the narrow grounds that Colorado had violated Jack Phillips’s religious-liberty rights by specifically disparaging his religious beliefs, a bit of a skirmish broke out among conservative lawyers. How important was the ruling? Did it have any lasting precedential effect?

For those who don’t recall, the Supreme Court ruled for Phillips in large part because a commissioner of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission called Phillips’s claim that he enjoyed a religious-freedom right not to be forced to design a custom cake for a gay wedding a “despicable piece of rhetoric.” The commissioner also denigrated religious-liberty arguments as being used to justify slavery and the Holocaust.

While all agreed that it would have been preferable had the court simply ruled that creative professionals could not be required to produce art that conflicted with their sincerely held beliefs, the question was whether Justice Anthony Kennedy’s strong condemnation of anti-religious bigotry would resonate beyond the specific facts of the case. For example, what would happen if, in a different case, state officials called faithful Christians who seek to protect the religious freedom of Catholic adoption agencies “hate-mongers”?

In the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, it turns out that such rhetoric has cost the state a crucial court ruling, granted a Catholic adoption agency a vital victory, and demonstrated — once again — that anti-religious bigotry can (and should) carry substantial legal costs.

The case is called Buck v. Gordon. My friends at Becket represent St. Vincent Catholic Charities, a former foster child, and the adoptive parents of five special-needs kids. The facts are relatively complicated, but here’s the short version: St. Vincent upholds Catholic teaching by referring same-sex and unmarried families who seek foster and adoption recommendations and endorsements to agencies that have no objection to providing those services. There is no evidence that St. Vincent has prevented any legally qualified family from adopting or fostering a child. In fact, same-sex couples “certified through different agencies” have been able to adopt children in St. Vincent’s care.

NOW WATCH: 'Trump's Chinese Tariffs Means It'll Cost Americans $1,000 More a Year Just to Live'

In 2015 the state of Michigan passed a statute specifically designed to protect the religious liberty of private, religious adoption agencies. In 2018, however, Dana Nessel, a Democratic attorney general, took office. During her campaign, she declared that she would not defend the 2015 law in court, stating that its “only purpose” was “discriminatory animus.” She also described proponents of the law as “hate-mongers,” and the court noted that she believed proponents of the law “disliked gay people more than they cared about the constitution.”

Then, in 2019, the attorney general reached a legal settlement in pending litigation with the ACLU that essentially gutted the Michigan law, implementing a definitive requirement that religious agencies provide recommendations and endorsement to same-sex couples and banning referrals. The plaintiffs sued, seeking to enjoin the relevant terms of the settlement, and yesterday Judge Robert Jonker (a Bush appointee) granted their motion for a preliminary injunction.

His reasoning was simple. There was ample evidence from the record that the state of Michigan reversed its policy protecting religious freedom because it was motivated by hostility to the plaintiffs’ faith. Because Michigan’s targeted St. Vincent’s faith, its 2019 settlement agreement couldn’t be truly considered a “neutral” law of “general applicability” that would grant the state a high degree of deference in enforcement.

Instead, the state’s targeting led to strict scrutiny. Here’s Judge Jonker:

Defendant Nessel made St. Vincent’s belief and practice a campaign issue by calling it hate. She made the 2015 statute a campaign issue by contending that the only purpose of the statute is discriminatory animus. After Defendant Nessel took office, the State pivoted 180 degrees. . . . The State also threatened to terminate its contracts with St. Vincent. The Summary Statement’s conclusion – that if an agency accepts even one MDHHS child referral for case management or adoption services, the agency forfeits completely the right to refer new parental applicants to other agencies based on its sincerely held religious beliefs – is at odds with the language of the contracts, with the 2015 law, and with established State practice. Moreover, it actually undermines the State’s stated goals of preventing discriminatory conduct and maximizing available placements for children.

The last point is key. As stated above, there was no evidence that St. Vincent prevented any qualified couple from adopting. In fact, if the state forced St. Vincent’s to choose between upholding the teachings of its faith or maintaining its contractual relationship with the state, then it risked shrinking the available foster or adoption options in the state of Michigan. The state demonstrated that it was more interested in taking punitive action against people of faith than it was in maintaining broader access to foster and adoption services for its most vulnerable citizens.

The judge rightly called the state’s actions a “targeted attack on a sincerely held religious belief.” Once again, Masterpiece Cakeshop pays religious-liberty dividends. Once again, a court declares — in no uncertain terms — that in the conflict between private faith and public bigotry, religious liberty will prevail.

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Australia: Do sharks have a right to eat us?

That seems to be the Queensland Labor government's position

FOR almost 60 years, the State Government's shark control program has been making Queensland beaches safer. The program has been one of very few public policies to have endured for such a time while remaining blessedly free from the foibles of partisan politics.

The reason for this has been simple. Who would dare argue with the results? From 1915 to 1962 there were 36 recorded cases of shark attacks in Queensland. These resulted in 19 deaths. But since the dragnet of baited drumlines was introduced in 1962, there's been only one fatal shark attack at a protected Queensland beach.

Little wonder the program has been gradually expanded. However, the program finally found a naysayer in the shape of fringe environmental group, the Humane Society. And inexplicably, the Federal Court has agreed with the group's view that the drumlines do little to protect swimmers.

How the court came to such a view simply beggars belief. Surely, they only had to look at the statistics of recent attacks in northern NSW where there are no permanent drumlines to realise how effective the Queensland program is? What was required here was a bipartisan approach and a plan to ensure swimmers were protected

The court's decision was clearly out of step with public sentiment and requires the politicians who've supported the program to fix it. Given the long history of bipartisan support, not to mention the implications for. Queensland's tourism industry, you'd like to think it would be a relatively quick fix.

However, what has ensued instead has been an unedifying display of pointless political point scoring that has done nothing but advertise to the world that some of the Sunshine State's most famous northern beaches are less safe now than they were a few weeks ago.

Much of the controversy has centred around the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries' decision to remove 160 drumlines from within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The court's decision only related to the marine park zone and that's why the department only removed drumlines in this area.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has been particularly vocal. She's accused the Palaszczuk Government of choosing "public alarm over personal safety" by removing the drumlines when the court only said caught sharks should not be killed.

"Queensland should reinstate the existing drum lines, while increasing surveillance and exploring modern complementary technologies such as drones, smart drum lines and tags," she said.

There's ample reason for Ley to be sceptical about the Palaszczuk Government's motives in ordering the removal of the drumlines within hours of the court ruling. After all, the administration isn't exactly known for doing anything at pace.

And the States handling of last year's Cid Harbour shark attacks —when it first said drumlines were the answer but then recanted and claimed all it could do was erect signs instead — hardly inspired confidence.

However, what on Earth is Ley suggesting when she says the State Government should just drop the drumlines back in and increase surveillance? Is she saying to hell with what the court has ordered? Or does Ley reckon fisheries officers should just harden up and start arming themselves with a decent set of pliers so they can simply release the sharks?

It might be news to the minister but these officers are dealing with marine life a bit bigger than the cod they catch in the Murray River in her electorate. In fact, cutting a cranky 4m tiger shark loose from a hook is nearly as dangerous as getting between Ley and a bargain Gold Coast apartment buy, something she's somewhat famed for.

Yet, while Ley is happily ordering fisheries officers back into the water, the Morrison Government hasn't come up with a timeline for a legislative fix to what the court has ordered.

The LNP Opposition might be right when they say SMART drumlines, where sharks are caught and released,should be considered as temporary solution. However, it would take time to train officers and whether that's worthwhile depends primarily on how long it's going to take their federal colleagues to come up with a legislative answer.

Dropping in new drumlines at 17 locations just outside the marine park was a prudent move by the State but that still leaves 27 beaches no longer with protection.

However, what wasn't needed was State Fisheries Minister Mark Furner's ham-fisted suggestion that Ley would be blamed if there was an attack.

While the politicians squabble, the reputation of Queensland beaches is taking a further battering, the last thing the tourism industry needs after those terrible Cid Harbour attacks.

From the start, what was required here was a bipartisan approach and a plan to ensure swimmers were protected by drumlines again as soon as practical. Instead what happened was the political sharks began circling as soon as they saw an opportunity for a cheap feed.

"Courier Mail" 27 Sept. 2019

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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10/12 CFB Hangover Quickie   

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*Mississippi State and Ole Miss are the top 2 teams in college football, and I cannot fathom how a voter would rank FSU ahead of either, given the "who'd ya beat?" and "how'd ya beat 'em?" tests.

*With Arizona's loss late last night and the other results, there are now just three teams that control their own playoff destiny:

- The Ole Miss/Miss St winner.
- The FSU/ND winner (next week).
- Baylor.

Baylor still plays at Oklahoma and versus Kansas State, with a trap game at West Virginia next week. Given that it took a 21-point 4th-quarter comeback yesterday to beat a very good TCU team, I have little confidence they will go unbeaten.

Ole Miss still has to play Auburn (Nov. 1). Mississippi State still has to play Alabama (Nov. 15). And, of course, they still have to play each other in the regular-season finale.

But let's stipulate that the SEC West champ gets into the playoff, with no-matter-how-many-but-assume-one loss.

Let's stipulate the FSU-ND winner goes unbeaten and is in the playoff.

Let's stipulate that of one-loss conference champs, Oregon and the presumptive one-loss Big 12 champ have the inside track at the other two playoff spots.

But let's also stipulate that, this season, a one-loss SEC West runner-up would have a far more impressive resume than any of those three teams.

Let's say the first half of this season holds and that SEC West champ turns out to be the Ole Miss-Miss State winner and the SEC West runner-up turns out to be that game's loser:

I cannot imagine that the playoff committee would be interested in an Egg Bowl rematch as a playoff semifinal, a month after the teams have played a "decisive" game (although they should!)

What is endlessly fascinating is that this college football season hinges on the two national powerhouses from Mississippi -- the top 2 teams in the country.

-- D.S.

(P.S.: As Bradley Beal is my favorite NBA player, yesterday's news of his broken wrist -- putting him out for at least two months -- is depressing, yet so familiar for any hard-luck Wizards fan.)



          

Egg Tally for July   

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Queen of Eggland
Thank you, Queenie, for giving us 20 eggs last month. You will never win an egg laying contest in this flock, but you're the clear winner when it comes to beauty. That's why you're number one in my book and the queen of Poultry Palace.

Princess Lay-a
Well done, Princess. You laid 27 eggs in July. Even though the heat set you back a bit, you didn't let it it knock you off your game completely. I'm very happy with your results. And, I'd be even happier if you would learn to stay off the back porch and out of my geraniums.

Duchess of Yolk
Settle down, Duchess. There's no need to ruffle your feathers. You are Hen of the Month once again with a total of 28 eggs. You also laid the largest egg. It's not the biggest you've ever laid, but it's a respectable 1.87 ounces. When the weather cools off, I'll be expecting you to reach the 2 ounce mark...no pressure, though.

That makes a grand total of 71 eggs for July—just one egg shy of six dozen. Not too shabby, girls, not too shabby.
          

How Many Eggs in June?   

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The grand total of eggs collected from the Royal Hens of Poultry Palace in June was 78.

Egg collecting is a favorite pastime of the toddler set. Just ask Myles.

That's six less than in May and is to be expected during the hot summer months.

I'm not sure how, but not a single egg was broken in the process. 

Queenie gave us 24 eggs. Princess and Duchess are tied at 27 each.

The quicker we get there the more fun it will be. Rose was a joyful helper.

It all comes down to the largest egg laid to break the tie.


Queenie is out of the running, but for the record her largest egg in June weighed 1.73 ounces.
Princess Lay-a's largest egg was 1.80 ounces. And, Duchess beat them both with an egg weighing 1.94 ounces.


Congratulations, Duchess of Yolk, you win the Hen of the Month award for June! Extra mealworms coming your way.
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