Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Austria's government plans to ban girls from wearing headscarves in kindergarten and primary schools to combat 'parallel Muslim societies'

Austria's right-wing government has announced plans to ban girls in kindergarten and primary schools from wearing Muslim headscarves.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who rules in coalition with the far-right Freedom Party, said the proposed anti-hijab law would aim to combat what the government sees as a threat to Austrian mainstream culture from some Muslims.

If any such plan became law it would apply to girls of up to around the age of ten, however as most Muslims who wear the hijab only begin doing so from puberty, it is not known how many people the 'ban' would affect.

Austria took in more than one percent of its population in asylum seekers during Europe's migration crisis, an issue that helped Chancellor Kurz's conservatives win an election last year by taking a hard line on immigration.

'Our goal is to confront any development of parallel societies in Austria,' Kurz told ORF radio, using a term he and the Freedom Party (FPO) favour to describe what they see as a threat posed by some Muslims to mainstream culture. 'Girls wearing a headscarf in kindergarten or primary school is of course part of that.'

Kurz, at a news conference with Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the FPO, said they believed there was a problem in schools though they produced no figures to support this.

'What I can tell you is that it is a growing phenomenon. A few decades ago we did not have this in Austria and now it occurs primarily in Islamic kindergartens but also here and there in public establishments of Vienna and other cities,' Kurz said.

He said a bill would be drawn up. Austria's main Muslim organisation was not immediately available for comment.

The previous coalition of Social Democrats and Kurz's conservatives, passed a law banning face coverings including Muslim full-face veils in public spaces, but women and girls are free to wear regular hijab.

It considered banning teachers from wearing headscarves but that plan was dropped after a debate over religious symbols in schools such as the Catholic crosses that still hang on many classroom walls.

For any headscarf ban to come into force in kindergartens, which are run by Austria's provinces, the government would need a two-thirds majority in parliament and therefore the support of either the Social Democrats or the liberal Neos party.

While the Social Democrats said they wanted a broader package of measures, they did not rule out cooperation. The Neos said they would examine the text drawn up by the government.


Parents Stage Walkout Over Planned Parenthood's Graphic, Violent Sex Ed in Public Schools

Sex education in public schools has gone off the deep end. Gone are the days of handing out birth control and practicing putting condoms on bananas. These days your kid is more likely to come away from school with more sexually deviant knowledge than single gay dudes in New York City, thanks to Planned Parenthood's comprehensive sex ed program that has somehow made it into public school curriculums. These programs teach dangerous and violent practices like BDSM, asphyxiation, gender-bending, anal sex, and let's not forget "rimming," which can saddle your kid with nasty parasitic infections.

Planned Parenthood has already been caught on video by Live Action advising a girl they think is 15 years old to allow her boyfriend to beat, whip, and gag her. These are the same people that taxpayers want educating their kids in schools? I can't imagine why anyone would want this, and neither can a group of fed up parents who have organized a walkout later this month.

"On April 23rd, parents around the nation will be pulling their children out of school for the day in protest of dangerous and graphic sex education and uniting at various locations to hold press events and field media questions," say organizers of Sex Ed Sit Out. Education chairwoman of the Indiana Liberty Coalition and one of the protest organizers, Rhonda Miller, stated, “Follow the money. Comprehensive sex ed is being rolled out across America, often sponsored by special interest LGBT groups like Human Rights Campaign, and disguised as anti-bullying programs. If it’s not okay for special interest groups like the NRA to be buying classroom time to push their agenda, then how is it okay for HRC monies to be buying schools off to teach gender-bending ideology and anal sex tutorials?”

These programs claim to teach abstinence too, but when investigated, "abstinence" by their definition includes masturbation, anal sex, oral sex, and mutual masturbation. This is a seriously deformed definition of abstinence, which has traditionally meant "restraining oneself from indulging" in any sexual behavior. New "comprehensive sex ed" programs do not include any discussion of celibacy as a viable alternative to early sexual activity, which can lead teens into poverty, early pregnancy, or chronic illness.

Sane adults would tell children that sexual activity is only for adults who can pay for the medical treatments they might need and support any children that may come as a result. Insane adults hire Planned Parenthood to teach dangerous and disgusting sexual deviancy to minors and call it "educational." If you think you can opt out of health class and keep your kids out during this indoctrination, you're wrong. "Comprehensive sex education" means they've woven it through science, math, English, and writing. How will you opt out of those things?


Kentucky Teacher Protests Are Political Theater Without Substance

Teachers have shut down schools across the state, allegedly to protest pension changes. But those pension reforms are pretty mild

About 5,000 teachers rallied at the Kentucky State Capitol on Monday to protest the passage last week of a pension reform measure that...well, it doesn't actually do much of anything to change their retirement plans.

But the bill might help bring Kentucky's public sector retirement plans back from the brink of financial collapse.

Under the terms of the bill that zipped through the legislature on Thursday, teachers hired after January 1, 2019, would be moved into a new retirement system using a so-called "hybrid cash-balance retirement plan," which retains some elements of a traditional pension and includes individual investment options similar to a 401(k) plan. Future hires know they won't lose their money—which makes the plans significantly less risky than 401(k) plans in the private sector—but taxpayers will no longer be responsible for making up the difference when the pension investments fall short of expectations. (The Pension Integrity Project at the Reason Foundation, which publishes this blog, provided technical assistance to Gov. Matt Bevin and state legislators as they crafted various pension reform proposals over the past year.)

Those future hires might also have to work a little longer before qualifying for retirement. While current teachers will still be able to retire after 27 years on the job, those hired next year will have to work until they are 65 or until their age and years of service add up to 87—a 57-year-old teacher with 30 years of service would be eligible to retire, for example.

None of those provisions affect the thousands of current and retired teachers who swarmed the state capitol promising to throw out the bums who had allegedly shortchanged their retirement plans. Andrew Beaver, a 32-year-old middle school math teacher, told The New York Times that he and his colleagues were angry about (in the Times' words) "not having a seat at the negotiation table" with Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Bevin had pushed for a version of the bill that included changes to future cost-of-living adjustments for current teachers and retirees. But that provision was stripped from the bill after earlier opposition from the teachers who now say they did not have a seat at the negotiating table. Indeed, hundreds of teachers swarmed the state capitol in mid-March to have their voices heard as state lawmakers debated the pension proposal. The state set up a website to collect feedback from the public on various pension proposals too.

The public has the right to participate in the legislative process, but no one is entitled to get what they want out of it. This is political theater.

Protests like the one staged in Frankfort—and the walkouts in schools around the state this week—are meant to flex the public sector unions' muscles and make state lawmakers think twice about making more changes in the future. This isn't about retirement planning; it's about political power.

If it was about retirement planning, the teachers would admit that something has to change. Kentucky has eight public sector pension plans, and none of them are in good shape. The state faces more than $62 billion in unfunded pension liabilities over the next few decades, and the teachers' pension plan (the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System, or TRS) accounts for more than $33 billion of that debt.

By comparison, Kentucky taxpayers' paid about $32 billion last year to fund the entire state government—everything from schools to road construction.

Depending on how you measure, Kentucky's public sector pension plans are either the worst-funded or the third worst-funded in the country. A Standard & Poor's report in 2016 ranked Kentucky dead last, with just 37.2 percent of the assets needed to cover current obligations, behind even such infamous pension basket cases as New Jersey (37.8 percent) and Illinois (40.2 percent). A Moody's report published a month later measured states' pension liabilities as a percentage of their annual tax revenue. Kentucky's liabilities totalled 261 percent of annual tax revenue, well above the average burden of 108 percent and more than three times the median of 85 percent. Only Illinois and Connecticut were in worse shape.

There's no doubt that Kentucky's pension crisis is partially a self-inflicted wound caused by years of deferring contributions to the system. According to an analysis from the Pew Charitable Trusts, only 15 states contributed sufficient funds to their pension systems in 2014 (the most recent year for which complete data is available) to avoid falling farther behind. Among the 35 states that failed to do so, Kentucky was by far the biggest deadbeat, chipping in less than 70 percent of what is required. In the decade between 2006 and 2016, the Kentucky teachers' pension plan had negative cash flow in nine years, and hemorrhaged $634 million in 2016 alone.

This is a completely unsustainable course. Any teachers just starting their careers in Kentucky's public schools should take a look at the chart below and ask if they're willing to trust their retirement to a system that could be insolvent by the mid-2030s if it earns less than 4 percent annually:

"The reaction to this common sense bill makes it clear that many educators had no intention of supporting any changes whatsoever to the pension system," writes Gary Houchens, a professor of education at Western Kentucky University. "Which also means that there was no need for further discussion on the topic in the state legislature. You're either going to stop kicking the can and do something, or you're going to let a broken system continue to spiral out of control."

The pension reform package that passed the state legislature last week won't solve that existing pension crisis. The current debt will still have to be paid, and it will continue costing Kentuckians for years to come. But the changes to pension promises for future teachers will allow the state to pay off the current debt without risking futher financial disaster.

Last month, Bevin said teachers were being "selfish and short-sighted" by opposing pension reforms. He's as right today as he was then.


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