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Froma Harrop - Are India's child brides America's problem?

The practice of marrying young girls to older men persists in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. It is a concern. But need it be America's concern and, more to the point, America's business to stop?
The answer is yes, according to a new Council on Foreign Relations report. Ending child marriage, author Rachel B. Vogelstein states, "is a strategic imperative that will further critical U.S. foreign policy interests."
Is it? Do we need a global crusade to end a custom already in decline and generally limited to impoverished rural areas? Perhaps it is more in our interests to stay out of the business of telling foreigners how they should regulate marriage.
Americans have a long history of trying to make everyone just like us. In the 1820s, New England missionaries sought to save Hawaiian souls by banning the hula. In the 2000s, America embarked on war to bestow democracy's blessings on Iraq. These ventures, usually done in the name of the national interest, rarely work out as planned.
The reauthorized Violence Against Women Act orders the secretary of state to "establish and implement a multi-year, multi-sectoral strategy to prevent child marriage" and so on. Here we go.
Now Vogelstein makes some compelling arguments. Child marriage slows a country's economic development by stunting girls' education. There's the serious question of human rights: Girls should have the power to direct their own future.
But then there's her iffier claim that the "success of U.S. efforts to foster development, prosperity and stability will grow if this persistent practice comes to an end." Even if valid, achieving these good results should be things the countries themselves want.
Which brings us to India. India is home to nearly half the world's child brides, a product of the tradition's roots in South Asia and India's huge population.
India is also a surging world economic power, full of highly educated women, some of whom run the country. In 2006, it passed a Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. And the incidence of child marriage there has already fallen sharply from 26 percent in 1999 to 18 percent in 2011.
Recent hideous rape cases have brought massive protests to India's streets. The people there seem perfectly capable of addressing aspects of their culture they don't like.
Despite the progress, Vogelstein complains that "some Indian laws continue to establish the age of majority at 14," rather than at 18. So, should the State Department be lecturing other countries on how to define a minor?
Let's turn the mirror around, shall we? Let's count the number of young American teens — some age 15 and under — now having babies, and without the marriage part.
Last month, a 5-year-old boy in Kentucky shot and killed his 2-year-old sister with a rifle given him as a present. Putting real guns in the hands of little kids is apparently common in some parts of this land.
"It's a normal way of life, and it's not just in Kentucky, it's rural America," a Cumberland County judge explained to a baffled world media.
That same week, an 8-year-old in Alaska killed his 5-year-old sister with a gun. Did America's leaders launch a campaign to change the custom of arming children? It did not, as much as it should have.
The point is, the United States should carefully pick and choose the moral imperatives it wants to push on others. We're rather advanced on dignity-of-women issues. But where's the urgency for us to "fix" old cultures not our own?
Let others catch up. Changing their ways on child marriage may benefit them. It's not for us to tell them to.
(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

Last Updated on Monday, 03 June 2013 11:03

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Roy Sanborn - It's pretty special. . .

Yup, I did my homework. I drove by this place a couple of dozen times over the past six months and it was still for sale. The "For Sale By Owner" sign was beginning to look a little tattered and although I had seen several people stop to look I was pretty sure it was still available. I originally got turned on to it from a classified ad in The Laconia Daily Sun and then I saw similar ads for it in the Monitor a month or two later. Clearly the owner was have problems finding a buyer given the fact that it had been on the market a long time. I thought I would see if I could make a deal. It was exactly what I had been looking for.
I took a chance early on Memorial Day and drove into the yard. I don't really like dealing with FSBO's, but hey, I know the business. This was the first day the sun had been out in a week and I was sure the owner might be in a good mood and ready to make a deal. He had to be getting a little desperate. I don't like to buy anything too old as I don't want to have to do a lot of work on it and I don't want to buy anything too new as you might as well buy something just built. I pulled into the drive and got out of my car and almost immediately the front door of the house opened and Chuck lurched down off the porch anxious to greet me.
Even driving by I could tell it was in great shape, clean, and ready to go. It was even the right color; 50th Anniversary Red. What other color would you want on a 2003 50th Anniversary Corvette convertible? What? Did you think I was looking at the house? I'd seen Chuck around the cruise night circuit and was told by mutual acquaintances that he was a pretty good guy, very meticulous, and very knowledgeable. Chuck proceeded to tell me the history of the car and that it had only 35,000 miles on it. It was the car that he and his wife had always wanted. He said he had done this, done that, new paint, new brakes, custom alloy wheels, and brand new rubber. In fact he had to paint the car twice as it didn't look quite right the first time.
So "What do you want for it?" I asked. "Well, you won't find another one as nice as this and I really don't have to sell it right away. (I've heard that somewhere before.) I'm looking to get $42,500 for it'" he said. Like I said, I did my homework and that was way too much money. The Kelley Blue book on this fine automobile tops out at $27,000 in excellent condition but I've seen them as high as $32,000. I told him he was quite a bit high on the price. "Well," he says, "I got a lot into this car with new paint and the new brakes last year. And those wheel and tires weren't cheap! My wife is kind of attached to it you know." I pointed out that I expected that the car should come with good brakes and tires. Kind of essential to driving it, don't you think? He said the car was "pretty rare, one of a kind almost." I pointed out I knew that there were a mere 14,022 of these made and I only counted a couple dozen other for sale on the Internet. I don't think he liked that. Car owners often think theirs is the best.
I asked if he had gotten any offers. He said he hadn't but that he only had been trying to sell it since last year. He said he was going to advertise in the Boston Globe to see if he could find a buyer down there that would appreciate how nice the car is. He said he needed to reach out to a wider group of buyers. He asked if I wanted to make an offer and I told him I'd pass. I didn't want to insult the guy so there was no sense in going down that road.
"What do you do?" he asked. "Oh, I'm a REALTOR," I replied. "Hey! I'm going to be selling my house! Would you be interested in taking a look sometime? It's really pretty special. My wife just loves it here. It belonged to her grandfather. I've got a new roof, just replaced the carpet, got new countertops, and I just had the furnace worked on! I don't really have to sell right away, but if I could get my price I'd be out of here! We just need to find the right buyer."
"Ahhh, give me a call when you are really ready...."
Please feel free to visit the new, updated www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Friday, 31 May 2013 10:23

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Susan Estrich - Holder cannot investigate himself; Dems need to stand up

No one should pretend that dealing with leaks of highly sensitive and classified national security documents is easy. I remember hearing plenty of conservatives taking to the airwaves to accuse The New York Times of nothing less than "treason" for publishing materials provided by WikiLeaks. I thought the Times publication was squarely within the bounds of First Amendment law, just as I think James Rosen was acting within the bounds of the First Amendment in the reporting that led to the government's securing a search warrant targeting him in 2010.
The balance between the First Amendment and national security is delicate and difficult, to say the least, and the actions taken against Rosen properly demand a thorough review of Justice Department policy. But the person leading that review should not be the same man who approved the Rosen warrant.
Eric Holder cannot investigate himself.
Any investigation or review led by him will not be taken seriously or accepted as legitimate. Off-the-record meetings with him will not restore confidence in his Justice Department.
I don't know Holder personally, but many people I know do. They say he is smart and thoughtful and decent, an honorable man in an unbelievably difficult job in a bitter and partisan town.
I expect that when he approved the warrant for Rosen's records, a warrant that named Rosen as a potential member of a conspiracy to commit espionage, Holder did so not because he doesn't like Rosen or Fox News, but because he was very concerned about a dangerous leak of sensitive information.
I expect that when he tells Congress he is troubled by warrants aimed at journalists, he really is. I expect that he is determined to lead a fair and thorough review of Justice Department policies, as the president has directed.
But none of that matters. No one can credibly investigate themselves.
An investigation led by the very man whose actions triggered the need for an investigation will be viewed as a whitewash regardless of its conclusion. His efforts to reach out to journalists in an off-the-record meeting were bound to lead, as they did, to rejections from major news organizations (including The New York Times, Fox News and others).
What is startling to me, frankly, is that neither the White House nor Holder seems to "get" this. Have they blinded themselves to so basic a principle as the one that says you can't investigate yourself? Is Washington so overheated that no one can see that everything has to be on the record if you are to restore trust?
Yes, Holder has been the target of partisan attack for much of the past four years. Yes, some of the criticism now is being brought by those who are only too happy to pile on another "Obama scandal. But the answers offered by the administration and the Justice Department — a Holder-led investigation, an off-the-record meeting — are stoking the flames.
To date, Democrats mostly have been biting their tongues. But that won't last.
James Comey, President Obama's choice to head the FBI, made his name as acting attorney general during the famous "hospital room standoff" in which Comey stood up to the Bush White House's effort to try to convince the hospitalized attorney general to reapprove a wiretapping program that raised serious constitutional problems. Comey put law above politics, which is where it belongs.
Prominent Democrats, sooner or later, will have to do the same. They can only get away with being "deeply troubled" for so long. The White House is not only giving ammunition to its opponents, but it's also putting its friends in an impossible position.
Find a prominent Republican who values both the First Amendment and national security. Ask that person to put together an independent task force to review Justice Department policy. This is not that hard. What is hard to understand is why the White House hasn't done it already.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

Last Updated on Friday, 31 May 2013 08:52

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Michelle Malkin - Nanny-state 'navigators' are on the way

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius controls a $54 million slush fund to hire thousands of "navigators," "in-person assisters" and counselors who will propagandize and enroll Obamacare recipients in government-run health insurance exchanges. This nanny-state navigator corps is the Mother of all Community Organizing Boondoggles. It's also yet another Obama threat to Americans' privacy.
A reminder about Secretary Sebelius' sordid snooping history is in order here. In August 2009, HHS and the White House Office of Health Reform called on their ground troops to report on fellow citizens who dared to criticize their federal health care takeover. Team Obama issued an all-points bulletin on the taxpayer-funded White House website soliciting informant emails. Remember?
"If you get an e-mail or see something on the Web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ," the Obamacare overlords urged. The feds even singled out conservative Internet powerhouse Matt Drudge because he had featured a video compilation of Obama and other Democrats — in their own words — exposing the "public option" as a Trojan Horse for government-run health care and the elimination of private industry.
Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn protested at the time that "these actions taken by your White House staff raise the specter of a data collection program." The flagging operation was shut down, but a plethora of federal disclosure exemptions protect the Obama administration from revealing what was collected, who was targeted and what was done with the database information.
White House lapdogs dismissed the concerns of conservatives as paranoid delusions. Now, fast-forward three years. In light of the draconian IRS witch hunt against tea party groups and the Justice Department's plundering of journalists' phone records and email accounts, every tax-subsidized Obama "outreach" initiative warrants heightened scrutiny.
Obamacare navigators will have access to highly personal data from potential "customers" to assess their "needs." That means income levels, birthdates, addresses, eligibility for government assistance, Social Security numbers and sensitive medical information. They'll be targeting both individuals and small businesses. Anyone they can lay their grubby hands on. Who's getting the navigator grants and training? "Community groups" in 33 states that naturally include socialized medicine-supporting unions and Saul Alinsky-steeped activist outfits.
On Capitol Hill last week, a top Obamacare official told GOP lawmakers that navigators will not be required to undergo background checks. Criminal records are not automatically disqualifying — and that includes identity theft.
The federal rule-makers will require online training of a measly 20 hours. Health care regulations watchdog Betsy McCaughey adds that navigators "don't have to know math or insurance, but rules announced April 5 specify you have to match the race, ethnicity and language preferences of the neighborhood that will be targeted."
The Obamacare navigator corps smacks of ACORN redux, stocked with demographically tailored Democratic Party recruitment operatives, not objective, informed insurance experts.
Sebelius and her enforcers promise strict neutrality and clean conduct. The bureaucrats say there will be severe consequences for violating citizens' privacy or breaking any other laws. Pffft. The Office of Special Counsel determined that Secretary Sebelius herself violated the federal Hatch Act prohibition on exploiting her HHS leadership position for partisan activity last fall. She then tried to cover up her breach after the fact by classifying the event in which she electioneered for Obama as a "personal" appearance.
Consequences? What consequences?
Sebelius has zero credibility when it comes to reining in overzealous partisans. But she's darned good at unleashing them. During the White House pressure campaign for Obamacare, Sebelius goaded her "brothers and sisters" from the brass-knuckled SEIU. SEIU goon Dennis Rivera joined her on a White House conference call in which he lambasted tea party activists as the "radical fringe" of "right-wingers" whose protests amounted to "terrorist tactics."
Now, the SEIU is on the board of directors of Enroll America, the left-wing, Obamacare advocacy nonprofit for whom shakedown artist Sebelius has been soliciting funds.
Sebelius' corruptocracy runs deep. While she was governor of Kansas, an independent inspector general reported that her appointed health policy board had "applied pressure to alter an audit report, restricted access to legal advice and threatened to fire her for meeting independently with legislators," according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Team Sebelius was also embroiled in a ruthless vendetta and obstruction campaign against then-GOP Attorney General Phill Kline, who unearthed damning evidence that the Sebelius administration had shredded key documents related to felony charges against Sebelius' abortion racketeering friends at Planned Parenthood.
Sebelius notoriously threatened private companies and insurers who increased rates to cope with Obamacare coverage mandates. She bullied private companies to meet discriminatory and arbitrary disclosure demands. And she lashed out at newspapers that dared to report on the true costs of the Obamacare regulatory leviathan.
You can't trust sleazy Sebelius to navigate anything with her broken ethical compass. This is worse than the fox guarding the henhouse. She has unfettered authority and a bottomless budget to weaponize legions more foxes who will serve as Obamacare's eyes and ears on the ground. The snitch brigade lives.
(Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is the daughter of Filipino Immigrants. She was born in Philadelphia, raised in southern New Jersey and now lives with her husband and daughter in Colorado. Her weekly column is carried by more than 100 newspapers.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Pat Buchanan - WIll the West wake up?

After a British soldier wearing a Help for Heroes charity T-shirt was run over, stabbed and slashed with machetes and a meat cleaver, and beheaded, the Tory government advised its soldiers that it is probably best not to appear in uniform on the streets of their capital.
Both murderers were wounded by police. One was photographed and recorded. His message: "There are many, many (verses) throughout the Quran that says we must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I apologize that women had to witness this today, but in our land women have to see the same. Your people will never be safe."
According to ITV, one murderer, hands dripping blood, ranted, "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."
Both killers are Muslim converts of African descent, and both are British born.
Wednesday also, Stockholm and its suburbs ended a fourth night of riots, vandalism and arson by immigrant mobs protesting the police shooting of a machete-wielding 69-year-old. "We have institutional racism," says Rami Al-khamisi, founder of a group for "social change."
Sweden, racist? Among advanced nations, Sweden ranks fourth in the number of asylum seekers it has admitted and second relative to its population. Are the Swedes really the problem in Sweden?
The same day these stories ran, The Washington Post carried a front-page photo of Ibrahim Todashev, martial arts professional and friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who, with brother Dzhokhar, set off the bombs at the Boston Marathon massacre. Todashev, another Chechen, had been shot to death by FBI agents, reportedly after he confessed to his and Tamerlan's role in a triple murder in Waltham, Mass.
Though Tamerlan had been radicalized and Moscow had made inquiries about him, he had escaped the notice of U.S. authorities. Even after he returned to the Caucasus for six months, sought to contact extremists, then returned to the U.S.A., Tamerlan still was not on Homeland Security's radar.
His father, granted political asylum, went back to the same region he had fled in fear. His mother had been arrested for shoplifting. Yet none of this caused U.S. officials to pick up Tamerlan, a welfare freeloader, and throw the lot of them out of the country.
One wonders if the West is going to wake up to the new world we have entered, or adhere to immigration policies dating to a liberal era long since dead.
It was in 1965, halcyon hour of the Great Society, that Ted Kennedy led Congress into abolishing a policy that had restricted immigration for 40 years, while we absorbed and Americanized the millions who had come over between 1890 and 1920. The "national origins" feature of that 1924 law mandated that ships arriving at U.S. ports carry immigrants from countries that had provided our immigrants in the past. We liked who we were.
Immigration policy was written to reinforce the Western orientation and roots of America, 90 percent of whose population could by 1960 trace its ancestry to the Old Continent.
But since 1965, immigration policy has been run by people who detest that America and wanted a new nation that looked less like Europe and more like a continental replica of the U.N. General Assembly. They wanted to end America's history as the largest and greatest of Western nations and make her a nation of nations, a new society and a new people, more racially, ethnically, religiously and culturally diverse than any nation on the face of the earth.
Behind this vision lies an ideology, an idee fixe, that America is not a normal nation of blood and soil, history and heroes, but a nation erected upon an idea, the idea that anyone and everyone who comes here, raises his hand, and swears allegiance to the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights becomes, de facto, not just a legal citizen but an American.
But that is no more true than to say that someone who arrives in Paris from Africa or the Middle East and raises his hand to declare allegiance to the Rights of Man thereby becomes a Frenchman.
What is the peril into which America and the West are drifting?
Ties of race, religion, ethnicity and culture are the prevailing winds among mankind and are tearing apart countries and continents. And as we bring in people from all over the world, they are not leaving all of their old allegiances and animosities behind. Many carry them, if at times dormant, within their hearts.
And if we bring into America — afflicted by her polarized politics, hateful rhetoric and culture wars — peoples on all sides of every conflict roiling mankind, how do we think this experiment is going to end?
The immigration bill moving through the Senate, with an amnesty for 11 to 12 million illegals already here, and millions of their relatives back home, may write an end to more than just the Republican Party.
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 May 2013 11:36

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