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One city containing all the world
By Ken Livingstone
Published: July 12 2005 20:31 | Last updated: July 12 2005 20:31
For the last 10 days, and with extraordinary intensity last Wednesday and Thursday, Londoners have lived out triumph and grief with the eyes of the world on them. A spontaneous city-wide outburst of joy at winning the Olympics, the tragedy of the bomb attacks, the implacable resolve to bring to justice those responsible, and immediate determination from millions of Londoners that the city would not shift from its chosen path all passed in days.
An anonymous Londoner put it best on a wreath. I quote it not simply for its eloquence but because in my opinion it expressed how virtually every Londoner responded.
The wreath read: “If you are looking to boost morale, our pride, then you have succeeded. If you want to ensure our commitment to our way of life you have achieved much. If you expect people to crawl out of smoke-filled tunnels, head to work and otherwise get on with their daily lives you were right. If your aim was to raise our strength and defiance, congratulations. Burning with fear? Not bloody likely.”
Libération, the French newspaper, said: “Never has such calm been seen faced with such an event.”
London responded in its own way. It was no better than New York or Madrid. There is no competition in the face of barbarity. It was simply different. Particularly to an international business audience I want to explain that difference because it will help them understand the nature of London.
London’s character was indelibly marked by being for centuries the world’s greatest port. London simply had more physical connections with the rest of the globe than any other place on the planet. Shakespeare was born in Stratford but he worked in London, and his paying audience was those who made their living by trade. Three hundred years ago, one-quarter of those invited to celebrations of the coronation of George II were foreigners living in London.
Around this nucleus developed the world’s greatest international financial centre. New York now handles even greater financial volumes than London. But that is due to the weight of the US domestic market; in terms of a truly international centre London still exceeds even New York.
There are 1.2m people in London working in financial and business services. Many tens of thousands of them do no work connected to Britain’s economy. London is frequently more affected by the movements of the economies of east Asia or the US than it is by that of the UK.
Around this gigantic port and financial centre grew what else made London the international centre it is today. To follow global financial operations London required a truly international press and media – this newspaper is a product of it. London’s exposure to innumerable cultures gave its creative industries a fuel of ideas, and therefore a drive, that has made it one of the greatest entertainment, architecture, media, music and advertising centres of the world.
Simultaneously came people. One-quarter of London’s senior and middle financial management comes from abroad. Nearly one-third of Londoners are from ethnic minorities.
Naturally, only a relatively small fraction of London’s citizens understand its position as the world’s greatest international financial centre. But what they have come to knowand appreciate deeply is having the greatest international lifestyle on the planet. From those executing high finance in the executive suites and trading floors of the Square Mile or Canary Wharf, through London’s prosperous suburbs of Richmond or Southgate, to the curry houses of Brick Lane, Londoners thrive on the global character of the city.
Those who propose we cut ourselves off from the world do not understand it cannot be done. London without its international character would not be London.
A commentator on recent events said London had become the world’s first “transnational city” – an exaggeration with an important element of truth. The world’s journalists and business people already know it.
A year ago London ran an exhibition celebrating the first contact between Europe and Asia – the Silk Road. A leading Indian software company gave London the type of publicity you cannot buy in the Times of India. “London is a place where you are not only close to the market but you feel at home after a week.”
But that is the top. I knew again how deep that feeling had penetrated for Londoners when I saw their response after last Thursday. I do not know Marie Fatayi-Williams, a Muslim who flew to London from Nigeria because her son Anthony was missing. But she understood London. “Anthony is a Nigerian, born in London, worked in London, he is a world citizen. Here today we have Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus all united in love for Anthony.”
There are no words to follow that.
The writer is mayor of London
Wednesday July 13, 12:29 PM
Tokyo Gov. Ishihara sued for insulting French language
(Kyodo) _ A French language teacher and 20 other plaintiffs filed a damages suit Wednesday against Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara for his insulting remarks against the French language last year.
Malik Berkane, a 46-year-old principal of a French language school in Tokyo, filed the suit at the Tokyo District Court, together with 20 other French and Japanese people, demanding an apology over the remarks and 500,000 yen in compensation for each plaintiff.
According to the petition, Ishihara said Oct. 19, "I have to say that it should be no surprise that French is disqualified as an international language because French is a language which cannot count numbers."
He made the remarks at a meeting of a support organization for Tokyo Metropolitan University, which opened in April after integrating five universities and colleges run by the metropolitan government, when he criticized university employees who opposed the integration, including those teaching French and other languages.
"After all, those guys desperately clinging to such kind of (language) are lodging opposition for the sake of opposition," he said.
The plaintiffs said the governor's remarks give a false impression that French is a poor language, which is not acceptable by international standards, and brought disgrace to the plaintiffs, many of whom are involved in running language schools.
Berkane said, "I was shocked when I heard his remarks. We decided to file the suit as the governor has not responded to our letter demanding his apology."
FRENCH SPEAKERS SUE NATIONALIST TOKYO GOVERNOR FOR INSULTING THEIR LANGUAGE
Received Wednesday, 13 July 2005 08:27:00 GMT
TOKYO, July 13 (AFP) - A group of French speakers filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the nationalist governor of Tokyo demanding he apologize and compensate them for saying that French should not be an international language.
Twenty-one scholars, teachers and translators, including seven French people who live in Japan, went to the Tokyo District Court accusing Governor Shintaro Ishihara of defaming the language of Voltaire.
The group wants Ishihara to publish an apology in four major Japanese newspapers and give each plaintiff 500,000 yen (4,500 dollars) for "hindering their economic livelihoods," said Miyuki Sakai, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.
Ishihara, an award-winning novelist who is known for his politically incorrect remarks, made his swipe at French when he inaugurated a university building in October.
"French is a language in which one cannot count numbers, so it is perfectly normal that it does not qualify to be an international language," he said.
The audience included French professors who opposed his government's integration of five schools to form Tokyo Metropolitan University.
The lawsuit said 180 million people speak French as their mother tongue and that it is "one of the official languages of the United Nations and numerous international institutions".
Ishihara, who has led the capital since 1999, is an outspoken nationalist who believes Japan should be more independent of the United States and stand firm with its Asian neighbors.
He won a separate lawsuit in February filed by women upset when he jibed that women past child-bearing age were "hags" with little reason to keep living. He has also come under fire for using an ethnic slur for Chinese people.
French outraged by Tokyo governor
South Africa May Become 5th Country To Legalize Gay Marriage
by Mark Levy 365Gay.com Cape Town, South Africa Bureau
Posted: July 13, 2005 12:01 am ET
(Johannesburg, South Africa) South African same-sex couples are anxiously waiting for a court ruling that could make the country the fifth in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
The Constitutional Court heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage in May and a decision could come at any time.
The case was brought by Marie Fourie and Cecilia Bonthuys, who have been partners since 1994 but are unable to marry.
Last year the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman discriminated unfairly against same-sex couples, and that common law should be developed to take this into account.
The government appealed the ruling to the Constitutional Court.
The Department of Home Affairs argued that the appeal court violated the rule of the separation of powers by usurping Parliament's power by making law.
"Same-sex partnerships are a relatively new phenomena," said the Department of Home Affairs' advocate Marumo Moerane, sparking laughter in the packed gallery. He then said that, "We don't know whether single-sex relationships involve the idea of mutual support."
Lawyers for Fourie and Bonthuys and 7 other same-sex couples argued that denying civil marriage to gays violates the constitution.
South Africa's post apartheid constitution states that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals have the same rights as any other individual. Section 9 of the Constitution outlaws discrimination in South Africa based on sexual orientation.
Courts have delivered gays and lesbians a series of major equality wins dating back to 1998 when sodomy was decriminalized.
The following year immigrant partners of South African lesbians and gays were allowed to apply for permanent residence.
Same-sex adoption was legalized in 2002 and in 2003 the government bowed to pressure and permitted domestic partner benefits.
The only countries to condone same-sex marriages are The Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. Canada is expected to finalize its same-sex marriage law next week.
Senate committee revives same-sex marriage bill
Leno uses 'gut and amend' technique to change contents of cohort's fisheries legislation
- Christian Berthelsen, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - San Francisco Chronicle
Sacramento -- A state Senate committee voted Tuesday to approve a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, reviving legislation declared "dead for the year" just last month after it failed to pass out of the lower house.
The effort comes in the face of two previous failed attempts to pass the bill in the Legislature, a voter-approved ballot measure recognizing marriage as between only a man and a woman, and sentiment that the gay marriage movement galvanized support for President Bush in the presidential election last year.
The bill's author, Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said he hoped passage through two Senate committees and the Senate floor would give it the momentum it needed to win approval in the Assembly this summer.
Resuscitation of the bill renewed emotional debate on the most contentious social policy issue in the Capitol this year.
Leno and other legislators who supported the measure say that it ranks as the top civil rights battle of the decade and that recognition of same-sex marriage would correct discriminatory policies in the issuance of marriage license, consideration of tax status, financial and medical benefits, and a range of other issues.
State Sen. Gilbert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, acknowledged that the majority of voters opposed gay marriage when they approved Proposition 22 five years ago but said: "The people have spoken. They have spoken. But people aren't always right."
Randy Thomasson, the president of the Campaign for Children and Families, the lead opponent of the bill, testified that the Legislature was not the proper venue to legalize same-sex marriage because California voters outlawed it. Rather, he said legalization should be put to voters once more in the form of a ballot measure.
"The courts have already said you cannot create same-sex marriage in this Legislature," he testified. "It must be done by a vote of the people."
The hallway outside the committee hearing room was jammed with hundreds of opponents of the measure. The only other witness to testify against the bill was a woman who said "we are going to see the king of kings and lord of lords" if it is passed.
The woman, who gave her name as Susan Farrell in her testimony but left immediately afterward and could not be interviewed, said she was surprised to talk to the committee as long as she did and feared she would miss getting home in time to make dinner for her husband but that she felt strongly about the issue.
"I'm mommy!" she shrieked. "There's not two mommies to my children!"
Because the Assembly bill failed to pass out of its house of origin by the statutory deadline this year, the legislation was thought to be finished until next year, when new bills can be introduced again. Sen. Carole Migden, D- San Francisco, a supporter of the bill, termed it "dead for the year" when it fell four votes short of the 41 necessary last month.
But through a parliamentary maneuver known as a "gut and amend," Leno borrowed a fellow legislator's bill regarding marine fisheries research that was pending in the Senate, stripped its contents and inserted the language of his failed Assembly bill. The new version is not materially different than the version that died in the Assembly.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 along party lines to pass the bill, with Democrats in favor and the lone Republican who was present opposed. The votes gave it the minimum needed to move on.
Leno said he believed it would garner enough votes in a subsequent Senate hearing and on the Senate floor but acknowledged he still needed to pick up three votes in the Assembly, where it must return and pass before it can be sent to the governor.
Should it get that far, it would present a high-profile and difficult choice for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has presented himself as a social moderate but has also said the courts should decide the issue.
E-mail Christian Berthelsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Page B - 1
Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 July, 2005, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
French outraged by Tokyo governor - BBC
(Photo) Shintaro Ishihara is known in Japan for his outspoken remarks
A group of French speakers in Japan are suing the governor of Tokyo after he described French as a failed language.
The 21 teachers and researchers, are demanding compensation and an apology for the "insulting remarks" from Governor Shintaro Ishihara.
Mr Ishihara is accused of saying he was not surprised French did not qualify as an international language, as it was "a language which cannot count numbers".
The veteran politician is well-known for his outspoken comments.
He has previously drawn criticism for saying the Nanjing Massacre, in which hundreds of thousands of Chinese were slaughtered by Japanese troops in the 1930s, never happened.
His latest controversial came comments during the inauguration of a university building last October. Among the audience were French professors who had opposed his government's integration of five schools to form Tokyo Metropolitan University.
"I have to say that it should be no surprise that French is disqualified as an international language because French is a language which cannot count numbers," he said.
Numbers in French can be complicated for beginners, especially combinations which make up numbers such as 94, which translates as "four 20s and 14".
The group taking Mr Ishihara to court, who include French and Japanese nationals, are seeking a written apology and 500,000 yen (£2,545; 3,683 euros) each. They say his comments "hindered their economic livelihoods".
Brendan Marcus, who teaches at a private French school in Tokyo, is one of the plaintiffs.
"For someone of his public stance, it's quite unacceptable," Mr Marcus told Reuters news agency.
"When you know how many French scientists and mathematicians throughout history have made important contributions, [his remarks are] not appropriate."
Tokyo governor sued over improper comment
Jul 13, 2005, 10:03 GMT
TOKYO, Japan (UPI) -- The head of a French language school in Tokyo is suing Governor Shintaro Ishihara over his comment that "French fails as an international language."
The school head and 20 other plaintiffs, including French language researchers, are demanding that Ishihara publish newspaper advertisements apologizing for the remark and pay compensation of 10 million yen ($90,000), the Mainichi Shimbun reported Wednesday.
Ishihara made the remark in a speech supporting the establishment of the Tokyo Metropolitan University in October last year.
"I have a feeling it is aptly said that French fails as an international language because it is a language that can`t count numbers," he said.
The governor`s comment was apparently related to the fact that in French, the number "80" means "four twenties."
The lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday, objects to his remark.
"French can count numbers and it is used as an official language in international organizations and many countries," the lawsuit says. "The false comments stain the reputation of people who are researching French and speaking it as their native language."
A member of Ishihara`s secretarial staff said the legal complaint had not yet arrived, and refused comment.
Tokyo governor Ishihara sued for insulting French
13 July 2005
TOKYO - French teachers and researchers in Japan sued outspoken Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara on Wednesday for calling French a “failed language”, demanding compensation and a public apology.
In a suit filed at the Tokyo District Court, the 21 plaintiffs, many of whom run language schools or teach French, said Ishihara’s remarks had disgraced them. According to the suit, Ishihara said last October: “I have to say it is no surprise that French is disqualified as an international language because French is a language which cannot count numbers.” The governor made his remarks at a gathering in support of a new university in Tokyo, apparently to explain that there was no point to pursuing French, said plaintiff Brendan Marcus, who teaches at a private French school in Tokyo.
“For someone of his public stance, it’s quite unacceptable,” Marcus said.
“When you know how many French scientists and mathematicians throughout history have made important contributions, (his remarks are) not appropriate.”
The plaintiffs are demanding a written apology in a newspaper and 500,000 yen ($4,500) each in compensation.
Ishihara, a nationalist long known for making contentious remarks, has in the past drawn ire for his comments on China, Chinese and Korean residents of Japan, and older women.
An official at the Tokyo metropolitan government declined to comment, saying they had not received details of the lawsuit.
Numbers in French can be a mouthful at times, such as the word for 80, which translates into “four 20s”, or 70, which is ”60 plus 10”.
Japanese, however, has an unusual and sometimes awkward system for counting large numbers in which 1 million is expressed as “100 ten-thousands”. Different words are also used for counting depending on such factors as whether the object is an animal, a book, or something long and thin.
“If you try, you can find that every language has its difficulties,” Marcus said. “But people should be encouraged to do what they can with any language.”
ＨＩＶ抗体検査どう促進 神戸・エイズ国際会議から (神戸新聞 2005/07/13)
Charges Dropped Against Mayor Who Performed Gay Weddings
By JENNIFER MEDINA
Published: July 13, 2005 - New York Times
The Ulster County district attorney dropped charges against the mayor of New Paltz, N.Y., yesterday for marrying same-sex couples, saying that a trial would be needless and divisive.
Mayor Jason West had been charged with 24 misdemeanor counts of violating the state's domestic relations law when he performed public marriage ceremonies for two dozen gay and lesbian couples in February 2004.
In a letter to the town judge withdrawing the charges, the district attorney, Donald A. Williams, said a trial would probably "be exploited by those with a greater interest in publicity than the public good."
"While a trial in this case would be filled with rhetoric and hyperbole, it would be lacking in a viable public purpose," Mr. Williams wrote.
Mayor West had been expected to stand trial in the fall, and if convicted, he could have faced fines and up to a year in prison.
The mayor's lawyer, E. Joshua Rosenkranz, said the district attorney's decision was a "total and complete vindication."
He also accused the district attorney of being more concerned with the widespread public attention the case received than with the concerns of New Paltz residents.
"We have always said that a criminal prosecution serves absolutely no purpose," Mr. Rosenkranz said. "He went searching for the limelight, but when it got too hot, he flew away like a moth with singed wings."
Mayor West said the decision not to prosecute the case showed that the district attorney had been "grandstanding for the last 18 months."
"There doesn't seem to be any reason why he would have not made the same decision a year and a half ago," Mr. West said, "except for now he didn't think he would win."
Mr. Williams wrote that because other rulings in civil cases have barred same-sex civil unions, and because the state attorney general has issued an opinion saying New York does not permit such marriages, Mr. West is already prohibited from marrying other gay couples.
Mr. Williams has repeatedly said that the case was not over constitutional rights for gay men and lesbians, as Mr. West claimed, but over a public official's duty to uphold existing law. But Mr. West said he was fighting for equal rights, and was therefore upholding his oath of office.
The charges were dismissed by a town justice in June 2004, but were reinstated by a county judge in February. The mayor appealed that decision, but the State Court of Appeals declined to hear the case.
In the spring of 2004, Mayor West became the second public official in the country, after Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, to preside over same-sex weddings. The move thrust New Paltz, a village of 6,000, into the spotlight of the debate over gay unions. Justice E. Michael Kavanagh of State Supreme Court in Kingston issued an order banning Mr. West from performing same-sex unions as long as they were not licensed in the state.
"Dropping the charges does not change any of that," Mr. Rosenkranz said, "but nothing was going to change that."
石原知事の発言めぐり提訴 「フランス語を侮辱」 (共同 2005/07/13)
＜石原都知事＞「フランス語は国際語失格」発言で提訴される (毎日 2005/07/13)
Le gouverneur de Tokyo traite le français par le mépris et l'injure
LE MONDE | 07.06.05 | 14h25 • Mis à jour le 07.06.05 | 14h59
TOKYO de notre correspondant
L'ONU dénonce la persistance de la xénophobie au Japon
LE MONDE | 12.07.05 | 14h38 • Mis à jour le 12.07.05 | 14h38
TOKYO de notre correspondant
COMMENT / BUDDHISM IN THAILAND
Religion and same-sex marriage
Will gay marriage be allowed by Buddhists in Thailand?
By METTANANDO BHIKKHU - Bangkok Post
The endorsement by the Spanish parliament of same-sex marriage has turned Spain into the third country in the European Union that recognises the rights of homosexual couples, after the Netherlands and Belgium.
Canada will soon be the fourth country in the world to adopt the same law. Despite strong protests by the Catholic Church, most likely the legalisation of same-sex marriage will domino in Europe and could easily spread to Asia.
In a Buddhist culture like Thailand, many Thai people are pondering whether the law could be applied in the country as Theravada Buddhism, the most orthodox form of the religion, has put down deep roots here.
Soon there will be lobbies and campaigns in support of the same law in Thailand. Is there any objection of the Buddha against same-sex marriage?
The answer to the question is ``No.''
There is no objection of the Buddha found in the Tipitaka. To be precise, the Buddha was neither supportive nor against marriage between members of the same gender.
This is not because Buddhism is naive about homosexuality. In fact, in the first book of the monastic code, the Vinaya, in the Buddhist Pali canon, there are hundreds of references to sexual relationship and most forms of deviant sexual practices, as appeared in Indian society over 2,500 years ago.
Many of the cases often raise the eyebrows of psychologists and psychiatrists, such as bestiality (sex between a man and an animal), necrophilism (sex between a man and a corpse), paedophilia, etc.
These cases reveal that Buddhism had spread far and wide into Indian society, and all these problems were unearthed to the growing Buddhist community.
Also, from the Tipitaka, it is clear that the Buddha acknowledged the difference between hermaphrodites and homosexual practitioners. Hermaphrodites and eunuchs are not allowed to be ordained, but there is no sanction against homosexuality.
Of course, there was a case of a gay monk who was overcome by sexual desire and could no longer restrain himself. He was seducing his friends and novices to have sex with him. They rejected him so he left the monastery and had sex with men who were elephant keepers and horse keepers. When news spread around the entire Buddhist community that he was homosexual, the Buddha was alerted to the problem and he issued a rule for the community not to give any ordination to a homosexual, and those ordained gays are to be expelled. (Vin.I, 86).
The Buddha was more tolerant of lesbianism than male homosexuality. Nuns who were caught in lesbian practices were not expelled from the order. They must confess to the fellows about their practice, and then the offence will be redeemed. (Vin. IV, 261)
The monastic rules do not guarantee Buddhist monasticism is entirely free from homosexuals. Indeed, they only say that monks and nuns are required to live a celibate life. Often in history, the monastic community has been plagued by homosexual scandals.
In Thailand, the worst such scandal took place in 1819, during the reign of King Rama II, when a high-ranking monk, a Somdet who was also the abbot of Wat Saket who had just been promoted to take the position of the Supreme Patriarch, one day was found guilty of enjoying homosexual activities with some of his good-looking male disciples.
It was a shock to all Buddhists of the time, and the case was considered the scandal of the century of Buddhism in Siam.
Interestingly, the graveness of the mistake was not severe enough to defrock him, although the King had him removed him from his position of honour and ordered him to leave the royal monasteries.
As for the lay homosexual people, the Buddha gave no rule or advice as to whether they should be allowed to marry or not. The Buddha posted himself simply as the one who shows the way. He did not insist that he had any right to enforce on others what they should do. With this principle, the original teachings of the Buddha do not cover social ceremonies or rituals. Weddings and marriages of all kinds are regarded as mundane and have no place in Buddhism.
The principle of universal compassion does not allow Buddhists to judge other people based on the nature of what they are, which practice is considered discrimination.
Unlike Christianity, where gender is a part of God's creation, Buddhists see genderisation as a sign of decay. In the Buddhist version of the Genesis, Agga-asutta (also known as the Aphorism on the Knowledge of the Beginning), male and female genders were a part of the fall. Originally, the primordial ancestors of humans were self-luminous, mind-born and sexless. So the mind is supreme and sexless, which is consistent with the higher form of existence. The most important principle to derive from that is there is no superiority of one gender over the other. The first sin among them which perpetuated the fall was the prejudice of appearance, when those of brighter skin looked down on those with darker skin.
Based on this principle, homosexual people should not be discriminated against; they are humans who deserve all the rights and dignity endowed upon them as members of human race.
This does not mean that Thai Buddhists are supportive of gay rights and homosexual marriage, or that liberal activists will be successful in their social campaign. Human rights issues have always received poor attention in Theravada countries, as the culture is rooted in the belief in the Law of Karma, which is more popular among Thai Buddhists than philosophical and advanced scriptural studies in Buddhism.
Many monasteries and monks advocate their lay followers to see the world through the lens of karma, i.e., every person is born to pay back their sins. According to their explanations, all homosexuals and sexual deviants were once offenders of the Third Precept (prohibiting sexual misconduct) _ at least in their past lives, and they must pay off their past sins in their present life. Therefore, they deserve all that society gives to them. This belief system creates strong conservative values in Theravada Buddhist culture. For these reasons, it is unlikely that Buddhists will easily approve a law to allow gay marriage. Gay and lesbian activists in Thailand will not be as successful as their fellows in European countries or Canada.
Mettanando Bhikko qualified as a physician before he ordained as a Buddhist monk. He holds an MD from Chulalongkorn University, an MA from Oxford, a ThM from Harvard and PhD from Hamburg.