Monday, December 24, 2018



Merry Christmas to all those who come by here
 
I will be taking a short break from blogging tomorrow but not sure for how long.  I should be able to put up something in the days leading up to the New Year but will leave that open for the moment

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Michelle Obama A Fashion Icon? Thigh-High Sequin Streetwalker Boots? No… Just No

From the moment that Obama won the Presidency, the media gushed over the attire of Mrs Obama. I make no claim to be any sort of fashion guru but it seemed to me that her clothing was in fact marginal to then-current fashion.  Silence about it would have been the safest course. But in their usual tribal way, the media treated her as a fashion icon.  That did rather make me sick,  I saw her as just a ..... The gracious Laura Bush would never have worn anything so ostentatious. As it happens, however, Mrs Obama has now excelled herself -- and the writer below has justifiably excoriated it. It would not be safe for me to say what I think of the latest effort.  I am not putting up an image of it as it rather makes me puke


OMG! Former First Lady Michelle Obama wore $3,900 sequin Balenciaga over-the-knee boots Wednesday night on her book tour at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.

The Gateway Pundit reports:

“Sex and the City” star Sarah Jessica Parker greeted Michelle Obama when she walked out on stage Wednesday evening.

Obama flashed her $4,000 boots and the crowd went wild.

Sarah Jessica Parker, who played Carrie Bradshaw in the highly popular TV series “Sex and the City,” had an obsession with high end shoes and boots, so the TV star gushed over Michelle Obama’s over-the-top thigh-high boots.

SOURCE 

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YouTube Changed ‘Abortion’ Search Results after a Slate Writer Complained

YouTube has apparently changed the search results on its site for the term “abortion” after Slate writer April Glaser contacted the company last Friday to ask “why anti-abortion videos saturated the search results for ‘abortion,’ and if the platform thought accurate, health-focused information had a place there.”

Glaser reports that, by this past week, “anti-abortion content meant to enrage or provoke viewers was no longer purely dominating the results” on the site. According to Glaser, YouTube did not tell her whether or how it tweaked the results for “abortion,” but “stressed that the company is working to provide more credible news content from its search and discovery algorithms.”

Who knew it would be that easy?

Among the videos “meant to enrage or provoke” that prompted Glaser’s censorious mission were what she describes as “several misleading animations that showed a fetus that looks like a sentient child in the uterus,” women explaining why they regretted their abortions, and videos of former abortionists explaining what takes place medically and surgically during an abortion procedure.

Such videos are, of course, every pro-abortion activist’s worst nightmare. Because they reveal the unmistakable details of what takes place in every abortion — details that Glaser rightly, albeit dismissively, describes as “gore” — they’re written off as “dangerous misinformation.” Lest unsuspecting viewers risk running across this “gore” and oppose abortion as a result, true believers like Glaser insist that this type of content should be drowned out by videos from news outlets and “credible reproductive health-care providers” whose mission is to airbrush away the reality of abortion.

SOURCE 

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A new threat to free speech, Visa card and Mastercard

"As simple and as faceless as a lethal injection'.

Every day there is a new report about how Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and other giants of social media censor content, banish certain commentators for incorrect views, and otherwise work in a steady if unsystematic way to homogenize political opinion within an acceptably progressive bandwidth.  Ideas are scoured for “racism”—as contentiously defined by the intellectual stylebook of the hard left Southern Poverty Law Center, which the media have set up as an “authority” on hate speech; freedom of speech is seen a nuisance rather than a guarantee of personal liberty and true diversity of opinion.

But there is an even more sinister threat to the first amendment than the social media, a threat that operates in a stealth way in the most crucial arena of our economic system.  It is corporate giants Master Card and Visa, which now use their unparalleled financial power to determine what speech should be allowed and what speech should be silenced.

Most Americans use a credit or debit card everyday and take these two corporations as much for granted as the light switch or the automobile ignition.  We buy things with their cards ranging from the annual vacations to the daily groceries. These two interlocked corporations are the drum majors marching us into a cashless society.  They are powers unto themselves, but their eminence rests on our money and the fees they exact to accommodate our transactions.

The cards they issue are even more critical to the vendors whom they pay. Without the ability to accept charges to these cards as payment many businesses would in effect be out of business.

Unlike the comparatively clumsy and very public efforts of the social media to erase “offensive”—all too often a synonym for conservative—opinion, the cognate machinations of Visa/Mastercard take place more remotely and without response in the dark space of the mundane financial transaction.

It is as simple and as faceless as a lethal injection: An individual who wants to support an organization online makes the digital donation and is then informed that Visa/Mastercard will not process it.  Neither the individual nor the organization he wishes to support are told that it is on a blacklist, let alone informed how or got there or how to get off.  The donor is denied his right to put his money where his mouth is.  The organization he supports is condemned to death by strangulation in the dark in a world designed by Kafka.

The Freedom Center had such an experience a few months ago when online donations were overnight peremptorily refused by Visa/Mastercard with no reason given and no protest accepted.  We were able to create enough noise about this injustice—in the media and with the threat of legislative attention—that the credit card giants turned the power back on just as capriciously as they had turned it off.

We were lucky. Robert Spencer, whose jihadwatch.org is one of the indispensable sites for understanding the intentions and the threat of Islamic terrorism, has been shut down from receiving supporters’ donations for several weeks now, and is forced to try to keep jihadwatch going on a shoestring while Visa/Mastercard imperiously ignores demand letters and threats of court action from his attorneys.  The anti Semitic Nation of Islam’s credit card donations are processed; the anti Islamist jihadwatch’s are not.

This oligopoly acts with the faceless finality of an IRS lien when it sets itself up as lawmaker, judge and jury with the power to decide which speech should be allowed and which should be shut down.  It kills free speech not by arguing against the ideas it disapproves of, but by the silence of the arbitrary act, using the financial system to accomplish the deed.

An analogue to what Visa/Mastercard has done and is doing was once banned by the 1964 Civil Rights Act which, among other things, gave U.S. citizens, specifically African Americans, the right to sit at a lunch counter and have a sandwich the way any other America could. This opening of public accommodations to African Americans in effect told private businesses that they were accommodations open to the public and that all people, regardless of race, comprised that public and that they could not deny the civil rights of anyone seeking to use their facility.

Can there be any doubt that MasterCard and the other major card companies are similarly a public accommodation? Over half the people of the United States who own a debit or credit card use as their sole method for paying bills. (Most of the other half uses them too, just not as frequently.) In 2015 there were 69.5 billion debit card payments with a value of $2.56 trillion and 33.8 billion credit card payments with a value of $3.16 trillion--together adding up to around 6 trillion in an economy of 19 trillion.

This is a very sizable public accommodation. More importantly it is immense power, power that can be and is being used to shut down the civil rights of people who want to support the speech of the Freedom Center, Jihadwatch, other conservative groups and anyone else in our political universe. 

Visa/Mastercard tell the people whose rights they strangle that they can always get funds to the organizations whose speech they want heard by other means.  That is true---people can write a check and mail it or make a cash withdrawal from their bank and drive it to the offices of the organization they support  just as black people in the South in the 1950s could have eaten at some other lunch counter in a more remote part of town.

The money these corporate giants hold belongs to private individuals who have a fundamental civil right to direct that money—which they pay the oligopoly a handsome fee to distribute to organizations they approve of and for the opinions they want heard in the public square.  Their money is their speech.  When they hit the “donate” button on a nonprofit’s website they are saying, “I believe….”as surely as if they were holding a placard in a march or writing to a legislator. 

We have come to a point in our history when government must once against step in to preserve rights and prevent wrongs just as it did in 1964. Civil Rights are as much imperiled now as they were then. The technology revolution has undeniably brought much that is good and fruitful, but as it has evolved, this revolution has developed a dark side that concentrates increasing power in the hands of fewer people.  These people control vast amounts of information. The information can tell the most of intimate of details from what we spend, what we bought with what we spend, what our daily commute is, who we may like or dislike, and, yes, our political leanings.  Hardly a day goes by without some news of an intrusion into private lives which are ransacked and violated for others’ profit.

And in this context, Visa/MasterCard must be seen not merely as the hygienic facilitators of the billions of daily transactions that are the white sound of our financial life, but as an oligopoly that has converted its privileged position into political power exercised opaquely and without control or justification. 

Congress should immediately investigate the imperious intrusions of Visa/MasterCard into consumers’ privacy and draft legislation that would prevent this cartel from violating their civil right to use their money as a form of speech.

SOURCE 

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Germany: New Law Banning Child Marriage Declared Unconstitutional

In a rather tortured ruling

The Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH), Germany's highest court of civil and criminal jurisdiction, has ruled that a new law that bans child marriage may be unconstitutional because all marriages, including Sharia-based child marriages, are protected by Germany's Basic Law (Grundgesetz).

The ruling, which effectively opens the door to legalizing Sharia-based child marriages in Germany, is one of a growing number of instances in which German courts are — wittingly or unwittingly — promoting the establishment of a parallel Islamic legal system in the country.

The case involves a Syrian couple — a 14-year-old Syrian girl married to her 21-year-old cousin — who arrived in Germany at the height of the migrant crisis in August 2015. The Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) refused to recognize their marriage and separated the girl from her husband. When the husband filed a lawsuit, a family court in Aschaffenburg ruled in favor of the Youth Welfare Office, which claimed to be the girl's legal guardian.

In May 2016, an appeals court in Bamberg overturned the decision. The court ruled that the marriage was valid because it was contracted in Syria, where, according to Sharia law, child marriages are allowed. The ruling effectively legalized Sharia child marriages in Germany.

The ruling — described as a "crash course in Syrian Islamic marriage law" — ignited a firestorm of criticism. Some accused the Bamberg court of applying Sharia law over German law to legalize a practice banned in Germany.

"Religious or cultural justifications obscure the simple fact that older, perverse men are abusing young girls," said Rainer Wendt, head of the German police union.

Monika Michell of Terre des Femmes, a women's rights group that campaigns against child marriage, added: "A husband cannot be the legal guardian of a child bride because he is involved in a sexual relationship with her — a very obvious conflict of interest."

The Justice Minister of Hesse, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, asked: "If underage persons — quite rightly — are not allowed to buy a beer, why should the lawmakers allow children to make such profound decisions related to marriage?"

Others said the ruling would open the floodgates of cultural conflict in Germany, as Muslims would view it as a precedent to push for the legalization of other Islamic practices, including polygamy, in the country.

In September 2016, the German Interior Ministry, responding to a Freedom of Information Act request, revealed that 1,475 married children — including 361 children under the age of 14 — were known to be living in Germany as of July 31, 2016.

In a bid to protect girls who were married abroad but sought asylum in Germany, the German parliament on June 1, 2017 had passed legislation banning child marriages. The so-called Law to Fight Child Marriage (Gesetz zur Bekämpfung von Kinderehen) set the minimum age of consent for marriage in Germany at 18 years and nullified all existing marriages, including those contracted abroad, where a participant was under the age of 16 at the time of the ceremony.

Germany's Federal Court of Justice, in its ruling, published on December 14, 2018, stated that the new law may be unconstitutional because it violated Articles 1 (human dignity), 2 (free development of personality), 3 (equal protection) and 6 (protection of marriage and family) of the Basic Law, which serves as the German constitution.

The court also ruled that the new law cannot be applied retroactively, and therefore cannot apply to the Syrian couple, who were married in February 2015.

Finally, the Federal Court of Justice asked the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) to examine the legality of Germany's blanket-ban on child marriage and to determine whether German authorities should heretofore assess the validity of child marriages on a case-by-case basis.

The ruling ignores Article 6 of the Introductory Act to the German Civil Code (Einführungsgesetz zum Bürgerlichen Gesetzbuche, EGBGB), which states:

"A legal standard of another State shall not be applied where its application results in an outcome which is manifestly incompatible with the essential principles of German law. In particular, it is not applicable if the application is incompatible with fundamental rights."

By shielding the Syrian couple from German law, the court has not only legitimized the use of Sharia law to determine the outcome of legal cases in Germany, it has also established a precedent that will almost certainly be used in the future by defenders of child marriage and other foreign laws.

Moreover, by insisting that the legitimacy of child marriages be examined on a case-by-case basis, the court has opened the door to so-called cultural exceptions, namely those enshrined in Sharia law, which does not set any age limit to marriage.

Winfried Bausback, a Bavarian lawmaker who helped draft the law against child marriage, was outraged by the court's decision:

"Because of our Constitution and for the benefit of the child, in the present case, there should be only one answer: This marriage must be null and void right from the beginning.

"Germany cannot on the one hand be against child marriages internationally, and on the other hand be for such marriages in our own country. The best interests of the child cannot be compromised in this case. (...) This is about the constitutionally established protection of children and minors!"

Commentator Andreas von Delhaes-Guenther wrote:

"In the end, it is a question of principle to what extent Germany wants to accept foreign law, which is completely contrary to our law on important issues. It took centuries to remove the Middle Ages from our law; we must not now bring it back for reasons of alleged tolerance or 'individual case consideration.' Rather, we must say that in Germany, German law applies to all, especially in important legal interests such as life, health — or just the welfare of the child, with an immutable age limit for marriages.

"We should consider one more thing: judgments are made 'in the name of the people.' This people has clearly expressed through its representatives in the Bundestag that it no longer wants to recognize child marriage."

SOURCE 

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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1 comment:

David Drake said...

Taking a moment before things get all too busy wishing you and your readers a Merry Christmas.