The French Senate voted to approve both same sex marriage, and adoptions by same sex couples in France. The vote, 179-157, was largly along ideological lines. The traditionally Catholic nation saw a wave of nasty anti-gay protests ahead of the vote.
The bill will be revisited in May in order to make any necessary changes. Barring the unlikely change in heart by the left, same sex marriages should be legal by summer in France.
Sri Lanka insists that all its inhabitants are equal citizens of the state. The government does not discriminate.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, the president of Sri Lanka, is easily incensed by campaigns for political autonomy on the basis of ethnic self-determination. Rejecting “different administrations based on ethnicity,” he recently asserted: “The solution is to live together in this country with equal rights for all communities.”
It’s an admirable sentiment, contradicted only by the fact that, since his election in 2005, Sri Lanka has transformed into a rancid ethnocracy: a country where Tamils, after being pulverised in a ferociously asymmetrical civil war, are offered humiliation instead of consolation; where the enforcers of the law have become volitional abettors of vicious ethnic chauvinists; and where saffron-robed Buddhist monks, having designated themselves the defenders of the Sinhala majority, sniff the air each morning for the scent of fresh offence—and follow it to one minority community or another.
Well, it appears that one Church has given up on their anti-gay marriage crusade. The Mormon Church was once known for sending money and manpower into California to get Proposition 8 passed. Now, they appear to be retreating from the fight. This was evident last month, when almost all Christian denominations were seen protesting outside the Supreme Court. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was noticeably absent.
In the five years since the LDS church sent busloads of the faithful to California to canvass neighborhoods, and contributed more than $20 million via its members to support the initiative, it has all but dropped the rope in the public policy tug of war over marriage equality. The change stems from an even more remarkable if somewhat invisible transformation happening within the church, prompted by the ugly fight over Prop. 8 and the ensuing backlash from the flock.
Although the LDS's prophet hasn't described a holy revelation directing a revision in church doctrine on same-sex marriage or gay rights in general, the church has shown a rare capacity for introspection and humane cultural change unusual for a large conservative religious organization…
No commentator, sane or otherwise (they’re all crazy), thinks the migration is due to lax gun laws. Yet, with thousands of people making the move, at least a few of them had to be packing their bags in order to freely pack heat. I wanted to find such a principled and dedicated person, if he or she (but probably he) existed. So I went to the one place where you can find anything and everything.
I went to Craigslist.
According a recent study by Edelman, a public relations firm, China and India trust their banks more than any other of the 18 economies surveyed. Not so surprising? The Spanish and the Irish trust their banks the least.
You might immediately notice a few apparent trends here. The most-trusted banks are in India and China, where an estimated 80 and 83 percent of people say they trust them. China’s banking system is very tightly controlled by the state – so tightly that many Chinese actually use unofficial, illegal “shadow banking” networks for borrowing and lending.
Trust is by far the lowest in Europe, which is maybe no surprise as the Eurozone crisis drags on. And the numbers across Europe have dropped dramatically since 2008. It’s worth noting that trust is low in two European Union states that are not members of the Eurozone: Sweden and the United Kingdom. But it’s relatively high in Poland, an EU member state, at 44 percent, although Poland also experienced a sharp decline in trust over the past five years.
What’s interesting is that trust in banks seems to line up pretty neatly with economic growth; countries that have more growth also report higher trust in banks. China and India both have rapidly growing gross domestic products. The next most-trusting country, Mexico, reported 3.8 percent GDP growth last year, one of the higher on the list.
With a higher percentage of people dating outside of their faith and culture, those who prefer to say within their own 'kind' have turned to niche online dating services.
Unlike Match.com and eHarmony, sites such as JDate and ChristianMingle boast databases of people who feel similarly about marrying within the same group. Essentially, these sites weed out the obvious bad matches.
Sociologist Gerald Mendelsohn says the practice of choosing a romantic partner with a shared religion, culture, ethnicity and or nationality, is driving the demand for niche religious dating sites like ChristianMingle, JDate, which caters to Jewish singles, and Muslima, for Muslims. And as these sites become more popular, the dating industry rakes in higher revenues. According to a recent market research report, the dating service industry is expected to reach $2 billion this year, growing at 2.9 percent in revenue every year since 2008…
Conor Friedersdorf dives into the gruesome details of the Gosnell trial. It's not pretty, and I'm warning you now that clicking the link to the story will make you deeply uncomfortable, if not actually driving you to tears.
It's the tale of, yes, abortion, that nasty subject. But it's also about a failed bureaucracy, an alleged murderer who should be held accountable, and a state that looked away because it seems they were scared of the politics of abortion.
Inducing live births and subsequently severing the heads of the babies is indeed a horrific story that merits significant attention. Strange as it seems to say it, however, that understates the case.
For this isn't solely a story about babies having their heads severed, though it is that. It is also a story about a place where, according to the grand jury, women were sent to give birth into toilets; where a doctor casually spread gonorrhea and chlamydiae to unsuspecting women through the reuse of cheap, disposable instruments; an office where a 15-year-old administered anesthesia; an office where former workers admit to playing games when giving patients powerful narcotics; an office where white women were attended to by a doctor and black women were pawned off on clueless untrained staffers.
A genuinely good idea from the government of Papua New Guinea, where there has been a rash of vigilante crime against suspected witches and sorcerers:
Mr. O’Neill, responding on Thursday to a question from a reporter about that killing, pledged to repeal the 1971 Sorcery Act, which criminalizes the practice of sorcery and recognizes the accusation of sorcery as a defense in murder cases. Critics of the law say that it encourages violence against people accused of being sorcerers by codifying black magic as a legal phenomenon.
“We have quite a lot of issues on the table, so please give us a chance to work on it,” Mr. O’Neill told the reporter. “Realistically, a few sessions away, we will be able to put an act to Parliament to stop this nonsense about witchcraft and all the other sorceries that are really barbaric in itself.”
Over the last year, Papua New Guinea has come under increased international pressure to end what appears to be a growing trend of vigilante violence against people accused of sorcery. Last July, police officers arrested 29 members of a witch-hunting gang who were murdering and cannibalizing people they suspected of being sorcerers.
Greetings from Heidelberg, Germany, where the Internet service is often spotty, but where they invented this:
Margaret Thatcher's biggest political legacy was her championing of free markets, her greatest cultural legacy the generation of musicians who drew their passion from opposition to her policies.
How fitting, then, that the great (tedious, numbingly predictable) ideological punch-up following her death should have coalesced around the exercise of consumer freedom in buying music. Very shortly after the former Prime Minister's death, an online campaign was started, by bitter lefties unknown, to get the song "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" from The Wizard of Oz to #1 in the charts. It now looks almost certain to do so, or at least to place highly.
It should go without saying that, whatever your political inclinations, this campaign is both childish and petty. Left-wingers, in particular, should think twice before being free with terms like "witch" to describe our female opponents. But then, the response from some Thatcher admirers has been almost as witless, with kneejerk calls for the BBC to refuse to air the song.
Being a woolly, indecisive liberal at heart, my feelings are best expressed by this deliberately-indecisive but excellent post by Tom Chivers at the (very Tory) Telegraph:
Nick Malkoutzis, deputy editor of Greece's daily English language newspaper, Kathimerini English Edition, captions this picture:
Irish pupils entered drawings for "#EU and you" competition. This is one entry. On display in European Parliament.
In Texas, being in construction means you probably are undocumented and you probably are being paid little or nothing at all (seriously).
While construction used to be a career path for the handy wanting a middle class life, nowadays construction companies cannot stay in business unless they use cheap and illegal workers.
This critical mass of eager, mostly Hispanic workers means it's possible for a family from New York or California to move to Texas and buy a brand new, five-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot home for $160,000.
Guillermo Perez, 41, is undocumented and has been working commercial construction jobs in Austin for 13 years.
Eli Lehrer with a guest post on the reasons we should end farm subsidies
The 2014 White House budget includes some real cuts in farm subsidies, including to the absolutely absurd Direct and Counter-cyclical Payment Program. As Justin Green points out, this is a good thing. But it’s also long overdue.
Direct payments came into being in 1996, originally as an effort to wean farmers off of direct government subsides altogether. The Class of ’94 Republicans that engineered the shift promised the program would end in 2002. But interest group politics being what they are, the program continues sending out checks 11 years after its originally scheduled end.
In part because it was intended to be a transitional program, the program sends farmers regular payments that are tied to the market prices of crops that were historically grown on a particular piece of land, regardless of how that land is currently being used, or even whether it is being used at all. Under the “counter-cyclical” portion of the program, farmers receive checks when, say, the price of corn declines, even if the land in question is now growing cotton or is left fallow.
Unfortunately, as absurd as the program is, and as broad as the support is for abolishing it (even most farm groups are now on board with scrapping direct payments), getting rid of it also would carry some unintended negative consequences.
Under existing and long-standing policy, farmers who receive direct payments are barred from using federal money to drain wetlands and are required to develop plans to avoid soil erosion. These restrictions aren’t just environmental red tape. They prevent farmers from using taxpayer dollars to cultivate land that is most marginal and most prone to catastrophes. (Those that want to turn down federal payments altogether are free to do what they want.)
"Practical Girl" comments on my "Primary Greg Walden" post to tell me I'm an idiot (in this case, it looks like she's right):
Ugh...This is an example of the ridiculous misunderstanding of the concept "all politics are local".
Justin- Do you know anything of the demographic make up of the voting base of Oregon's District 2? It's the largest, the most conservative and one of the most advanced average age of voters in the state. It also encompasses an area that was devastated by the recession of 2007- real estate prices plummeted 35%-45% in a two year period (and aren't really recovering), jobs evaporated (and aren't coming back) farmers and ranchers got hurt. This is a district with a lot of older constituents that can ill afford these cuts. Walden knows that.
If the Republicans want to remove him as Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee because of his comments, so be it. They were fiery and do seem to go against the party grain. But to make a national case out of a district representative reflecting the opinion and needs of his local constituency seems a bit much, especially for the party that supposedly believes in local and state control and representation.
A Nebraska man has been charged with 6 counts of illegally selling firearms to known felons. Even though he is not even licensed to sell firearms, Ashley Gerbig claims that since he was selling from his ‘personal collection,’ what he did was perfectly legal. This personal collection is a very extensive one, as the ATF recovered 678 guns and 13 grenades when they raided Gerbig’s home.
Valtro 12 gauge tactical shotgun, Sig Sauer .40 caliber pistol, Century International Arms Inc. AK-74 assault-style rifle, Bushmaster AR-15 rifle and Nodak Spud LLC AK-47-type side-folding stock assault rifle” without being required to provide a permit, the Lincoln Journal Star reported…
Court records indicated that authorities launched the investigation after an anonymous tipster who bought a gun over the Internet complained that Gerbig told him he didn’t need a Federal Firearms License (FFL) to sell guns that he personally owned. The tipster thought it was unusual that Gerbig charged sales tax for personal sales…
The Journal Star reported on Thursday that Gerbig also claimed he did business with members of law enforcement. The ATF said he had applied for a Federal Firearms License, but was rejected for violating the federal Gun Control Act. His father reportedly lost his license in 2010 after also violating the same law.