Thursday, June 29, 2017

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Wedding Cake 'Discrimination' Case

The Supreme Court on Monday finally agreed to hear a case involving a small Colorado bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, that refused in 2012 to provide a custom wedding cake for a homosexual couple.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled that cake baker Jack Phillips engaged in sexual orientation discrimination under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act when he said his sincerely held religious beliefs prevented him from baking a cake for a homosexual couple.

The question before the court is: "Whether applying Colorado's public accommodations law to compel Phillips to create expression that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage violates the Free Speech or Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment."

Phillips filed his petition for review almost a  year ago, but the Justices put off making a decision on whether to hear the case until now.

The case will be argued in the fall.

The American Civil Liberties Union represents the couple, Colorado residents David Mullins and Charlie Craig:

“The law is squarely on David and Charlie’s side because when businesses are open to the public, they’re supposed to be open to everyone,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project. “While the right to one’s religious beliefs is fundamental, a license to discriminate is not. Same-sex couples like David and Charlie deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else, and we’re ready to take that fight all the way to the Supreme Court.”

Also on Monday, the Justices once again put off a decision on whether to hear a Second Amendment case testing whether law-abiding people have the constitutional right to carry a gun outside the home for self-defense.


Racism: Families of dead blacks win big payouts despite no fault being found with police who killed them

In an effort to put the whole debacle in the past, the City of Ferguson, Missouri, settled a civil suit brought over the death of Michael Brown. The $1.5 million settlement will be paid out by the city’s insurance company and split between Brown’s parents. Recall that the grand jury found no legitimate reason to indict Officer Darren Wilson on any charges, and even Barack Obama’s Justice Department found nothing wrong with Wilson’s actions. But just like that, Brown’s parents won the latest round of the legal lotto. The same thing happened Monday morning in the Minneapolis suburb where Philando Castile was killed by Officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop last summer. Castile’s mother was awarded $3 million.

Like the payouts for the deaths of Freddie Gray and Eric Garner, the settlements in these cases of alleged police brutality have never been about justice.

These are now the third and fourth settlements of lawsuits for a death in which a city caved to the mob, even though no injustice was ever proven. (We’ll grant that Castile’s case is different and easily the most sympathetic, but a jury acquitted Yanez last week.) In each of these incidents law enforcement was found to have acted legally, yet by agreeing to these settlements these cities willingly perpetuate the fabrication that a culture of institutional racism exists within law enforcement. It’s important to note that Ferguson birthed the Black Lives Matter movement, which is allegedly in support of blacks. However, it’s a movement based on a lie, and its proponents have led destructive protests and riots costing millions in property damage around the country, often to the very communities they claim to represent. Baltimore, New York City and now Ferguson and St. Anthony are helping to set a precedent where if violent, rioting mobs drum up enough frenzy, then money will flow soon after to make the issue go away.


Military chiefs seek delay in allowing transgender enlistment

Military chiefs will seek a six-month delay before letting transgender people enlist in their services, officials said Friday.

After meetings this week, the service leaders hammered out an agreement that rejected Army and Air Force requests for a two-year wait and reflected broader concerns that a longer delay would trigger criticism on Capitol Hill, officials familiar with the talks told The Associated Press.

How lifting of military ban impacts transgender service ..
The new request for a delay will go to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for a final decision, said the officials, who weren't authorized to discuss the internal deliberations publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Transgender people push for acceptance in military and beyond
Transgender servicemembers have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban, declaring it the right thing to do. Since Oct. 1, transgender troops have been able to receive medical care and start formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon's personnel system.

How lifting of military ban impacts transgender service members
But Carter also gave the services until July 1 to develop policies to allow people already identifying as transgender to newly join the military, if they meet physical, medical and other standards, and have been stable in their identified genders for 18 months. The military chiefs had said they needed time to study the issue and its effects on the readiness of the force before taking that step.

Officials said Friday that the chiefs believe the extra half-year would give the four military services time to gauge if currently serving transgender troops are facing problems and what necessary changes the military bases might have to make.

The chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps discussed the matter with Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work on Thursday, officials said.

Stephen Peters, spokesman for Human Rights Campaign, said the group is disappointed with the delay request.

"Each day that passes without implementing the final piece of this important policy harms our military readiness and restricts the Armed Forces' ability to recruit the best and the brightest," said Peters, a Marine veteran. "There are thousands of transgender service members openly and proudly serving our nation today, and as they've proven time and time again, what matters is the ability to get the job done - not their gender identity."

Already, there are as many as 250 servicemembers in the process of transitioning to their preferred genders or who have been approved to formally change gender within the Pentagon's personnel system, according to several defense officials.

According to several officials familiar with the matter, three of the four services wanted more time. In recent weeks, Navy officials suggested they would be ready to begin enlistment in July but asked for a one-year delay, largely to accommodate a request from the Marine Corps for more time, officials said. The Navy secretary also oversees the Marine Corps.

The Army and Air Force wanted a two-year delay to further study the issue, said the officials, who were not authorized to talk about the internal discussion publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Officials said there was a broad recognition that allowing transgender individuals to enlist affects each service differently. They described the biggest challenge as the infantry. They said the discussions aimed at a solution that would give recruits the best chance of succeeding, while ensuring the services maintain the best standards for entry into the military.

Service chiefs will also require that transgender recruits be stable in their preferred genders for at least two years, an increase from Carter's earlier plan to allow 18 months, the officials said. The chiefs also want to review the policy in a year to see how things are working, the officials said.

Key concerns are whether currently enlisted troops have had medical or other issues that cause delays or problems with their ability to deploy or meet physical or other standards for their jobs. Military leaders also want to review how transgender troops are treated, if they're discriminated against or have had disciplinary problems, the officials said.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee last week there have been some issues identified with recruiting transgender individuals that "some of the service chiefs believe need to be resolved before we move forward." He said Mattis is reviewing the matter.

The military services have various ways of counting the number of transgender troops currently serving. The Pentagon has refused to release any data. But officials said there are 42 servicemembers across the Army, including the National Guard and Reserve, who have been approved to change their gender identities in the personnel system. At least 40 more are in the process of transitioning, they said.

Officials said there are about 160 sailors in the Navy who are somewhere in the process of gender transition. That could include counseling, hormone treatment or gender reassignment surgery. And about "a handful" of Marines have come forward to seek medical care involving gender transition, and there are possibly others going through the process with their commanders, officials said.

The Air Force refused to release any numbers, and other officials did not know those details.

A RAND study found that there are between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender service members in the active duty military, and another 1,500 to 4,000 in the reserves.


"Endowment for Middle East Truth":  A David Defending Israel from a Goliath of Lies

"Thank you for taking a machete to the thicket of lies," stated Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, in praise of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) at its June 14 gala in Washington, DC. Before a Grand Hyatt Hotel ballroom filled with America's pro-Israel leaders, the exceptional speakers addressing EMET's eleventh annual Rays of Light in the Darkness dinner indicated EMET's rising importance as an Israel public advocate.

EMET founder and President Sarah Stern introduced the evening as "our most successful dinner yet," a note of optimism befitting her own personal reflections on Israel's history of triumphing over disaster. She recalled her namesake Aunt Sarah brutally massacred along with her Polish village by the Nazis in 1939. Her loss in the Holocaust manifested that before Israel's existence "Jews were left utterly vulnerable and defenseless. Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people."

Fifty years after the Six Day War, Stern recalled that in 1967 the "fledgling Jewish state was left totally isolated and on her own. Just 22 years after the Holocaust, it seemed that another Holocaust might be inevitable." In her White Plains, New York, childhood home she remembered the "almost palpable tension in the air. We kept our television set on that Shabbat, something totally unheard of in my strictly Orthodox Jewish home." "It is difficult to describe the sheer relief bordering on euphoria" after Israel's miraculous victory, as demonstrated by her brother, who began proudly wearing his yarmulke without a baseball cap for concealment.

Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and prominent public defender of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), similarly praised EMET. In this "phenomenal organization...they go from strength to strength," he stated, while noting the importance of the acronym EMET's meaning in Hebrew, namely truth. "In the Middle East, lies have become the central pillar of our enemies' efforts against us."

Kemp decried a widespread "weakness of the West," particularly in relation to Palestinian leaders who "want only destruction of the Jewish state." "For decades we have tried reasoning with the Palestinians, making concessions, patronizing them, it hasn't worked and it won't work. They see it as weakness, and weakness provokes them." In contrast, he offered a policy of strength, noting that "Israel cannot withdraw its forces from Judea and Samaria and have a hope of survival" and that therefore "there cannot be a two-state solution."

Dermer's address similarly focused on Israel's struggle with an "alternative universe of real lies with real consequences" where "Jews are the occupiers of Judea, the Western Wall is occupied Palestinian territory." "In this alternative universe, Iran's path to the bomb has been blocked. In the real world, Iran's path to a nuclear bomb has been paved." A "propaganda campaign conducted by a master of fiction manufactured moderation and filled echo chambers with nonsense" in order to achieve President Barack Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran.

EMET honoree Nadiya Al-Noor, a self-professing Muslim Zionist and "queer Muslim woman" with a Jewish father, discussed her own personal journey away from anti-Israel propaganda. "It saddens me that simply being a Muslim who does not hate Israel is considered award-worthy" today, she noted, but "unfortunately, antisemitism is a huge problem in the Muslim community, fueled by anti-Israel propaganda." "College campuses these days are hotbeds of antisemitism under the guise of anti-Zionism" where once she "believed their hateful lies: Israel was an apartheid state; Israel is Nazi Germany 2.0; Zionism was racism."

Yet EMET honoree Ashraf Halabi, a Druze IDF veteran, showed that Israel had non-Jewish allies as boisterous applause greeted his podium appearance in IDF uniform. He recounted always hearing while growing up amidst this Israeli minority Arab community that the "Jews and the Druze are blood brothers." Noting that his family has contributed over 100 years of military service to Israel, he stated that "our loyalty is unconditional. We have no other country."

Republican North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows and Democratic California Congressman Juan Vargas demonstrated strong Christian Zionism irrespective of the few Jewish voters in their districts. "My wife and I have a passion for Israel and the Jewish people," Meadows stated. "In what many would call an evangelical congressional district, I can get a standing applause when I tell them that I will unyielding and unflinching stand with the nation of Israel and the Jewish people."

Concurring with Kemp and Stern, Meadows opposed Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), as the "middle of Israel would be about the size of the Dallas airport; it would be indefensible." He also rejected the common mischaracterization as mere "settlements" of irrevocably established Israeli communities in territories won by Israel in 1967. "The image that we have of the settlement is this little tiny hut with a little lean-to. They are not settlements, they are subdivisions."

Meanwhile Vargas proudly proclaimed how he was the first Democratic legislator to oppose Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran, an action that reflected his religious background. During his five years of seminary study when he once prepared for the priesthood, "I grew up with this love for Israel and Jerusalem in particular because of what I heard and believed in every Sunday" in Old Testament Bible readings. Common calls for Israel to withdraw to the "[19]67 lines" provoke him to joke that Israel "is one of the few countries that existed in the world in 67" A.D.; "when people say we should go back to the 67 lines, I am OK with that."

The master of ceremonies, conservative commentator and "president of the Gentile wing of the international Zionist conspiracy" Cal Thomas, and a video address by Senator Jim Inhofe rounded out yet another EMET truth-telling banquet. Israel's enemies can be modern Goliaths, yet EMET's small staff and their supporters skillfully punch above their weight. Supporters of Israel and its contributions to the free world should take note of this mighty little Zionist David.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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