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Friday, March 24, 2017

Sidestepping the Military Leviathan: Make Money, Not War

By Fred Reed, Fred on Everything, January 23, 2017

Is Washington really going to start a trade war with China, or is it just huffing and puffing for the position? I don’t know. Mr. Trump has inexplicably failed to brief me. A point worth bearing in mind:

The United States cannot compete commercially with a developed Asia, or China.

America has nowhere to go. It is a fully developed economy that cannot grow rapidly if it grows at all. America is also a country of only medium size with a population of a bit more than two hundred million who do all the brain work. It has a decaying system of education, declining living standards, and an economy crippled by huge military expenditures.

By contrast, China has a billion Han Chinese, intelligent government, a great deal of room to grow and high rates of doing so. The combined land mass, population, and economic potential of Asia are staggering. In differing degrees, Asian nations are growing.

Further, Eurasia is one continent, and China has land connections to all of it–”interior lines of communication,” as soldiers say. America does not. Beijing’s stated intention is to use this to unite Eurasia into one enormous commercial unit–which will not include guess who. Beijing can do this. It has the cash. China is the world’s leader in high-speed rail. As a competent dictatorship, it can decide to do things and then do them, while America often seems unable to do either.

Some time has passed since Beijing made its first rail shipment from Wuli on the Pacific coast through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, to Germany and then left to Madrid. It was clunky and a bit of a stunt. Now there are scheduled trains connecting many Chinese cities to the rest of Asia, including Europe. This will not rival sea transport in volume but will give a lot of places in Asia access to each other. Influence will follow. Watch.

This is bad news for Washington. Greater trade between Europe and the eastern part of the continent means less influence for Washington. It means potentially very much less influence. European nations have much to gain by trading with the incomprehensibly large markets, current and arriving, between Poland the Pacific. They have nothing to gain by remaining as sepoy states under American control. Their businessmen know it.

China, already the world leader in supercomputers both in number and performance, hopes to have an exascale machine by 2018, way ahead of the US. These are not people to underestimate.

This dismal reality looks to be behind the orchestrated billingsgate against Russia, the war drums being pounded about the South China Sea, and the obvious desire for war with Iran. These three counties are key to an economic union that, if not stopped, will dwarf the United States. While some hope that China will collapse because of internal problems, this is a thin reed upon which to bet the Empire. Washington knows it.

The Empire cannot afford to lose control of Europe’s governments, which will happen if heavy trade is allowed to develop with the Three Bugbears. Thus Washington’s hostility to all three–a hostility whose chief effect, note, has been to drive them together against America. Not good. The first rule of empires is Don’t let your enemies unite.

Here we come to a crucial difference between American and Chinese foreign policy. Washington’s approach to maintaining the Empire has consisted of military attack, threats of military attack, military occupation, and the imposition of sanctions. These are visibly declining in effectiveness. The US currently has sanctions against North Korea, Cuba, Iran, and Russia–none of which has produced the desired capitulation. Unless Washington comes up with something quick, presumably a shooting war or a trade war, its aircraft carriers will steam in circles, slowly rusting, while Asia grows.

Glimmerings of rebellion appear in many places. In the Philippines, Duterte is snuggling up to China. While Washington may kill him or twist his arm, twenty years ago this would not have been necessary. Malaysia recently bought Chinese naval vessels. Thailand has begun buying Chinese arms. Countries are slowly abandoning the dollar. German businessmen want to trade with Russia.

Trump now proposes sanctions on China, having said he would impose a tariff of forty-five percent on goods from there. Perhaps he was lying, bluffing, or posing in the standard manner of politicians. Maybe he wasn’t. I am not so foolish as to think I can predict the course of a trade war, but neither am I so foolish as to believe that Trump can.

He seems to have the instincts of a bully, which works or may work, with weak states like Mexico. China isn’t one. He has said that China needs the US more than the US needs China, and so China will surrender. This was also said of Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Russia. The US remains superior to China in all sorts of things, but a lot fewer than before. A trade war won might prove less desirable than a trade war not started. We remember Pyrrhus for a reason.

If only for reasons of vanity, Trump couldn’t let China get away with calling his bluff. Millions have died over wounded vanity. What could he do? Go to an all-out trade war? Again, risky. Proud countries dig their heels in. China is not without options. By simply turning to Airbus as exclusive provider to its large and growing market, it would wreak havoc on Boeing and its work force and perhaps marginalize the company. Add that Israel may not allow Boeing to sell to Iran, which would be a further blow.

It is interesting to consider recent PISA scores, which measure the academic performance of school kids. Math scores in order by country: Singapore, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Japan, China. The US was well below average for the countries tested, though its scores are lowered by minorities. Headline: “NY Professor Says Algebra Is Too Hard, Schools Should Drop It.” On fairness, America leads in safe spaces, trigger warnings, puzzled diversity, and whimpering Snowflakes. Watch out, Beijing.

A trade war might come down to whose population can better tolerate want. The deplorables who shop at Walmart are already stretched pretty tight and would not react well to being further impoverished for what they would see as profits for the Establishment.

If I may briefly reveal my commie tendencies, maybe America ought to worry about its universities, roads, laboratories, and medical care instead of wasting its money on corruption, bombers, lunges for empire and dreams that 1955 is just around the corner.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Nine years later, Greece is still in a debt crisis!

By Simon Black SovereignMan.com
March 22, 2017 Santiago, Chile

Sometimes you have to marvel at the absurdity of the financial universe in which we live.

On one side of the Atlantic, we have the United States of America, which triggered yet another debt ceiling disaster last Thursday when the US government’s maximum allowable debt reset to just over $20 trillion.

Of course, the US national debt is pretty much already at $20 trillion.

(That’s roughly $166,000 per taxpayer in the Land of the Free.)

This means that Uncle Sam is legally prohibited from ‘officially’ borrowing any more money.

But far be it from the US government to start living within its means. Sacrilege!

These guys have zero chance of making ends meet without going into debt.

Just last year, according to the government’s own financial report, their annual net loss totaled $1 TRILLION, and the national debt increased by $1.4 trillion.

And that was in a relatively stable year. There was no major war or financial crisis to fight. It was just business as usual.

This year isn’t going to be any different.

So, cut off from their normal debt supply (the bond market), the Treasury Department is resorting to what they call “extraordinary measures.”

They’re basically pillaging government employee retirement funds, and will continue to do so until Congress raises the debt ceiling.

It’s a repeat of what happened in 2015. And 2013. And 2011.

Pretty amazing to consider that the “richest” country in the world has to plunder retirement funds in order to keep the lights on.

Former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said it perfectly when he quipped “How long can the world's biggest borrower remain the world's biggest power?”

Then, of course, on the other side of the Atlantic, we have Greece, which is now in its NINTH YEAR of a major debt crisis.

Incredible.

Greece has had nine different governments since 2009. At least thirteen austerity measures. Multiple bailouts. Severe capital controls. And a full-out debt restructuring in which creditors accepted a 50% loss.

Yet despite all these measures GREECE IS STILL IN A DEBT CRISIS.

Right now, in fact, Greece is careening towards another major chapter in its never-ending debt drama.

Just like the United States, the Greek government is set to run out of money (yet again) in a few months and is in need of a fresh bailout from the IMF and EU.

(The EU is code for “Germany”...)

Without another bailout, Greece will go bust in July-- this is basic arithmetic, not some wild theory.

And this matters.

If Greece defaults, everyone dumb enough to have loaned them money will take a BIG hit.

This includes a multitude of banks across Germany, Austria, France, and the rest of Europe.

Many of those banks already have extremely low levels of capital and simply cannot afford a major loss.

(Last year, for example, the IMF specifically singled out Germany’s Deutsche Bank as being the top contributor to systemic risk in the global financial system.)

So a Greek default poses as major risk to a number of those banks.

Image result for domino of banks fallingMore importantly, due to the interconnectedness of the financial system, a Greek default poses a major risk to anyone with exposure to those banks.

Think about it like this: if Greece defaults and Bank A goes down, then Bank A will no longer be able to meet its obligations to Bank B. Bank B will suffer a loss as well.

A single event can set off a chain reaction, what’s called ‘contagion’ in finance.

And it’s possible that Greece could be that event.

This is what European officials have been so desperate to prevent for the last nine years, and why they’ve always come to the rescue with a bailout.

It has nothing to do with community or generosity. They’re hopelessly trying to prevent another 2008-style meltdown of the financial system.

But their measures have limits.

How much longer do Greek citizens accept being vassals of Germany, suffering through debilitating capital controls and austerity measures?

How much longer do German taxpayers continue forking over their hard-earned wages to bail out Greek retirees?

After all, they’ve spent nine years trying to ‘fix’ Greece, and the situation has only become worse.

For a continent that has been at war with itself for 10 centuries and only managed to play nice for the last 30 or so years, it’s foolish to expect these bailouts to last forever.

And whether it’s this July or some date in the future, Greece could end up being the catalyst which sets off a chain reaction on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Why We Need ‘Useless’ People

Amy Julia Becker, Christianity Today, March 21, 2017

My daughter Penny is in the fifth grade. She just went away for the weekend with her best friend and her family for the first time. She wears glasses. She feels nervous around dogs. She loves reading and spelling and recently asked her Prayer Buddy at church to pray for her about learning how to add fractions. She is responsible, smart, talented, and loving. She also has Down syndrome.

Today is World Down Syndrome Day, a day to celebrate the approximately six million children and adults around the globe who have Down syndrome (also known as trisomy 21). Any website or book devoted to this topic lists a set of physical features, medical concerns, and potential disabilities common among people with Down syndrome, but it is hard for me to think in these generalities anymore. Rather, I am drawn to portraits of people with Down syndrome that demonstrate their distinctive traits. I love reading stories about their different interests, abilities, and friendships. And yet most people in our world still see Down syndrome as something both monolithic and negative–a condition to be eradicated rather than a group of individuals to be welcomed and loved.

Historically, people with Down syndrome were pushed to the margins of our society through institutionalization. In more recent years, with the advent of prenatal screening tests that indicate the likelihood of trisomy 21 in fetuses, more and more women have chosen to pursue those tests and, in many cases, to terminate pregnancies accordingly. Although the number is tricky to calculate, in the United States, the rate of babies aborted with Down syndrome is around 50 percent and is likely to rise with the increased use of these prenatal tests.

A similar story can be told in developing nations around the globe. According to recent reports in Iceland, not one child was born with Down syndrome between 2008 and 2012. In Denmark, with universal access to prenatal screening, one source estimates that 98 percent of the babies conceived with Down syndrome are aborted. The statements by public officials and medical providers throughout Europe overwhelmingly argue that people with Down syndrome cost too much and pose a burden to society.

This argument relies on utilitarian logic: If babies with Down syndrome are not going to be economically productive, it follows that they’re not worth bringing into the world. Moreover, if babies with Down syndrome are going to suffer, they should be aborted. As Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche community, writes, “Our desire to alleviate perceived suffering in the name of compassion easily leads to the destruction of people whom God has created and loves beyond all things.”

It’s tempting to respond in kind by using this same utilitarian logic. I can detail the accomplishments of people with Down syndrome (including my daughter) and in so doing argue that women should bring babies with Down syndrome into the world because they will bring us happiness, foster friendship and community, and contribute to the workforce. But the terms of the argument are the problem. Utilitarianism presupposes that our accomplishments determine our worth. It relies on a consumer culture of buying and selling–of putting a monetary value on human beings–rather than on a kingdom culture of giving and receiving, where grace and love are the bedrock truths of the universe.

Even though I am the mother of a child with Down syndrome, I often find myself defending my daughter’s skills and abilities rather than her inherent worth. In so doing, I play into the idea that I, too, am only worthy of life because I contribute something productive in the world. I devalue myself and everyone else around me when I start to see human beings as products to be measured.

What harm have we done to the image of God within each of us by placing a price tag on human life? And what’s the alternative model?

In a recent NPR interview with host Krista Tippett, the Irish poet Michael Longley made the statement, “Poetry is useless.” He waited a few beats before he explained, “Poetry is without use, but it is valuable.” As I listened, my mind moved from poetry to people. I thought of the many individuals who do not contribute in any measurable economic way to our society. Useless, others might say. A burden. A drain. And from a purely material, utilitarian way of thinking, they might be right. But anyone who believes in a purposeful Creator God would say that many human beings are indeed “useless,” and yet those same human beings bear inestimable value. In that way, people with disabilities are indeed like the words of a poem: Although they might not provide or produce clothing or shelter or food, they nonetheless convey beauty and meaning, truth and transcendence. They teach us what it means to be human.

While the Judeo-Christian tradition provides the foundation for our understanding of human dignity and ethics, Christian history also offers models of how these ethics might inform everyday life. There are many examples of countercultural, intentional communities like L’Arche, where people with intellectual disabilities and typical adults live together. More contemporary efforts include Friendship House–a new movement in which seminarians live with adults with intellectual disabilities. These communities and many others bear witness to the value of understanding our common humanity through relationships of mutual and reciprocal giving and receiving.

Of course, not everyone is called to live in an intentional community among people with intellectual disabilities. But we are all called to recognize the inherent worth of every human being we encounter and to live in a way that honors and fosters the image of God in others. Those in power, especially, need to adopt a posture of humility and vulnerability in order to be open to the gifts of those considered weak and useless in the eyes of the world. As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27).

“The mystery of people with disabilities is that they long for authentic and loving relationships more than for power,” writes Vanier in Living Gently in a Violent World. “They are not obsessed with being well-situated in a group that offers acclaim and promotion. They are crying out for what matters most: love. And God hears their cry because in some way they respond to the cry of God, which is to give love.”

On World Down Syndrome Day, I will not proclaim the usefulness of my daughter and the millions of other men and women with intellectual disabilities around the globe. But I will proclaim their value. In so doing, I proclaim the value of every human being created in the image of God.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Barcelona Home-Schooling Court Case, 1990-1994





In July, 1990, regional authorities in Barcelona, Spain, raided a Family International Community and forcibly apprehended 21 children, one only 8 months old. The authorities alleged that the children were abused and in need of state care. In a related case, the parents of the children were charged with illegal association, operating an illegal school, inflicting mental damage on their children and fraud.
Although no evidence of abuse was found, the children were forced to remain against their will in state custody for nearly 12 months.

In May, 1992, the First Section of the Provincial Appeal's Court ruled that there was no evidence that abuse had occurred and the children were returned definitively to the custody of their parents. The Catalonian Social Services Agency (Direccion General de Atencion a la Infancia de la Generalidad de Cataluña) appealed this ruling to the Constitutional Court. Their grounds for appeal was that the constitutional rights of the children to a state-sponsored education were being infringed upon, due to the fact that the children were being home-schooled and religiously indoctrinated according to the beliefs of their parents. In October 1994, the Constitutional Court found that the article of the Constitution guaranteeing education for minors did not carry an inherent meaning that such education could not be supplied privately by the parents outside of state institutions, and all appeals were dismissed.

June 29th, 1993, the parents were acquitted of all charges in the related criminal case. The District Attorney appealed this verdict of the Barcelona Provincial Court. On October 30, 1994, the Supreme Court of Spain rejected the appeal and upheld the findings of the Provincial Court.

Following are excerpts of the resolutions emitted:

BARCELONA, SPAIN MINORS COURT RESOLUTION

May 1992

Roll no.: 0160/92E Dennis Edward Molinsky

vs. Children's Welfare Dept.

First Section of The Provincial Appeal's Court

Ruling: Adolfo Oubina, Jesus Perez Burred, Jose Ma. Bachs Estany

LEGAL REASONING:

"If the Law is supposed to be in touch with the necessities of real life.., it must be employed with a great deal of common sense and care in so far as it implies a high risk of arbitrariness since it places extremely delicate appraisals such as that concerning a people's moral conscience in the hands of the Judge and his subjective criteria.

...the Constitution states that everyone has the right to education and that the public powers guarantee this right that parents have for their children to receive religious and moral education in accordance with their own convictions.

...the residential complex occupied by a religious community known as the "Family International" consisting of persons of both sexes, parents and children, that the Judge a quo had no hesitation in defining as a "sect .... in so far as it is made up of a group of people professing a doctrine that is different from that which is generally accepted" (an identical charge as that which led the Inquisitor Lucero to have the Archbishop of Carranza imprisoned as an Erasmian) and which is governed by a catechism which, according to the Attorney General's office - although no evidence at all has been presented in the case on this point - is full of religious teachings and beliefs of a marked monotheistic and hierarchical tendency.

These rules state that they reserve the right to educate the minors and young people that are born into, or join, the group, to the exclusion of state education. To this end they have established their own education plan including a number of subjects having to do mainly with this field and adopting an authoritarian approach, that is by imposing a series of moral, philosophical and religious convictions in accordance with their particular ideology over and above the mere passing on of scientific knowledge (...in fact no different from that which is the practice in schools run by religious orders in our own country) shying away from further education in favor of practical experience (which is similar to the recommendation made by the Ministry of Education in favor of Vocational Training).

Following the police operation, the police separated the children, most of whom are foreign and have little knowledge of Castilian, from the company of their parents and took them to a children's home run by the Generalitat. There they were put in the hands of a group of psychologists who, in a language which the children did not know, psychoanalyzed them twice for a prolonged period and issued reports cast in esoteric language designed rather to justify the operation than to describe any intellectual anomalies, which are completely non-existent.

With the situation of neglect raised in this way, despite the complete absence of any medical or juridical grounds.., on the basis of accusations that are really surprising because of their innocuousness such as asking Nestle, Gallina Blanca and "Don Pollo" for food, measures of intervention were requested which the Judge "a quo" appropriated, imposing without trial the punishment of being confined to Spain on a group of foreign children.., thus breaking up the natural harmony between parents and children and giving preponderant weight to intervention by the State in a tragical parody of the Areopagus of Sparta or the concentration camps of those empires that ceased to be when human dignity brought down the Berlin wall.

...and in the light of the fact that nothing unusual was found in any of the children beyond the natural bewilderment of someone who is living in a foreign country and is forcibly separated from their parents despite their tender years and is schooled in an unknown language, the supposed judgement of neglect should have been annulled, as it is hereby agreed to do, and the resolution completed with a statement to the effect that the parents are perfectly free to live with their children in whichever country they consider best and to orient them towards whatever moral, religious or philosophical convictions they believe to be appropriate to their intellectual and physical development without any other restrictions.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS:

The Court hereby decides: ...to annul the finding of neglect and the granting of legal custody to the Children's Welfare Department of July 10th, 1990."

BARCELONA, SPAIN PENAL COURT RESOLUTION

CHARGES LAID BY THE D.A.:

The D.A. asked for 203 years of prison for the 10 defendants, presumed members of the Children of God for the following crimes:

-Illegal association

-Foundation of an illegal school

-Psychic Damage

-Fraud

THE VERDICT:

The third section of the Provincial Court absolved all of the accused on June 29th, 1993. The verdict, of which the chairman has been the president of the panel, magistrate Jose Antonio Oscariz, (other members of the panel were G. C. Guilabert and A.I. Fernandez) makes a fiery acclaim of human freedom, "that makes it possible for individuals to choose, select and forsake".

ELEMENTS OF PROOF:

"During the first days of the month of July of 1990, the ten accused lived in a community in the town of Casteliar del Vailes, all of them adults, without any police record. The accused constituted a group or community that they called "Missionary Family" and was imbued with its translation of a religious and missionary spirit to be carried out in different countries... Its doctrine in the sense of establishing behavioral norms and lifestyle aids in the carrying out of a disciplined communal life, with the distribution of responsibilities.., but without any evidence of coercive behavior." ...and where they educated the 22 minors that lived with them in a manner such as the one "ruling the religious boarding schools and the classical pre-military schools of Prussian style".

The 43 page verdict does an extensive reasoning about the concept of the word "cult" from the etymological and the sociological point of view.

The Court admits that the CHILDREN OF GOD was founded by the American citizen David Berg, from his work, the Mo Letters, and that later on it was spread over several countries the world over. However, the court specifies that it is not relevant "nor even important, that such cult is still around with that same name, or under another denomination since having been dissolved or that from it's trunk members would split off forming other inter-connected branches", such as "the one called the Missionary Families"...

The Court considers that the group comprises a "community that adopts a lifestyle that bears the absence of any type of hitting or mistreatment", but admits that there is a tendency to "close up in itself" in whose members "show a love and tenderness that the prosecution's experts feel is excessive because it foments inter-dependence".

1. Illegal Association:

This has been the first trial in which the prosecution has asked that a group that's considered religious be declared illegal and that an order be issued for its dissolution. In the verdict the accusation is rejected, because this is usually reserved for clandestine groups "that endanger the security of the State". The magistrates add that it is not possible to place under the criminal charge of illegal association "groups in their peculiar mores and lifestyles, in their beliefs qualified as pseudo-religious".

"The term "sect" has a clear religious content, except when used with a political meaning, and it has little to do with the internal security of a secular state... In any case it can not be considered as a threat to the internal security of the Spanish state".

2. Foundation of an Illegal School:

The Judges denied that the defendants founded an illegal School. According to the Court, the defendants decided to educate their children "themselves according to their ideology and following techniques that are known in English speaking countries by the name of Home Schooling".

3. Psychic Damage:

The verdict affirms that there was no psychic damage inflicted on the 22 children... "The Court has not found in the defendants the will to cause damage to the minors" and assures that in none of them has been detected any abuse, although it has been found some "emotional instability". The tribunal affirms that this "can be attributed to the violent and drastic intervention and subsequent separation from their parents, and incommunication that was prolonged to about a month."

It points out that if parents should be punished because their children are not normal, "with the meaning that the experts give to this term, action should be taken as well against the gypsies or immigrants of other races, cultures and religions that differ from the predominant ones of their surroundings".

The Court understands that the children received classes which consisted of Biblical readings. "Such educational and formative methods, as well as way of life would not provoke psychological harm, even if there are difficulties in integrating with children of their own age in the Catalan cultural area and to successfully integrate with a postindustrial and competitive society."

4. Fraud:

The charge of fraud was rejected as well. The magistrates stated that the defendants had not cheated the people whom they asked for money, food or clothing. The accused did not hide their identity and the donors declared that they did not feel cheated.

"The ones presumed to be deceived, with rare unanimity, did not consider themselves cheated".

The developments of the trial were characterized by the sharp reminders of the president of the Court, Judge Oscariz, that they were not judging a "lifestyle or an organization". The verdict concludes by saying: The debate over the persecution of sects has not been resolved. The court believes there are two opposite positions: "That of extreme freedom and tolerance towards other ways of life and another interventionist tendency to make prevalent rational civilizational criteria".

Therefore:

"The final decision made by the Third Section of the Barcelona Provincial Court is: 'That we must acquit and we acquit the accused of the offenses'."

BARCELONA CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING

The First Courtroom of the Constitutional Court, composed of Mr. Justice Miguel Rodrguez-Piero Bravo-Ferrer, Chairman; Mr. Justice Fernando Garca-Mon Gonzlez-Regueral, Mr. Justice Carlos de la Vega Benayas, Mr. Justice Vicente Gimeno Sendra, Mr. Justice Rafael de Mendizbal Allende and Mr. Justice Pedro Cruz Villaln, has decided

IN THE NAME OF THE KING the following V E R D I C T

In the cumulative appeals numbers 1561, 1562, 1563, 1564, 1565, 1566 and 1567/1992, filed by the Generalidad de Cataluña [Catalonian regional government], as the guardian institution of the minors… against the rulings issued by the First Section of the Barcelona Provincial Court, dated 21st of May 1992, in the appeals numbers 163/1992, 157/1992, 159/1992, 161/1992, 162/1992 and 160/1992, filed against the ones dictated by the Examining Court number 19 of Barcelona, dated 6th of November 1991, in the proceedings numbers 517/1990, 510/1990, 512/1990, 511/1990, 515/1990, 514/1990 and 516/1990, ensued by the request of the entitled complainant in opposition to the declaration of neglect and assumption of the legal custody carried out by order of the Direcci0n General de Atencion a la Infancia de la Generalidad de Cataluña [Children's Welfare Department of the Catalonian regional goverment].

I. ANTECEDENTS

1. On June 17, 1992, it was registered in this Court the arrival of seven writs sent by the Generalidad de Cataluña, as the guardian institution of the minors… formalized the appeals against the rulings issued by the First Section of the Provincial Court of Barcelona, dated 21st of May 1992, in the appeals numbers 163/1992, 157/1992, 159/1992, 158/1992, 161/1992, 162/1992 and 160/1992, filed against the ones dictated by the Examining Court number 19 of Barcelona, dated 6th of November 1991, in the case numbers 517/1990, 510/1990, 511/1990, 515/1990, 514/1990 and 516/1990, ensued by the request of the entitled complainant in opposition to the declaration of neglect and assumption of the legal custody carried out by order of the Direccion General de Atencion a la Infancia de la Generalidad de Cataluña.

2. The facts in which the appeals are founded are, in concise form, as follows:

a) On July 23, 1990 the Direccion General de Atencion a la Infancia notified the Examining Court number 19 of Barcelona of the opposition of the parents of the minors, whose names were transcribed above, to the measures of protection adopted by the Generalidad regarding them, specified with the declaration of neglect and the assumption of the legal custody carried out by order of the Direccion General de Atencion a la Infancia.

b) The 6th of November 1991 the Court issued the rulings 510 to 516/1991, identical in its contents, rejecting the opposition against the declaration of neglect and the assumption of the legal custody carried out by the Generalidad.

The above-mentioned rulings, after focusing the legal problem on the extent and limits of the legal custody and, particularly, on the right of the parents to educate and train their children in accordance with their own convictions (2nd legal ground), they consider that the article 27.3 of the Constitution has to be confronted with the duties that the legal custody entails, and that when the given education substantially hinders or limits the minor's integral development, then we encounter an inadequate exercising of the parental rights and a possible situation of neglect, motive for the assumption of the legal custody by the official public institution (3rd legal ground); after considering as proved that the parents of the minors belong to a sect ("Children of God") facing penal proceedings, it reasons that the conduct of mental control and annulment of the capacity to analyze carried out by the parents has caused deficiencies in the minors in the areas of socialization and personal autonomy, reason why it considers that it results in a situation of neglect, exhibited, among other aspects, in the lack of schooling of the minors, and consequently declaring the measure of confinement of the minors legally right, though, to the request of the Generalidad, "due to the favorable evolution of the minors as a result of attending public school", it returns to the parents the mere guardianship of the minors.

c) The parents of the minors filed appeals against the above-mentioned rulings; appeals which were resolved in a favorable way by the verdicts (identical in its contents) numbers 157 to 163/1992, of the 21st of May, by the First Section of the Barcelona Provincial Court. The Court concluded that, even though the legal custody has to be used in the benefit of the children and in accordance to their personality, determining what is the interpretation of such an ambiguous sentence is something which has to be considered on a case by case basis and respecting as well the right of the parents that their children receive a religious and moral education in accordance with their own convictions (art. 27.3 Spanish Constitution); in its opinion, there wasn't enough evidence to prove that the "Children of God" community was a sect, and it esteemed that the teachings were imparted to the minors without neglecting the ones considered as basic and mandatory, "free schooling according to the legal ordinances of some of the home countries of the children, and, after all, alike to the one imparted in the religious schools within our country". Lastly, it points out that the confinement in Spain was imposed on a group of foreign children, "breaking the natural harmony between parents and children and giving superior authority over it to the state", and that, conclusively, "the religious freedom of the parents and the right to choose the education of their children should prevail".

The Prosecuting Attorney, through writings dated November 14, 1992, solicited the refusal of the appeals. The Prosecuting Attorney reasons that we find ourselves before a question of ordinary legality without any Constitutional dimension whatsoever --to determine whether or not a situation of neglect of the minors exists-- well solved by the Court of Appeals. In his opinion, the article 27 of the Spanish Constitution has not been broken as it has not been proven that the minors did not receive an education that tends to the full development of the human personality in accordance with the religious and moral convictions of the parents.

The Prosecuting Attorney, in writings registered on May 3, 1993, considers that the impugned judicial rulings do not break the article 27 of the Constitution. The fundamental right to education assigns to the public powers the obligation to collaborate and to help in the application of this fundamental right; that precept declares, firstly, the right of the parents to have their children receive the religious and moral education that is in accordance with their convictions, establishing right after that the gratuity of a basic education as well as a series of obligations that entails a mandatory service on the part of the State, so that the lack of a unique way or avenue established to acquire this finality implies that any means whereby this can be obtained is in accordance with the fundamental right, without the paths established by the State being exclusive or excluding, so that, in the event of not following the State's avenue, it can't be asserted that the right has been infringed upon. The article 27.4 --continues the Prosecuting Attorney-- does not mean that the education has to be performed in the manner established by the State, as it can be done in another way as long as the results obtained are the same, and this is, indeed, what the Provincial Court affirms that has happened, without the difference in the procedure of receiving the schooling in itself signify the infringement of the fundamental right. The Provincial Court considers that, in spite of the fact of the nonexistence of school attendance, the integral education and formation had not been neglected; the impugned rulings interpret a legal term such as the article 154.1 of the Civil Code, and they do it in a reasonable and founded manner, and, therefore, within the realm of its competence and function.

II. LEGAL GROUNDS

1. For the correct delimitation of the object of the present appeals we must remember, briefly, which have been the incidents of the proceedings that have concluded in the judicial rulings that are now being impugned and which have been the reasons and the allegations around which the terms of the appeals filed by the Generalidad de Cataluña have been articulated.

The parents of the minors opposed the measures carried out by the Generalidad de Cataluña. Such opposition was dismissed by the rulings of the Examining Court number 19 of Barcelona; in the opinion of the Court, the minors were in a situation of neglect and it was appropriate, consequently, that the regional Administration would assume their custody. After filing an appeal before the Provincial Court of Barcelona, the First Section ruled revoking the ones from the lower court, leaving without effect the administrative measures that had been adopted. In the opinion of the Provincial Court, the minors were not neglected nor did they suffer from any disturbances in their processes of physical, intellectual, spiritual or moral formation. In regards to their schooling, the Court points out that their educational formation, which was performed outside of the official educational system, was insured by their own educational system, perfectly accepted in the realm of freedom designed by the Constitution.

J U D G E M E N T

Considering all that's been exposed, the Constitutional Court, BY THE AUTHORITY THAT THE SPANISH CONSTITUTION CONFERS TO IT,

Has decided

To reject the cumulative appeals numbers 1561, 1562, 1563, 1564, 1565, 1566 and 1567/92.

Let this ruling be published in the "Official Bulletin of the State".

Issued in Madrid on the third of October nineteen ninety four.

Supreme Court Ruling Excerpts

Appeal Number: 3032/93. Verdict number 1669

October 30, 1994

Judged presiding: Enrique Ruiz Vadillo, Jose Antonio Martin Pallin and Justo Carrero Ramos

We find ourselves in the presence of a community of people, made up of adults and children, who have adopted a lifestyle that differs from the generally accepted norms… Not a single element is found that could allow us to declare the existence of any intention to hurt their children or the other children of the community.

They avoid sending their school-aged children to official institutions of learning, public or private, choosing to teach them themselves using the method that in the Anglo-Saxon countries is known as "home school"… To proclaim the superiority of one educational system over another would inevitably lead us to apply value judgments based on psychological, sociological, cultural and moral presuppositions that open up a never-ending debate which, in any case, should remain in the scientific realm, bearing in mind also its clearly political connotations.

Judges cannot enter into the sanctuary of personal beliefs, except when external behaviors originating from a particular ideology negatively affect legally protected rights.

JUDGEMENT: THAT WE MUST DECLARE AND DO DECLARE THAT THERE IS NO ROOM FOR THE APPEAL for infraction of law filed by the Prosecuting Attorney against the ruling dictated on June 29, 1993, in the case followed… for the crimes of illegal association, foundation of an illegal teaching center, psychic damage and fraud.

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