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Israel News Agency

The new year starts very well for fathers rights in Israel.  On January 19, Justice Minister Yakoov Neeman announced that article 25 of the Israel Capacity and Guardianship Law -the Tender Years Presumption Law- was gone. The law was automatically granting sole custody to the mother if the children were under 6, allowing mothers to alienate the kids at will and getting rid of the father from their life. The new Israeli law will now order joint custody even in cases of divorces involving young children.

The Israelis did not go half way on the path to reforms.  More scrutiny will be applied to the examination of charges of abuses brought against men and it seems that child support laws will be made fairer to fathers.

The process that led to these sweeping changes is also quite interesting. Fathers rights organizations had the brillant idea to involve the United Nations. The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights urged the Israeli government to amend its laws so that were discriminating against fathers seeking partial or full custody. That  is an example for fathers rights organizations to follow in the US, where the media and the politicians are totally deaf to the rights of divorced fathers to see and live with their children.

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I was in Colombia the last two weeks of August. I could not help but notice that the Colombian press follows very closely Karen Atala’s case. To my knowledge, Atala’s story got barely more than a blurb in the New York Times in July, and that’s a pity; there are important issues at stake and its outcome in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights might have important implications for custodial rights across the continent.

Karen Atala is Chilean. Until  2002, she was married to Jaime López, with whom she had three daughters. Then they separated and agreed that Atala would have the custody of the girls, with weekend visitations for the father. But the latter changed his mind when his ex-wife started a relation with a women, Emma de Ramón. The couple lived under the same roof with the girls. According to Natalia Herrera Durán (El Espectador, August 25) López reclaimed custody on the ground that “the sexual orientation of his ex-wife was putting the emotional development of the girls at risk,” and (why not?) the girls might get AIDS. López prevailed and in 2003, Atala lost the custody of the girls. After several appeals, the case ended up in the Chilean Supreme Court. Verdict -hang on-:  “the mother has put his personal interest before those of the girls. The girls might be confused about their sexual role and suffer discrimination in the future.”

But -pardon my French- Karen Atala has balls. Also, she is a judge. That helps. She held steady while dragged in the mud by the Chilean press – which calls her “the lesbian judge”-  and under pressure to give up on her workplace.  According to Dominique Rodríguez Dalvard (El Tiempo,  August 28) the experts that testified at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights -whose sessions were held in Bogotá- asserted that “if Atala’s sexual conduct does not affect the living conditions of the girls, her sexual orientation is irrelevant.” One wonders why it did not occur to the Chilean Supreme Court.

Atala has argued in court that “being deprived of her girls has destroyed her identity and her personal dignity.” Gotcha!  To all fathers living in the U.S. doomed to get second-rate custody of their kids in gender-biased family courts (and loose it if any accusation of wrong parenting, founded or not, is brought against them), Atala’s words strongly resonate. Thanks to her courage, we might learn that if national family laws and courts suck, there is hope for justice somewhere. We cross our fingers awaiting the verdict of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

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I found by chance an old New York Times article about this twenty- one-year old kid – Evan Emory. Evan Emory made a video singing for first graders, then edited the lyrics with his own, sexually explicit lyrics.  The first graders look like there are listening to profanities. Then he shows the video in a nightclub and posted it on YouTube.

That’s it. No kids have been exposed to pornography nor hurt. Just plain stupid. Sentence: no computer for you for a while, a few months cleaning playgrounds and writing a meaningful essay on pornography, starting with the erotic subtext in Perrault and Grimm tales.

Emory is unfortunately contemplating much more: Tony Tague, the Muskegon (Michigan) County Prosecutor charged him with manufacturing child pornography, which carries up to twenty years in prison and the label of sex offender.

This people must be watching to much of the repulsive Chris Hansen’s MSNBC  show “To Catch a Predator.

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

 

In 2010, there were 30 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 127 posts. There were 60 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 17mb. That’s about a picture per week.

The busiest day of the year was February 17th with 165 views. The most popular post that day was Does Sarah Palin Have Anything in Common with Sicko Ex-Wives?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were lauramartinez.wordpress.com, en.wordpress.com, search.aol.com, facebook.com, and miblogestublog.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for jordi, david and goliath, insane asylum, goliath, and sumos.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Does Sarah Palin Have Anything in Common with Sicko Ex-Wives? September 2008
4 comments

2

Is Child Support Supporting Children or Well-Off Custodial Parents? March 2009
5 comments

3

In Memoriam Jordi Seriola November 2008
7 comments

4

Manhattan Family Court Writes the Law as It Goes May 2009
2 comments

5

Non Custodial Fathers’ Survival According to New York State March 2010

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good-dadsFriday January 9, in the train on my way to Manhattan Family Court, trying to get -without much hope- a revision of my divorce agreement that would include, among others,  bringing down child support payments and having sicko ex-wife use my health insurance for dental and vision expenses. In the billboard of the train, I noticed  the sentence “This is one of 10 ways to be a great dad” followed by nyc.gov/NYCDADS. Below, the picture of a young, black man at a table with a kid that you imagine being his son.

I don’t know why I paid attention to this ad. For once, the MTA train is on time; more likely, when you have been kept from seeing your children normally for more than seven years thanks to an unfounded child abuse trial, you wonder what it is to be a a dad, let alone a good dad; finally, the “kick” of it : would you even think of an ad trumpeting “the 10 best ways to be a good mum?”

Guess what: the office of Mayor Bloomberg, who created this campaign,  does not have much clues about dads. The notable dad  on the website,Phillipp Banks Jr, is the exemplary retired police officer. A family man, with now many grandchildren. Between the lines of Philipp Banks Jr’s portrait, we learn in fact  more about what the office of the Mayor really thinks dads are: dangerous unemployed, uncontrollable  fellows on the outskirts of society. The office of the mayor timidly acknowledged that dads are sometimes unfairly ostracized by their former spouse, who might speak badly about them with the children. In this case, Dr Vincent Guilamo Ramos, Ph.D.  has the answer:  just talk it over with your  ex-spouse. Thank you, Dr. Guilamo Ramos!

This Bloomberg dude cannot help patronizing: first smokers, then New Yorkers who are supposed to crave for a third Bloomberg term to rescue them from the financial crisis and now dads!

If you want to be serious with dads, Mr Bloomberg, first avoid the old clichés about dads. Second, put on the table meaningful propositions such as reforming family laws, starting with share parenting, making  parental alienation syndrome a crime and child support payments dependent on both parent incomes.

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Scene of Amarcord (Fellini)

Scene of Amarcord (Fellini)

Everyday there are new subjects to be aware and millions of do-gooders ready to raise awareness about it. These folks tend to focus on the tree and forget about the forest. Marching to raise awareness about AIDS is fine but it will be ten times more efficient to protest against insurance companies which deny cheap medications to AIDS victims in developing countries and lobby against universal health insurance here that would help Aids victims.

Domestic violence is a relatively new subject to be aware of. Especially in October, which is the domestic violence awareness month since 1987, as Barbara Fay (nationalpost.com) reminds us. I cannot wait to see in the New York City subway billboards messages like the one inciting people to denounce suspicious “terrorist” behavior:”if you see something, say something” abundantly translated in Spanish (“Si ves algo, di algo”). This month, pay special attention to your latino (macho) neighbor. Through the walls, covered by a merenge tune, you might hear the sobbing of the wife and the children who do not even have a dish of rice and beans to eat.

Nobody would deny that domestic violence is a serious problem, a problem that family courts and family laws do not take it seriously. True or false (which they are according to the study quoted in Fay’s posting), allegations of domestic violence are the “sesame” that opens the door to sole custody of the children and the domestic- violence rent in the form of cushy child support payments. In addition, they are painless. Plaintiffs do not have to prove her allegations and are not punished if the allegations are false. No wonder that women tend to use them as tissues.

The beauty of family laws is that they work like Guantanamo justice for fathers. A restraining order, which is often granted unconditionally, and that’s it: the alleged terrorist is out of domesticity, sometimes ends up in jail and will never get rid of the stigma of child abuse.

Barbara Fay is right. November has to be the fathers abused by domestic violence laws awareness month.

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