Arizona had an extraordinary moment this week during the opening prayer. No it is not what you think of some sectarian screed or other controversy. To the contrary, it was an unprecedented act of inclusion when the legislature allowed an atheist to open the session. An atheist state lawmaker tasked with delivering the opening prayer for this afternoon’s session of the House of Representatives asked that people not bow their heads. Democratic Representative Juan Mendez, of Tempe, is an atheist and opened the session by asking his colleagues not to bow their heads but look at each other.
I have previously stated that I fail to see the basis for criminal charges in the IRS scandal. Prior administrations have faced allegations of targeting opposing groups and such matters have been treated as abuses but not crimes. Yet, various news sites are reporting this morning that Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS division, will invoke the Fifth Amendment before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Her counsel asked the Committee to withdraw the demand for her testimony in light of her intention to refuse to testify on the grounds that it may incriminate her.
Florida High School Student Expelled and Charged with Two Felonies For Consensual Lesbian Relationship With Fellow StudentPublished 1, May 22, 2013 Criminal law , Politics , Society 34 Comments
We have previously discussed the continued prosecution of minors for engaging in sexual conduct under state laws. These laws have a sexist record of boys prosecuted for having sex with a minor where girls were treated as the victim, even when the sex was consensual and both were minors or close in age. There is a new case out of Indian River, Florida that is equally troubling. Kaitlyn Hunt, 18, is a senior in high school and is facing felony charges for engaging in a sexual relationship with another girl at her school. Despite an outcry against prosecuting Hunt for consensual sex, the prosecutor has refused to drop the charges of two counts of lewd and lascivious battery of a child 12 to 16 years of age. Assistant State Attorney Brian Workman has insisted that he will only agree to a plea deal where she would accept one felony conviction and a two-year sentence of home confinement. Such a plea would likely put Hunt on the sex offender registry for life.
This week we lost Zach Sobiech, who left the world much poorer with his passing. However, he left us a wonderful gift. The Minnesota teen wrote a wonderful song called “Clouds” after learning he had terminal bone cancer. He sang of his hope that “maybe someday I’ll see you again . . . We’ll fly up in the clouds and we’ll never see the end.” The physical end came for Zach this week but his grace and his gift has lifted the hearts of millions.
We have yet another case of police being accused of beating a citizen for filming them in public. Makia Smith says that Baltimore police beat her up and smashed her camera when they filmed them beating a man in the street. She is now suing the Baltimore Police Department, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and police Officers Nathan Church, William Pilkerton, Jr., Nathan Ulmer and Kenneth Campbell in Federal Court.
Japan has long been criticized for school books that fail to acknowledge atrocities committed by Japanese troops in World War II as well as continued ceremonies that honor war criminals. For that reason, many felt that the recent acknowledgment of forced prostitution of thousands of Asian women — called Comfort Women — was a step forward. Then Toru Hashimoto, the mayor of Osaka, stepped forward. Hashimoto has gone public to defend the forced prostitution as necessary to “maintain discipline” in the ranks and provide rest for soldiers who risked their lives in battle. So much for progress.
This video appeared last week and shows the extremism of the “Golden Dawn” movement in Greece, which is now reaching out to other European countries. As with Nazism in Germany, the movement has emerged from the economic chaos of Greece to offer hate and violence as a way to express the frustration of the people facing high unemployment and stagnant economic prospects. In the video, you can hear a Golden Dawn member repeatedly screaming “Heil Hitler” in the Greek parliament.