Archive for January, 2011

United States District Court Judge Roger Vinson has struck down the entirety of the National Health Care law (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) as unconstitutional. What is most interesting is his decision that the entire act had to be struck down because of the individual mandate provision’s unconstitutionality. Vinson grants declaratory relief but declines to grant injunctive relief.

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New Hampshire Rep. Gregory Sorg (R- Grafton County) is being accused of trying to prune the voter rolls of presumed liberal voters by barring college students from voting. His “Voters Attending Institutions of Learning” would tell students to vote back home.

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Russian officials are now saying that the suicide bomber called the Black Widow who died on New Year’s Eve was the result of an unexpected text message that set off her bomb too early. It may be the first case of death by spam ever recorded.

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Stephanie Jean Came, 21, is accused of not only being ruthless but decidedly cheap. Came allegedly wanted to kill her boyfriend but didn’t have the scratch for hit, so she arranged for a guy to cripple her boyfriend instead for $500 — preferably from the neck down.

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Who needs real birds when you can simply pipe them in? Lancaster (CA) mayor R. Rex Parris has announced his desire to have bird sounds played on loudspeakers around the city to make people happier.

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Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) joined the ranks of leading Republicans condemning evolution last week.   On Bill Maher’s show, Kingston was asked directly if he believed in evolution and announced “I believe I came from God not from a monkey so the answer is no.”

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Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

 

After a great afternoon playing with my grandsons, it is time to get back to “work”.  One of the news items that flew under the radar this week was the report that the Pentagon has established a start date for its training to prepare troops for the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that made it through the recent Lame Duck Congress.  I was pleasantly surprised that Defense Secretary Gates has moved quickly on the repeal, but I am confused as to why the troops have to be trained to treat everyone equally? (more…)

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

The new Republican majority in the House of Representatives is moving to make changes in abortion law. The new No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H. R. 5939) has 173 co-sponsors—most of them Republicans. According to The House GOP’s Plan to Redefine Rape, an article in Mother Jones that was written by Nick Baumann, John Boehner (R-OH) considers the bill a top priority for the new Congress. The bill, reportedly, includes a provision that rewrites the definition of rape.

Federal laws that have restricted the use of government funds for abortions have contained exemptions for pregnancies that resulted from rape and incest and for pregnancies that could endanger the lives of women. Evidently, the new legislation proposes that the rape exemption be limited to “forcible rape.”

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Last February, the U.S. Congress passed a one-year extension of three provisions of the Patriot Act that were due to expire. Although there were bills pending in the House and the Senate to amend those provisions—as well as other sections of the Patriot Act—Congress chose to reauthorize the act without making any changes.

This February, the three “sunset” provisions of the Patriot Act are due to expire again. On January 26th, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced legislation that calls for reauthorization of the three provisions. Sensenbrenner’s legislation would extend the “sunset” provisions through December 8, 2011.

Sensenbrenner said: “As the author of the USA PATRIOT Act and its reauthorization in 2005, I fully understand the intense legal scrutiny these provisions have undergone over the last several years and support making them permanent. These three provisions have helped thwart countless potential attacks since the bill was signed into law and are critical to helping ensure law officials can keep our nation safe from attack.”

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Jeopardy champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter faced off against IBM’s Watson supercomputer in a practice bout.

 

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Although Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) was being pushed to run for President in 2012, he appears to favor a likely run for Governor of Indiana. Many on the Right consider Pence the candidate to unite the evangelical and social conservatives and the Tea Partyers.

How shallow is the Republican pool of candidates if this is the best they can come up with?

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Walmart Pitches Woo

-Submitted by David Durmm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Woo, a term used by scientific skeptics for pseudoscience, alternative medicine and New Age beliefs, or a person who holds such beliefs.

Walmart, through their website, is selling Oscillococcinum, manufactured by Boiron, to be used “for flu-like symptoms.” Their image of the package shows that the product “Reduces [the] Duration and Severity of Flu Symptoms,” including “Fever, Chills, Body Aches and Pains.”

It does no such thing.

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Stood Up

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Stood Up

In memory of the recent passing of his brother David, we present Ricky Nelson in glorious STEREO!

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Rep. Curtis Oda, a Republican member of the Utah House of Representatives, says he wants “to protect people from getting in trouble for doing the right thing.” And the “right thing” according to Oda is killing feral animals. Oda does not think that feral animals should be protected by a law that makes cruelty to animals a felony. He  feels that feral animals can pose health risks.

Oda is chief sponsor of House Bill 210 that would change the current law in order to allow the humane killing of feral animals. Two of the killing methods that Oda considers to be humane are clubbing and decapitation.

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Wake up Minnesota

Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

The other day I came across an article about Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has a big idea to save money in the Federal budget.  When I read the article I was disappointed because Rep. Bachmann’s idea to save $4.5 Billion from the Federal budget is to take it away from Veterans disability payments.  “The Air Force Times reports her plan would slice $4.5 billion from the VA, including reducing 150,000 veterans’ disability compensation and the amount they receive in Social Security Disability Income.”       http://thinkprogress.org/2011/01/28/bachmann-veterans/   Now, I am all for saving money from waste and inefficiencies, but Rep. Bachmann’s idea would take it from our wounded heroes! (more…)

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

California professional golfer (and former police officer) Lana Lawless is challenging the LPGA’s rule requiring tournament participants to be “female by birth.”  The LPGA has ruled, according to Lawless, that as a transgender woman, she is ineligible to compete. The rule seems to fly directly in the face of California’s Unruh Law which holds that all people in the state are “free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.”

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Florida Bar Files Complaint

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

The Florida Bar has filed a complaint with the Florida Supreme Court against attorney John Stemberger, accusing him of violating legal rules of conduct regarding his handling of the Rifqa Bary case. Rifqa Bary was the Muslim girl who converted to Christianity and then ran away from her Ohio home claiming that she was an intended victim of an honor killing. She was returned to Ohio and placed into the custody of Franklin County Children Services, until her 18th birthday on 10 August 2010.

She became a cause célèbre for right wing evangelicals.

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Star Angers Astrologers

-Submitted by David Durmm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Professor Brian Cox, a particle physicist at the University of Manchester and host of Wonders of the Solar System on the Science Channel, has brought the wrath of the Astrological Association of Great Britain upon himself. Professor Cox, on BBC2′s “Stargazing Live” show, said that “astrology is nonsense” and the Association wants the BBC to commit to “making a fair and balanced representation of astrology in the future.”

There’s a lot of money at stake.

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Rhythm Of The Rain

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Rhythm Of The Rain

Today we have The Cascades in glorious STEREO!

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

For years, the policy reason behind the law’s prohibition against assisted suicide has eluded me. Eureka! I have found the answer –  it’s to prevent bear indigestion.

Fugitive and convicted Arizona killer, Tracy Province, had a novel means to accomplish his own demise. Escaping from a Kingman jail with a trio of other desperadoes, Province hatched a plan to drive to Yellowstone Park, shoot up a gram of heroin, and lie down in the national park in an effort to become food for the famous Yellowstone grizzlies.

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Pot-N-Chunkin!

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Mexican drug smugglers are becoming quite creative in their efforts to get marijuana into the U.S.  No more low altitude drops from sleek planes in the Florida Everglades a’ la Miami Vice. Today’s smuggler is more into the “throwback” mode of delivery, so to speak. Invoking the tried and true philosophy of the Middle Ages, catapults have become the air mail vehicle of choice to launch packages of the intoxicating plant into Arizona.

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The prosecution has rested in the trial of former New York television executive Muzzammil Hassan, 46, for the beheading of his wife at a television studio. Hassan recently asserted his right to self-representation in the case after having open disagreements with his counsel. We will now see if he actually puts on a case in chief in his own defense. Short of an insanity defense, it is difficult to see a viable defense argument in the case. As discussed below, I am also unsure why some damaging evidence was allowed in the case.
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Aurora police officer James Waselkow has been reinstated with back pay after being fired for excessive use of force. Waselkow broke the orbital bone near the right eye of Carla Meza during an arrest and then failed to give her medical treatment. He was later fired after the Chief concluded he had used excessive force and did not have probable cause for an arrest after the domestic violence call.
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Ashley Renee Oxendine, 22, is accused of a rather bizarre criminal act in Gainesville. After fighting with her former boyfriend, she not only physically assaulted him but threw his mother’s ashes out the window.

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The world has been given another atrocity committed in the name of Islam and Sharia law. The video below (warning graphic content) shows a young couple being stoned to death by a crowd of men. The woman, Siddqa, 25, had been sold into an arranged marriage for $9000. That is perfectly fine under Sharia law. After she ran away with her lover, she and the man were sentenced to be stoned to death as adulterers.
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The Illinois Supreme Court today reversed the decision (below) of the appellate court and reinstated former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to the mayoral ballot in Chicago. As discussed earlier, the Supreme Court hit on the burden in overturning a factual finding of the lower court.

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The government is on the verge of doing away with one of its moronic ideas: the color-coded terror alert system. From the outset, many of us objected that this was a system without logic or use — part of an effort to incorporate every American into a terror-obsessed society. Not only did no one know the meaning of the individual colors, few understood what they were supposed to do differently when it moved from blue (guarded) to yellow (elevated). Yet, the government continually informed us as to the color of the day — spending millions on a nonsensical system.
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Many have long wondered: “I know our state bird, but what is our state gun to shoot it with?” Now, in Utah, the uncertainty may soon be over. State lawmakers are moving toward adopting the Browning M1911 as the official state gun.
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Cal State Northridge math professor Tihomir Petrov, 43, has been charged with two misdemeanor counts for urinating on the door of a colleague.

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Jim Miklaszewski, Chief Pentagon Correspondent for NBC News, reported on Monday that investigators have not been able to find a direct connection between Bradley Manning, the army private suspected of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, and Julian Assange.  Last month, Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, told MSNBC that he was not sure that Manning was the source for the leaked documents that were posted on his site.

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Time to Apologize, Rush

Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

Since Professor Turley is snowbound in the Winter Wonderland, the weekend warriors are back to bring your blood pressure up!

I have been critical of the Right Wing Mass Media for its continual banging of the drum of hate towards President Obama and the Democrats in general. Now, there are times that the Democrats and President Obama should be called on the carpet.  For instance, for not confronting the Bush torture crowd and for claiming that the President has the authority to kill American citizens without due process, just to name a couple. However, the civility that President Obama has asked for in his latest speeches, have gone unheeded by many on the Right and some on the Left.

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Many defendants work hard to find the right balance between expressions of contrition and innocence before a criminal sentencing. Zaire Page, 24, decided that brevity was the soul of wit and simply told Judge Vincent Del Giudice to “suck his d—.” Del Guidice declined the offer and instead gave him 107 years.
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Wal-Mart is now marketing aging cream and other cosmetics for girls 8-12, including anti-aging creams to avoid that ten-year-old look.

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The Office of Special Counsel has found gross and knowing violation of the Hatch Act by the Bush White House and specifically its Office of Political Affairs. The OSC Report found that the Bush White House allowed the office to directly support Republican congressional candidates and even allowed the Republican National Committee to work out of the White House. The violations were found to be a “gross abuse of the public trust.”
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The Missouri Supreme Court has handed down an important ruling on reverse discrimination — upholding an award of more than $2 million for a white prosecutor, Melissa Howard, who was denied a judgeship in 2006 because the Kansas City Council wanted a minority in the position.

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For academics, there is no greater sin than the alteration of a historic document. That is precisely what amateur historian Thomas P. Lowry is accused of doing in writing a “5″ over a date of a pardon by Abraham Lincoln – immediately gaining fame for finding the last official act before Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865.
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For civil libertarians, the gradual de-evolution of our criminal justice system just got a bit more medieval. Virginia Republican Sen. Emmett Hanger is upset about the prison budget so he has found a way to trim costs by simply castrating sexual offenders. This is the same proposal vetoed four years ago, but there is now a conservative Republican governor in office and some believe it could pass.
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Dogs routinely shock their owners by eating everything from documents to dolls. (My dog Molly prefers to eat socks). However, when an one-year-old pit bull named Diamond eat a Bible in England, Miriam Smith, 65, decided to take action. She hanged Diamond with an electrical cord and burned its body.

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With surprisingly little coverage from the media, Justice Clarence Thomas has amended his financial disclosure after Common Cause exposed his failure to report his wife’s income for many years — including her payments from conservative organizations.

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Salesman Sent Packing Over Tie

Outside Chicago, car salesman John Stone was reportedly fired for the world’s most ill-conceived neck wear: a Packers tie. The sales manager at Webb Chevrolet ordered Stone to remove the tie and when he refused, he fired him.

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Utah school officials are in deep debate over a shocking development at the girls basketball game between Christian Heritage High and West Ridge Academy. Drugs? Violence? No, the score. After Christian Heritage High won 108-3, many are crying foul and demanding to know why the CHH coach did not slow his “Crusaders” down and force them to give up points.
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Just when he probably thought that it could not get much worse than losing to the Packers in a home game, Rahm Emanuel has lost his fight to get on the ballot. The court just ruled that he is ineligible.

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There is an interesting lawsuit out of Alabama where lawyers have filed a class action against Taco Bell over its claim to serve “beef” in its dishes. In fact, the lawsuit alleges, Taco Bell is serving what are called “beef extenders” and not actual beef as defined by the U.S. government.

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This week we have two cases rivaling for the most frivolous litigation of the year. In Pennsylvania, Cathy Cruz Marrero is shown in the video below texting while walking through the mall. Marrero was not looking where she is going and walks right in a fountain. She has now retained counsel. In the meantime, Hubert Blackman of New York City is suing a Las Vegas company after a prostitute failed to give him a full hour of service.

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The rivalry between the Bears and Packers and Vikings is intense but largely good-natured. Some, however, take it to a new and disturbing level such as Blake Montpetit, the co-owner of Tiffany Sports Lounge in St. Paul, who announced that he would roast a black bear to show his hatred for Chicago. This comes on the heels of a restaurant owner in Tucson grinding up a lion for tacos.
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We have yet another example of the mindless enforcement of zero tolerance for gun play at school. Seven-year-old Patrick Riley used his finger to form a pretend gun and went bang toward a wall. He was promptly suspended from Parkview Elementary in Oklahoma City.

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I am beginning to get a rather bizarre view of teaching techniques in England. If you recall, we recently saw how teachers terrorized students with the fake murder of a colleague. Now, teachers including Headteacher Mike Richards at St. Mary’s RC told children that World War III had broken out and, using fireworks, had them cringing in a cellar as a learning experience.
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That is the best I do right now. It is hard for me to express my feelings at this time of utter darkness and despair.

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes…again

Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need…of some…stranger’s hand
In a…desperate land

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Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

In light of the all the hoopla about President Obama’s upcoming State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, I have been thinking of all of the ideas and issues that I would like the President to address in his talk with the country. Since I am a Bears fan and  used to dreaming,  here it goes.
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Here is today’s column in the Washington Post on the controversy over Justice Scalia’s appearance on Monday in a Tea Party Caucus event for new House members. I view the issue as having broader implications for the Court.
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