Archive for April, 2011

Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama announced that he was considering an Executive Order that would mandate that all contractors who receive Federal money must disclose their political contributions.  Since I am not a big fan of Executive Orders and since President Obama was not a big fan of Executive Orders when he was a candidate, I was not especially enthralled about the possibility of another Executive Order.  However, once I read what the proposed Executive Order was going to do, I have to admit that I embraced it with open arms. (more…)

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in the case of AT & T Mobility v. Concepcion.  The justices split along ideological lines once again. The 5 to 4 decision came down on the side of corporations—and most likely eliminated the right of citizens to band together to bring class action lawsuits against large corporations.

The Concepcion case involved cellphones and a common type of contract that requires customers to press their claims through arbitration instead of through lawsuits. As reported by Robert Barnes in The Washington Post, these types of contracts “which mandate individual rather than group claims, are becoming standard for companies offering loans, cable service, credit cards and even employment.”

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Well, the Alabama Senate finally got around to it. A vote Wednesday eliminated Jim Crow laws and other segregationist measures in the State’s 340,000 word constitution that was adopted in 1901. The struck language eliminates requirements for separation of the races in educational institutions and the infamous polls taxes. The vote was 22-9 with all Republican senators voting in favor of the legislation.

Some Democratic legislators opposed the bill as too little, too late. Sen. Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham, said there were still racist problems in Alabama’s constitution, including schools that she said are not equitably funded. “This bill to me is a farce. It’s a smokescreen,” Coleman said. ” Jim Crow is still here…. We know there are disparities,” she added.  (more…)

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

In the 1969 case Chimel v. California, the Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, held that an “arresting officer may search the arrestee’s person to discover and remove weapons and to seize evidence to prevent its concealment or destruction.” The search also included “the area “within the immediate control” of the person arrested, meaning the area from which he might gain possession of a weapon or destructible evidence.” This case created the Chimel rule allowing warrantless searches incident to a lawful arrest.

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Killer Joe

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


This morning we present The Rocky Fellers in glorious STEREO!

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After arresting hundreds of Christians for attempting to worship in unapproved services, the Chinese have turned to Buddhists for a crackdown that has reportedly taken the lives of two Tibetans. Chinese forces raided the Kirti Monastery (shown left) after accusing monks of disrupting social order and . . . wait for it . . . defaming their religion. That’s right, the government that occupied Tibet, killed Tibetan monks, sent the Dalai Lama in hiding, and destroyed countless temples has accused these monks of defaming their own religion.

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The Arizona Court of Appeals heard an interesting argument this week that is newsworthy for two reasons. First, there is a legal dispute over whether spa can use live fish to nibble dead skin off the feet of customers. Second, a spa wants to use live fish to nibble dead skin off the feet of customers. The state insists that there is no way to sterilize the Garra Rufa fish, a tiny carp.
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Tanya McDowell is a homeless mother who is criminally charged for the crime of lying about her address to get her son into a suburban kindergarten in Connecticut. She is now charged with felony larceny and conspiracy after Housing Authority lawyer, Donna Lattarulo, reported McDowell to the police after suspecting that she was using her babysitter’s address to get her son into the kindergarten.
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Not that we need signs of our economic crisis, but Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke made a chilling observation this week at an event talking about the company’s operations. Duke said his customers are simply “running out of money.”
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This morning I kissed by co-human carer and fed my companion animal before sitting down to blog on the recent publication by the Revd Professor Andrew Linzey, a theologian and director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. Linzey has denounced the use of the word “pet” and “owner” as derogatory. Don’t even get him started on references to animals as “beasts” or “critters.”
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Broward Circuit Court Judge Ilona Holmes probably does not like bringing work back home with her, but sometimes works shows up anyway. Holmes, her sister and her sister’s family were ordered at gun point by several Broward Sheriffs Deputies on Easter Sunday in a botched police raid. The police went to the wrong address. Police were responding to a report of a break-in next door.
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While the Obama Administration has commenced a third war in Libya and is spending billions every week in military operations from Kabul to Tripoli, it is shutting down various domestic programs for lack of funds. The latest is the Allen Telescope Array — a large number of small satellite dishes that search for extraterrestrial life in Northern California. The prohibitive cost? $1.5 million dollars a year (an additional $1 million is used on data collection and analysis). In the meantime, the Administration is refusing to yield to the latest Afghan official insisting that the country does not want or need U.S. troops and yet another case of an Afghan soldier killing U.S. personnel — this time eight U.S. soldiers and one contractor killed by one of our allies.
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Atlanta Police are investigating an incident captured in the video below where an officer is shown first slapping and then punching a woman in an altercation. The woman and her friends insist that they were arrested without cause. The ACLU is calling the case a matter of excessive force.
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Having just given my final torts exam last night, this story caught my eye. In Madrid, a 25-year-old Spanish man from Andalusia sued his parents after they stopped giving him allowance money and demanded the resumption of $588 a month.
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The Pentagon is being criticized for posting the online plans for its new office building in Alexandria, including details on what is needed to blow up the new building. The 424-page Army Corps of Engineers document explains to any web-surfing terrorist how the Mark Center was designed . . . and identifies its vulnerabilities to explosives.
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We have previously followed the trend against free speech in the West ranging from anti-blasphemy laws (including a resolution supported by President Obama) to hate speech prosecutions for criticizing everything from religion to homosexuality to overweight people. England has been a focus of many of these stories. Now, on the Isle of Wight, musician Simon Ledger, 34, has been arrested after singing “Kung Fu Fighting” and a passing person of Chinese descent cried foul.

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It turns out Barack Obama is . . . is . . . a citizen. The White House has released President Obama’s long-form birth certificate to put the growing controversy to rest over his birth. Many of us have been critical of the birther conspiracy theories. However, I am not sure why the White House did not do this earlier since it addresses the allegations fully. It will be interesting to see that, now that Obama has produced the certificate, if the movement for state ballot laws declines. While it has been repeatedly stated that the laws are not about Obama, but we will see.
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Philadelphia is dealing with a shooting of a man in a dispute with an off-duty police officer. Josh Taylor, 23, was shot in the chest by an eighteen-year veteran of the police force who has not been identified. The officer reportedly claimed that Taylor had a gun, though neighbors insisted that Taylor was on his way to a gun range and did not pull out the weapon.
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Emmanuel Tavarez, 31, was a one-man crime wave. He was also a cop. Tavarez is facing trial after using his NYPD connections to run a crew that dressed up as officers and stole drugs and cash. An eight-year NYPD veteran, Tavaraz is responsible for more than 100 armed robberies of narcotics traffickers. Yet, despite what he agreed was “overwhelming evidence of his client’s guilt, attorney Raymond L. Colon insisted “[f]or all intents and purposes he was a fine officer. This was really an aberration, I think.”
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A bus driver in Texas received an extraordinary $21,000 settlement for conduct that justifiably led to his termination. Edwin Graning received the settlement from the Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) in Texas after he was fired for refusing to drive two women to a Planned Parenthood clinic last year. This seems a case of putting the CARTS before the horse in reaching a settlement before the other party has made a viable claim.

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The problem with being a “huffer” is that the paint can leave a fairly easy marker for police. Kelly Gibson took this mugshot on his 48th arrest for inhaling the toxic chemicals.
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There is a tragedy in Truth or Consequences, N.M, where Margaret Salcedo, 48, was mauled to death by four escaped pit bulls. The case could present both criminal and civil liability for the owners.
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Waukesha (WI) Mayor Jeff Scrima promised fiscal responsibility in running for office, but he has drawn criticism for his decision to use city funds to buy books of a campaign contributor and Christian author — and telling agency heads to read and discuss the book with city employees.
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Keith Cowing is a blogger on Space Ref, a science blog, and was surprised recently to receive a call from the White House. White House staffer Rick Weiss reportedly called to warn him that his inclusion of the seal of Executive Office of the President of the United States violated federal law because it could be viewed as a product endorsement. A review of the blog entry demonstrates the claim to be preposterous in my view and I am unsure why the White House is spending such much time searching for seal misuses rather than . . . let’s see . . . war crimes.
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In Waukegan, Illinois, Helen Miller is suing over what is traditionally viewed as an act of God: a tree branch that fell during a thunderstorm and impaled her in the stomach while she was driving. Such acts normally cut off proximate causation, but she is suing the Vista Health System Surgery and Treatment Center for allegedly failing to properly maintain the tree.

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President Barack Obama this week stepped over the line of both protocol and ethics by publicly declaring Bradley Manning guilty of crimes. During a speech, Obama stated Manning “broke the law” to an audience in an act that could be challenged as undue command influence in the military system and violates a long-standing rule of presidents refraining from prejudicing trials. Manning is accused of being the source for the wikileaks material, which have shown that the Administration and prior Administrations have lied to the American people in various areas of policy.

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For those of you still marveling over Susan Boyle’s surprise performance in 2009, meet Edward Reid who took nursery rhymes to a new level on “Britain’s Got Talent” this weekend.

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As expected, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s effort to bypass the appellate court has failed with a denial at the United States Supreme Court. The Rule 11 motion was turned down — as it is in the vast majority of cases. The Obama Administration opposed the motion and is expected to continue to try to slow the momentum of the challenge.
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Even for the most committed civil libertarians, it is hard to work up sympathy for Quran-burning Pastor Terry Jones. However, that is the plight of free speech advocates — you often end up supporting the most obnoxious members of our society. In Dearborn, Michigan, the order barring Jones from protesting utside of the Islamic American Center raises some constitutional concern.
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Various people had criticized the new groping searches by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) as assault and, when done on children, something akin to molestation. According to police, one alleged child pornography addict found the TSA the perfect job. TSA Officer Thomas Gordon Jr. of Philadelphia has been arrested for uploading explicit pictures of young girls to an Internet site. What is astonishing is that Gordon posted a photograph of himself in his TSA uniform.
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Michigan’s Republican State Sen. Bruce Caswell wants the poor to dress appropriately to their station in life — that is, with second-hand clothes. Caswell introduced legislation to require children in the state’s foster care system to buy clothes at stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army under restrictive “gift cards” that would give $79 clothing allowance for the kids. Caswell is the chairman of the DHS Appropriations Subcommittee.

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How much do you want that really perfect cup of coffee? This article from Reddit caught me eye. It was not that Kopi Luwak is the world’s most expensive coffee at as much as $3000 a pound (though I have seen other bags offered for as little as $200 a pound, but then again, you have to ask yourself, is it pure civet poop?). It was the unique processing used to produce the beans.
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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

iPhones and Android smartphones regularly transmit their locations back to Apple and Google. The location information is used for the estimated $2.9 billion location-based services market. Location-based advertising targets consumers with location-specific advertising on their mobile devices.

According to research, the HTC Android phone collects location information every few seconds and transmits the data back to Google several times an hour.

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HAPPY EASTER!!!

Happy Easter to all of our bloggers and readers that are celebrating today. The bunny came last night for all four kids and even Molly got a basket full of bones and pig ears. The kids are already showing the signs of sugar saturation.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) has proclaimed Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas. He didn’t ask for any prayers to end the drought or put out the wildfires, he just asked for prayers for rain in the state of Texas. While looking at the weather radar tonight, it was raining somewhere in Texas, so I guess it worked. It’s a miracle.

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Surfin’ Bird

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


Love it or hate it, here are The Trashmen in glorious (?) STEREO!

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

All you Christian warriors out there best make ready for battle! Sean Hannity and the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue are now claiming that there is a war on Easter. “Oh no!” you say. “Who would do such a thing?” Why, Lady Gaga, comedian Ricky Gervais, and a few other dastardly demons—that’s who.

I even heard it through the grapevine that the CEO of Easter Bunnies, Inc., is hopping mad. I was told that he’s organized his bunny brigade and worked in co-operation with the president of Hatchling Chicks Corporation to devise a plan to go after anti-Easterites like Lady Gaga and Gervais.

Get your trebuchets ready! I’ll bring eggs. We’re planning to meet in Mister MacGregor’s garden tomorrow at the first light of dawn. We’ll shell the hard-boiled enemies of Easter ova and ova again until they surrender. They won’t know what hit them.

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The wife of Miami Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall has been charged with stabbing him in the abdomen with a kitchen knife in Florida. The case could become even more complicated not just for Michi Nogami-Marshall, 27, but for Brandon Marshall.
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Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

When I hear Illinois Senator Dick Durbin’s name, I usually think of a moderately progressive Democratic Senator.  What I don’t expect to hear from someone with Durbin’s pedigree are statements to the effect that cuts to Social Security are “on the table”.  But that is exactly what he said recently when asked about his work with the so-called Gang of Six. (more…)

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

You remember Standard & Poor’s, they’re the credit-rating agency that blessed the fraud-based mortgage securities issued by Wall Street banks with AAA ratings, deceiving gullible investors around the world. Senator Carl Levin (chair of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations) recently named this company a “key cause” of the economic crisis.

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Ayn Rand and Christianity

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

The GOP hearts Ayn Rand. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and his father Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), all mention the works of Ayn Rand as being influential in their lives. Even Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas references her work as influence in his autobiography. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, is an acolyte of Rand’s thinking and knew her personally.

I would like to focus on one aspect of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, and its implications for Christianity.

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Then He Kissed Me

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


Today we offer The Crystals in glorious STEREO!

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Twenty five year-old Ryan James Stephens will probably never be confused with actors Rex Harrison or Eddie Murphy but he may be the new Dr. Doolittle. Stephens has been charged with violating Cincinnati’s ordinance prohibiting citizens from “talking” to police dogs.

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has issued an interesting decision concerning the prerogative of police to order a suspect to exit a car after smelling marijuana smoke coming from within. Seems the opinion turned on the Bay State’s decision to  decriminalized possession of less than one ounce of the wacky weed in 2008.
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Anthony Garcia may be the ultimate example of corpus delicti evidence. The body of evidence in the case is his own body — or least the tattoos on his body that depict the 2004 murder scene where 23-year-old John Juarez was gunned down.
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The disturbing video below shows a women being beaten by two other women as McDonald employees do virtually nothing to help her. While a manager makes a minimal effort to stop the fight, he then walks away and does not offer help to the woman on the ground. The girls then return and resume the beating. Other employees are shown doing nothing but watching the scene. The attack occurred in Baltimore, Maryland. The victim has now been identified as Chrissy Lee Polis, 22, who has been identified as a transgender woman. A manager at the Rosedale McDonald’s said she was “not allowed to speak to a reporter.”
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There is a very sad story out of Princeton where Professor Antonio Calvo, 45, has committed suicide after the university refused to renew his contract — a decision that not only meant the loss of his directorship of the Spanish program but his having to leave the United States since the move terminated his visa. He had taught at Princeton for ten years.

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This is the quintessential French story. Anyone who has gone to France knows that you can expect that someone will be striking and shutting down parts of Paris. However, the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité (CRS) police force is taking a stand on a matter of French privilege — the right to drink while on duty. After all, if the French cannot have a glass of wine while fighting terror, the terrorists have won.

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Helen Beard, an English tourist in Orlando, caught more than a tan in Florida this week. Beard showed that legendary English backbone when she caught a 2-year-old child who fell from a fourth-floor balcony of at the Econo Lodge on International Drive in Orlando. Beard is an inspiration to us all and a fine representative of that stalwart people of Britannia.
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Two-term Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., has announced he is resigning from the Senate, effective May 3rd. This follows a prior pledge to remain in the Senate and a rather forced defense that he had not “done anything legally wrong” after he allegedly had an affair with the wife of his top staffer, Doug Hampton.
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