Archive for May, 2011

While Congress continues to plan for hundreds of billions in cuts and states are closing parks and educational programs, we continue to gush billions on three wars. This fiscal year alone the cost of just Afghanistan will be $113 billion. Just this year. Just for Afghanistan.

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There was a refreshing moment of truthful clarity last week from Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal during an interview on “CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS.” Prince Talal admitted that the Saudis want to lower oil prices to avoid moves toward other energy sources and away from oil. It is the same principle upon which drug dealers offer cut-rate narcotics to keep the addiction going for their customers.

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Tiffany Startz, 22, is facing has been charged in a bizarre case after she punched a rapper on a dare last September in Joliet, Illinois — killing John “Fatboy” Powell. It is a modern version of the case of Harry Houdini who reportedly died after a college student punched him repeatedly in the stomach to test his claim of being able to withstand blows. As discussed below, the student was never charged. Startz, however, is facing reckless conduct and battery charges stemming from the incident at a garage party.

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A British author Alan Shadrake, 76, is the latest victim of a worldwide trend of attacks on free speech. Shadrake wrote a book entitled Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore’s Justice in the Dock detailing the inequities and unfairness of the Singapore justice system. The response of Singapore’s courts was to convict Shadrake and throw him in jail for contempt. The abusive case should be a rallying point for civil libertarians around the world, not to mention any Singaporeans who value free speech and the rule of law. The Singapore government compounded the abuse by banning the book.

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I thought a video of a nice Australian waterspout from this weekend would be a nice way to get you going after a week day weekend. I just returned with the family from North Carolina and had a great time.
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We previously followed the bizarre story of Pop — a child being raised genderless by his Swedish parents. Now, Canadians Kathy Witterick and David Stocker are raising a five-month-old child, named Storm, and are hiding his gender to raise the child as an “it.”

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Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) has sent a letter challenging the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s signing the Patriot Act with an autopen. I discussed this issue on CNN where I explained that, while this is not a good practice, it would likely be upheld under long-standing precedent going back to the 1600s. While obviously the autopen post-dated such precedent, the idea of signing by direction or surrogate is not new.
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OMG I Just Crashed . . .

I just saw this video of a teenager who reportedly was spotted texting and driving. For years, police have argued that texting has the same impact as alcohol on drivers. This video certainly shows the truth of that claim.
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When asked where is the happiest place on Earth, you might have said “Disneyland” but, according to North Korea’s state-controlled media, it is China . . . followed in close second by North Korea.
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Zimbabwean police sergeant Alois Mabhunu has joined a large number of his countrymen in jail under the tyrannical rule of President Robert Mugabe. His crime, however, is rather unique: he used Mugabe’s private toilet. The murder detective was arrested for the offense despite the fact that there is no specific law of criminal commoding. However, in Mugabe’s paradise laws are of little import.
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See Dunder . . . See Dunder Age

In case you have not seen the YouTube hit below, this is German Shepard Dunder who was pictured in the same spot everyday for a year.  You can watch Dunder age from two months to one year old in forty seconds.
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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Lakeysha Beard admitted that she had been blathering away on her cell phone in the “quiet car” of an Amtrak train. Still, “she didn’t understand why she had to be escorted off the train” by police. Beard said she felt “disrespected” by the incident.

Police in Salem, Oregon, said Beard got into a “verbal altercation” with other train passengers who complained that she refused to put her cell phone away. They were annoyed that she had been talking continuously from the time the train had left the station in Oakland, California—sixteen hours earlier.

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Reeling from the backlash of sentiment questioning why liberals and Democrats were banned from a public town square meeting on Florida’s budget, Governor Scoot  pulled an “Oops.”  Apparently, it was all the work of a poor misguided staffer, Russ Abrams, a $60,000.00 a year special assistant to the Governor who has a serious First Amendment mental block. Despite newspaper notices that the meeting in the conservative retirement community was open to the public, Abrams told Sumter County Sheriff’s deputies that the event was private and that Democrats and liberals were not required. A reluctant deputy informed the banned folks that he was instructed to remove them.

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Recently, the findings of a controversial five-year study into the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church were released. The study, commissioned by the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, was conducted by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York. The study concluded that homosexual priests were no more likely to be abusers than heterosexual priests. It also found that celibacy was not to blame for the sexual abuse of children. Authors of the study wrote: “The most significant conclusion drawn from this data is that no single psychological, developmental, or behavioral characteristic differentiated priests who abused minors from those who did not.’’

Karen Terry, PhD., John Jay’s principal investigator for the report, claimed that the bulk of the cases occurred decades ago. Terry said: “The increased frequency of abuse in the 1960s and 1970s was consistent with the patterns of increased deviance of society during that time.” She added that “social influences intersected with vulnerabilities of individual priests whose preparation for a life of celibacy was inadequate at that time.” The poor training of priests combined with social isolation, job stress, and few support systems were also said to have been contributing factors to clergy sex abuse of children.

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

In an advertisement  on Craig’s List sure to test the boundaries of commercial free speech, a rural property owner has offered a house for sale or rent. Nothing unusual there. What makes it interesting  is that the North Bend Washington property is touted for its marijuana growing propensities:  “Green house is set up for specially growing Marijuana growing, flowers, veggies,” the ad read. “With the legal 45 plants at a time, you can easily grow over $125,000 in crop per summer and take the winters off or grow indoors during the winter.”

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

America likes to think of itself as a country where one’s abilities determine one’s fortune. America was founded by those fleeing European countries where upward mobility was restricted by the state.

The opportunity to obtain a good education is essential to a society that values meritocracy.

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SEALs Elude Mouse

-Submitted by David Durmm (Nal), Guest Blogger

We have previously discussed the attempt by Disney to trademark the term “Seal Team 6″, here. Disney has withdrawn its application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office “out of deference to the Navy.” Several days after Disney filed its application, the U.S. Navy filed its own application for trademarks on the phrases ‘SEAL Team’ and ‘Navy SEALs.’ The Navy had established a beachhead with its longstanding trademark of “SEALs,” which it has licensed to video game producers.

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To Know Him Is To Love Him

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


A monster hit written by Phil Spector (on the right, in the video below) and performed by The Teddy Bears in glorious STEREO!

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Florida Governor Rick Scott (R-Fla) may be changing his name to Rick “Scoot” after his rousing speech at The Villages Retirement Center Town Square in central Florida. Crowing over budget cuts to programs for homeless veterans, meals for poor seniors, a council for deafness, a children’s hospital, cancer research, public radio, whooping-cough vaccines for poor mothers, and aid for the paralyzed, the tea-party darling decided the public square was the perfect place to squelch any dissent. Ordering sheriff’s deputies and that endless coterie of blonde Republican fresh-faced staffers to comb the crowd for Democrats and any other persons sporting “liberal looking pins and buttons,” the Governor banned them contending the event discussing the public’s money and re-enacting the signing of Florida’s budget was a very “private” affair among friends.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty,(rafflaw), Guest Blogger

In the past we have discussed the ongoing war on Women that is being waged by the Right, but this latest example is a tough one to swallow.  When military women are raped while in the service, it turns out that military health insurance does not cover abortions, even when the servicewoman has been raped.  I discovered this sad fact when I was reading the ACLU Blog.  Jessica Kenyon joined the Army in 2005 and while on duty she was raped by a fellow member of the Army and made the mistake of not reporting it. (more…)

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Since the infamous videoing of the Rodney King beating, the power of the video to publicize police brutality, and the subsequent risk of legal and financial repercussions, has led states to criminalize the recording of police. With the proliferation of cell phones cameras and the ability to upload to YouTube, the risk for police is even greater today. If the police have nothing to hide, then there should be no objection to recording them performing their public duties.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

John T. Williams, a Native American woodcarver, died after being shot 4 times by Officer Ian Birk on August 30, 2010. Dashcam video is shown below.

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Once in a While

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


This morning we present The Chimes in glorious STEREO!

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San Antonio is dealing with not just the controversial fatal shooting of an unarmed teen but new disclosures that the officer was previously named four times for termination from the police force. Reports indicate that Officer Daniel Alvarado of San Antonio’s Northside Independent School District has been named on four occasions for termination due to misconduct but was never actually fired. He is now on suspension after he chased 14-year-old Derek Lopez, who punched another teen at a bus stop and ended up shooting him to death in a shed.
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For FBI agent Fred Kingston, it was a sweet assignment. The FBI had seized a stolen 1995 Ferrari F50 — one of only 50 such cars in the United States. Kingston was instructed to move the car from the FBI garage and so Kingston reportedly called Assistant US Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson to come along for the ride. The agent ended up crashing the car — causing $750,000 but now the Justice Department insists that it is not liable for the damage.
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In a 5-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld an Arizona law imposing sanctions on businesses that hire illegal aliens. The decision (below) in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, 09-115 was long anticipated because of its implications for a possible ruling in the more controversial Arizona provision regarding the state enforcement of immigration laws — a case making its way toward the Court. I will be discussing the case Friday morning on CNN.
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The Postal Service is under fire in Portland, Oregon after it decided to retain a postman who was captured on film peeing and defecating on a home on his route and simply reassigning the postman to another route.
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The Feline Madonna

Just a kitten sleeping with her mother. No pressing legal issue or political scandal. Just a kitten sleeping with her mother.
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The Kentucky Supreme Court has handed down an important ruling (below) that Christopher Egan can make a paternity claim even if the child is the result of an adulterous affair. It is the rejection of a long-standing bar on such claims under a type of “dirty hands” rule for adulterous affairs. The court turned its back on a long line of morality based cases once called “bastardy cases.” Justice Bill Cunningham (right) in dissent accused the court of throwing the institution of marriage on the “funeral pyre of modern convenience and unanchored values.” Justice Daniel Venters (left) excellent majority decision is available below.
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In a long overdue action, the Serbian government has finally arrested accused war criminal Ratko Mladic, the highest-ranking war crimes suspect still at large from the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Mladic, 69, is accused of genocide, extermination and murder, including the deaths of over 8000 men and boys after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995.

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Liu Dali is a Chinese citizen who bravely sought to petition the government over rampant corruption. The Chinese government responded by throwing him into a corrupt prison system where he did manual labor for 12 hours of day and then was forced to play online games to build up credits that were sold by prison officials for cash. If he failed to make his quota of game credits, he was beaten. This may seem like a Monty Python skit but it is deadly serious.
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NASCAR driver Kyle Busch may have come in second-place finish in Saturday night’s All-Star race but he sure dusted the competition this week in Statesville, North Carolina. The problem is that the track was a residential street with a 45 mph limit and he was going 128 mph. He probably wishes that he waited to drag race in Washington, D.C., where police are under fire for fixing tickets for celebrities.
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Florida dentist Michael Hammonds, 57, has been arrested for assault and battery after getting into a wrestling match with a patient over a pair of dentures. When police arrived, they found bruise marks on Virginia Graham, 85, who tried to get her dentures back from Hammonds and was allegedly held given her will at the office.
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Thomas W. Gooch III of Gauthier & Gooch in Chicago has achieved a degree of national notoriety in a motion to force his opponent Dmitry Feofanov to get rid of a “large breasted woman” who has appeared with him at counsel’s table. Gooch suggests that Feofanov is trying to use something erotic to defeat his client, Exotic Motors. He insists that the woman has no known legal function and is meant to distract the jurors, but Feofanov insists that she is a trained paralegal. The dispute is over the car dealership’s warranty on a used Cadillac.

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There is a fascinating disconnect in this week after Israeli Prime Minister received 29 standing ovations in Congress in defying Obama’s recent Middle East initiative but, according to a poll this week, 57 percent of Israeli voters supported Obama’s initiative.
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The attempt by Texans to resist the controversial TSA security measures, including groping adults and children, has resulted in an astonishing threat by U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy who is threatening to turn the entire Lone Star state into a no-fly zone if a bill passes the legislature. HB 1937 allows for “prosecution and punishment for the offense of official oppression by the intrusive touching of persons seeking access to public buildings and transportation; providing penalties.” With the return of stagecoaches to Texas, you may want to book now — seats are scarce and there are a lot of blackout dates.

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This video has raised serious concerns of how the D.C. Metro transit officers put a wheelchaired man into custody. The video shows the officers slamming the man face first into the concrete. Later you can see the man is laying near a pool of blood.
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We have been following the ban imposed on conservative radio host Michael Savage by England — barring him from entry into the country. England now appears to have reaffirmed the decision and accuses Savage of promising to retract some of his statements and failing to do so. While I strongly disagree with many of Savage’s statements, I view the ban as part of a disturbing trend limiting free speech in the West and particularly in England.

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Ravens Linebacker Ray Lewis has a novel argument to add to the current contract negotiations for the NFL: if the lockout continues, the streets will run with crime. He warned: “Do this research. If we don’t have a season, watch how much evil, which we call it crime, watch how much crime picks up when you take away our game.” You may immediately reject the notion as to the fans but, before you reject the theory out of hand, consider that most crimes committed by NFL players occur during off-game hours (here).

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Kansas state GOP Rep. Pete DeGraaf (Mulvane) has either a perverse view of rape or roadside repairs. I am not sure which but I would not recommend either a long trip or a rape counseling session with him. DeGraaf recently opposed a rape exception to a legislative ban on insurance for abortions. He explained that rape is really like a flat tire. He appears to have misunderstood Goodyear’s slogan: “Should a Woman Have to Worry About Tires? Goodyear Says No!
When Snow Say No, Goodyear says Go!..”
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Minnesota has seen the best and worst of its society in the debate of a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to heterosexual couples. The best was Sen. John Kiesel, who was a profile of courage. The worst was the pastor invited to give the opening prayer, Bradlee Dean, a profile of perfidy (as in a deliberate breach of faith when you agree to give a nondenominational prayer and then give a sectarian diatribe). Dean’s record of hateful and bigoted statements was well-known before he was invited to the legislature to start off the day of debate on the rights of homosexual citizens to marry.
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Politicians in Texas are addressing what appears to be a pressing threat to public order: tall fish tales. Texas Sen. Glenn Hegar has introduced a bill to make it a crime to misrepresent the size or weight of a fish caught in a tournament. It is the latest example of the criminalization of American society.

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At a time of intense intolerance and homophobia in American politics, Minnesota GOP Rep. John Kriesel took the floor to beg his colleagues not to vote for a constitutional amendment that would ban same sex marriage. Kriesel’s simple words and humanity offer a true profile of courage to politicians across the country.

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The Rainbow After The Ruin

This is the amazing double rainbow after the disastrous F4 tornado struck Joplin Missouri, killing 116. It is the great paradox of nature, the potential for both great destruction and beauty.

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While the United States and its allies continue to pour billions into Afghanistan, the widespread corruption continues unabated and unashamedly. The most recent such report is coming from the Department for International Development in England where it has found that hundreds of “nation-building” projects were completely fraudulent loans to conceal thefts.
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In England, Katie Dagley, 19, died in an accident as bizarre as it was tragic. In something out of a proximate cause question on a torts exam, a traffic light-controlled bridge malfunctioned after a slug cause the lights to malfunction. That’s right, investigators believe that the slug left a trail across a circuit board that caused it to short out. That caused the lights to malfunction and Dagley proceeding against traffic on a one-land bridge in Tamworth, Staffordshire.
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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have been blocked in his effort to become oil minister, but he is still angling for national meteorologist. In a speech this weekend, Ahmadinejad accused Europe of emptying clouds and depriving Iran of rain.

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The Dutch Catholic Church and the Salesian order are under fire this week after it was disclosed that a priest not only served on the board of a pro-pedophilia organization but defended adult-child sex. To make matters worse, high ranking officials were apparently aware of the 73-year-old priest’s activities. The priest is known only as “Father Van B.” Moreover, Superior Jos Claes says that he does not believe that such activities would present a serious problem for the priest.

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It is the type of thing that only teens would come up with as a way of celebrating the continuation of times on Saturday, May 21st. Many people were having fun with the bizarre delusions of Camping and his followers predicting Judgment Day with parties and postings. A group of five teens in Michigan, however, decided to celebrate the end of the world by jumping into the Kalamazoo River, including Anthony Thompson who notably could not swim. Well, you can guess the rest.
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Well, I went off to my annual trip to Shrine Mont for the rapture (leaving our weekend editors to face the Judgment alone), only to face another Monday with no pre-arranged blog stories. Who would have known that you couldn’t trust an 89-year-old religious fanatic foretelling the End of Times? In Alameda, California, Harold Camping will only say that “It has been a really tough weekend” and he is “flabbergasted” that the world has continued to exist. Talking about a tough Monday to have return to work and face our office mates around the water cooler.
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