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.
Archive for May, 2011
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”