Archive for September, 2011

Retired international law professor Detlev Vagts, 82, has pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the death of Marcia Kearney in Newton, Massachusetts. In light of his plea and presumably his age, Vagts was spared prison time in favor of three years probation and six months of house arrest. He has been ordered not to drive for the rest of his life.

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If brevity is the soul of wit, Walter Maksym may be the most witless lawyer in practice. That may soon change if the Seventh Circuit has its way. The court slammed Maksym recently for writing a brief full of gibberish, including a 345-word sentence. The court has ordered Maksym to show cause why he should not be disbarred.
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The use of informers by police have always been criticized, particularly jail house snitches who will implicate anyone for a better deal. Scotland Yard has used 158 “supergrasses” used since 2006, including Gary Eaton, 51, who is now the center of a scandal over such procured testimony. Called a “pathological liar” by two courts, the Metropolitan Police still used Eaton to the trial of various people of murder. While records show the police were aware of his prior record, pathological lying, and mental instability, Scotland Yard has announced that no officers or prosecutors will be punished for his use as the star witness in two murder trials.

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There may be need for an intervention in Congress after Rep. John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican, admitted to what appears an eating disorder. Fleming went on television to denounce Obama’s plans to tax the wealthy and explained how he really does not have a lot of income left over from earning $6.3 million a year from his string of Subway and UPS businesses. He insists that after paying taxes, salaries, and support for his businesses, he only takes home $600,000 — of which $200,000 goes to food for his family. Fleming is the father of four adult children and lives alone with his wife.
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For years, we have discussed the abusive litigation by the Recording Industry Association of America in seeking obscene damages against people for downloading songs. Congress, again, caved to demands by lobbyists to allow for such lawsuits. The result has been thuggish lawsuits where industry lawyers threaten not only citizens with ruin but, in the case of the Copyright Group, those who try to help them. Now, one of the most obscene verdicts against Boston University student Joel Tenenbaum has been reinstated by the First Circuit — $675,000 for downloading and sharing 30 songs. The court, however, takes the rare step of suggesting that Congress may want to look again at the law. The problem is that these citizens do not have well-paid lobbyists and massive campaign funds to motivate many members to act. The Obama Administration joined the industry in defending the law and the original fines as not unconstitutional.

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Judge Richard A. Posner is a legal icon who has had more impact on the development of the law. As the father of the Law and Economics movement, Posner’s writings are featured heavily in my classes as well as other classes around the country. While I disagree with him, I have tremendous respect for his scholarship and jurisprudence. However, a recent oral argument revealed a less flattering side of the former University of Chicago professor. Faced with an attorney from  the American Civil Liberties Union in a case involving the right of citizens to film police in public, Posner cut him off after 14 words and spoke derisively of the right of citizens and groups to engage in such protected conduct.
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Councilman Lewis Fidler (D-Brooklyn) is calling for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to pull down ads critical of funding for Israel. Fidler is demanding that MTA President Thomas Prendergast put an end to billboards calling for an end to funding for Israel as “a highly political campaign with a controversial underlying anti-Israel message.” Apparently, amid all of the graffiti and ads and pamphlets in the MTA there is no room for messages critical of Israel. Fidler wrote I would urge you to disallow and/or remove these advertisements.”
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Stealing kid’s lunch money has long been a scourge in schools, but usually the thieves come from the ranks of adolescent bullies. Prosecutors allege that Joanna Fan and her husband, Ziming Shen, never got out of the habit and stole at least $2.5 million in federal funds meant for nutritious meals for preschoolers.
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The New York Times is reporting that the U.S. has fallen to 25th in a global ranking of Internet speeds. Feel not for the future, however, we are still one spot ahead of Romania. Take that Bucharest cyber cafes!

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Submitted by Mike Appleton, Guest Blogger

The decennial exercise in legislative self-dealing known as redistricting has been frequently assailed as corrupt.  Efforts to eliminate the incentive to treat redistricting as an incumbency protection racket by placing term limits on House and Senate members have run afoul of the Constitution.  But Floridians may have found a partial solution.  As Republicans were strengthening their super-majority status in the state legislature this past November, eagerly anticipating the opportunity to redistrict the remaining Democrats to somewhere in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, voters were simultaneously adopting by substantial margins two amendments to the Florida constitution intended to eliminate gerrymandering.  And a federal judge has now thrown out the Florida legislature’s constitutional challenge to one of those amendments.
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There is an interesting censorship allegation this week after Alec Baldwin walked out on the Emmy telecast in response to the decision by News Corp to cut a joke about CEO Rupert Murdoch and the expanding phone-hacking scandal. Comedians have always been a central part of political speech in the United States as have cartoonists and others who use art or prose to address matters of public interest. The alleged censorship of the material by Fox or News Corp shows, at very best, a lack of judgment by company officials and attorneys.
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A Startling Lack of Compassion

Submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

Webster’s defines compassion as:

compassion \kəm-ˈpa-shən\, n.,
: sympathetic of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it

In yet another instance of corporate callousness, Claudia Rendon, a 41-year old mother from Philadelphia, was fired from her job at Aviation Institute of Maintenance after taking leave to donate a kidney to her son, Alex.  Kidney transplant surgery normally takes six to eight weeks recovery time.  Rendon had discussed taking unpaid leave from  July 19 to undergo the kidney transplant surgery on July 21 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and to return to her job on September 1.  She told ABC News that on her last day of work, her manager presented her with a letter to sign acknowledging that her job was not secure one hour after telling her that she would have her job upon her return.  On August 24, Rendon informed  Aviation Institute of Maintenance that she might not be able to return to work September 1 due to severe lower back pain; a common complication of such surgery.   Aviation Institute of Maintenance said they wanted a letter from the doctor.  The University of Pennsylvania hospital and her short-term disability provider each wrote letters to Rendon’s employer stating she would return to work Sept. 12.  Upon making a social visit to Aviation Institute of Maintenance on September 8, she found out her position had been filled by someone else on September 6.  Alex, who was a student at AIM, has also suffered repercussions of undergoing this lifesaving transplant.  The school is trying to collect $2,000 related to time he took off in addition to trying to charge him $150 to re-enroll. Did  Aviation Institute of Maintenance break the law?  Or are they just another example of a callous employer lacking in compassion?

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Banned Books Weeks 2011 will be observed September 24-October 1.

 

Jonah Goldberg claims that Banned Books Week (BBW) is nothing but hype. In a column he penned for USA Today in early September, Goldberg wrote that BBW “is an exercise in propaganda.” He continued, “For starters, as a legal matter no book in America is banned, period, full stop (not counting, I suppose, some hard-core illegal child porn or some such out there). Any citizen can go to a bookstore or Amazon.com and buy any book legally in print — or out of print for that matter.”

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty(Rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

 

I admit that I get a headache when I read any news about former Bush administration officials, but it seems that former Vice President Dick Cheney is in the news again and I am left scrambling for my migraine medicine.  He has written a book detailing all the wonderful things he accomplished as Vice President under George W. Bush.  Unfortunately for Mr. Cheney, in his efforts to explain his work as Vice President under George W. Bush, he may have provided an admission of some of the alleged lies that critics claim were being spread by Cheney and the Bush administration in the lead up to war in Iraq.  (more…)

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, gave a speech at Harvard Law School entitled “Strengthening our Security by Adhering to our Values and Laws.” According to Marty Lederman, “it is the most comprehensive single statement of the Obama Administration’s policies and practices with respect to al Qaeda and other terrorist threats.”

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You’re So Good To Me

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


Break out the headphones/earbuds for The Beach Boys, in glorious STEREO!

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Sunday in Paris With Eric

Here is our picture of the week from our erstwhile colleague in the City of Light, Eric Tenin.

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

Most people who regularly visit this blog know that I am Jewish. While I am not what one would call a pious Jew, being a Deist in outlook, I have always been very proud of my ethnicity and of the religion, which plays a central part in it. From their infancy, my children were immersed in Judaism both through education and by our family regularly taking part in Jewish Rituals, including regular Synagogue attendance. Where I part personally from normative Judaism is that I view the Torah, The Five Books of Moses, as primarily allegory with some real history thrown in. To me it is a work of some wise and some not so wise men, not the writings of God. I believe and have seen demonstrated in many families though, that the Torah and its 613 Commandments can serve as blueprint for living a fulfilling life.

The issue becomes complicated when it comes to my feelings about Israel. To me the existence ofI srael is a necessity for Jews to have a future in this world and if it comes to it, a final haven to make our last stand. I am an American first, so I would not willingly emigrate away from the country of my birth, unless those who hate Jews come to power. Contrary to the opinion of many, Jews are far from being a homogeneous ethnicity/religion. One cannot for instance refer to being an Orthodox Jew with any precision of description since that movement is in itself splintered on many details of interpretation. This is true of the other main branches of Judaism: Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionism. Perhaps it is because there is no central Jewish religious authority speaking for all Jews, as much as organizations like ADL, AIPAC, et. al. would claim to, that the range of Jewish opinion is so wide on so many subjects.

This brings me to an article I read at the PublicEye.org titled: “The New Christian Zionism and the Jews”. Its’ thesis is that many Jewish supporters of Israel and the current Israeli government have allied themselves with Christian Fundamentalists whose “love” for Israel and Jews come from the wish to fulfill the prophecies of The Book of Revelations, where in fact Jews not willing to accept Jesus, will die in a horrid holocaust.  This trend has been one disturbing me for a long time. I have watched Jews and Israeli’s embrace Fundamentalist Christian support, in what to me is a shortsighted and irrational policy. This could be justified by saying that a country takes its allies where one can get them. Sometimes what seems an example of realpolitik is merely an instance of dangerously narrow opportunism, as I will elaborate.  (more…)

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Chant Wars

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

St. Xavier is an all-boys Jesuit high school in Cincinnati, Ohio. During a football game with long-standing intra-city rival Colerain, the St. Xavier student section chanted “We’ve got Jesus!”, moments after Colerain missed a game-tying field goal. Do they really think that Jesus cares about who wins a football game?

The Colerain student body responded with their own chant: “We’ve got girls!”

While St. Xavier won the football game, by a score of 17-14, they lost the chant war.

H/T: Yahoo! Sports.

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What Did Michelle Obama Say?

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Debbie Schlussel says she can’t be sure, but it seems that Michelle turns to Barack and says “All of this for a damn flag.” This happened during the flag folding ceremony at the 9/11 memorial. Here’s the video:

Well some expert lip readers have put Schlussel to shame:

“It’s amazing how they fold that flag.”

H/T: LGF.

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Concrete & Clay

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


Today we have Unit 4 + 2 in glorious STEREO!

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Gun-owning Floridians will now be able to discuss those lethal weapons with their physicians after a federal judge has blocked the enforcement of a Florida law. Florida governor and Tea Party darling, Rick Scott, signed into law a gag order preventing doctors from talking to their patients about the hazards of gun possession in their homes when small children and teenagers are present.

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You will have to forgive the graphic picture but this extraordinary x-ray is a 20-year-old Irish national caught in Brazil after swallowing 72 bags of cocaine.

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For about a week, I have been hesitant to post on the Solyndra scandal. There seemed to be a bit of too much of a pile on due to this being a green tech company. However, it is now serious and new evidence suggests that the White House was not just cavalier with such stimulus funds but willfully blind that this company (run by a major Democratic donor who visited the White House repeatedly before the public support by the President) was likely to fail. At best it was a remarkably moronic move by the President and his staff.

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There is a disturbing story out this week that four-star Air Force Gen. William Shelton testified under oath that the White House tried to pressure him into changing his testimony on a new wireless project in a way that would benefit a large Democratic donor. There is also an allegation that someone in the Administration leaked the intended testimony to the company.
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A new report on the quality of police in England found that some officers are “barely literate because entry standards are so low.” The author suggests that these standards were lowered to allow for greater numbers of minority officers. However, now the lack of literacy is delaying proceedings and causing problems for judges and lawyers alike.

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Monroe Beachy, 77, is being call the Amish Bernie Madoff after being accused of running a Ponzi scheme that lost millions from his Amish community.

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In a victory for transgender citizens, the Australian government has decided that passports will now have three rather than two options for designating gender: male, female, and indeterminate. The latter will be designated with an “X”.
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Illinois Associate Justice Lloyd Karmeier is under fire this week after a petition was filed with the court detailing what is alleged to be previously undisclosed support from State Farm Insurance Company before Karmeier voted in favor of its side in a dispute. Previously, State Farm told the court that it had given $350,000 to Karmeier. Now plaintiffs lawyers, including former Sen. Fred Thompson, allege that he actually received between $2.4 million and $4 million from State Farm sources.
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The concept of a millionaire Communist might not sit well with Mao’s Little Red Book, but it appears to be just fine with the modern Chinese Communist Party. The Forbes China 400 Rich list revealed this week that ‘over 90% of the 1,000 richest people tracked by the Hurun Report are either officials or members of the Chinese Communist Party.” The list reinforces the view that the CCP has become more of a cartel or, in some cases, a criminal enterprise than a true political party. Communist officials are routinely accused of breathtaking corruption and use of state power to force peasants from their land in development schemes.
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The marriage vows may say “for better or for worse” and “in sickness and in health,” but Rev. Pat Robertson told his “700 Club” viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s is just fine. Robertson says that the vows say “until death do us part” and Alzheimer’s should be viewed as a type of death.
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CBS News correspondent Priya David and her husband Alex Clemens got a look at a news story in progress from a unique angle this week — the FBI mistakenly raided their home with eight heavily armed and armored officers. They had the wrong family and appeared to dial down a bit when they were told that the woman upstairs nursing a baby was a CBS correspondent.

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There is a fascinating case out of Florida this week that raises questions over the required proof needed for a criminal conviction — in this case, animal cruelty. Carla Ann Thomas was convicted of animal neglect after her a 5-year-old Akita named Sache was found dead after being left over the weekend at Healthy Paws, Thomas’ health food store for dogs and cats in St. Petersburg. She was convicted despite the fact that there was no necropsy and no one knows why the dog died. The prosecutor says that that is immaterial.
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The Cherokee Tribe is in an interesting confrontation with the federal government over the right of the tribe to ban 2,800 African Americans from its citizenship rolls. Joe Crittenden, the tribe’s acting principal chief, insists that the Bureau of Indian Affairs has challenged the sovereignty of the tribe and “The Cherokee Nation will not be governed by the BIA.”

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In Michigan, parents are outraged by the decision of a high school to allow senior Mitchell Landis to continue to play football after he was arrested and charged with rape. They insist that such arrests could constitute a violation of “good behavior” standards.

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The Obama Administration is trying to quietly kill the move for recognition of a Palestinian state, particularly after the loss of Anthony Weiner’s seat in the House due in part to an angry backlash by Jewish voters over support of Israel. Other countries have said it is time and momentum appeared to be with the Palestinians . . . at least until the Palestine Liberation Organization’s ambassador Maen Areikat to the United States decided to add his views. Areikat described his vision of a beautiful new free and independent state. The key component? No Jews.
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We have been following what Jon Huntsman called the war on science in the GOP. Now Rep. Michele Bachmann has added to the attacks on global warming, evolution, environmental protections, and other scientific work with a claim that the leading anti-cancer vaccine given to little girls causes retardation. Experts responded with alarm that Bachmann’s comments could discourage families from giving children the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

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A story today should prompt some discussion in how our society is changing as more and more Americans work for the government. For years, there has been a concern that we are becoming an institutionalized society with millions of Americans serving or working in prisons while millions more work for police and government agencies. Now, a report shows that one out of every 100 Americans work for the Defense Department. That is an astonishing figure. That figure balloons further when one considers the number of citizens working in the internal security, police, and intelligence systems.

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Brad Williams has filed a lawsuit against the Chicago police department after he said he was beaten by police in response to his filming an officer holding and dragging a man outside of his squad car.
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Police in Edinburg are being sued after 40 officers raided a “gentlemen’s club” called Jaguars Gold Club in search of drugs. They found none, but handcuffed the owners and employees and allegedly left with $1,500 in cash and another $8,000 worth of club “tokens.”

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The State of North Carolina is about to pay litigation costs to fight for the right to favor pro-life citizens over pro-choose citizens. The state has approved “Choose Life” license plates while steadfastly refusing to allow a pro-choose plate. Now, at a time of budget shortfalls and unemployment, the state will pay to litigate for the right to discriminate on the basis of the content of such messages.
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For those who have questioned why we are still losing lives and spending billions in Afghanistan, the latest report from the Human Rights Watch may add to your confusion. It appears that the Afghan and U.S. governments have decided to defeat infamous Islamic militia forces by handing over power to them. Militias accused of horrific abuses have been quietly moved into the police forces in a desperate attempt by both governments to stem attacks from insurgent forces.

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Most people fired have a choice word or two about their former employers. It was therefore not surprising that former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz wanted to let off some steam after she was canned. The legal question is whether it was worth $10 million to Bartz because that is how much it could cost under a standard clause in her contract. She may now have to put her money where he mouth is.
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David Drumm has already addressed the mistake made by President Barack Obama in his jobs speech to Congress when he called Abraham Lincoln “the founder” of the Republican Party. It is a common mistake, as David points out. However, I am more interested in what appears to be a bit of helpful editing by PBS. The gaffe has mysteriously disappeared like last year’s pledge drive.
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In many states, a pattern of two or three incidents can be the basis for a stalking charge. A 42-year-old woman in the Hague proved to be something of an overachieving stalker when she called her ex-boyfriend over 65,000 times in one year.
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More on the Libya Files

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Following up on a previous post titled Libyan Rebels Claim To Find Evidence That CIA Helped Capture Libyan Dissidents and Used Regime For Renditions and Torture:

Human Rights Watch (HRW), an organization that discovered hundreds of archived documents in Tripoli, said the documents provide evidence of US and UK complicity in torture crimes in Libya during the rule of Col. Muammar Gaddafi. From Human Rights Watch: “Among the files were documents confirming that both the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the United Kingdom’s MI6 sent terrorism suspects to Libya for detention – despite Libya’s notorious record for torturing prisoners.” The documents appear to show that Libyan cooperation with both the Central Intelligence Agency and Britain’s MI-6 agency under Gaddafi was closer than had been acknowledged in the past. According to the New York Times, the CIA sent terrorism suspects to Libya for interrogation at least eight times.

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

It’s nice to see our government off the “Stupid Train” for once. Swedish officials continue to require Fredrik Jansson of Skelleftea to verify that he has trouble walking after his leg was surgically amputated ten years ago. Jansson who suffered the procedure as part of his bid to fight off bone cancer, finds the regulation ridiculous.  He is mandated to see a physician to verify the loss every three years.

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Texas v. White

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

On November 9, 2011, Justice Antonin Scalia will preside over the reenactment of Texas v. White (1869). The event is part of the Frank C. Jones Reenactment Lecture hosted by the Supreme Court Historical Society.

Each side get 20 minutes to present their case and then Justice Scalia will render his opinion. These reenactments are apparently enjoyed by the Justices who participate.

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Carjacker’s Wild Ride

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Gust Blogger
Dionette L. Price may need some basic crime lessons. Seeking to carjack a vehicle driven by Rayna Garrett, Mr. Price opted to stand in the middle of busy U.S. Highway 71. When Ms. Garrett attempted to drive around the would-be felon, Price leaped onto the hood of her car, brandished a .357 semi-automatic handgun, and told her, through the glass, to “..drive or I’ll blow your head off.”  Ms. Garrett obliged the 26 year-old and took him directly to the Kansas City police station garage. Finding no one in the garage, she rammed the door and alerted the attendant. A foot chase ensued between the Kansas City police and our ersatz “Mr. Toad,” resulting in felonious restraint and weapons charges.
Source: Yahoo News
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Not quite. The Republican Party was founded in 1854 by a coalition that included anti-slavery activists. The Republican Party name was christened in an editorial written by New York newspaper magnate Horace Greeley. The first Republican National Convention was held in the Musical Fund Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 17 to June 19, 1856, where  John C. Frémont was nominated for the President of the United States and William L. Dayton was nominated for vice-president over Abraham Lincoln.

Yet President Obama, in Thursday’s speech before Congress, said: “We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. Founder of the Republican Party.”

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