Archive for July, 2012

For many, the last country to raise an allegation of drug doping would be China — a country repeatedly accused of cheating on everything from the ages of gymnasts to the doping of athletes. Drilling down a bit further, the last Chinese official to raise such an allegation would be China’s Chen Zhanghao who, according to one of China’s reporters “is arguably tainted by his own role in sports doping in the ’80s and ’90s.” Yet in the wake of questions raised by China’s Ye Shiwen’s record performance, it was Chen Zhanghao who went public with the suggestion that Michael Phelps must have been drugged up to win so many gold medals.

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The fencing competition came to a halt yesterday after South Korea fencer Shin A-Lam sat weeping on the piste for over an hour after a controversial ruling in the semi-final. As the father of a couple fencers, I was not surprised by the controversy but I was surprised by one of the reasons for the delay — a lack of cash.

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Twitter appears to be claiming more athletes than drugs or injuries this year. We recently discussed the decision to remove a Greek jumper from the Olympic team over a couple of tweets that were considered offensive. I disagreed with that decision, though many have supported it. Now, Swiss Michel Morganella has been sent home for making insulting remarks on Twitter about South Koreans after the South Korean soccer team beat the Swiss, 2-1, on Sunday.

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This happy picture is Margaux Tocci, 19, after she was arrested for allegedly arranging for her former boyfriend to come to a New Jersey schoolyard to be beaten and robbed.

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This video has caused a stir over alleged use of excessive force by a Transit police officer in New York city.

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The mystery woman who has caused such an international stir from the opening games has been found. Fingers have been pointed in every direction after a mysterious woman was shown walking with the Indian athletes in the opening ceremony of the Olympics. People demanded to know who could possibly walk to the front of a team and participate in the almost sacred progression for elite athletes. The answer is Madhura Nagendra, a graduate student from the southern city of Bangalore.

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This week’s lesson from life comes from Chicago where we are celebrating my mother’s 85th birthday and my daughter’s 7th birthday. They share the same day. I took the kids and our dog Molly to the Montrose Beach Dog Park on the Northside. It is the ultimate dog park where you can swim with your dog on a beautiful beach. It was then that the kids decided to make a sand castle . . .

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This would have seemed a good case for prosecutorial discretion. Wallace Weatherholt, 63, was operating a tour boat when he allegedly dangled a fish in the water to feed the alligators and give his passengers a good picture. The alligator took the fish . . . and his right hand. It was a stupid and illegal act if true. However, I would put the act of having one’s hand bitten off by a nine-foot alligator as sufficient punishment without the need to add a second-degree misdemeanor.

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There is an interesting case in Granbury, Texas where two middle school students created a fake Facebook page for a 12-year-old classmate. That would normally result in a serious sit down with school officials and parents for the students, aged 12 and 13. In this case, however, the two were arrested for online impersonation, a third-degree felony. The case raises another example of how we have criminalized so much of our society. The over-criminalization of our society has taken misconduct that was once a matter of private or school discipline and converted it into felonies.

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We have another fresh outrage from a Sharia verdict: a couple in Mali was stoned to death by extreme Islamic activists in Northern Mali.

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled that the Kentucky State Bar violated the rights of John M. Berry Jr. who was threatened with an ethics charge after criticizing the state Legislative Ethics Commission. In an important victory for free speech, the panel found that the bar violated the first amendment rights of the attorney.

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A study by a former skeptic of global warming — and funded in part by the Koch Brothers — has confirmed that human activity is likely causing the Earth to warm. Prof Richard Muller was once a critic of global warming but now says the evidence is clear in establishing the connection to human activity.

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The family of Bryan Lee Glenn, 30, is suing IP Casino Resort and Spa in Biloxi Mississippi in a case of over serving. Usually such cases involve dram shop crimes by a third party being injured or killed by a drunk driver. In this case, the family alleges that the casino kept serving Glenn until he returned to his hotel room and collapsed and died.

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by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

“Words have a magical power. They can bring either the greatest happiness or deepest despair; they can transfer knowledge from teacher to student; words enable the orator to sway his audience and dictate its decisions. Words are capable of arousing the strongest emotions and prompting all men’s actions.” – Sigmund Freud

“One man’s ‘magic’ is another man’s engineering. ‘Supernatural’ is a null word.” – Robert A. Heinlein

Words are magic . . . or so it seems. Words can make people change their minds. Words can make others take actions even against their own best interests. Words can shape the world, determine the fate of nations and people, create and destroy. However, as Robert Heinlein noted, one man’s magic is another man’s engineering and in the modern world, propaganda is the most engineered form of communication possible.

Magica verba est scientia et ars es.

The magic of words is science and art.

The science is in the methodology and psychology of execution. The art is in making the message appealing. This is the essence of rhetoric. How is this so?  Let us first consider the methodologies of propaganda as a form of rhetoric before we look at the psychology behind these tactics. Although the psychology applies to both negative (black), positive (white) and value neutral (grey) uses of propaganda, in the context of this portion of the discussion, the word “propaganda” should be viewed with its maximum possible negative value load, i.e. the kind of bad propaganda designed to get you to act against your best interests or to harm others. Why? Because many of these tactics favored  modern political polemicists are rooted in logical fallacies and outright lies. Knowing “snakes” as a category isn’t as useful as knowing “pit vipers” as a sub-category when the survival of the species can be at stake so we’ll consider the dangerous kinds of propaganda first. Why? Because if you treat all snakes like they are dangerous, then you are less likely to get bitten.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw) Guest Blogger

I have discussed the Second Amendment and the difficulties I have in allowing citizens to own semi-automatic weapons and large capacity clips of ammunition in the past, but Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in a recent Fox News interview, just took my concern over semi-automatic weapons and shot it down.. with a shoulder firing rocket!  (more…)

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