Archive for September, 2012

Portents of the New Feudalism

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

Since I haven’t lived in New York for years my knowledge of the politics of the surrounding States, including New Jersey has decreased. I heard about Chris Christie becoming Governor of New Jersey, usually a liberal-minded State despite what you see on TV reality shows, but I didn’t know too much about him, though from the media’s favorable response, I thought him a moderate. The events leading up to the Republican Convention and indeed his keynote speech tended to disabuse me of that notion. So I started to pay attention to him and found that he was your typical Republican elitist, though with a “Joisey” accent and the mannerisms of a thug. As I was surfing around my bookmarks today I came across this article at The Nation of Change:  http://www.nationofchange.org by Terrence Heath of the Campaign for Americas Future. www.ourfuture.org/I think the article stands on its own as an indictment of how many Republicans wish to turn this country into a modern version of Feudalism, a concern of mine that I’ve written about many times. Let me then present the article for your inspection and elicit any comments you might wish to share:

http://www.nationofchange.org/house-gop-taxes-wealthy-are-charity-1349010885

 

 

 

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger

It seems that trouble is brewing again in the State of Florida since election officials have discovered suspicious voter registration forms in at least 10 Florida counties.  “Florida elections officials said Friday that at least 10 counties have identified suspicious and possibly fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by a firm working for the Republican Party of Florida, which has filed an election fraud complaint with the state Division of Elections against its one-time consultant.”  LA Times  (more…)

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Romney’s Catholic Problem

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Just this past summer, American Roman Catholic bishops were decrying the Obama Administration for forcing its ancillary institutions like colleges and hospitals to pay for reproductive health services for its women employees. Lawsuits were filed, press releases were released, and commentators were assembled on cable news to express the outrage. The holy fathers even channeled Rev. Martin Luther King (never a favorite of the Catholic hierarchy – how could he be with that name?) calling for civil disobedience to contest the mandates of the new law. Letters were written to the flock (with approved language, of course) from the bishops bellowing, ““We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law.” The bishops even marketed a catchy name for their protest:  the flag waiving, patriotic sounding,  Fortnight for Freedom. (Yes, His truth was marching on in full display!)

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This Week In Blasphemy

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, while commenting on the infamous anti-Islam film, said “When some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected in such a way.”

Note that Ki-moon goes beyond just religious values and beliefs and includes all values and beliefs. That view is nonsense.

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Targeted Hype

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

We are so kind to ourselves. John O. Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, repeats the Obama narrative that touts the “surgical” precision and minimization of collateral damage of “targeted killing” using drones. Minimal collateral damage would be zero, however, a study by NYU School of Law and Stanford Law School puts the number of civilians killed between 474 and 881, including 176 children.

The study calls Obama’s narrative “false.”

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By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

The trauma many kids face in high school from cruel teenage high-jinx is an underrated psychological pain. Self-described “outcast” Whitney Kropp is a survivor, though. Kropp, who attends Ogemaw Heights High School, thought she had finally gained some social acceptance when she was unexpectedly elected  as sophomore representative to the homecoming court. Sadly, her classmates in rural Michigan had played a cruel joke on her as they made it clear they sought only to  embarrass the 16-year-old with the sham honor. Whitney spent the night in tears and even seriously considered suicide.”I’m like, ‘Wow, I feel like trash,’” Kropp said. “I feel like I’m a little thing that no one really cares about.”

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

I’m a fan of professional football and I’ve followed it for almost 60 years. Many of those who come to this site, especially our Proprietor, are football fans as well. The game is exciting to watch lending itself perfectly to television viewing, as compared to the other professional sports. However, this is not a post about the sport, the players, its violence or its merits. This is a critical look with the overarching corporate structure of the National Football League. The NFL has become the most lucrative sports business organization in the United States, receiving approximately $8 or $9 Billion a year from TV networks and its revenue from all other sources, including licensing, radio and satellite TV. On average each of the NFL’s 32 teams earns an average of $175 million per year which includes ticket sales. Under the collective bargaining agreement, won after a threatened “player lockout” in 2011, each team has what is known as a “hard salary cap”, which means that the total each team pays to its players is capped at a fixed amount which cannot be exceeded. Currently the cap per each team is about $130 Million per year. Therefore the average NFL team probably makes a profit of at least $30 Million per year after other expenses. Given the state of business, any corporation of medium size that would receive a guaranteed net profit of $30 Million yearly must be considered very fortunate.

The NFL has a rule barring corporations from team ownership:

“Ownership groups must contain twenty-four or fewer individuals, and at least one partner must hold a thirty percent or greater share of the team. The Green Bay Packers are an exemption to the current policy, since they have been a publicly owned stock corporation since before the rule was in place.”

At first glance this may seem a salutary policy, but in operation the League’s ownership consists mainly of billionaires, who are either football fans, publicity seekers and/or both. In fairness I must admit that some of the current owners are descendants of their teams’ founders, such as the Rooney’s in Pittsburgh, the Mara’s in New York and the Halas family owners of Professor Turley’s beloved Bears. Mainly the teams are run by people who made their money in other professions and decided that a football team would make a great hobby. The problem is that the “hobbyists” have and are exhibiting the type of business philosophy that seems to have taken hold in America, which is a ruthless model, in which their employees and even their customers, the fans, are merely pawns to be run over roughshod as they satisfy their egos and their greed. After the break I’ll explain my thinking on this and show why I see the NFL as a metaphor of what’s wrong with our country. (more…)

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One of the things that we teach law students is how to address a jury in understandable terms without talking down to them. It is sometimes a delicate balance in dealing with complex questions or fact patterns. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed how not to strike that balance when he took the entire United Nation’s General Assembly through a “this is a bomb, this is a fuse” demonstration that instantly became a mockery around the world. That was a real missed opportunity when following Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who never fails to offer a clownish, absurd performance. It is one of those debates that you win by showing up and just stating your case . . . until you pull out cutout from the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show.

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The filmmaker of “Innocence of Muslims,” the anti-Mohammad video that sparked the recent protests and deaths around the world, has been arrested by federal authorities for allegedly violating the condition for his probation on a 2010 conviction for bank fraud — violations that could land him in jail for three years. Given the calls for his arrest and even execution by Muslim allies, the arrest raises obvious concerns that the Administration is again defending free speech while quietly moving to punish those who cause religious strife.

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Last night I had the honor of speaking at the celebration of the Magna Carta at the National Archives in Washington. The event is part of the new campaign by the Trust for the National Mall. The dinner was held in the Rotunda Gallery with the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, and one of the copies of the Magna Carta. Introducing me was the man who owns that Magna Carta, David Rubenstein. That’s right, he owns the 1297 version of Magna Carta.

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Maria Pestrikoff has given the world another danger associated with texting. Pestrikoff was texting while walking toward a cliff to toss away a cigarette. While still texting, she slipped on the grass and went over the 60-foot cliff — causing a difficult rescue in Kodiak, Alaska.

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Audrey Deen Miller has proffered a unique defense to charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon: she shot her husband to protect her cat. The police report that Miller’s husband threatened to shoot one of her cats with a pellet gun. She did him one better and shot him in the abdomen with a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun.

Source: KHOU

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Fliz or Flop?

It looks like the bicycle out of the Flintstones but two German designers believe “the Fliz” is the future of biking. I have my doubts.

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The same week that a Cook County prosecutor is being justifiably heralded as a hero for intervening to protect a gay couple, another prosecutor from the same office is under arrest for biting a man outside of an adult shop. Sarah Naughton, 31, has been put on leave so that she is not prosecuting people while awaiting for her own trial or plea for misdemeanor battery and trespassing. She is accused of biting a man on the leg — bringing a new literal meaning to being dogged by a prosecutor.

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The video below has attracted considerable interest in the latest confrontation over an anti-Muslim ad campaign in the New York subway system. Many people have objected to the campaign by the American Freedom Defense Initiative which has put up signs reading “In any war between civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” However, columnist Mona Eltahawy who appears regularly on CNN and MSNBC took that opposition to a new level in this confrontation with a woman who tried to stop her from spray painting over one of the signs — an act that led to Eltahawy’s arrest. The incident involved a sharp difference of opinion on what constitutes protected freedom of speech.

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Many critics have argued that there is a concerted effort to push the United States into a war with Iran by supporters of Israel. Patrick Clawson, director of research for the highly influential pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) think tank, seemed intent to prove those rumors true this week in comments as a luncheon on “How to Build US-Israeli Coordination on Preventing an Iranian Nuclear Breakout.” Clawson casually discusses how to create a false flag operation to push the U.S. into war to overcome any reluctance by the public. We have been discussing how many leaders like Senator Joe Lieberman had begun to use the same rhetoric that led to the last two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how the suggest timing of an attack has been tied to the presidential election.

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The aging American disco ban Generation Esmeralda experienced a bizarre tragedy in Rio this week. Drummer Brad Parker, 59, collapsed on stage and the band continued to play without coming to his aid. It is not clear whether assistance might have saved Parker who had suffered a heart attack mid show.

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Air Beagle

A puppy’s first realization of his aerodynamic potential.

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Edgar Diaz, 21, may have picked the wrong Good Samaritan to beat up after attacking a gay couple. Diaz attacked a man who came to the assistance of a gay couple being allegedly assaulted by Diaz and his friends. Diaz is accused of beating and stabbing the man who turned out to be a brave young prosecutor on his way to fish in Lake Michigan. Diaz not surprisingly is a reputed gang member and he is being held on $750,000 bond

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We often follow milestone on the blog such as our recently passing the 13,000,000 view mark. Today we have another such moment to mark. The “Hunger Games” blog below is our 10,000th blog! We also hit today our 300,000th comment!

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Dr Andrew Chung, a cardiologist, is under considerable public scrutiny after the arrest of a friend, Ebony Berry, 38, and the death of her daughter, Markea Blakely-Berry. The 16-year-old weighed only 40 pounds and the police discovered that Blakely-Berry was a follower of Chung hunger diet where he advocates the value of staying “wonderfully hungry” by eating no more than two pounds of food a day. Below is a video of his advocacy of the program, which appears as medically sound as hitting your head with a hammer because it feels so good to stop.

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University of Tennessee student Alexander Broughton, 20, was hospitalized after he used one of the free alcoholic enemas passed out by the Phi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He was dropped off in an unresponsive state at a hospital due to alcohol poisoning. The case could present a rather unique tort action and, in the meantime, the entire fraternity has been wisely suspended over the incident.

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Pfc. Patrick Edward Myers, 27, was charged this week with manslaughter after he came up with a unique way to ridding his friend, Pfc. Isaac Lawrence Young, 22, of hiccups. He pulled a gun and shot Young in the face.

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Pendulum Waves

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Calling a case “exceptional,” a panel of judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Harold C. Hall can sue the Los Angeles Police Department after serving 19 years for murders that he did not commit and allegedly confessed to under coercion by the police. The panel began its presentation with the understatement of a lifetime: “Some might call Hall an unlucky fellow.”

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As many of you know, I was raised to root for two teams: the Chicago Bears and anyone playing against the Packers. However, I watched the Packers-Sea Hawks game last night and even I had nothing but sympathy for the Packers. It is clear that the final Hail Mary pass was intercepted by Packers safety M.D. Jennings and Seahawks receiver Golden Tate only belated got one hand on the ball. Yet one replacement ref called it a touchdown and the game was given wrongly to the Seahawks. We clearly need a team of high-trained lawyers on the field led by an endomorphic law professor from our nation’s capital.

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This week a jury cleared postal service driver Ian Clement in the death of the sister-in-law of Professor Alan Dershowitz. The defense accused Dershowitz of exerting pressure on the prosecutors to bring the case while Dershowitz’s brother implied that the prosecution did a poor job in the case leading to the acquittal.

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I have repeatedly taken to this blog to complain about wi-fi charges and other added fees placed on travelers today by hotels, airlines, and other companies (here and here and here). Now the New York Times has run an excellent Sunday article written by Stephanie Rosenbloom. Rosenbloom, who has a wry sense of humor, interviewed me for the article and details how passengers are fleeced while traveling today.

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Horizon Air Flight Attendant Wendy Ronelle Dye has been arrested for allegedly stealing the iPad of a passenger. The arrest came after the owner used an App called “Find My iPad” to locate it in her home.

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Scientists have determined that men can extend their lives but I expect there will be few takers. By studying the genealogy records of Imperial Court of the Korean Chosum Dynasty, the researchers at Korean University found that eunuchs had significantly longer lives than their contemporaries. The difference would suggest that it is male sex hormones that shorten the life expectancy for males.

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Yesterday, I watched with millions of fans for some great games in the NFL even with the questionable ref calls. I was not able to watch the Bears win unfortunately but I was able to bask in the glory from afar. The Patriots/Ravens games was exceedingly rough with both teams doing everything short of beating each other with folding chairs. However, the shocker came in the Texans/Broncos game where Houston quarterback Matt Schaub lost a bit of his ear to a late hit from Broncos defender Joe Mays. The video below raises a long-standing question of what constitutes a foul and what constitutes a tort in professional football.

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For many years, I have been writing about the threat of an international blasphemy standard and the continuing rollback on free speech in the West. Much of this writing has focused on the effort of the Obama Administration to reach an accommodation with allies like Egypt to develop a standard for criminalizing anti-religious speech.  We have been following the rise of anti-blasphemy laws around the world, including the increase in prosecutions in the West and the support of the Obama Administration for the prosecution of some anti-religious speech under the controversial Brandenburg standard.  Now that effort has come to a head with the new President of Egypt President Mohamed Mursi calling for enactment of an anti-blasphemy law at the United Nations. Mursi is also demanding legal action against the filmmaker by the United States despite the fact that the film is clearly protected by the first amendment.

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Railway Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour has put a $100,000 bounty on the head of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man who made the anti-Islamic film “The Innocence of Muslims.” The offer to pay anyone who kills the filmmaker is reminscent of the Fatwa placed on the head of Salman Rushdie for his book, The Satanic Verses. However, this is not just a government official but an official in the government of a U.S. ally calling for the murder of a U.S. citizen. Yet, Bilour insisted “I am a Muslim first, then a government representative.”

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Officer Matt Marin shot and killed Brian Claunch, a one-armed, one-legged man in a wheelchair who turned out to only have a pen in his hand. Nevertheless, Police Department spokeswoman Jodi Silva insisted that “fearing for his partner’s safety and his own safety, [Marin] discharged his weapon.”

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Romney The Red-State Reindeer?

In Texas, it appears even the deer are rock-solid Republicans. A Texas couple were upset with the repeatedly damaging of their Obama sign until they captured the culprit — a red-state deer. The good news is that it cleared Tennessee Republican Leader Gerald McCormick from any suspicion.
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Fire Devil

The YouTube clip below shows a rare “fire devil” in Australia. The 100-foot phenomenon was captured by filmmaker Chris Tangey near Alice Springs, Australia.

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Respectfully Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

In light of the ever-increasing influence on National and local politics by churches and clergy, I was interested in the recent news that over 1,000 churches will be challenging the IRS by telling their parishioners who they want them to vote for in the upcoming national elections.  The event is dubbed “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” by its organizers and it is designed to challenge the IRS on its prohibition of churches from intertwining politics and religion, as a requirement of maintaining their tax-free status. (more…)

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

The film “Innocence of Muslims” and the violence in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen, are at the heart of a debate as to whether the film falls within the category of “freedom of speech.” In an Op-ed in the LA Times, Sarah Chayes writes that it’s not “free speech protected under the U.S. Constitution.” In USA Today, Anthea Butler calls for the arrest of the filmmaker and writes that the film denigrates religion and “is not about expressing a personal opinion about Islam.”

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Two-Headed Pelican?

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

The Daily Mail has published an amazing photograph (click to enlarge) of a two-headed pelican. You don’t see those every day. The Daily Mail even cites the Massachusetts Audubon Society that “animals with abnormalities like that usually do not live very long in the wild.”

What’s even more amazing is, not only does the pelican have two heads, it has four wings.

H/T: Jerry Coyne.

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13,000,000

Thirty minutes ago, our blog passed the 13,000,000 view mark. The fact that we passed 12 million recently shows how fast the blog continues to grow. Congratulations everyone.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

In the rural Iranian town of Shahmirzad, Muslim cleric Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti encountered two girls on his way to the local mosque for noon prayers. The cleric confronted the two girls and admonished one of them to cover herself more completely. “She responded by telling me to cover my eyes, which was very insulting to me,” Beheshti said.

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Arnold Ziffel To The Rescue

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

 

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Find The Kitteh Contest

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Click to enlarge.

Solution below the fold.

Good luck.

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By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Three wounded patrons of the now infamous midnight showing of the latest Batman flick, The Dark Knight Rises, have filed suit against owners of the Aurora 16 movie theater. The negligence suit claims, that despite knowing about the large crowds sure to attend the blockbuster movie premier, movie-house proprietors failed to provide security personnel or door alarm systems that could have prevented the shooter, James Holmes, from unleashing his mayhem.

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I am still in Utah for a speech and I have spoken to many people here about the current presidential campaign. Many locals here have expressed dismay over the missteps of the Romney campaign. However, David Twede, 47, a scientist and managing editor of the online magazine MormonThink.com, says that his criticism of Mitt Romney has led to his being called to account — and possible excommunication — from the Church of Latter Day Saints. The fifth-generation Mormon says that Church elders demanded names of other Mormons with which he was working on the site. He says he was told “Cease and desist, Brother Twede.” The controversy has now been reported on the Washington Post, Huffington Post and a number of other sites – though primarily as a political story. From a legal standpoint, the case raises a classic conflict between free speech and free exercise that we have discussed in other areas.

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Wayne Watson, 59, has won a major damage award in a “popcorn lung” case where a jury gave awarded $7.2 million for being injured by inhaling fumes from microwave popcorn on a daily basis. We previously discussed this new theory of causation and harm. In this case, manufacturer Gilster-Mary Lee as well as King Soopers supermarket chain and its parent, Kroger Co., were held accountable for the harm suffered by Watson who ate microwave popcorn every day.
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There is an interesting case out of Michigan concerning medical marijuana — and the basic requirements of drafting a medical marijuana law. We previously discussed the case of Joseph Casias. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled (in the opinion below) that Wal-Mart was allowed to allegedly fire an employee for using medical marijuana. That would seem a curious ruling given state law protecting people in the use of medical marijuana. However, the court found that the drafting of a key line left workers without protection for termination.

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Cindy Lee Garcia, the actress in the anti-Muslim film “Innocence of Muslims,’ has failed in her attempt to get Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin to order YouTube to remove the film. Garcia insists that she was not told of the real nature of the film and said that she has lived in fear since the protests erupted over the trailer of the film.

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Dog Versus Lemon

After thousands of years of evolution, lemons can still be a dog’s greatest challenge.

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In the last decade, the United States has increasingly become a symbol of hypocrisy as a nation that has violated many international principles that it helped create after 9-11.  That record was reinforced this week after the Afghan government (not exactly the paragon of civil liberties) refused to adopt indefinite detention rules pushed by the Obama Administration. Of course, President Obama has continued the indefinite detention of the Bush Administration and the operation of the Guantanamo Bay facility over the objections of civil libertarians. We recently saw the death of a detainee who was found years ago not to be a national security risk and never proven to be guilty of a single crime. Yet, in its effort to create a “new Democracy” in the Afghanistan, the Obama Administration was insisting that it replicate our own indefinite detention rules. In the meantime, a federal court has stayed a prior court order that enjoined the provision on indefinite detention under the Obama Administration’s 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

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