Archive for October, 2012

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Happy Halloween to all of the ghostly regulars of the Turley Blog! Despite the theory that Halloween is just a cry for help from my rotting soul, I love this holiday and the house is covered with our annual display of skeletons, webs, and spooky items.
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Judge Perry Anderson of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles has issued a notable injunction in Simi Valley to prevent the city from enforcing a law requiring convicted sex offenders from having to post signs to warn away trick-or-treaters.
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Here is our annual list of Halloween torts and crimes. This holiday remains a favorite for personal injury lawyers around the world and this year’s additions show why. Of course, with Sandy, our area is already looking pretty spooky with downed trees and tattered exteriors.

So, with no further ado, here is this year’s annual Spooky Torts list of actual cases from Halloween (with our past winners).

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Having finally made it home and reunited with my children after being stranded in New Orleans, it was a shock to learn that Sandy was not a natural disaster but, according to various Syrians, a vehicle of Islamic justice sent by their special forces with the help of the Iranians. Getting stuck in the blizzard in the mountains with Leslie in our rented jeep, I should have seen the hand of the Bashar al-Assad given the wanton destruction caused by the storm. Yet, somehow I like this better than Hurricane Katrina being sent by God to punish us for homosexuality or earthquakes sent to punish “pacts with the Devil,” according to Pat Robertson.

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Noam Chomsky, considered one of the world’s leading intellectuals, makes a surprising appearance in this MIT takeoff of the popular Gangnam Style video. Chomsky is an Institute Professor and Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT.

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In Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Vincent T. Anderson, 19, from Little Rock, Arkansas, and Marcus E. Jones, 27, of Cotton Plant, Arkansas, have been charged with first stealing a car and then hitting pedestrians in what they described as a game akin to “Grand Theft Auto.”

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In Oregon, Washington County Circuit Judge D. Charles Bailey has ruled rejecting a bid from a dog rescue organization to take custody of an obese dachshund named Obie weighting 77 pounds. Oregon Dachshund Rescue Inc. wanted to take Obie away from foster owner Nora Vanatta, a former veterinary technician. A Washington couple gave up Obie when they could not control his eating which seems a bit strange since Obie cannot buy food or set it out himself.

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The corruption in China is legendary as communist officials acquire huge homes and wealth in assisting businesses take land and create industries. The Chinese government regularly responds to such corruption stories with executions but they are viewed as little more than a lethal form of public relations. Now, however, the family of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has retained lawyers after a New York Times report that the family has amassed a massive amount of wealth in accounts spread around the world. It is an ironic moment given the government’s continued refusal to allow ordinary Chinese to have real legal recourse to contest their treatment, including the lost of land. The Times article details Wen’s relatives have alleged amassed assets worth at least $2.7bn (£1.7bn) around the world.

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It appears that Bill Gates is a virtual proletariat businessman in compared to some. A website called Celebrity Net Worth calculated the wealth of well-known historical and contemporary rich guys and found that 14th century African king Mansa Musa I was the richest person in history.

Mansa Musa I had an estimated $400 billion fortune. In comparison, Gates weighs in with $136 billion. Fourteen of 25 are Americans. Here is the list of the adjusted incomes:

1. Mansa Musa I – $400 billion
2. The Rothschild family – $350 billion
3. John D. Rockefeller – $340 billion
4. Andrew Carnegie – $310 billion
5. Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov – $300 billion
6. Mir Osman Ali Khan – $230 billion
7. William The Conqueror – $229.5 billion
8. Muammar Qaddafi – $200 billion
9. Henry Ford – $199 billion
10. Cornelius Vanderbilt – $185 billion

Musa I lived between 1280 to c. 1337. He was the tenth Mansa or “King of Kings” over territory formerly belonging to the Ghana and Melle (Mali) empires.

Mansa Musa controls key shipping routes and showed great ambition. Arab-Egyptian scholar Al-Umari quotes him as saying:

The ruler who preceded me did not believe that it was impossible to reach the extremity of the ocean that encircles the earth (meaning the Atlantic). He wanted to reach that (end) and was determined to pursue his plan. So he equipped two hundred boats full of men, and many others full of gold, water and provisions sufficient for several years. He ordered the captain not to return until they had reached the other end of the ocean, or until he had exhausted the provisions and water. So they set out on their journey. They were absent for a long period, and, at last just one boat returned. When questioned the captain replied: ‘O Prince, we navigated for a long period, until we saw in the midst of the ocean a great river which flowing massively. My boat was the last one; others were ahead of me, and they were drowned in the great whirlpool and never came out again. I sailed back to escape this current.’ But the Sultan would not believe him. He ordered two thousand boats to be equipped for him and his men, and one thousand more for water and provisions. Then he conferred the regency on me for the term of his absence, and departed with his men, never to return nor to give a sign of life.
—Mansa Musa

The Romney campaign has immediately issued a press release that Mansa Musa “did build that.” However, the Obama campaign has stressed that his tax rate was still lower than the planned increase for top earners in the U.S.

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Still Virginia Bound

Leslie and I are still fighting to get back to the kids after being stranded in New Orleans after all flights were cancelled. We are safe but had a wild night trying to find a way home.

Despite the fact that the weather was mild on Sunday and Monday morning in Washington, US Airways cancelled our flights. It was very frustrating to speak to friends in Washington and hear how the weather was fine. The cancellations appeared to be decisions based on the location of equipment, but thousands of passengers could have made it home. The main problem however at US Airways was the virtual collapse of any customer assistance that continued to Monday. We had to wait literally hours on the telephone to get through and then had to wait over an hour on hold to reach anyone. US Airways then told us that we would have to buy a separate ticket to go to closer airports like Charlotte (it didn’t matter since those were cancelled as well.) I remain furious with US Airways which (despite plenty of forewarning) did not appear to set up sufficient personnel or resources to assist passengers. We literally spent 24 hours from Sunday to Monday trying to reach someone at the airline, which has a message that repeatedly cut off calls and told them to call back.

With four kids with our sitter in Virginia, we could not wait any longer so I rented a four-wheel drive jeep and set out Sunday morning from New Orleans. We made it 700 miles when we were hit last night with a blinding blizzard storm in the mountains of Virginia. Visibility dropped quickly to virtually zero and we barely got off the highway. We found a motel in a tiny town called Marion, Virginia and bunkered down.

We are going to set out again shortly to try to get to the kids. A lot of roads are cut off with debris and winds remain high in McLean at 37 miles per hour. However, there are signs of it winding down. The kids are fine and still remarkably have electricity. We are prepared however. In Alabama, we bought boxes of water and Moon Pies (which we can’t get around us in McLean). If anything goes wrong, we can survive on Moon Pies for days in the mountains!

I hope all of our regulars on the East Coast are safe and sound today.

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Virginia Bound

Leslie and I are still stuck in New Orleans. As I noted yesterday, we have been stranded by US Airways which cancelled flights to Washington yesterday despite the relatively mild weather in the city. It appears that the airline simply did not want aircraft in Washington when the storm hit. My complaint has not been that decision but the lack of consumer support after trying for hours to reach anyone at the airline. We have little choice but to try to drive back to Virginia since we have four kids who are being watched over by our sitter (I also have classes to teach on Tuesday and Wednesday). We intend to be highly cautious and stop if it gets to dicey. However, we cannot leave the kids any longer in this storm.

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Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has long proven a lightning rod on the Court, particularly his consistent and controversial habit of making highly charged public comments. I have previously criticized him and other justices for the increasing public speeches, often to highly partisan groups, that undermine the legitimacy of the Court. This week Scalia raised eyebrows in his advice to law students not to take “Law and Women” or “Law and Poverty” courses which he says amount to little more than professors teaching their “hobbies.”

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There was an interesting mistrial announced this month in a discrimination case against the University of Iowa law school. Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on a 14th amendment claim by the part-time legal writing professor who claims that she was passed over for a full-time position and then lost her adjunct position due to hiring bias against conservatives. Teresa Wagner (left) worked for pro-life causes and says that law professor Randall Bezanson (right), a former law clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun, campaigned against her hiring (Blackmun wrote the Roe v. Wade decision). She further noted that only one faculty member at Iowa is a registered Republican.

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We have had some bizarre religious injuries this week among both the Christian and Muslim faithful. In Newburgh, New York, David Jimenez was grateful to God for curing his wife of cancer, particularly he believed due to his devotion of a large crucifix outside the Church of St. Patrick in Newburgh. So he received permission to paint the crucifix to show his thanks, but it proceeded to fall and crush his leg in a rather mixed message. In the meantime, Muslims have reported a spate of injuries and deaths from people being trampled by animals during annual sacrifice Islamic rituals this week.

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Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz this weekend added his voice to the call of Muslim leaders for an international blasphemy standard that criminalizes anti-religious speech.   The monarch demanded the law in light of recent insults to Mohammad: “It is our duty and that of every Muslim to protect Islam and defend the prophets.”  Of course, Saudi Arabia does not even allow the building of churches in its country and routinely metes out draconian sentences for those who attempt to convert followers to other religions or commit apostasy.

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Mike Appleton, Guest Blogger

Barbara Pariente graduated with highest honors from Boston University, finished fifth in her law school class at George Washington University and served on Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal for almost fifteen years prior to her appointment to the Florida Supreme Court.  Peggy Quince earned a zoology degree from Howard University, a law degree from the Catholic University of America and was a judge on the Second District Court of Appeal for five years, the first African-American woman ever appointed to an appellate court in Florida.  She has been a Florida Supreme Court Justice since 1998.  R. Fred Lewis is an honors graduate of Florida Southern College and was named outstanding senior in his class for his academic, athletic and service accomplishments.  He received his law degree, also with honors, from the University of Miami and served as a law review editor.  He joined the Florida Supreme Court in 1999.

These three jurists, with over thirty years of combined experience on Florida’s highest court, have received numerous awards for their commitment to the law, to their profession and to their communities.  All have received favorability ratings of 90% from members of the Florida Bar.  And all have been targeted for removal in next month’s merit retention election. (more…)

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger

I guess I should not be surprised that the State of Mississippi is once again in the news because the Federal Government has filed a Civil Rights lawsuit against it.  The Department of Justice has filed a suit against the State of Mississippi, and the City of Meridian, along with the county and various state agencies, alleging that the defendants have worked to operate a “school to prison” system that allegedly violated the rights of African-American students and students with disabilities.  (more…)

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Once again, U.S. airlines remain the most common source for outrageous acts and policies that populate this category on the blog — reserved for the irritations and insults of daily life. Today’s subject is USAIR. I am in New Orleans for a speech trying to get home. Travelers to the Northeast have been instructed to call USAIR on their flights in light of Hurricane Sandy. However, I have literally tried for ten hours to try to reach a live USAIR representative. Instead, you are forced to go through various steps before the line is cut off with a message that you should call back later. It may be the worst level of customer support I have ever witnessed by a major airline.

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

This blog post is the result of our well known regular contributor Blouise sending me a link, sent to her by one of our other long time contributors GBK. I thank them for not only the vital information they shared with me, but also for the inspiration it gave me. When people ask me what kind of blog to I write for, I explain to them that it is the creation of the well-known Constitutional Law Professor and Civil Rights Advocate Jonathan Turley. The common thread that links most of us here is our support for Jonathan’s work and our belief in upholding the Constitution. The topic raises is vital to all of those purposes.

On May 4th, 1970 I was twenty-six years old. I worked for NYC’s Department of Social Services (welfare) as a caseworker in Brooklyn. Was active in the Peace Movement and had in the last year lost in my bid for the Presidency of the radical welfare caseworkers union. Long haired, full bearded and habitually wearing shirts open to almost my waist, with tight-fitting bell bottom jeans. I was a happy and carefree imbiber of psychedelics and had a great social life. I had failed my Draft physical four years prior due to high blood pressure, which would later turn into severe heart trouble requiring me to have a transplant, but back then I was just grateful that I didn’t have to make the choice between my ideals and the Selective Service Law. So many young men whose lives were drastically changed for the worse by being drafted into that conflict, were less lucky than I because they were my contemporaries, I felt I needed to help bring them home.

Even with the 60’s decade of assassinations, Civil Rights protests ending in violence, Nixon’s election and the Viet Nam escalation, I was still hopeful that my generation would really change things for the better in this country and that the future would bring great changes in economic freedom and social justice. So hopeful was I, that I was attending my first year of Law School at night and envisioned myself becoming a Legal Aid attorney in the future. Then I heard the news about Kent State, the murder of four students and shooting of nine during what was a relatively peaceful protest. Suddenly, this brought home to me the reality of what we were facing in our country. My optimism for change died that day, but not my commitment to fight for it.

As the news proliferated the story just didn’t add up. Supposedly the young National Guardsmen heard sniper shots and in a panic returned fire. That the students shot were at a distance of at least three hundred feet and the ammunition was armor-piercing rounds. It was claimed that there was no order to fire given and that the young National Guardsmen thought they were firing in self defense. As it turned out these were lies and propaganda foisted to cover the fact that those in power in the administration and their follower, the Republican Governor of Ohio, wanted to send a message to those opposing the War, that we were in mortal danger if we dared to try to thwart their murderous rampage in South East Asia. (more…)

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Rewarding The Rapists

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Richard Mourdock, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Indiana, made the following statement during a debate: “but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” Mourdock later explained that he doesn’t believe that God “pre-ordains” rape.

Mourdock’s view of God attempts to deal with the conflicting concepts of the goodness of pregnancy and the evil of rape. His view is incoherent.

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Lesley Gore’s PSA

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

You Don’t Own Me was written by John Madara and Dave White, and produced by Quincy Jones.

H/T: Juan Cole.

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By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

High school tailback, Michael Ferns, had just cleared the Edison High secondary and was sprinting unmolested to his 12th touchdown of the season. His undefeated St. Clairsville (Ohio) team was putting the final touches on a significant win over its rival and the senior footballer was trying to impress the University of Michigan scouts who were already considering offering him a full football scholarship. As he crossed over the opponent’s five yard line, Ferns did a curious thing. He slowed down and made a right turn out-of-bounds at the one.

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TOP 100 IRISH LAWYERS

On Thursday night, I was honored to received an award as one of this year’s Top 100 Irish Lawyers in the World at the home of the Irish Ambassador, Michael Collins and his wife Marie. I have previously been honored by this selection but this year was particularly gratifying because one of my co-honorees was my former student Katie Harrington-McBride who recently began her work as counsel to Disney Corporation. I am enormously proud of Katie’s success and that of her husband (and another former GW student) John McBride.

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There is a truly bizarre case out of California this week in which A 90-year-old California man Jay Leone was shot during an alleged burglary by a methamphetamine addict. The addict, Samuel Cutrufelli, 31, has now sued Leone for negligence. It is the type of case often referenced by legislators in support of Castle Doctrine or Make My Day laws — laws that I have long opposed. Indeed, this case is an example of why such laws are not needed. The case appears meritless and will likely face dismissal by the court.

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On this blog, we have often discussed the basis for prostitution from rivaling feminist and libertarian perspectives. Critics have long argued that the definition and prohibition of prostitution is inherently flawed and conflicted. Others argue that it is a denial of the rights of consenting adults under a state enforced morality standard. Brazilian student, Catarina Migliorini, 20, has rekindled this debate after selling her virginity online to a Japanese man named Natsu for $772,000.

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We have another bizarre case of a person who faked a hate crime. We previously followed the case of a lesbian in Nebraska charged with faking a gruesome anti-homosexual attack in her home. Now, police have concluded that a black woman in Louisiana who was the subject of vigil and national outcry is not a victim after all. Sharmeka Moffitt, 20, claimed that three white men doused her with a flammable liquid and lit her on fire while writing KKK and a racial slur on her car. Police say that Moffitt did these acts to herself.

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While we continue to struggle with questions of the most humane methods of execution, North Korea (the second happiest place on Earth) has implemented a new approach: death by mortar. Kim Chol, vice minister of the army, was executed by mortar for partying during the official mourning period following the death of the “Dear One,” Kim Jong-il.

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This picture is reportedly what passes for classroom instruction in China. A kindergarten teacher in China gave a female student the experience of being lifted by the ears. Not only does the teacher appear to be enjoying the experience, but she later posted the photo to Weibo, the Chinese analogue of Twitter.
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We previously discussed the case of Wayne County Circuit Judge Wade H. McCree who sent a shirtless photograph of himself to a Sheriff’s Office employee. McCree is now famous for proclaiming that “I’ve got no shame in my game.” Perhaps, but the Michigan Supreme Court found some shame for the court system and accepted a recommendation from the Judicial Tenure Commission and publicly censured Judge Wade H. McCree.

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Below is a powerful response from a man with Down’s Syndrome to Ann Coulter who recently called President Barack Obama a “retard.” He is Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens. He is also the antidote to today’s hateful political discourse.

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The world has watched as Russian President Vladimir Putin destroys the fledgling democracy movement in Russia and reinstates authoritarian government to that nation. While actively (and admittedly) crafting a cult of personality around manufactured Superhuman exploits, Putin has striven to reinstate the oppressive laws from the Soviet era. In the face of continuing protests, Putin appears intent to show that he can and will do anything he wants with critics. This month his underlings arrested the best known protest organizer Sergei Udaltsov while his government has shutdown international human rights organizations and NGOs. At the same time, his government has passed a new law in the lower house of the Duma to radically expand the definition of treason in Russia. Udaltsov led the largest protests against Putin as part of a campaign of “Russia Without Putin.”

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Chief Judge Alex Kozinski has apparently come up with a new form of opinion: “disagreement with everyone.”

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We have another “Castle doctrine” case this week. The most recent case comes from Kalispell, Montana where Brice Harper, 24, gunned down Dan Fredenberg, 40, in his garage. Fredenberg (left), 40, was coming over to confront Harper (right below) about having an affair with his wife, Heather Fredenberg. Harper cut the encounter short by shooting him dead and a prosecutor has declared that the shooting cannot be prosecuted given the state’s Castle doctrine or “Make My Day” law.

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Honestly, what is the problem with rape and Republican candidates this year? First, Rep. Todd Akin loses a lock on a Senate seat by holding forth on “legitimate rape” and how women possess some magic ability to prevent pregnancies by rapists. Now, Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (who defeated respected Senator Richard Lugar) has proclaimed with only a few weeks to go in the election that the impregnation of women in rape is part of God’s plan. What happened to the good old day when GOP candidates primarily followed a formula campaign based on lower taxes and longer criminal sentences?

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Tunisan Nadar Khiari, 28, will soon be back on his way to Tunisia and should consider himself fortunate that he avoided a longer stay in Sweden after an despicable crime caught on camera. Khiari was waiting for a train when he saw a drunk man fall on to the train tracks. At first, the video below suggests that Khiari is coming to the man’s aid. Instead, Khiari jumps down and robs the unconscious man and leaves him on the tracks where the man is struck and lost his foot (but miraculously survived).

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There is an interesting story about patients who are charged more if they ask too many questions of their doctors. In the case of Susan Krantz, a doctor charged her for two visits because she asked too many questions about his diagnosis. It is an interesting trend since consent is the common defense to malpractice. However, if you ask too many questions before giving consent, you are charged by some doctors.

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There is an interesting decision out of Chicago in which  Judge William Bauer (left) finds that a Chicago zoning inspector is innocent of federal bribery because the bribes were too modest to constitute the prescribed crime. Dominick Owens was convicted under a federal statute  for taking two $600 bribes to issue certificates of occupancy for four homes.  However, the federal law states a $5000 threshold and the court ruled that the value of the bribes fell below that definition. It is a curious bribery statute that effectively distinguishes between federal non-criminal and criminal bribes on the basis of their worth.

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In a blow to science and rational thought, Italian prosecutors have succeeded in convicting seven of that country’s leading scientists of manslaughter for failing to predict the 2009 earthquake that struck central Italy. Despite objections from the world’s science community that such accurate and consistent predictions are still impossible, the government blamed the scientists for failing to alert the public that an earthquake was coming.

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You many recall the demand of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi for a new anti-blasphemy law at the United Nations. One of Mursi’s chief aides, Emad Abdel Ghaffour, “we call for legislation or a resolution to criminalize contempt of Islam as a religion and its Prophet. The voice of reason in the West will prevail if there is mutual respect, dialogue and efficient lobbying for this critical resolution.” That does not appear to be a two-way street with Morsi or his followers. Morsi was shown this week attending prayers and listening to cleric Futouh Abd Al-Nabi Mansour calling for the destruction of all Jews and their supporters. Observers report that Morsi not only did not object or distance himself from the remarks, but appears to say “Amen” after the specific call for death to all Jews.

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There is a bizarre case out of Pennsylvania that raises both potential tort and criminal liability. At a family Halloween bonfire, Janet Grant spotted a skunk and told her son Thomas Grant to fetch a shotgun and shoot it. When he returned, Janet Grant shined a flashlight on the animal while her son shot it. It was only then that they discovered that Thomas Grant had just shot his eight-year-old cousin in her black and white Halloween costume. What is amazing is that authorities say that they are considering possible animal gaming charges.

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We recently saw the relatively light treatment given a Wisconsin juror who walked out of deliberations in a major criminal case to enjoy a vacation in Cancun. The same does not appear to hold true for lawyers who are accused of skipping out on trials, it appears. Lawyer M. Tayari Garrett was convicted of misdemeanor contempt for skipping a trial last year to attend her brother’s wedding in Paris. She was given one year probation and a $1000 fine.

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One of the most common complaints by civil libertarians is that prosecutors who abuse the system or rights of defendants are rarely held accountable when convictions are later thrown out. Some like Nancy Grace actually make television careers based on their checkered record as prosecutors. One exception is the Texas proceedings against Texas judge and former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson, who is accused of withholding evidence and making false statements during the 1987 trial of Michael Morton for the murder of his wife. Despite the allegations of his abuses as a prosecutor, Anderson was elevated to the bench to mete out justice as a judge.

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Turkey was long a bastion of secular politics — a rare position in the Muslim world. After the ascension of an Islamic party-controlled government, however, religious extremism is taking hold in a variety of areas to the alarm of civil libertarians in Turkey and around the world. The most recent example is a series of books issued to schoolchildren that are filled with anti-Semitic and anti-Darwinian references. Darwin is actually described as a Jew (he wasn’t) with a big nose and a weird fetish for monkeys.

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We have been following the effort by police in the United States and abroad to make filming them in public a crime. For a prior column, click here. We can now add Spain to the list. The Spanish government has proposed a law banning the photographing and filming of members of the police. Since such films have been a major deterrent to police abuse, the law is viewed as understandably threatening to citizens as protests increase over Spain’s economic crisis. Last year, one such film caught police attacking protesters during a visit by the Pope. The Spanish government appears to have found a solution: rather than stop the abuse, you stop people filming the abuse.

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The level of debt and poverty in the country was reflected in a shocking polls conducted by CreditDonkey.com, a website that compares credit card offers. The survey of over a thousand individuals found that forty percent do not have more than $500 in readily accessible savings.

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A Sad Sign Of Our Times

Once again I am left virtually speechless but the sheer blind rage in this election. The moral leaders of the Church in the Valley in Leakey, Texas felt that it was appropriate to post this sign reading: “Vote for the Mormon, not the Muslim! The capitalist, not the communist!” Putting aside the violation of its tax-exempt status, church leaders thought nothing of the lesson given their children in making such false and prejudicial statements. It shows the dangerously thin line that separates the faithful from the hateful in our society.

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Is there a Republican war on women? Paul Ryan, the GOP candidate for vice president, mocked the idea of any such thing when he made the following comment at a private fundraiser in Florida last week: “Now it’s a war on women; tomorrow it’s going to be a war on left-handed Irishmen or something like that.”

Ryan may think his party’s “war” on women is a topic of humor…something to be derided. He may perceive things like a woman’s right to determine what is best for her own health and well being differently from the way many of us of women do. After all, Ryan did cosponsor personhood, ultrasound, and “Let Women Die” legislation. He also supported the Blunt Amendment.

Ryan is not the only Republican politician who has brought his party’s comments and positions on women’s issues under scrutiny. Not long ago, Todd Akin, a senate candidate from Missouri, was skewered by the media when he made a claim that women who are victims of “legitimate” rape can’t get pregnant. And just last week, a comment made by Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois about abortion brought the whole issue of the Republicans’ anti-woman attitude into the limelight once again. After Walsh’s debate with Democrat Tammy Duckworth the other night, he claimed that there is never any reason for a woman to have an abortion—even to protect her health or save her life.

Walsh said—and I quote: “There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology. Health of the mother has become a tool for abortions any time, under any reason.”

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger

If he said it once, Mitt Romney has said it a thousand times.  President Obama should have let GM and Chrysler go bankrupt instead of “bailing” them out. (paraphrased)  Of course, the discussion usually revolves around how Unions allegedly made out like bandits in the bailout to the detriment of the country and our economy.  What has been selectively left out of the discussion was the role played in the bailout by vulture capitalists in reaping an enormous profit from the bailout.  According to Greg Palast, the bailout created an opportunity for the vultures to swoop in and make huge profits.   All at tax payer expense! (more…)

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by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

I had in interesting argument the other night. Not interesting because of the content precisely.  It was old ground about the rationale for being in Iraq and Afghanistan and this person took the position of the post hoc rationalization “to contain Iran” and that – and this was a new one, funny but new – that our reason for being there was based on our need as driven by the hostage crisis of the 70′s.  It wasn’t a match against a skilled opponent.  He was about as smart and skilled at argumentation as a house plant and that is really an insult to house plants.  But what was interesting was when the topic turned to the idea of just wars and ethical relativism.  I’ll  summarize the just war argument to give some context and then show how ethical relativism came into the conversation because it got me thinking about ethical relativism (and its natural cousin moral relativism).  Is it a good idea or a path to anarchy?

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

David Siegel is the founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts, a privately-held national timeshare company and resort developer. Siegel recently sent an e-mail to his 8,000 employees stating that “if any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company.” Siegel fails to provide an explanation how an increase in his personal taxes could be offset by firing employees. If firing employees brings in more money for Siegel, then his labor force is padded with the unproductive. Otherwise, Siegel’s actions would appear to be spiteful.

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