Archive for April, 2013

article-2313299-196FFE9A000005DC-484_634x352While schools in Arizona are adding armed posses and schools in Connecticut are arming janitors, a Minnesota school has turned to bulletproof whiteboards as its last ditch defense against attackers. Two students died in a shooting in the Rocori School District in 2003 so the school has purchased 18-by-20-inch whiteboards that can be used by teachers for instruction or bullet protection.

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220px-Vial_examplesThere is an interesting case out of Des Moines, Iowa where Jennifer Conner is suing Iowa Methodist Medical Center over the alleged refusal of the hospital to make relatively small accommodations for her disability: shy bladder syndrome. Conner fears urination in public restrooms and could not complete the required drug test for a position with the hospital.

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Mohammed Nisham appears to have as little concern for his children as he does for his luxury cars. Nisham has been charged with having his nine-year-old drive his sports car. It was not hard for Inspector M.V. Verghese to prove: Nisham filmed his son driving the car with his brother (neither with seatbelts on of course) and then posted it on YouTube.

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Come Again?

7eWAn1kThis really summed up my reaction to Sarah Palin’s comment about her anger as one of the struggling Americans to see the President go to the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.

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225px-hamid_karzai_2004-06-14We have previously discussed reports of billions disappearing in Afghanistan and the long record of corruption surrounding the family and friends of President Hamid Karzai. Now a new report details how for more than a decade, the CIA has been dropping off monthly suitcases, backpacks and even shopping bags filled with cash to Karzai at his office. Despite these reports of grotesque corruption, the money continues to flow into Karzai’s pockets even as he attacks the U.S. and Americans as “demons”, and moves to shift alliances to Iran and China.

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SarahPalinI could not help but note a criticism of the White House Correspondent’s Dinner by former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin last week. Palin denounced the dinner as “pathetic” and a case of “DC assclowns” were throwing “themselves a #nerdprom” while “the rest of America is out there working our assess off.” This was a remarkable statement from a person who resigned from her governorship early to create a reality show and make millions being Sarah Palin. I am not sure that many Americans would see Palin as one of those “working out asses  off.”

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220px-M1A1Many of us have criticized our politicians for years for abandoning the national interest in favor of petty or corrupt interests. I have worked in this town for decades and I have never seen the situation quite this bad where lobbyists seem to have unprecedented and open control of Congress. No greater example can be found than the move this week to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on tanks that the Army does not want and experts overwhelming say the country does not need.

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I just saw this remarkable farewell by the New Zealand Infantry Regiment to a dead colleague. This is the Haka, which is by many in New Zealand (not only the Māori). I found this a touching farewell to a dead fellow soldier

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dronetoy2220px-Red_Light_CameraBelow is today’s column on the calls for expanding security and surveillance powers in the aftermath of the Boston bombing. (An Internet version ran last week but was updated for print) [I untangled one line that was changed in editing]. My greatest concern is that the Boston response will become the accepted or standard procedure in shutting down cities and ordering warrantless searches. No politicians wants to be seen questioning the necessity or efficacy of such measures out of fear of appearing “soft” on terror.

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Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather Quillby Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

The Law of Identity is one of Aristotle’s fundamental Laws of Thought. It is expressed often in the terms of A=A or in other philosophical works as some variation of Marcus Aurelius’ admonishment to “ask of each and every thing what is it in itself”.  This is less commentary than informal unscientific survey, but some of your answers will likely inform a future commentary. These questions kept hovering about as I considered the topic of the social compact. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the nature of the social compact model of government and that had been my intended topic for this weekend. However, as I thought about it and reviewed some older threads here where the subject had come up in preparation for addressing the subject, another area of confusion stood out as prevalent as well.  That confusion centers around the proper role of government in society, specifically the proper role of government as defined by the U.S. Constitution.

If we look at the Constitution itself, the Preamble contains a basic description of the function of our Federal government.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

It is important to note that the Preamble is not law in the traditional sense. It neither grants powers nor restricts action. It simply provides context for the purpose of the form of government as established in the following articles and amendments. It is a statement of our aspirational goals of government.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

Lately we have been barraged with news stories that the recovery of the United States economy has been historically, a slow one.  We have also seen stories that state that the vast majority of the gains in the economy since the recession started in December of 2007 have been enjoyed by the very wealthy.  “According to a new analysis (pdf) of Census Bureau data published Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, since the economy officially emerged from the recession in mid-2009, the wealthiest 7 percent of households saw soaring gains of an estimated $5.6 trillion, while the remaining 93 percent—111 million households—saw their overall wealth fall by an estimated $0.6 trillion.”  CommonDreams

As the Common Dreams quote suggests, the poor and middle-income portions of our economy have been left out in the cold when it comes to an economic recovery.  Many of those who have benefitted during the recovery have their money and assets tied into shares of American corporations who are enjoying record profits, while the vast majority of Americans are unable to invest in the stock market or do not have 401K plans that could invest retirement funds in those same American corporations.

“Cha adds that the findings demonstrate, “how it is the rich, not the poor, that benefit from government handouts. It was direct government support with taxpayer funds that saved the big banks and, in turn, enriched their shareholders. It’s not social safety net programs that are bankrupting our country: it’s the rich.” -Mijin Cha, Demos  Government policies following the recession drove an even larger gap in wealth disparity as the richest 7 percent’s slice of the nation’s wealth grew from 56 to 63 percent by 2011.

“The Fed has kept things pretty good for the wealthy,” said New York University economist Edward Wolff, of the policies that supported these gains in stock and bond markets. CommonDreams   (more…)

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Submitted by Charlton Stanley (Otteray Scribe), guest blogger

FAA logoThis story started out in one place and ended somewhere else.  I had been thinking about privacy issues for some time. A friend of mine, a forensic psychologist, like so many professionals, has gone to a (mostly) paperless office. Instead of taking a thick bulky file to court when called on to testify, he takes one dedicated laptop. As all our attorneys and anyone else who has had to testify as an expert knows, if you take your files to court, opposing attorneys are allowed to examine anything brought to the witness stand, such as the contents of a briefcase.  My friend was concerned that he did not want anyone to rummage through his private files and other client files if he brought his regular laptop. So he bought an inexpensive laptop. When he goes to court, he simply downloads the files for that one case, as well as any emails associated with the case. That way he has everything at his fingertips, and counsel opposite can look at everything in that little laptop without compromising privacy or violating HIPAA rules.

A few days ago, he and I were discussing smart phones.  Because of a recent article in the news, the question came up of who owns your cell phone if you use it for business purposes.  Almost everyone I know uses their personal cell phone in relation to their employment. Texting, emails and file storage of all kinds. Suppose the employer is sued, and either the plaintiff or the defense attorney demands all cell phones used in the business be rounded up for evidence in discovery? What does one do in a case where your employer tells you to turn in your personal cell phone, and you may not delete anything, lest you be accused of spoliation of evidence.? Your employer and all the parties are now privy to your personal emails, photos and possibly even all your passwords. Furthermore, you may or may not get your $300+ smart phone back, and if you do, it may take weeks or months.  You may find your memory card gone or erased if you ever do get it back.

That led me to thinking about the broader issue of privacy and new technology, especially regarding drones. Drones have been a hot item in the news recently. There has been as much misinformation as information, and I wanted to set some of the record straight. This story is probably going to scare some people. I must admit, I am a bit nervous about this new technology and the future of privacy myself the more I learn about research projects in the works.

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

As this is the last weekend of National Poetry Month, I wanted to share the following video from The Favorite Poem Project. The video was produced and directed by Juanita Anderson.

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Dog Wants A Kitten

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

You’ll never see a cat who wants a puppy.

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New Atheism And Islamophobia

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Richard DawkinsTo go along with blasphemy and hate-speech criminalization, there’s a new line of attack on atheists that has recently gained some popularity. Critics of atheism are trying to associate atheistic arguments against Islam with Islamophobia. In a recent article in Salon, Nathan Lean has written what is basically one long ad-hominem fallacy focusing on Richard Dawkins. Lean’s attempt to link Dawkins with the Islamophobia of the far-right is totally lacking in substance.

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