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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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

Asklepios.3I must begin this guest blog with a bit of a confession. When I first started posting on Jonathan’s blog many years ago I found that he had recognized me in one of his end of the year posts. He wrote words to the effect that what he found appealing in my comments was my tendency to reveal much about myself in the course of them. He had seen into the essence of not only my writing style, but also of the way I interpret the world around me. For me it always starts from my personal emotions about an issue and then I work to try to see how my personal experiences can apply to the world around me. It is the key to my empathy, which allows extrapolating my personal experience into a more global view of the world I live in. I imagine that is how it is for most people, but we all live in the isolation of our own consciousness. It is in truth not the best writing style and certainly not the most creative one, but at least limited by my own ability to be self critical, it is the most honest writing that I am capable of producing.

With that caveat in mind, let’s talk about my own health care experiences. I was genetically endowed with the predisposition towards heart disease. Both my parents and many of their siblings died in their early fifties from variations of heart disease. My Mother had perhaps four heart attacks (MI’s) and three strokes. My father had two heart attacks. As a family we were far from wealthy, struggling to maintain ourselves at the lower end of the middle-class, but my father had prescience that kept us from disaster. He always paid for good medical coverage and back then and most importantly medical coverage was affordable. Given my seeing so many medical issues as a boy my families medical insurance made a big impression on me. As a civil servant in New York City in lieu of an adequate salary I was covered by good health insurance and always elected to have the best, most costly plan. Up until the age of 36 this “Cadillac” (to use the current verbiage) plan wasn’t necessary because I seemed to be in good health, although the high blood pressure that kept me out of the Viet Nam draft was a concern to Doctors, but then I rarely needed to see Doctors. Six months after I married though at age 37, I suffered my first massive heart attack. With the help of my wife who nursed me through the recovery I seemed to return to normal. The hospital costs were huge and would have bankrupted me but for my health insurance. As my life progressed I had two more MI’s and then finally Congestive Heart Failure so bad that it led to me being put on an artificial heart device LVAD to keep me alive and finally a heart transplant to give me a new life. http://jonathanturley.org/2012/01/22/from-the-bottom-of-my-new-heart/

Thanks to my Medicare and my secondary health insurance I am alive today and nearing 70 years. My health insurance has probably paid out many millions to keep me alive and I sm grateful for that and in truth very lucky that I chose to be an underpaid Civil Servant.

My personal experience with the health care system came to mind when the Boston Marathon bombing occurred leaving so many victims with dire health care problems, many with loss of limbs. I can remember that day thinking what the costs of these patients treatment would be and how many of them would pay for it, even with the Massachusetts Health Insurance system. You see even though my Heart Transplant was covered, it is estimated that costs to the transplant patient are $30,000 for the first year after the transplant. I can’t cry poverty, but let’s say that those ancillary costs wiped out most of my savings. The loss of a limb and the rehabilitation from it can take many years and is costly. Prosthetics wear out and must be replaced. Depending on ones occupation their income can be adversely affected and their family lives severely disrupted as a consequence. While it is true that thus far some $23 million dollars has been raised purportedly for the victims how far will that money go towards allowing them to return to their normal lives? Given this what are the implications of the response to this particular act of horror in terms of the entire health care debate that is far from settled in this country? (more…)

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2smith121112A retired State Department employee has been indicted on two charges of first-degree murder in the latest case involving “castle doctrine” claims. There is little dispute that the two teens, Nicholas Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 18, broke in the Minnesota home of Byron Smith, 64, on Thanksgiving Day. Indeed, Brady may have broken into the home twice before. However, Smith’s shooting the unarmed teens and his actions captured on his own videotaping system led to the charges.

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Zhang Aihua on a tableZhang Aihua, a Communist party leader in Taizhou City, appears not to have gotten the memo from Mao that “Thrift should be the guiding principle in our government expenditure.” Or, for that matter, the memos from the Chinese government about cracking down on excesses by local leaders. Zhang was enjoying a dinner fit for a worker-oppressing capitalist when suddenly the working class showed up uninvited. Worse yet, they brought cameras. Zhang was soon on a table, shown here, begging the common folk to let him go and apologizing for his excesses.

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stoningThe two most serious threats to religious critics remain blasphemy laws and apostasy laws in Muslim nations, which deny citizens the right to free speech and association on matters of religion. Apostasy is particularly lethal since Muslims in many countries follow what they believe to be the need to kill anyone who renounces Islam. Morocco’s Higher Council of Religious Scholars (CSO) has this week taken a step back in time with a fatwa demanding the death penalty for Muslims who renounce their faith. In the Koran, Bukhari 52:260 quotes Mohammad as saying “If somebody [a Muslim] discards his religion, kill him.”

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fAL94iVYou have to eat it, it’s a gift. Think of it this way, it could be a dead bird.

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200px-Codex_Gigas_devilThere is an interesting crime being investigated in New York. Chinese immigrants are giving money to people who threaten that, if they do not pay, they will be cursed. The question is why this is a crime since the threat is based on superstition and cannot actually harm the individuals.

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250px-Max_S_BaucusMontana Sen. Max Baucus (D), 67, is retiring rather than face reelection in 2014. The decision will spare a campaign that would have reignited controversies over his use of his office to benefit his live-in girlfriend. We have previously discussed the controversy. In addition to giving Melodee Hanes, 53, generous raises as a staffer, Baucus pushed to have her selected as U.S. Attorney. What is most notable about this story is that it was not ethics that pushed Baucus from office despite the documented work for his girlfriend. He was allowed to continued unimpeded despite news accounts of his work for Hanes. His success in avoiding any serious repercussions in the scandal will no doubt emboldened his colleagues in the use of their office to benefit friends and family members. The two married in 2011.
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480x600Maryland correctional officials are scrambling to explain how a gang got effective control of one of their prisons after more than a dozen Maryland state prison guards were arrested for assisting the Black Guerrilla Family in drug-trafficking and money-laundering. Thirteen female corrections officers are accused of a wide range of unlawful practices involving drugs, sex, and expensive cars that left four corrections officers pregnant by one inmate. It was probably not to hard to spot. In addition to the four pregnancies, two of the guards had tattoos of the inmate’s first name, Tavon. That is the first name of suspected gang leader Tavon “Bulldog” White (left). One guard had “Tavon” on her neck and the other on a wrist.

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article-0-19747785000005DC-827_634x361Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the mother of Boston Marathon alleged bombers Tamerlan and Tzhokhar Tsarnaevso, appears to be wanted for theft in the United States — a charge that could make her interview with authorities more complex for any lawyer. She failed to appear on a theft charge in Massachusetts in October. The looming charges appear to be one of the reasons for her reluctance to return to the United States.

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One of our readers posted this recently in the comment section (G. Mason) and I had to repost for a lesson in extraordinary investigatory work.

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bloombergMayor Michael Bloomberg appears to be moving beyond dictating what people can drink and eat in his city despite judicial rulings finding his policies in violation of the Constitution. Bloomberg joined the Pavlovian response of politicians this week in calling for a reduction in civil liberties in response to the Boston Marathon bombing. Bloomberg warned citizens that the Constitution will “have to change” to allow for greater security to stave off future attacks.

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bobedgarBWcasual2011Yesterday, the public interest community lost one of its brightest and most effective advocates: Robert W. Edgar, President of Common Cause. Bob collapsed while running on his treadmill at his home in Burke, Virginia. He was 69. I just recently saw Bob at the Watergate conference and we agreed to have lunch as soon as I got through my recent travels. I was going to call him this week. I will always regret missing that last opportunity to sit down with Bob Edgar who was an inspiration to so many, including myself. He was 69.

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schaible_ap_296I have previously written columns about Herbert and Catherine Schaible, who allowed their child to die pursuant to their religious beliefs of faith healing. They received probation for the death of Kent Schaible, 2, who died of bacterial pneumonia. They were convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. Now, after being given 10 years probation conditioned on maintaining medical treatment for their children, they have allegedly killed another child through neglect in refusing basic medical care.

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69-D-GRAY__400X400It appears that some things or some people don’t stay in Vegas. San Francisco’s City Attorney Dennis Herrera is investigating accounts of an illegally busing hundreds of psychiatric patients to California and other states with one-way bus tickets and no food or medication. This “patient dumping” involves the Rawson Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas.

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MichaelStoneNCState Rep. Mike C. Stone (R-NC), left, is being accused this week of pressuring the closure of a weekly radio program at the Central Carolina Community College called “The Rant.” Stone appears remarkably sensitive as a politician to criticism and contacted the school about the program and its funding. CCCC President T.E. “Bud” Marchant reportedly responded to the pressure by tossing out any notions of journalistic and academic independence, though he denies the program was shutdown over “content.”

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250px-EscherichiaColi_NIAIDI was struck this week with two remarkable breakthroughs in the use of bacteria. While once the scourge of parents and doctors, the simple bacteria is being enlisted as an ally in new scientific work. Researchers in New York have discovered a way to use radioactive bacteria to kill cancer, using bacteria as a uniquely effective vehicle to find and attack cancer cells. In the meantime, a team from the University of Exeter has discovered a way to use bacteria to make bio-diesel.
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IyIRWkw The experienced canine criminal will remain silent even in the face of incriminating forensic paw evidence.

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sisteen chapel ceilingThere is good news and bad news in the latest Gallup poll on atheist politicians. For the second time in less than a year, Gallup reports that a majority of Americans would vote for an atheist for president. However, the 54 percent who would vote for an atheist are offset by 43 percent who said they would not vote for an atheist even if she or he was well-qualified.

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225px-hamid_karzai_2004-06-14Afghan President Hamid Karzai has spent years denouncing the United States as we have continued to pour hundreds of billions into this country (and his corrupt family and government). Now, Karzai has called on China to come in and guarantee security in the country as he continues to call on the United States to get out. Despite these consistent attacks on the U.S. and Americans as “demons”, the Obama Administration continues to put our soldiers in harms way and spend money that is badly needed at home in this country. So, while the Administration is cutting back on FAA towers and slowing air travel, we will continue to spend wildly in a country seeking to replace us with China. Brilliant.

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screen-shot-2013-04-22-at-7-46-45-amZambia’s justice minister Wynter Kabimba has gone public with his opposition to efforts to protect gays and lesbians in his country. Kabimba, who is also secretary general of the Patriotic Front, unleashed a tirade against gay rights this week and what he views as an international conspiracy to spend “colossal sums of money” to promote homosexuality. He is just the latest African leader to strike out at gays and lesbians.

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200px-Gregball2UnknownNew York State Senator Greg Ball (R) took little time after the Boston bombing to call for the torture of 19-year-old Dzokhar Tsarnaev. Ball went to Twitter to call for the teenager to be tortured in the name of all of the values we hold dear as Americans.

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article-2312730-196C26EA000005DC-284_634x354There is an interesting free speech case brewing in West Virginia where Jared Marcum, 14, has been criminally charged for refusing to remove a T-shirt with National Rifle Association’s logo and hunting rifle. The T-shirt was found in violation of Logan Middle School’s dress code. However, regardless of how you feel about gun rights, the T-shirt was the expression of a recognized constitutional right and constitutes political speech.

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docphoto220px-Triceratops_AMNH_01The Palinotologists are back. A Kansas school district is refusing to back down from a plan for mandatory assemblies featuring a creationist group to explain the history of dinosaurs. Despite overwhelming data and testing showing the world is millions of years old, many creationists insist that Earth is only a few thousand years old. Dinosaurs represent a bit of a problem of course. The solution, as famously stated by that American intellectual Sarah Palin, is that men co-existed with dinosaurs. Hugoton Public Schools invited Creation Truth Foundation’s founder Dr. G. Thomas Sharp to teach the “Truth about Dinosaurs” at two assemblies. Hugoton Public Schools superintendent Mark Crawford however insists that students must hear about science from this biblically based group.

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225px-Bill_ClintonLast week, President Bill Clinton accepted GLAAD’s ‘Advocate for Change’ Award in Los Angeles last night but not everyone was buying Clinton’s latest change of heart over gay marriage. GLADD notably left out of the award that Clinton not only signed but helped push through the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This was not in 1896 but in 1996. Clinton was heckled by some in the crowd as he accepted the award as a leader on gay rights, yelling “you signed it” when he referred to DOMA as if it was some alien or GOP legislation. What is truly annoying is Clinton’s “some of my best friends are now gay” rationalization.

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Two of my passions are poetry and science. I am especially interested in astronomy. In celebration of National Poetry Month and Hubble’s 23rd anniversary image, I’m posting an ESA/ NASA Hubblecast video of the Horsehead Nebula and a poem by the great Walt Whitman.

Hubble’s 23rd Anniversary Image

HorseheadNebula

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

In the past few weeks, I have written about how the FDIC along with the Bank of England had developed a plan to allow the Big banks to grab depositors funds  in order to bail out those very same big banks.  Since that article was written, I have reviewed just what role the Federal Reserve Bank plays and how can it be improved.  You may remember the role the Federal Reserve played in bailing out the Big Banks during the beginning of the Great Recession.

“As a result of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit of the Fed, Senate sponsor Bernie Sanders of Vermont said, “We now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world.” Among the investigation’s key findings was that the Fed unilaterally provided trillions of dollars in financial assistance to foreign banks and corporations from South Korea to Scotland. These decisions were all made without the public, media or elected officials’ knowledge, and they would have remained secret without an audit.” Bernie Sanders    (more…)

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Submitted by Charlton Stanley (Otteray Scribe), Guest Blogger

ImageThis is not going to be easy to read. It was not easy to write. This story is about Frank Kirby Cowan, and 167 other allied airmen from World War II.  Their story is unique in a way that the stories of all the other thousands of fliers from both sides of the conflict are not.  Our paths first crossed on August 23, 1946, but that is a story for another day.

Kirby was a young man from Harrison, Arkansas. His father was an engineer for the railroad, and Kirby planned to follow in Joe Cowan’s footsteps. Then a war happened. Like so many thousands of other Americans, Kirby joined the service following the attack at Pearl Harbor. Kirby joined the Army Air Corps, and was assigned to B-17 bombers as a radio operator.  He said he had never flown in an airplane until he joined the Air Corps. He remembered his first experience flying in an airplane very well. The Air Corps did not waste time with orientation flights or sightseeing. Kirby’s first experience in an airplane had him standing up in the back seat of an AT-6 Texan, shooting a machine gun at a practice target being towed by another AT-6.

After finishing his training, he was assigned to the 339th Bomb Squadron, 96th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force.  Their B-17 was called Horn’s Hornets, because the pilot was named Horn. In those days, losses were high, and Horn’s Hornets ran out of luck in 1944. Their B-17 was cut in half by an anti-aircraft shell. There are no known photos of what happened to their airplane, but this image of similar damage to a B-24 illustrates it. Image

Kirby said, “When the engines unloaded they made a sound I had never heard an airplane engine make before. With no load on them, they started screaming. We started tumbling end over end. I was pinned to the inside of the plane by the G forces. I got a glimpse of the tail section falling away. The tail gunner didn’t have a chance.  For a second, we stopped tumbling, so I took a Brody out the back where we were cut half in two. There were three of us that got out.”  The remaining six crew members either were killed by the flak shell, or could not get out. The pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, and flight engineer were trapped in the nose of the plane.

Kirby went on, “Of the three of us that got out, one guy was shot in his parachute. He didn’t make it to the ground alive.”

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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R – S.C.
The man who apparently thinks the Constitution
and our laws are optional.


or “You Might Be An Enemy Combatant If . . .”

by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

UPDATED: You might be an enemy combatant if . . . Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – S.C.) says so.

This sounds like a bad joke, but it isn’t. The potential political misuse of the arbitrary “enemy combatant” status has been discussed here on many threads albeit usually in the form of using Executive abuse to illustrate that danger while Graham’s cavalier “suggestion” is clearly from the Legislative branch. In comments made by phone to the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin on Friday, April 19, Senator Graham said of the Boston bombers:

‘They were radicalized somewhere, somehow.’ Regardless of whether they are international or ‘homegrown,’ he said, ‘This is Exhibit A of why the homeland is the battlefield.’ Recalling Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster, Graham noted that he took to the Senate floor specifically to object to Rand’s notion that ‘America is not the battlefield.’ Graham said to me, ‘It’s a battlefield because the terrorists think it is.’ Referring to Boston, he observed, ‘Here is what we’re up against,’ and added, ‘It sure would be nice to have a drone up there [to track the suspect.]‘ He also slammed the president’s policy of ‘leading from behind and criminalizing war.’”

That was not the end of Graham’s disturbing posturing.

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

495px-Constitution_of_the_United_States,_page_1Sometimes I feel that among our distinguished crew of guest bloggers and the prodigious output of Professor Turley, that I seem to be “The Doom and Gloom” guest blogger. It seems I’m always looking at the worst side of things, without the counterbalance of positive articles that most everyone else here produces.  This is actually a dichotomy when compared to my personal life. I happen to be one of the luckiest people you can meet and although I’ve suffered my share of life’s tragedies, my outlook is almost always optimistic. Yet when I turn my attention to the condition of this country and the way it is governed, my pessimism overwhelms me intellectually, even as I am predominantly a fairly happy person in my life and thankful for the blessings chance has bestowed upon me.

This past Wednesday I found myself filled with this pessimism, nay total skepticism, that our Country can redirect its downward spiral towards Corporate Feudalism. The catalyst of course was the vote in the Senate killing the proposed gun legislation, 54 to 46 in favor of the legislation. It is no mystery to the reader that the legislation failed, even with a majority voting in favor of it because we have all become familiar with the Senate rules which now inexplicably require 60 votes to move on any legislation. That this particular piece of legislation was defeated wasn’t that important to me. The compromise bill was so watered down as to be neutral, except as an empty gesture towards gun control, upon which in fact it wouldn’t have had any effect upon. I wasn’t bothered by the fact that those 46 who voted against the bill were predominantly Republican, with 4 Democrats. Since the bill represented nothing more than an empty gesture, their votes indicated merely that they were voting in their political interests, which most legislators today tend to do. What bothered me were both Harry Reid and President Obama for their inability to even try to attempt to break up the logjam in Congress via filibuster reform. Perhaps it is the “gloomy” side of me pondering this, but I think that the refusal to move on filibuster reform by the Democrats indicates a reality far more sinister than mere adherence to what is seen to be tradition. (more…)

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

Dragnet_title_screenLike most of us I have been watching the developments in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy throughout the week. Because I’m retired I probably logged more hours of viewing it on TV than most people who are younger. The initial bombings on Monday and their aftermath made me terribly sad at the loss of innocent lives and the maiming of so many, which will have future pain and consequences for the entire lives of the victims. As a father and grandfather how could I not feel painful tears for the death of an 8 year old and the lifelong pain of his parents? Yet beyond that sadness, I also felt a sense of anxiety in my chest as I listened to the hour upon hour of cable news coverage and the analysis of “terrorism experts” aligned with prognosticators telling us what it all means.

My anxiety did not stem from fear of terrorism, because that fear is irrational. This is so not because terrorism is a chimera, but because this type of terrorism is an all too real fact of the lives of humanity and indeed while we in America have suffered it, so has the rest of the world to an even greater degree. Great Britain, Spain, Iraq, Israel, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia etc. and so on and so forth. Life itself is always uncertain and unseen death lurks as a constant possibility for even the most protected of us. This has always been the human condition and the truth is that as the eons of human history have passed we are far safer now than our ancestors ever were. Yet it is also a human necessity to maintain the illusion of our own safety and indeed immortality. When horrors like the Boston Marathon bombings occur it tends to shake up our human illusions and engender fear. In the aftermath of these horrors though come the “explainers” whose attempts to soothe us only increase the fears. Following the “explainers” come those who would exploit the aroused fears for their personal gain or predilection. This happened in America from 9/11 and in its wake the false meme “This Changes Everything” was transformed into a reality of war, torture and the shredding of our Constitution. My anxiety was raised because as I watch this all unfold on TV I became fearful of how this new attention arousing horror would be used by those intent upon transforming this country into a Police State under the guise of saving it from terror. (more…)

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By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Author’s Note: Grace Under Pressure is an on-going series of posts honoring everyday people who courageously  make positive differences in their own lives and consequently in the lives of others. It is my own personal affirmation that unexpected heroes reside among us and that they serve as  quiet but unshakable proof that virtue really is its own reward  – and ours, too.

130417214841-boston-campbell-nurse-story-top“I’m a nurse, and I’m going to take good care of you.” These are likely the last words spoken to Boston Marathon bombing victim,  Krystle Campbell.  Nurse Stephen Segatore was on Boylston Street near the finish line volunteering his time to tend to the needs of runners who ran in the international race. First responders brought the near lifeless body of Campbell, age  29 , to Segatore. The MassBay Community College student, who also managed a restaurant, wasn’t breathing and her face was streaked with black powder marks indicating she was very near the blast site. Realizing she was in dire straits, Segatore, a physician, and another healthcare professional commenced a grueling ten minute attempt at CPR. Because the wounds were so severe even that heroic effort would not be successful.  A cardiac monitor showed her heart wasn’t pumping blood. Campbell was the only one of scores of  unexpected patients that Segatore worked on that day who expired.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

CHURCH STATENorthwest Rankin High School is a public high school located in Flowood, Mississippi. On Tuesday April 9th, a  student, representing Pinelake Baptist Church, addressed an assembly at the school and showed a video of two young men who had been “saved” from drugs and sex. Several students reported the mandatory assembly, during school hours, to the Appignani Humanist Legal Center (AHLC). AHLC coordinator William Burgess sent a letter of condemnation to principal Charles Frazier.

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220px-2013_Boston_Marathon_aftermath_peopleBelow is my column today in USA Today on the Boston bombing and the call for new security laws and expanded surveillance. I have been doing interviews trying to caution against these calls for immediate action — a mantra that we hear after every attack no matter the cause. I am in Chicago today and was struck by how quickly Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel called for more surveillance cameras in a city with one of the largest surveillance systems in the United States.

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video18n-3-webThe video below gives an insight into the challenges that police face on a daily basis after a mob formed quickly after the police arrested a man accused of threatening a Jewish man and hurling anti-Semitic slurs. Almost immediately, a group formed accusing the police of abuse and obstructing their lawful arrest. There is no sign of abusive police conduct in the video.

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DennisJohnson001Oklahoma State and Republican Majority Leader Dennis Johnson took to the floor this week to share his experience as a small business man and discussed how some people will try to “Jew down the price” of goods. In the background, legislators are seen laughing but there are clearly some who object because Johnson then adds “I apologize to the Jews. They are good small businessmen as well.”

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