We just discussed a story of a kindergartner who was disciplined for a LEGO gun that he brought to school that was smaller than a quarter. Now we have another kindergartner who was suspended for the rest of the year (10 days) for bringing an orange-tipped toy gun to school. Rather than simply discuss the matter with his parents, school officials proceeded to interrogate him for hours without calling his parents– a growing problem that we discussed in another story today. The toy was in the boy’s backpack and he was pulled into an interrogation with police. I cannot imagine what officers did for two hours in questioning a 5 year old child but it is clear that Calvert County officials have zero crime and even less judgment. During his detention with the officials and police, the boy wet his pants.
Archive for May, 2013
John Dryden, is a social studies teacher at Batavia High School in Illinois. It may have been his social science background or his concern for basic rights of students, but Dryden felt that he should mention that students have constitutional rights not to incriminate themselves in a school-mandated survey. The survey, after all, was asking the student if they had used drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. In response, the school disciplined Dryden and docked his pay.
Many people in the world have been waiting for the departure of extremist Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. From the sounds of his likely replacement, Saeed Jalili, some may look back with longing. Jalili is a former Revolutionary Guard who continues the extremist Islamic principles of governance of his predecessor. This week, he promised to “defend the rights of women as mothers” as opposed to what he referred to as “economic context” of feminists and the West. Men will continue of course to be defined as men as opposed to fathers.
The Catholic Church’s top exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth is calling on Pope Francis to relax current limits on priests performing exorcisms. He insists that the demand of the faithful for exorcisms is rising and the Church needs to increase the supply of the rites. For his own part, Amorth now claims to have sent 160,000 demons to hell — that is over 1818 a year or roughly 5 a day or one demon every 4.8 hours every day every week every month.
In the last couple weeks, it has been astonishing to watch Democrats once again abandoning a core principle — in this case the protection of the free press — to excuse another abuse of the Obama Administration. The new talking point for defenders of the Obama Administration is that it is really not that bad to seize the records of journalists or label a journalist a potential criminal co-conspirator so long as they are not actually prosecuted. None however are quite so adamant as Georgetown Professor and MSNBC Political Analyst Michael Eric Dyson who called Eric Holder our “law giver” and “the Moses of our time.” In this case, of course, Moses came down from the mountain and endorsed the killing of any citizen deemed a national security threat, allowed warrantless surveillance, blocked public interest challenges to abuses of power, and attacked the free press. While some of us believe Holder should be fired, Dyson apparently believes Holder should be be beatified.
There is a troubling case out of Harris County, Texas where a court has issued an order barring 16 individuals from a Houston neighborhood on the ground that prosecutors alleged that they are gang members up to no good. However, this was a civil proceeding where the 16 individuals were neither given representation nor were present. The precedent established by such a public nuisance ruling is chilling if prosecutors can bar citizens from neighborhoods based on associations or future conduct.
I have previously written about my concern with the criminalization of conduct in America, particularly at our schools. A case in Columbia, Missouri again raises this issue with a 17-year-old Hickman High School junior facing possible felony charges for a prank. The student changed the last name of Raigan Mastain to “Masturbate” and more than 700 yearbooks went to press with the change. Now a prosecutor is considering a charge of first-degree property damage and harassment — a felony prosecution for an immature prank.
I have previously expressed my view of the meeting ordered by President Barack Obama of Attorney General Eric Holder with representatives of the media. This feeble response was taken in lieu of the more obvious step of firing Holder for his attack on the free press. The proposed meeting was, in my view, an insulting gesture of effectively having Holder investigate Holder. It was made even more transparent by the decision of the Justice Department that the meeting had to be off-the-record. That was too much for two principled media organizations New York Times, CNN, and Associated Press which have refused (correctly) to attend. (more…)
We have yet another zero logic case out of our schools enforcing zero tolerance policies on guns. We have yet another case of lunacy in our schools as part of the zero tolerance policy regarding guns. We have previously explored how teachers and school administrators are expelling or suspending students for everything from finger guns to stick figures. (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). For a prior column, click here. Even nibbling a danish into a gun shape can get you expelled today. Now a 6-year-old kindergartner attending Old Mill Pond Elementary School in Palmer, Mass faced possible suspension or expulsion because he was spotted with a plastic Lego G.I. Joe gun — the size of a quarter — on to his school bus. After public outcry, the school decided that it would not discipline the boy. However, the boy was given detention after the discovery.
There is an exciting discovery out of Siberia where Russian scientists have discovered a fully-grown female mammoth preserved in the ice. What is different is that not only does this animal have well-preserved muscle tissue but actual liquid blood. Yet, the godless scientists at the Institute of Applied Ecology are likely to be disappointed. Scientists were not only surprised to find running blood after pricking the body but found that the blood continued to run in the 10°C below zero temperature at the site. That leads them to believe that the mammoth’s blood has some type of “cryo-protective properties” previously unknown to scientists.
While Eric Holder refuses to resign and Obama refuses to fire him, another leading citizen appears to be moving toward a resignation after her own controversial leak investigation scandal. Harvard Dean Evelynn Hammands is leaving her post as undergraduate dean in the wake of a controversy over her ordering the searches of the emails of junior faculty to determine who spoke with the media on a recent cheating scandal. In my view, it was an outrageous act that contravened both academic and privacy principles.
The Iranian government is continuing its crackdown on non-Muslim faiths this month with a shocking arrest of a minister in the middle of a service at Iran’s largest Persian-language Pentecostal church. One can only imagine the response of Muslims in the country if a Muslim cleric was arrested in the middle of a service in another country. However, the Iranian government pulled Pastor Robert Asserian off the altar and literally dragged him out of the church. The move is viewed as a warning to non-Muslims before the June 14 presidential election to replace President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
We recently celebrated the showing of tolerance in Arizona when the legislators allowed an atheist member to give the opening “prayer.” Democratic Representative Juan Mendez, of Tempe, is an atheist and opened the session by asking his colleagues not to bow their heads but look at each other. That did not sit well with Arizona State Rep. Steven Smith who proceeded the next day to give not one, but two prayers. The second prayer was to express “repentance” of the secular invocation offered the day before by Mendez. He was joined by half of the Arizona lawmakers in using prayer as a condemnation of Mendez and atheists.
Here is today’s column in USA Today calling for the firing of Attorney General Eric Holder (I have added a couple lines removed in editing). Holder is not the only individual who needs to leave federal office but he is the first. Equally responsible are his deputy, James Cole, and Ronald Machen Jr., the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia who played critical roles in the investigation of journalists with Associated Press and Fox News. Notably, Obama reportedly “fired” IRS Director Steve Miller (who was reportedly already leaving) over the IRS scandal though there is no indication of any knowledge on his part. In Holder’s case, he was personally involved in targeting journalists (in the Fox case) and launched an attack on the media that has been condemned by a wide array of public interest and media groups. Yet, Holder has been asked to hold a simple meeting with aggrieved media representatives by Obama.
We previously discussed the effort of the defense team for George Zimmerman to introduce text messages, pictures, and history showing that Trayvon Martin had a history of discipline and drug problems. Judge Debra Nelson ruled today that most of this evidence would be kept out despite the fact that Zimmerman’s history and prior statements will be likely introduced. Zimmerman is arguing that it was Martin who attacked him and that this evidence shows a troubled teen with an obsession with guns and gangsta culture.
A recent story caught my eye out of Suffolk, Virginia. A bus driver was shocked when a mother allegedly mooned the bus after a confrontation last November with roughly 45 students onboard. The mother, Lisa Grant, 34, admits that she was upset that the driver sent a note home with her middle school son for misbehaving. She apparently thought yelling at the bus would be an appropriate response to the claim of misconduct. However, the videotape below shows the bus driver as equally irritated and loud in the confrontation and there remains a controversy over whether a true moon appeared along the roadside.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is famous for its public displays designed to shock and sometimes disgust people (here and here and here). However, PETA appears a bit thin skinned this week with legal attacks on critics who accused the organization of killing animals in a Virginia shelter. PETA reportedly is asking a court to give it the personal information, email addresses, phone numbers, and other data for three bloggers who reacted to an April 2 posting by a no-kill shelter advocate. One of the bloggers called PETA “animal Kevorkians.”
There is an interesting conflict that has arisen between Interpol and the Putin government. Putin’s government has demanded the arrest of UK-based fund manager William Browder for his alleged tax evasion and told Interpol to put him on its list of wanted individuals. In a rare denial, Interpol decided that the Putin regime was pursuing Browder for offenses “of a predominantly political nature” and refused to assist the Russians.
Truong Duy Nhat, 49, is a leading blogger in Vietnam who has been challenging the government on its authoritarian laws. The Communist government has now responded by arresting him for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state.” This truly Orwellian charge could result in a seven year sentence for the blogger.
While Attorney General Eric Holder is legitimately taking the heat for his scorched Earth policy toward journalists and whistleblowers. His deputy, Jim Coles, is also being criticized for signing off on the investigation of the Associated Press. However, a third prosecutor has largely escaped attention in the scandal and is equally worthy of immediate termination for his role in this scandal. He is Ronald Machen Jr., the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. As with Holder, Machen was a friend and campaign contributor to Obama when he was selected to serve as U.S. Attorney. He proceeded to discard any concern for the freedom of the press in his investigation, particularly his pursuit of sources for Fox reporter James Rosen. He was also involved in the refusal to prosecute Holder for contempt of Congress in refusing to turn over critical documents in the “Fast and Furious” scandal.
There is an interesting tort lawsuit out of Jackson, Mississippi where Everardo Garfias is suing Husqvarna Professional Products Inc. and Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A., the maker of his Husqvarna lawnmower after it ran over him. Garfias had just been attacked by yellow jackets when he jumped off his lawnmower. The lawnmower however did not shut off and ran over him — severely cutting his legs and completely severing one of his knee caps. Garfias was working for a lawn service company at the time of the accident.
As many on this blog know, I am not a big fan of Roman Polanski and his successful evasion of arrest for the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Many folks in France continue to rally behind Polanski who has successfully fought extradition for decades. Now, during the unveiling of his movie “Venus in Fur,” a satire on sexism starring his wife Emmanuelle Seigner, Polanski decried the loss of real women and how birth control pills are “masculinising” women. Of course, it is some small degree of progress that Polanski is actually focusing on fully grown women at this point. Yet, most women would find him a rather unwelcomed expert on anything dealing with females given his continued fugitive status as a child rapist.
A tourist returning from Egypt posted this picture on Reddit and says that a Chinese kid had carved his name on the wall of the 3000 year old Luxor Temple in Egypt. As a history nut, such acts fill me with rage. If true, I fail to see how the parents or guardians or friends would not have seen such an act of vandalism.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
Recently I wrote an article that discussed how the FDIC and the Bank of England had written a joint paper agreeing on how to deal with failing large banks in the post Dodd-Frank world. Banksters In my research for a follow-up to that article, I discovered that Congress was busy at work trying to do everything in its power to water down or eviscerate Dodd-Frank. I guess I should not be surprised that Congress might be trying to defeat a law that was passed in an attempt to make sure that ordinary citizens would not be asked to bail out the large banks once again. While Dodd-Frank is far from perfect, it is a step in the right direction. At least for the taxpayers. (more…)
Submitted by Charlton Stanley (Otteray Scribe), Guest Blogger
Friday I was reading another blog, and was stunned and appalled to read this opening line in a post (emphasis mine):
“For most of us, Memorial Day is a joyous occasion. We may think of idyllic, lazy summer days of childhood, whole months away from school. Our greatest concern might well be the inevitable traffic jams created when large groups of people head for the same destination at the same time.”
Many, including the person who wrote the statement above, mistake Veteran’s Day for Memorial Day. The day does not celebrate the veteran. It is a day of remembrance for those who never had a chance to become a veteran. Veteran’s Day is November 11, formerly called Armistice Day.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. The exact origin of the custom of decorating the graves of those who gave all in service to the country is shrouded by the mists of time and folklore. Memorial Day became official when General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued his General Order No. 11 on 5 May 1868. The first official Memorial Day observance was 30 May 1868. On that day, flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Every year until 1971, Memorial Day was observed on May 30. In 1971, the National Holiday Act of 1971 was passed, making Memorial Day part of a three-day weekend. When Memorial Day became just another long weekend with a day off from work, it began to lose its meaning as a day of remembrance and reflection. The VFW’s official proclamation in 2002 stated in part,
“Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”
In 1999, Senator Dan Inouye introduced a bill to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30 instead of “the last Monday in May”. The same year, Representative Gibbons introduced a bill in the house saying the same thing. Both bills were referred to Committee. Every year until his death, Senator Inouye re-introduced the bill. If anyone had the credentials to speak for veterans everywhere, it was Senator Inouye; one of the few members of Congress awarded the Medal of Honor. I hope that one day, Memorial Day will return to the original May 30. Every year that passes, a bit more of the real meaning of the day is lost.
We owe it to the dead to honor their memory. It does not matter the war, the cause, or the politics. For every one of those marble slabs in the Gardens of Stone, some parent or loved one got that terrible, awful knock on the door. When I was young, it seemed as if every other house had a gold star in the front window. Those memories are still fresh, even after all those decades. A series has been running on the Daily Kos blog called IGTNT (I Got The News Today). The series honors and remembers those Americans who lost their lives in combat or military operations in the war zone. Their names and pictures are there. Read them and weep for the loved ones left only with memories.
Below is today’s column in the Washington Post’s Outlook Section on the dangers of America’s growing administrative state. Ask any elementary student and you will hear how the Framers carefully designed a tripartite, or three-branch, system to govern the United States. This separation of powers was meant to protect citizens from tyranny by making every branch dependent on each other to carry out the functions of government. These three branches held together through a type of outward pressure – each holding the other in place through their countervailing forces. Add a fourth branch and the structure begins to collapse. That is precisely what is happening as federal agencies grow beyond the traditional controls and oversight of the legislative and executive branches. The question is how a tripartite system can function as a quadripartite system. The answer, as demonstrated by the last two decades, is not well. The shift from a tripartite to a quadripartite system is not the result of simply the growth in the size of the government. Rather, it is a concern with the degree of independence and autonomy in the fourth branch that led me to write this column.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
About a year ago I wrote a guest blog titled: PBS: Why I Watch But Don’t Contribute. In it I wrote about the history of PBS and of its’ seminal station WNET Channel 13 in New York. Through the years I’ve been privileged to watch some wonderful television on PBS from great plays to superb documentaries. Much of what PBS and channel 13 supplied to me was culture that was somewhat inaccessible from any other venue. What was so new and novel about the Public Television movement was that it was commercial free and so could greater explore subjects that were verboten in prime time commercial television. It also showed Americans the great programs being produced by the PBS analogue in Great Britain, the BBC. Far from being the “vast wasteland” of commercial TV described by JFK’s FCC head Newton Minnow, PBS showed what a wonderful medium television could be. At the core of this excellence was the fact that there were no sponsors to muzzle production values and dumb down the product.
Originally there was an organization called NET (National Education Television) which merged with New York’s Channel 13 in 1963. It had been operating under various names producing educational television programs that were distributed to various stations around the country. It had originally been funded via a grant from the Ford Foundation to produce educational programs. With the merger in 1963 the philosophy changed drastically in that the aim was to become America’s “Fourth TV Network”. When in 1966 the Ford Foundation began to withdraw funding the Federal Government stepped in.
“In 1966, NET’s viability came into question when the Ford Foundation decided to begin withdrawing financial support because of NET’s continual need for additional funding. In the meantime, the affiliated stations tried to keep the network alive by developing a reliable source of revenue.
The U.S. government intervened and created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1967 to fund the network for the time being. However, the CPB’s intent was to create its own public broadcasting network. The CPB embarked on that course of action because many NET affiliates were alienated by the programming that network offered. These affiliates further felt that NET’s simultaneous production and distribution of programming constituted a conflict of interest.
PBS first began operations in 1969, with NET still producing several shows. However, NET’s refusal to stop airing the critically praised but controversial documentaries led to the decision of both Ford and the CPB to shut the network down. In early 1970, both threatened to cut their funding unless NET merged its operations with Newark, New Jersey public station WNDT-TV. (This did not, however, end the production and distribution of hard-hitting documentaries on public television, since PBS itself continues to distribute and CPB continues to help fund series including Frontline, POV and Independent Lens to this day.)
On Monday, October 5, 1970, the exact day that PBS began broadcasting, NET and WNDT-TV officially completed their merger. NET ceased to operate as a separate network from that point, although some NET-branded programming, such as NET Journal, was part of the PBS schedule for another couple of years before the identity was finally retired. WNDT’s call sign was changed to the present WNET shortly thereafter. Some shows that began on NET, such as Sesame Street, continue to air on PBS today.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Educational_Television
When the government took over the formerly independent WNET the changes were at first unnoticed. However, as is the nature of bureaucracy the independence of content and programming began to be subject to political needs and as a medium, the product became diminished into what can only be seen as TV, that while on occasion is daring and revolutionary, is purposed to support and glorify the corporate state and the elite that runs it. Occasionally, really courageous insightful programs will slip by and air. This though is happening less frequently as outside pressures force self censorship on producers. What follows are current examples of why this is true. (more…)
Posted in Congress, Constitutional Law, Courts, Criminal law, Free Speech, International, Justice, Lawyering, Media, Military, Politics, Society, Supreme Court, Uncategorized on 1, May 25, 2013 | 26 Comments »
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
About one year into Barack Obama’s first term as President I began calling the White House demanding that Attorney General Eric Holder should be fired. I was disturbed by the lack of prosecutions and by the trend towards stricter enforcement of the Drug Laws. Clearly this was not the change I envisioned from a Constitutional Law professor, or his Attorney General. I guess my support in the election wasn’t important enough to get The President to hear my plea to rid himself and us, of both Holder and Geithner. Here we are now more than four years later and both of these bozos are still on the job and doing harm to our Constitution and our economy. With the Associated Press eavesdropping scandal we have just the latest contretemps committed by the Justice Department and its hapless leader. Having lived through Attorney General’s John Mitchell and Ed Meese, I understand full well the importance of the position and how if it is filled with the wrong man mischief will arise. Eric Holder is in the tradition of both these men since he too seems nonplussed when it comes to upholding the constitution. This article was in reaction to reading about Holder signing off on the AP probe in Thursday’s Huffington Post, I give credit to them for this story and I will provide links. Here are six instances of Holder’s using his office to achieve what I see as disastrously wrong actions. (more…)
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Funny thing. You can learn a lot about politics listening to religious leaders — especially the one’s who’ve suffered a precipitous decline in prestige and influence by marching out of step with the mainstream. In words as surprising as his election to the Throne of St. Peter, Pope Benedict has issued a game changer. Atheists can get into Heaven, too. Pope Francis is in the habit of saying daily Mass for the people at St. Martha’s House with invited guests, and when he does so he gives an off-the-cuff homily. Here’s his dialog with an imaginary questioner:
“‘But, Father, this [person] is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. . . .
“Instead,” the Pope continued, “the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”:
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone!
“‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good.”
“‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
If you want to know what kind of man could commit the grotesque act this week in butchering a man on a London street while posing for cameras, you might want to meet his teacher. In Tripoli, Lebanon, Syrian-born cleric, Omar Bakri, founder of banned British Islamist group Al Muhajiroun, saw the same video that we saw. While we recoiled at the savagery, Bakri rejoiced in what he called the “courage” and faith of Michael Adebolajo in murdering Lee Ridgy. Our disgust was matched by the cleric’s delight in seeing a former student murder in the name of Islam. He gave the interview as his son, Osama, played at his feet . . . yes, named after that Osama.
President Barack Obama recently came out to remind people that “Leaks related to national security can put people at risk.” He however denied knowledge of this and the other scandals. In the past, Obama has been able to weather criticism by civil libertarians due to his iconic status with many citizens. This time is different. The media (rather belatedly) is seeing his Administration in a different light as a true threat to liberty. Now, Obama has given a speech proclaiming that he now thinks that reporters should not fear investigation for just doing their jobs so he has ordered an investigation . . . by Eric Holder and the Justice Department. Of course, it was disclosed on the same day that it was Holder who approved the abusive targeting of Fox reporter Jeff Rosen.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) is a pro-life Republican who has long run on family values. Those values however were no where in sight in the recent findings of the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners which ordered DesJarlais to pay a fine for having sexual relations with patients and allegedly pressuring one patient to get an abortion. However, the cost of such conduct will be $500.
Attorney General Eric Holder recently appeared before the House Judiciary Committee and denied any involvement in the abuse searches targeting the Associated Press by the Obama Administration. Holder seemed to morph with his predecessor Alberto Gonzales with a mantra of “I have no knowledge” and “I had no involvement” in the scandal. It was a disturbing defense in one of the greatest attacks on the free press in modern times. Now, however, Holder’s fingerprints have been found on an equally disturbing targeting of a Fox reporter, James Rosen. As with the Associated Press, Rosen was targeted for simply speaking with a source in a story involving classified information. Even his parents telephone information was seized in the abusive operation where Rosen was declared a “possible co-conspirator” in violations of the Espionage Act.
We have a new filing in the trial of George Zimmerman with his counsel demanding to use pictures and text messages from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone. The question will become one of relevance as well as prejudice as Zimmerman’s legal team tries to show that Martin had a violent or criminal disposition.
The savage murder and mutilation in London by two Muslim men yelling “Allah Akbar” was meant to send a blood-soaked message to England and the world about the treatment of Muslims. The victim was not important to Michael Adebolajo as he paraded before cameras. Yet we owe it to the victim and ourselves not to allow the victim to be an abstraction laying the street. He was a person and his name was Drummer Lee Ridgy, or ‘Riggers” to friends. He was not just a brave soldier but the father of Jack, his two year old son.
We have been discussing the use of fees for every possible thing on airlines to generate billions for airlines while eliminating every possible comfort for passengers. Now the ranking of most popular and least popular airlines has been released. I was most struck by the reaction of Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza in learning that his company is widely viewed as a disgrace.
London and the world is reeling from the video from yesterday of two Muslim men who killed and mutilated the body of an English soldier and then asked people to film them as they raved about their atrocity. The men reportedly screamed “Allah Akbar” as they butchered the soldier. A man now identified as Michael Adebolajo is shown promising onlookers that “you and your kids will be next.” In the midst of this horror scene however there was inspirational moments including a woman who gets off her bus to confront Abebolajo covered in blood and holding a meat cleaver.
I have long been amazed by the rate of hospital injuries from preventable bloodstream infections. While there have been a few lawsuits, hospitals appear to have avoided liability for these preventable illnesses. Now, a study in the American Journal of Medical Quality suggests that the situation may be worse than anticipated. Not only is that not a strong litigation deterrent (my view), but this study says that hospitals are actually making a killing by making patients sick. Researchers found that an ICU patient who develops an avoidable central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) costs nearly three times more to care for than a similar infection-free patient. Here is the most amazing fact: hospitals earn nearly nine times more for treating infected patients.
We have all had it happen. You are sitting in a restaurant or walking on the street when you accidentally hit your phone and dial an unintended call. A friend or relative then has to sit and listen to you discussing an order or chatting with a taxi driver. Scott Simon, 24, however, may have the worst butt call story of all. Pompano Beach police say that his phone dialed 911 as he was discussing his plan to kill a man. The police tracked him down just minutes after the man was killed. Presumably, this was a Nokia just fulfilling its promise of “connecting people.”
I previously discussed the slew of recent conservatives who has “had a change of heart” on equal rights of gays and lesbians after a family member who out as homosexual. Like some conservative women who reject most privacy principles except abortion rights, it is hard to celebrate belated endorsements of civil liberties which happen to benefit these politicians or their families. I had the same reaction to some journalists who gave only passing attention to President Obama’s various attacks on civil liberties over the last four years. However, now that his Administration has turned on journalists, we are seeing editorials like today’s New York Times column stating “the Obama administration has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news.”
Arizona had an extraordinary moment this week during the opening prayer. No it is not what you think of some sectarian screed or other controversy. To the contrary, it was an unprecedented act of inclusion when the legislature allowed an atheist to open the session. An atheist state lawmaker tasked with delivering the opening prayer for this afternoon’s session of the House of Representatives asked that people not bow their heads. Democratic Representative Juan Mendez, of Tempe, is an atheist and opened the session by asking his colleagues not to bow their heads but look at each other.
I have previously stated that I fail to see the basis for criminal charges in the IRS scandal. Prior administrations have faced allegations of targeting opposing groups and such matters have been treated as abuses but not crimes. Yet, various news sites are reporting this morning that Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS division, will invoke the Fifth Amendment before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Her counsel asked the Committee to withdraw the demand for her testimony in light of her intention to refuse to testify on the grounds that it may incriminate her.
We have previously discussed the continued prosecution of minors for engaging in sexual conduct under state laws. These laws have a sexist record of boys prosecuted for having sex with a minor where girls were treated as the victim, even when the sex was consensual and both were minors or close in age. There is a new case out of Indian River, Florida that is equally troubling. Kaitlyn Hunt, 18, is a senior in high school and is facing felony charges for engaging in a sexual relationship with another girl at her school. Despite an outcry against prosecuting Hunt for consensual sex, the prosecutor has refused to drop the charges of two counts of lewd and lascivious battery of a child 12 to 16 years of age. Assistant State Attorney Brian Workman has insisted that he will only agree to a plea deal where she would accept one felony conviction and a two-year sentence of home confinement. Such a plea would likely put Hunt on the sex offender registry for life.
This week we lost Zach Sobiech, who left the world much poorer with his passing. However, he left us a wonderful gift. The Minnesota teen wrote a wonderful song called “Clouds” after learning he had terminal bone cancer. He sang of his hope that “maybe someday I’ll see you again . . . We’ll fly up in the clouds and we’ll never see the end.” The physical end came for Zach this week but his grace and his gift has lifted the hearts of millions.
We have yet another case of police being accused of beating a citizen for filming them in public. Makia Smith says that Baltimore police beat her up and smashed her camera when they filmed them beating a man in the street. She is now suing the Baltimore Police Department, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and police Officers Nathan Church, William Pilkerton, Jr., Nathan Ulmer and Kenneth Campbell in Federal Court.