Archive for the ‘International’ Category

600px-Doha_Qatar_skyline_at_night_Sept_2012It appears that the 2022 World Cup will come with its own stadium . . . and attached cemetery. Qatar was delighted to be selected for the games and has been pulling out all of the stops on construction. Part of that effort appears to be tossing aside workplace safety concerns. Over 900 workers have died in the various construction projects. To give a point of reference, only six workers died during the construction for the 2014 World Cup preparation in Brazil (and 25 died before the Sochi Olympic games this summer). Advocates fear that, unless something is done, thousands more will die before the first ball is kicked in the first game.

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220px-Barberini_Faun_front_Glyptothek_Munich_218_n2We previously discussed cases of tourists demanding art in efforts to get memorable photographs, including a recent incident involving an American tourist. We now have an even more egregious incident where a tourist actually climbed on the leg of an early 19th Century statue entitled “The Drunken Satyr” to take a selfie and caused the entire leg to snap off.

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170px-Mia20061200px-Super_Bowl_29_Vince_Lombardi_trophy_at_49ers_Family_Day_2009You may recall that we discussed the scene in the 2012 Super Bowl when pop star Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam (AKA M.I.A.) flipped the bird and sang “I don’t give a shit” while performing the song “Give Me All Your Luvin’” with Madonna. Personally, I did not like it, though I am often in the minority in objecting to inappropriate conduct at such events by players or performers. I thought it was immature and vulgar and inappropriate for the millions of kids watching the show. It was a lapse that occurred in a flash and was probably not noticed by many viewers. My kids however say it as did I. It was a stupid and thoughtless addition by M.I.A. to the show. It now appears that the National Football League (NFL) felt the same way and has not forgotten the violation. They are demanding compensation from M.I.A. and estimate the cost at $15.1 million in restitution.

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468px-Egri_no_220px-Taron_vl_18_1_gdWe have been following police in this country and abroad arresting people for taking public photographs, including police in England. Now Hungary has passed a law that make photographing people in public a violation of the civil code. When taking a picture for example at a landmark, you must get the consent of anyone who happens to be in the shot even if you have no intention to publish the picture. It is a good thing that this picture of the Siege of Eger was painted in 1552 — a photograph would have resulted in a slew of lawsuits.

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250px-Rimpac_battlegroup_2006220px-DiegogarciaLocated in the Chagos Islands, Diego Garcia is one of the most pristine areas of the world. When the British allowed the United States to use the base in the early 1980s, the authorization came with clear environmental controls to prevent the deterioration of the natural surroundings. Four years ago, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) were declared the world’s largest marine reserve. However, its greatest danger appears to be the United States Navy. For decades, in direct violation of governing standards, the U.S. Navy has dumped hundreds of tons of human waste into the lagoon. In the meantime, while 5000 U.S. service personnel are dumping waste into the waters and coral reefs, Chagossians are being kept from returning to their home because of the delicate environmental conditions of the area.

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220px-DancingFlamesWe have yet another atrocity by religious protesters responding to a rumor that a Hindu had desecrated the Koran. These Muslim protesters than had no qualms over burning down a sacred Hindu temple in protesting a possible act of blasphemy. Last December, we saw a similar riot following a rumor involving a Koran.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

AP090422054982.jpgWell, Captain Phillips hit the small screen at the end of January and the DVD supposedly captures everything good in America. Courageous sea-captain battles ruthless Somali pirates to save crew and cargo bound for parts unknown. Navy sharpshooters end hostage stand-off with might and right. Danish shipping line, Maersk, vindicated for its caution in protecting its freight. All hunky dory!  Hunky, that is , until you start asking why are all those Maersk container ships floating oh so near the coast of East Africa and into harm’s way. Well, a significant number of them are carrying food aid from the U.S. to the nutrition-deprived people on the African continent and getting a hefty above-market price in return.  Still, you must ask, what’s wrong with that — corporate citizen conducting a business that helps people and makes a profit for its shareholders. All’s right with the world, everyone must agree. Not every one.

A new article in Foreign Policy Magazine details the intense fight Maersk Lines is waging in the halls of Congress to scuttle a key feature of this year’s farm bill. That provision would likely feed a conservatively estimated 2-4 million more souls and perhaps up to 10 million. Yet, Maersk and its flotilla of lobbyists is fighting it tooth and nail. To understand why, you have to understand the basis and process of America’s food aid program and acquaint yourself with the history.

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220px-Chinese_buffet2It is a good thing that it is not April 1st because this would an obvious April Fool’s joke. Then again most of the fatwas coming out of Saudi Arabia seem like jokes to most people living in the 21st Century. Saudi cleric Saleh al-Fawzan has issued fatwa against all-you-can-eat buffets in Saudi Arabia — declaring that the popular lunch establishments will now be viewed as unlawful under Sharia law. You might want to get Sharia defense counsel before going to that Smörgåsbord in Jetta.

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We have been discussing how the United States is cutting educational and scientific budgets while spending billions on wars and waste. The lack of priority in such spending is breathtaking as we lose a generation that could be receiving better educational opportunities instead of facing growing class sizes and fewer teachers. The same it true for our foreign aid. Education is our greatest weapon to fight radicalism and religious hatred. This film is an example of the potential of so many children that is going unrealized. Researchers from MIT found Kelvin Doe, 15, scrounging in trash bins in Sierra Leone. The homeless boy was looking for any electronic parts.

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260px-The_statues_of_Kim_Il_Sung_and_Kim_Jong_Il_on_Mansu_Hill_in_Pyongyang_(april_2012)While millions are dying of starvation and North Korea remains an isolated, despised power, it appears that supreme leader Kim Jong Un still has that magic of his old man, Kim Jong Il. Kim was reelected unanimously in his first election after taking over the country after his father’s death and then killing off his rivals, including family members. The North Korean press reported 100% of the country voted, though they found a ballot with a single name on it. In other words, you can have any leader as long as it is Kim Jong Il.

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130px-Mao_Zedong_portraitCan you say that five times? Well, not if you are online in China you can’t.

There was a delicious irony to the coverage of a speech by Zhang Chunxian, the party chief of Xinjiang, to journalists. In the authoritarian, one-party state, Chinese leaders speak matter-of-factly about censoring reporters and blocking free speech. In this case, Zhang spoke about the vulnerability of the system of censorship maintained by him and other party bosses. His remarks were then censored by his own censors. Just another day in the worker’s paradise.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

As the son of a fallen Air Force pilot whose remains were never found, I am sensitive to the plight of family members of servicemen and women whose remains may be recoverable, but yet are still not identified.  There are multiple military and defense department agencies who are responsible for locating and identifying the remains of veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam and Cold War missions.

The purpose of this article is to examine the efforts of just one of those agencies.  The Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, or J-PAC, is an example of an agency that is crucial to both locating and identifying remains, but because of bureaucratic constraints, outdated methods and the possible stubbornness of its scientific head, has produced very little results at a very expensive cost to the taxpayers. (more…)

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220px-Noah2014PosterCensor boards in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have sunk Darren Aronofsky’s new Biblical epic, Noah. The Paramount movie is now banned because it allegedly contradicts Islam by portraying a prophet and no one in these countries can see an alternative account of religion other than Islam.

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300px-Fomfr_whipThe persecution of homosexuals continues in Nigeria with four young men convicted of homosexual relations and flogged on in open court. The judges and lawyers watched as the men (aged 20 to 22) were laid prostrate on the floor, stripped, and whipped on their buttocks in a demonstration of Sharia justice. The sadomasochistic nature of the punishment appears to have escaped the onlookers. While a crowd outside tried to grab the men to kill them, the court explained that stoning was not needed since the men admitted to homosexual acts previously but said that they were no longer engaging in such relations.

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German Lesson of the Day

gr-image-contraceptionI am going to pretend that this is a Roe v. Wade story and share something that I ran across last night on Reddit. The German word for contraceptive is Antibabypille. I was pretty sure this was a joke until I looked it up on a German to English dictionary site.

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300px-Biogradska_suma200px-Tony_Abbott_-_2010We recently discussed the disturbing allegations directed against an Australian MP who dumped pollutants into the Great Barrier Reef with impunity. The case raised questions over how powerful mining interests are overwhelming environmental concerns, even in the iconic Great Barrier Reef. Now, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has shocked many around the world with a speech to the lumber industry that not only promises to stop the establishment of any new national parks but commits his government to advancing the interests of the industry.

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225px-Vladimir_Putin_official_portrait230px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-S33882,_Adolf_Hitler_retouchedWe have long discussed the authoritarianism of Vladimir Putin whose history of beating protesters and striping away press freedom was put aside briefly for the Olympic ceremonies. However, Putin appeared to be eager to stop the love fest and turn on Ukraine. For history buffs, however, there is something a bit unnerving in Putin invading a neighboring country to protect Russian-speakers who are welcoming the troops as protectors. In case the Sudetenland does not come to mind, Poland is now mobilizing troops along the border to bring the historical analogy home for the rest of the world. While I believe that this crisis will be contained and Putin is not ready for a wider war, it is no accident that the blind nationalism and authoritarianism would lead to expansionism. Ukraine is not the Sudetenland and Poland is no longer using horses to repel tanks. Putin’s desire for control of this port and Lebensraum may not be as easy to hold as it was to take.

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417px-Vaccination-polio-indiaIslamic fundamentalists in Pakistan are again expressing their moral outrage over the effort of the international community to vaccinate their children against polio. In the latest case, at least 12 security officials were killed and nine others injured in an ambush on a clearly marked medical convoy in the Jamrud area of the Khyber tribal region. It appears that both murder and denying children polio vaccines are viewed by these men as a pure expression of faith and morality.

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tweet The Syrian rebels have continued their crusade to bring Islamic law to rural areas of that country. In the latest atrocity, a Syrian spokesman narrated an amputation of a hand by a man that the rebels said asked to punished for theft “in order to cleanse his sins.” In the twisted mind of these extremists, the video was supposed to show the purity and righteousness of Islam as a sword is used to sever the hand of the man.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

The Fifth Amendment protects all United States citizens by guaranteeing us all the right of due process of law. The Fifth Amendment is meant to ensure that the government has to at least prove to a court that a citizen is guilty of any crime that he or she is charged with.

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Cornell Law

Without the Fifth Amendment, the government could grab any citizen off the street and proceed to jail them or execute them without a trial of any kind where the accused could mount a defense to the government’s charges.  It seems that the Obama Administration is once again in the process of deciding whether it will unilaterally execute an American citizen believed to living in Pakistan.  Or at least, preparing us for a kill decision that they have already made. (more…)

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

maeso-hepatitis-valencia_thumbBespectacled Juan Maeso led a fairly mundane life as an anesthetist in the Spanish coastal town of Valencia. All that changed in 2007 when Maeso was convicted of serial murder. A morphine addict, Maeso had been skimming the painkiller meant for his patients and then using the same compromised needle to inject them. Over a decade, 275 patients contracted hepatitis-c (HCV)  and four of them died from complications from the disease. A Spanish court sentenced Maeso to 1,933 years in prison but the sentence pales in interest to how the murderous soporifist was finally caught.

A fascinating article in the journal Nature details the laboratory hunt for the killer with all the twists and turns of an Arthur Conan Doyle story. Led by researchers at the University of Valencia, the work involved analyzing and categorizing 4200 viral sequences to backtrack to Maeso’s particular strain of hepatitis-c. The process known as phylogenetic forensics has been successfully used to track down the origins of such infamous cases as the 2009 anthrax-laced heroine scare in Europe and the case of Bruce Ivins, a microbiologist at the US Army Medical Research Institute, strongly suspected of sending anthrax tainted letters to Senators in 2001. Ivins committed suicide before charges were placed.

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225px-Instagram_logo125px-Flag_of_Bahrain.svgThe crackdown on free speech continues among our Arab allies. This week, Dubai arrested four people for posting insults about companions of Prophet Mohammed on Instagram. Since the companions of Prophet Mohammed are revered by Sunni Muslims, the insults are particularly sensitive in the country with tensions between a majority of Shiites and a Sunni monarchy.

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Big Game Hunter Fraud660There is an interesting lawsuit in Nevada in which Rick Vukasin, a 65-year-old electrician and big-game hunter, is a Canadian outfitter and a hunting guide in Tajikistan for a type of “shoot and switch” ploy. Vukasin says that he paid $50,000 to kill a rare, threatened argali sheep known as “Marco Polo” but received a lesser trophy rack in the mail.

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100px-Coat_of_arms_of_Israel.svgOne of the lowest points in U.S. and Israeli relations came in 1997 when Samuel Sheinbein, an American teenager, savagely murdered another teenager as practice for a later planned murder. He then fled to Israel and as a Jew claimed the right to become a citizen (and thus avoid extradition). He is now dead after grabbing a gun and shooting several guards before being gunned down himself in Haron Prison. The irony is that he was close to the point where he would ask for release from prison.

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

European Pariament LogoThe European Parliament is considering the notion of Net Neutrality in Europe, similar to a debate present in the United States.

Net Neutrality is in general the practice of prohibiting Internet Service Providers, Telecommunications Providers, and Networking Services from giving favorable access or download speeds to entities they wish to give advantage via preferential treatment relating to agreements or other considerations. End users would under Net Neutrality be afforded with equal access to material unconstrained by their service providers.

The vote is scheduled for February 24th of this year.
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Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

SputnikWith many reports becoming all to familiar with state sponsored censorship of internet traffic users in these nations are engaged in a cat and mouse game with a government that is showing increasing levels of sophistication and legislative muscle. The tactics often used include filtering objectionable material, firewalling targeted IP addresses, tracing data back to individuals and sanctioning those individuals, and creating a system of fear generally in which the public is dissuaded into engaging in free speech.

The common element in these electronic censorship measures is that the government controls access via the physical structure of the network. They are able to do this through land based infrastructure. But what if these physical vulnerabilities to free speech and press were removed and instead replaced with broadcast satellite systems that are immune from filtering and geo-locating individuals?
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After watching the inhumanity in Syria and the violence in the Ukraine, it is easy to write off our species. Then you see this.

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220px-Mel_ReynoldsRemember former Chicago Representative Mel Reynolds? If you recall, he resigned from his congressional seat in 1995 after he was convicted of 12 counts of statutory rape, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography. Well, he is back in the news after an arrest in Zimbabwe. You guessed it. He is charged with allegedly possessing pornographic material and violating immigration laws.

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220px-Lingerie225px-Vladimir_Putin_official_portraitRussia appears to be looking at a new cause for protesters who are seething with anger. No, it is not over Putin’s rollback on free speech or the criminalization of open displays of homosexuality. Women in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are rising in anger over a trade ban on lacy lingerie. The ban prevents the importation, manufacture, or sale of any underwear containing less than 6 percent cotton. It is not clear if Putin’s infamous police units will begin panty raids in addition to their press raids, but the law has many knickers in a knot.

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1988_Salman_Rushdie_The_Satanic_Verses220px-Salman_Rushdie_2012_Shankbone-2Believe or not, it has been 25 years since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a death fatwa for Salman Rushdie — promising paradise and reward to anyone who killed the author simply because he wrote a book with what was viewed as blasphemous to Islam. For civil libertarians, it was a defining moment where Islam was pitted against the most basic and cherished values of free speech. The world was shocked by the decision even from the radical Iranian government. However, we have not heard much of the fatwa in years. Just to prove that the Islamic clerics remain as fanatical and anti-speech as they were in 1989, senior cleric Ahmad Khatami renewed the call to kill Rushdie and declared that the “historical fatwa” is “as fresh as ever.” What is clear is that, while the world views the fatwa as an example of religious extremism and insanity, the Islamic cleric remain proud of the death order as a pure expression of Islamic law and values.

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President_Barack_ObamaNSA logo smallWe have previously discussed how many Democrats and liberals have stayed relatively silent as the Obama Administration has launched attacks on privacy, press freedoms, and civil liberties. In addition President Obama has engaged in military interventions, declared the right to kill citizens on his own authority, refused to investigate the U.S. torture program, and repeatedly violated the separation of powers. Now, we can add the violation of attorney-client privilege and confidentiality. Once again, the disclosure came as a result not of congressional oversight or Executive reforms, but the Snowden disclosures.

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220px-nbc_logosvg200px-Bode_Miller_Hinterstoder_2011There have been a host of complaints about the NBC coverage of the Olympics. I criticized NBC during the opening ceremony on Twitter for useless banter of its hosts rather than allowing viewers to actually listen to the opening ceremony. It was yet another example of the network’s view that viewers want to hear from their celebrities rather than watch the actual news. It is obviously not appealing to viewers. Ratings are down from the Vancouver games and just even with the Torino games seven years ago. However, few aspects of the coverage hit a more angry note than the interview

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220px-ModernEgypt,_Opening_of_Luxor-Aswan_rail_line,_Album-2-BAL-00000606-0039Denmark’s Agriculture and Food Minister Dan Jørgensen has signed a new regulation that bans religious slaughter of animals. The move has outraged Jewish and Muslim leaders but Mr Jørgensen publicly declared that “animal rights come before religion.” The new law bars slaughterhouses from allowing Muslim and Jewish leaders from killing animals without first stunning them. Muslims and Jewish religions believe that God only allows for the consumption of Halal or Kosher meat that involves the slitting of the throat of animals. Animal rights advocates insist that these religious rituals are cruel to animals.

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I am not sure what is more of a concern: that there are cats living in the ceilings of the Adler Arena in Sochi Russia or that the work of the new building is so flimsy that the weight of a cat can cause a collapse. No doubt the Russian government will insist that plenty of buildings have cat walks and this was a particularly heavy kitty.

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by Charlton “Chuck” Stanley, Weekend Contributor

Image by the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department Murphy, NC  Keith Lovin, Sheriff

Image by the
Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department
Murphy, NC

This morning, I had been working on another topic when my cell phone rang one time. I looked at the number on the caller ID, which came from 216-206-xxxx. I looked up the number on a internet reverse lookup service. The call “originated” in Euclid, OH. Except it didn’t. If I had called that number back, my call would have been re-directed to an offshore number, most likely in a Caribbean country.

So far, in the past week, I have received at least a half-dozen such calls. I did not think to write all the numbers down before deleting them from my phone.

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Humanist EmblemWhile many, primarily Islamic, countries have received much press regarding flagrant abuses of religious and non-religious persons or views, seven of which have death penalty offenses for crimes such as apostasy, the true impact for most of the worlds citizens are not as stark but can be often a suffer a form of punishment, repression and imprisonment of some kind for their beliefs.

The international Humanist and Ethical Union published a broad and comprehensive study of world governments listing laws, social constraints, and customs of government for nearly each nation. The study provides a deep insight into how even subtle restrictions on atheists and subscribers to differing religions or non-religions can have a chilling effect on the expressions of their citizens and it is often this subtlety that can become a form of suppression of dissent in surprising areas.
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225px-Victorian-valentines-cards-two-cherubs-red-heartsIslamic leaders celebrated Valentine’s Day again this year by denouncing the holiday as anti-Islamic and calling for a “Modesty Day” instead that celebrates such items as burkas and veils. Students clashed today in Peshawar as dozens of liberal students sought to celebrate the holiday and defy orders from religious leaders to boycott the holiday. The result was an exchange of rocks and bricks between the pro-Valentine and anti-Valentine protesters. At least one student was shot and wounded. In Indonesia, warnings were issued that celebration of the holiday was an offense of Islam. In Malasysia religious monitors have been patrolling the streets looking for unIslamic practices. Valentine’s Day has been declared haram, or forbidden.

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220px-Curlingstoneold220px-Curling_Canada_Torino_2006As many on this blog know, I have long been a critic of the International Olympic Committee which has long been accused of corruption, cronyism, and plain stupidity. One of the most outrageous decisions was the elimination of wrestling, one of the few original sports, in favor of events like golf with more wealthy supporters. (Wrestling was later reinstated after global outcry). My sense of confusion depended this week with the reappearance of curling — a sport viewed by 99 percent of people every four years and met with the same universal question: “why is this a sport?” I do not contest that curling is a sport, I just fail to understand why it is an Olympic sport (like shooting) when sports like wrestling were cut.

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220px-Sleepingputto_LéonBazilePerraultThere is a creepy but provocative issue raised by an advertisement in Barcelona, Spain this month. The posters offered “abuse-free child pornography” that asked viewers to “Send us naked photos of when you were a child. For child pornography without abuse. +18 Yes to Pedophilia. No to Abuse.” The posters were later taken down, but they raise a challenging (if admittedly unsettling) legal question. If people are turning over pictures of themselves as children (without any prior abuse or sexual acts depicted), does it still constitute child pornography? Update: The articles on this story reported that the posters were displayed by JCDeaux, an advertising firm. However, I have communicated with a representative of the company who has stated that it had no role in the posters and “JCDecaux is investigating this unauthorized insertion of the poster in our bus shelter in Barcelona. We removed the poster as soon as we were made aware of it.”
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WilliamMitchellErlinder_C_Peter_print-199x300William Mitchell College of Law Professor Peter Erlinder has filed suit against his own law school after being banned from campus for allegedly inappropriate and possibly threatening conduct. Erlinder claims that his conduct is due to post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his jailing in Rwanda. This lawsuit follows another lawsuit by a John Marshall Law Professor who says that a disability has caused him to act oddly and experience outbursts toward colleagues and students. [For full disclosure, years ago, I had brief interaction with Professor Erlinder in a case after I came on as lead counsel. Professor Erlinder's role in the case ended soon after I became lead counsel]. In one prior communication, an administrator said that a doctor had expressed a concern that “Prof. Erlinder might go postal …. ” (Erlinder challenges that veracity of that statements and alleges that the doctor has denied that he ever made such a statement). He is seeking both compensatory damages ($50,000) as well as punitive and treble damages (in addition to injunctive relief such as reinstatement).

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220px-Clive_Palmer,_December_2012,_cropped220px-Blue_Linckia_StarfishThere are few areas as beautiful or as fragile as the Great Barrier Reef. however, Queensland Nickel refinery, owned by MP Clive Palmer, wanted to discharge huge amounts of toxic wastewater into the Great Barrier Reef marine park. Two interesting additional factoids: first, they were repeatedly told not to and second, when they did it anyway, government officials decided not to bring any civil or criminal charges against the company.

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1381566_244373695712868_2025785586_n220px-Baby_wolphin_by_pinholeThe senior official associated with the annual and notorious dolphin hunt in Japan assured U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy that the harpooning of the cetaceans in entirely painless. Yoshifumi Kai of the Taiji Fishermen’s Cooperative wants to correct the odd impression that the dolphins writhing in the blood infused slaughter are actually experiencing pain when a giant spear-like weapon is thrust through their bodies. If so, we may have a solution for the shortage of lethal drugs for executions: we could just harpoon death row inmates. Indeed, in euthanasia countries like the Netherlands could switch over to harpooning for the terminally ill.

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200px-Zoo-kbh-2005220px-Giraffe_feeding,_TanzaniaRemind me not to take the kids to the Copenhagan petting zoo. Animal activists are appalled this week after the Copenhagan Zoo killed a young giraffe even though there was an offer from another zoo to take the animal. The zoo decided to slaughter and autopsy Marius, 2, in front of school children and then throw the meat to lions to eat.

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President_Barack_ObamaUnknownPresident Obama has continued the practice of selling ambassadorship off to wealthy friends and donors — a practice that many used to denounce during Republican administration but has been dismissed with a shrug in this Administration. I have long been critical of the practice which places a president’s and a party’s interest ahead of that of the nation. I was at a dinner party a few years ago where an Obama donor spoke openly how the White House gave him an ambassadorship and he decided to just give it to his wife who he said is delighted that she is now called “ambassador” wherever she goes. As discussed this weekend, donor Noah Bryson Mamet has been nominated for ambassador to Argentia but has never even visited the country. This follows an embarrassing hearing with Obama bundler George Tsunis, who was nominated for ambassador to Norway. Tsunis showed as striking lack of knowledge of that country.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

article-0-1B3F38C300000578-259_634x801Teen idol and Canadian citizen Justin Bieber just entered the consciousness of serious adults but it wasn’t for his singing or making their teenage daughters swoon. No, Justin set the world ablaze due to a pot smoke-filled airline cabin and a felony arrest for egging a neighbor’s house. And lest you think the American Congress has better things to do than follow the shenanigans of today’s latest pop star, think again. At least one senator has called for his deportation and an on-line petition to jump-start that process has gathered 100,000 signatures.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

Noahs ark 5

Replica Of Noah’s Ark in Netherlands
http://www.miamisburg.org/stuff_noahs_ark.htm

In America, almost every child is taught the story of Noah who, in response to a message from on-high, crafted a wooded ark and gathered the planet’s fauna to save them from destruction for sins known and unknown. We don’t teach kids that most ancient civilizations recount the same story of the Great Flood that swamped the planet but with their own cultural take on the topic. Now a recent archeological find from Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) is creating a buzz that might change  that. Found on a cuneiform tablet, the story of the Mesopotamian Noah differs only slightly from the Hebrew version of the legend. The Christian Bible tells the tale of Noah who gathers his family to build an ark shaped much like our modern-day boats, with one long keel and sides tapering at each end. The Bible details the blueprint straight from that chief engineer in the sky:

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228px-Picture_of_Edward_SnowdenMembers of Congress are shocked, shocked this week. No this Claude Rains moment was not over the hundreds of billions spent on unpopular wars or the creeping economy or the evisceration of civil liberties in America. No, that stuff is just fine. What had members struggling in front of reporters to avoid being sick in the halls of Congress was Edward Snowden. Yes, it is the latest classified hearing and the latest unclassified outrage to convince Americans that it is Snowden that they must fear despite polls saying that Americans fear their own government as much or more than terrorism. Thus, House Armed Services Committee members left the meeting and called again for Snowden to be captured and thrown in prison for life, if not executed. I previously wrote a column that a strong argument could be made for a presidential pardon, but the renewed effort to turn public opinion likely reflects a growing international view of Snowden as a whistleblower.

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filename-img-1649-jpgCNN has issued an apology for a story that ran this week calling the famous “Courage” Monument in Brest, Belarus “the world’s ugliest monument.” Not to be outcome on the stupidity scale, Russian Senator Igor Morozov has proposed a temporary ban on CNN (I guess until their tastes change in conformity with state demands). I do not happen to agree that such memorials should be immune from artistic or architectural criticism. Indeed, I have criticized some of our own memorials. However, I was most struck the harsh critique. I find the memorial to be refreshingly different from the usual flaming torch or sword. CNN however appears to have taken down the story, which raises concerns over withdrawing a piece due to unpopular opinions. I happen to disagree with the author, but what is the standard for post-publication deletion of opinion pieces? This was not racist or sexist or even categorically false. It was an opinion.

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225px-hamid_karzai_2004-06-14Our erstwhile ally Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is back reminding American citizens of the waste of thousands of dead and wounded U.S. soldiers and hundreds of billions of dollars. Karzai has refused to sign an agreement to keep a significant number of troops in the country for training and counter-insurgency operations — an agreement guaranteeing more U.S. losses in lives and treasure that the Obama Administration wants signed. Karzai however has been negotiating with the Taliban to force the U.S. out and return them to power in a sharing arrangement with this government. In the meantime, he is repeating his condemnations of the United States as a “colonial” power and alleged that insurgent attacks were actually staged by U.S. forces. I understand that the “enemy of our enemy is our friend” but what about the friend of our enemy?

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220px-DieudoWe have been following the prosecution of French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, 46, for hateful speech in France, particularly his alleged anti-Semitism. While I do not consider Dieudonne funny in the slightest and rather offensive, the prosecution reaffirms the growing divide between the United States and its closest allies over free speech. Now, England has magnified those concerns by barring Dieudonne from entering the country. This sounds strikingly like the equally controversial move against Michael Savage.

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