Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox

In what hopefully will become the conclusion of a oppressive years long ordeal, Italy’s highest court, the Court of Cassation, overturned the murder convictions against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

The news came as somewhat a surprise considering the zeal at which the prosecution fought to ensure the defendants be imprisoned for over two decades. The subsequent court drama and media circuses made it seem an almost foregone conclusion her fate would ultimately rest upon an extradition hearing within the purview of American courts.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Farkhunda

Farkhunda

If it was possible to add another injustice levied against Farkhunda, a woman who suffered a brutal murder at the hands of a mob in Afghanistan that insisted she burned a Koran, authorities publicly announced she was in fact innocent of these claims.

In response to this outrage, a day of national morning occurred during her funeral and burial. Various leaders including Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned her murder as a heinous attack. Reports of police standing nearby and indifferent to the incident lead the president to call for fundamental reforms in the nation’s police forces.

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unnamed-1This morning I will be testifying in the House of Representatives before the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security of the Committee on the Judiciary. The hearing is entitled “Child Exploitation Restitution Following the Paroline Decision and addresses a long-standing controversy over the limits on restitution in such cases. My testimony is below.

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

The Obama Administration has been pressuring members of Congress to pass the bill that will give President Obama the “fast track”  authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP) agreement without any debate in Congress.  Fast track authority would not allow for any amendments and the bill would remain secret until just before it is voted on.

“President Obama is currently pressing members of Congress to pass Fast-Track authority for a trade and investment agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). If Fast Track passes, it means that Congress must approve or deny the TPP with minimal debate and no amendments. Astonishingly, our lawmakers have not seen the agreement they are being asked to expedite.” Nation of Change (more…)

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220px-BostonSuspect2146px-US-FBI-ShadedSeal.svgCriminal defense attorneys have long objected to “experts” produced at trials by the Justice Department who often seem to closely follow trial theories rather than scientific or forensic data. I have handled cases where experts used by the Justice Department gave almost laughable testimony filled with errors in national security cases but courts continue to admit their testimony. This week, one such expert, FBI Special Agent Steven Kimball, fell apart on the stand when confronted with clearly conclusions over basic and easily ascertainable facts.

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

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the massive cuts to education and programs for the poor by the new Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner. In that article, I mentioned that Gov. Rauner seemed to be parroting the budget methods of Governor Brownback in Kansas and Gov. Walker in Wisconsin, both of whose state economies have been floundering under their respective austerity programs.

Well, it seems that in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker has gone even farther in his attempts to balance the budget on the backs of the middle class by proposing massive cuts to the Department of Natural Resources, while attempting to wrest control of  various agencies from the public domain and capturing them in the Executive branch of government. (more…)

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by Charlton (Chuck) Stanley, weekend writer

FAA logoLast August, I wrote a blog post entitled The FAA and NTSB vs. Common Sense. The reader can save time by going back and reading that post at the link, because it sets out the main premises of this article.

The FAA has been under growing pressure from all segments of the aviation community to relax the standards for a Third Class medical certificate. This pressure has come from recreational pilots, manufacturers of aircraft and aircraft components, small airport operators, and small businesses. Part of the reason for this pressure is that general aviation is slowly dying.

When the FAA was created, their primary mission was to promote aviation. That includes making it safe and affordable for the flying public. However, the FAA, being bureaucrats who hate to give up power and control once it is in their grasp, asked for comments on a proposed rule change.

That was back in 2009. The initial proposal was denied in 2010. The proposed rule was resurrected, but the FAA has been slow-walking the changes–for more than five years. There has been virtually no progress toward doing away with the Third Class Medical certificate.
Last year, while being questioned, FAA officials made some vague concessions, but would not be specific.

Instead of promoting aviation, I have come to the conclusion that some segments of the FAA resemble a certain character in the Dilbert comic strip; Mordac, the Preventer of Information Services, also known as Mordac the Refuser.

Exasperated, several members of the bipartisan House and Senate Aviation Caucus introduced H.R. 3708: The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act of 2013 (GAPPA). S2103, an identical measure, was introduced in the Senate.

This year, we have a new Congress, and the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act 2 was introduced in the House (H.R. 1062) and the Senate (S.571) last Thursday, Feb. 25, 2015. GAPPA-2 will protect general aviation pilots from liability on charitable flights, extend legal protections to FAA representatives, and require FAA contractors to provide information under Freedom of Information Act requests.

A group of aviation industry leaders sent identical letters to the Senators and Representatives who introduced the GAPPA-2 bills in Congress this week.

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