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

You may not have heard of it before, but the government has the ability to shut off cell phone service at any time, under the guise of National Security.  The Department of Homeland Security has an operating procedure known as Standard Operating Procedure 303( SOP 303) and it has been labeled as the cell phone “kill switch”.

I knew very little about the “kill switch” before today, but according to a recent Al Jezeera America article, the kill switch authority is being currently debated in Federal court. (more…)

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220px-André_SaraivamrA_smallThere is a growing war between environmentalists and graffiti artists over “tagging” natural settings and parks. Hiking is my main pastime and I have long been mystified by people who go to gorgeous natural settings and degrade them with their graffiti. However, some “artists” are now heralding the move to add graffiti to natural trails and sites. One of them is Andre Saraiva is an internationally known graffiti artist who showed how he tagged a boulder at the Joshua Tree National Park. In my view, he should be arrested but he and other graffiti artists think that this is a matter of celebration and pride to ruin these sites for the rest of us. Saraiva appears to believe that some of us go on hikes to see his childish scriblings on tree and rock. Most people try to escape such urban mess by taking to the trails and Saraiva and others are committed to degrading nature in the very same way. The solution is simple in my view: arrest him.

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textonlyI have previously written about my disagreement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision to rescind federal trademark protections for the Redskins as a racially disparaging name. That case is still being appealed but a new case may well answer some of the question raised in the prior column. An Asian American rock band called “the Slants” has appealed a decision to deny it trademark protection — allowing the question to be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. A panel previously upheld the denial in In re Simon Shiao Tam, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6430.

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200px-AbalogoI will have the honor of serving as the moderator on a panel at the American Bar Association’s conference in Washington, D.C. today. The panel is entitled “Stranger in a Strange Land: Cross Cultural Issues in the Courts.” This is part of an internationally successful program organized by Judge Hon. Delissa A. Ridgway of U.S. Court of International Trade. Judge Ridgway has brought together jurists and lawyers from around the world to discuss difficult cultural issues that are increasingly appearing in criminal and civil cases. These cases deal with arguments or defenses that turn on the cultural norms or practices of a given defendant or litigant. The cases have forced the question of when and how courts should recognize such defenses.

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mayorWith looting and rioting increasing in Baltimore, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake caused a bit of a stir in her press conference by explaining that she instructed police to not only give protesters room for the exercise of their free speech but “we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.” The problem is that images of people being stripped of their bags and belongings in broad daylight seemed to confirm precisely that type of space. It is perhaps the most botched quote in the history of botched quotes.

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kidsRussia Today is showing a less than positive image of the United States as a video shows its reporter trying to report on the protests in Baltimore last week only to be mugged on camera. Fortunately, police were in the area and apprehended the suspect. In the meantime, another disturbing video shows City Paper Photo Editor J.M. Giordano was tackled and beaten by Baltimore City police outside of Western District headquarters last night while covering the protests. The attack on a journalist by police was accompanied by the arrest and charging of another reporter for disorderly conduct.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

yazidi-women-facing-wallAccording to an Iraqi based aid worker, who identified himself only as Yousif, approximately two girls a day commit suicide in the aftermath of being raped by ISIS Terrorists. The news and other corroboration of reports of inhumanity directed toward women in girls are unimaginable. Compounding the horror experienced from gang rapes in open streets, being sold into sexual slavery, or subjected to other outrages is both the stigma and shame forced onto women and girls–a furtherance of ISIS’ crimes against humanity. It also shows a macabre window into a policy of ethnic cleansing by ISIS at several levels.

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