Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

flag-pkkThe bloody horror that befell Northwestern Iraq and in Syria at the hands of ISIS is likely to force a geopolitical reassessment as to alliances and policies. There have been many calling for us to change our role in the Syrian civil war as well as demanding changes in the leadership of Iraq itself. One fact is certain the threat posed by ISIS is real, growing and it seems ironic that even other jihadi groups can no longer accept the actions of this terrorist organization. European governments worry of the distinct possibility a terrorist, failed state will emerge having shores on the Mediterranean.

Such a change might be beginning now and will ultimately find common causes between the West and the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party. While the German Government has historically used legal and diplomatic maneuvers to suppress the PKK, it now is poised to arm the Kurds in Northern Iraq in response to ISIS and very well could be ultimately supporting the PKK, at least unofficially.

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Entreating the Godfather

In a ruling likely to embolden other cities and counties in Washington to prohibit legal marijuana businesses Pierce County Superior Court Ronald Culpepper ruled that Initiative 502, Washington State’s voter approved marijuana legalization and regulation measure, does not pre-empt local governments from adopting ordinances banning the legal marijuana industry.

We have previously discussed local ordinances and moratoria with the city of Wenatchee as a focus (HERE, HERE, and HERE) In this case plaintiff Tedd Wetherbee, who received state approval to found and operate a marijuana retail business in the City of Fife was denied a business license by the city by reason of an ordinance prohibiting such businesses.

The ruling could lead to further erosion of the voter-approved initiative having main purposes of ending the criminal element of marijuana distribution and providing the state with an additional source of tax revenue.

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Mullet-Samuel_storyThere is an interesting case out of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit this week on the limits of hate speech prosecutions. The court overturned the hate-crime convictions of 16 men and women in a bizarre series of attacks where Amish victims had their beards cut off. It was personal hatred not religious hatred that prompted this Amish on Amish crime in the view of the court. I had previously criticized the prosecution of the defendants under the hate crime law. Amish bishop Samuel Mullet Sr. (left) was convicted in September of organizing a series of raids in 2011 against religious enemies and disobedient family members. This was an intra-Amish dispute in which the men’s beards were forcibly sheared and women’s hair was cut. He was given 15 years in prison for federal hate crimes in an extreme interoperation of the law by the Obama Administration, which claimed jurisdiction in what appeared a state offense. They did so by building the case around the “Wahl battery-operated hair clippers” used to cut the beards of Amish men and insisted that federal jurisdiction followed the clippers which crossed state borders in their manufacturing and sale. The case is United States v. Miller, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 16532, 2014 FED App. 0210P (6th Cir.).

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seal220px-L._Ron_Hubbard_in_1950For those already uncomfortable with the erosion of the separation of church and state in voucher programs and faith-based programs under Presidents Bush and Obama, a new proposal in Flint Michigan is likely to seen the inevitable result of this trend. The Flint city council is considering using police and other public officers to distribute copies of “The Way To Happiness,” a book by Scientology creator L. Ron Hubbard.

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200px-Calderoli1Deputy Senate Speaker Roberto Calderoli (and Senator from the The Northern League and once Minister of Reforms under the center-right government of Silvio Berlusconi in 2006) may not appeal to many Italians. He is viewed as xenophobic and racist. He insults groups with remarkable frequency and . . . oh yes . . . he says that he is possessed. That’s right, Calderoli believed that he has been hexed by the father of the the Minister of Integration and wants an emergency exorcism from the Church.

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screenshot (YouTube)

screenshot (YouTube)

Many people have now watched the touching tribute giving by Billy Crystal to Robin Williams at the Emmy Awards ceremony (I actually detest awards shows and show the clip below after the controversy arose). It appears that there has been a torrent of criticism of one of the clips as racist. We have been discussing the rising limits on speech deemed racist or hateful, including cases brought against comedians (here and here). This controversy highlights the subjectivity over the meaning of such a joke in my view.

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220px-US-DeptOfHHS-Logo.svgThe latest figures are in on the seemingly bottomless hole that is healthcare.gov, the troubled federal insurance marketplace web site. By any measure, the Obama Administration was grossly negligent in the creation of the system, which ultimately failed on its rollout despite numerous warnings of substandard work, overruns, and major technical problems. It appears that we are not done with bill for the program. A new Inspector General report stated that the Obama Administration issued sixty contracts from 2009 to 2014 to build Healthcare.gov, which had already cost roughly a half a billion dollars by February 2014. However, the Administration has signed new contracts that obligate the taxpayer to cover an addition $300 million, and the estimated value of the sixty contracts totals $1.7 billion. Despite numerous accounts and reports on the mismanagement of this program, there appears to be little real effort to hold anyone accountable as we continue to pour hundreds of millions into this system. The contracts include money to CGI Federal, the well-connected company that was partially response for the disaster in October as well as other controversies in large contracts.

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