Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 6.19.45 PMLast week, there was a compelling moment in the meeting of the Nebraska Oil and Gas Commission when a Nebraska farmer stepped forward to discuss the plan to allow 80 truckloads carrying 10,000 barrels per day containing fracking wastewater into Nebraska. Then the farmer offered the Commissioners a simple challenge: you drink it.

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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

Flag of TurkeyIn an injustice to both the liberty of a Kurdish man and free speech in general a court in Turkey handed down thirteen year sentence to a defendant accused of removing a Turkish flag at a military base near Diyarbakir, Turkey. The disproportionate sentence followed an outraged Recep Erdogan who declared after the act, “[w]e don’t care if he is a child. Even if a child dares to take down our sacred flag both him and those who send him there will pay a price.”

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600px-Caution_sign_used_on_roads_pn.svgWe have previously discussed how there appears to an ever-expanding list of words deemed inappropriate or biased. It appears “taxpayer” may be the next suspect noun. While Republicans and Democrats alike have made pitches to protecting taxpayers, New Republic’s Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig wrote an article objecting that the use of the word in the 2016 budget is problematic and that we should start to view the noun as yet another loaded and coded word.

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305px-USA_PFC_BoweBergdahl_ACU_CroppedThe Bergdahl case will raise some considerable challenges for the defense in what could be one of the most notable desertion cases in modern U.S. history. That is, if it goes to trial. This would seem a case where everyone may prefer a plea. The evidence is strong against Bergdahl, though there is clearly a great deal of evidence that has yet to be released. Cases always appear stronger for the government at the time of indictment. However, what we know is pretty bad for the defense. On the other side, the Obama Administration would clearly prefer a plea to a trial that would highlight Bergdahl’s actions and the possible loss of U.S. personnel looking for a deserter (who was later traded for five blood-soaked Taliban leaders with terrorist ties). Such issues would be obvious for prosecutors to raise when discussing the appropriate punishment, if Bergdahl is convicted. However, it could be an argument that the Administration would not want pursued by prosecutors. While such interference is prohibited as “command influence” on a military case, there have been allegations of such influence in past high-profile cases, including controversies in this Administration. In this case, the pressure is likely to be considerable for prosecutors to accept a plea, though such a plea could fuel previously accusations that the case was being manipulated to avoid embarrassment for the Administration.

Below is the longer version of my column that ran in print this morning in USA Today.
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305px-USA_PFC_BoweBergdahl_ACU_CroppedAfter months of alleged delay for political reasons until after the elections, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, has been charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

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200px-Coat_of_arms_of_Saudi_Arabia.svgSheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, who serves as the grand mufti of Sifaudi Arabia, is calling for Kuwait to follow the lead of Saudi Arabia and ban the construction of any Christian religious site. While Islamic leaders like the Grand Mufti are outraged with any slight or restriction of their religion, they deny the most fundamental rights of free exercise to other religions in the name of Islam. This is nothing new for the Saudi cleric and his colleagues. He previously called for all churches to be destroyed in 2012. It is not clear if this is a repeat of his announcement a few years ago or a recycling of the earlier story. However, it is a shocking position from one of the highest Islamic clerics in the world and adds an insight into the recent religious violence in places like Syria and Iraq.

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