Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

artur-masPresident of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Artur Mas i Gavarró, his deputy, and his education minister face prosecution by the Spanish Government for alleged civil disobedience, abuse of power, usurpation of duties, and embezzlement of public funds according to a statement released by the public prosecutor’s office of the Spanish Government.

In what many see as clearly dubious prosecution by Spanish authorities, President Mas remarked: “It is sad to see that when the Catalan people want to express their opinion … the reaction of the state comes from the courts and prosecutors.”

The action comes several weeks after Catalonia held a non-binding vote on independence from Spain, buoyed by what many Catalonians hailed as a close race with the Scottish Independence referendum, a worrisome event to the Spanish government.

The matter brings into the discussion of Parliamentary Immunity and Executive authority held by other nations, and the chilling effect the threat of prosecution can have for representative government of constituents.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

police-officer-body-camIn what could prove to be a larger issue nationally, several departments in Washington State are considering removal of wearable cameras on police officers due to what has shown to be a greatly expensive and time consuming requirement to provide public disclosure to citizens requesting recordings.

Poulsbo, Washington Police Department received a blanket request for all videos recorded by the police cameras. The blanket request for six months of data might cause the department to stop future recordings.

Washington has some of the most open public records laws in the United States but there are many exemptions from public disclosure for various reasons. Editing these recordings is required for compliance with both sides of the Public Disclosure laws and there are time requirements. Such costs could prove to be the demise of recordings that have, as this website has often mentioned, revealed both violations of civil rights and topics of praise for police officers in general.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

kurdish-art-screwAs we have discussed many times free speech can be a powerful weapon against the injustices and in the case of the Islamic State, genocide. A new exhibition in the semi-autonomous state of Iraqi Kurdistan in Northern Iraq provides through art an interpretation of the struggle faced by ordinary individuals at the hands of extremists. It ties not only differing cultures but transcends the fences of language that are often barriers to understanding and empathy.

The Dohuk Art Gallery featured thirty artists organized by the Center for Graphic Art in Northern Iraq for the purpose of contributing to the fight against the Islamic State. It is not just conventional war implements that further the battle, but it is often the case of ideals, allegiances, and blind faith that aids the Islamic State.

Artists featured in Dohuk Gallery seek to change these beliefs through painting the atrocities prosecuted against the Kurdish People in an artistic representation showing the honor in protecting their society and humanity in general. Niquash reporters interviewed several participants bringing their thoughts and reflections to canvas and clay.

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800px-Capitol_Building_Full_ViewToday, we filed our complaint United States House of Representatives v. Burwell (Case 1:14-cv-01967), in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The House’s complaint contains eight counts concerning constitutional and statutory violations of law related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). There are a myriad of unilateral amendments to this Act, ordered by President Obama’s Administration, which could be the subject of a challenge, and there are a number of changes that are already being litigated, including King v. Burwell, which has been accepted by the Supreme Court for review. The House’s complaint, however, focuses on the Administration’s usurpation not only of the House’s Article I legislative authority, but also of the defining “power of purse.” Both of these powers were placed exclusively in Article I by the Framers of our Constitution. These constitutional and statutory claims are highly illustrative of the current conflict between the branches over the basic principles of the separation of powers. The House’s complaint seeks to reaffirm the clear constitutional lines of separation between the branches – a doctrine that is the very foundation of our constitutional system of government. To put it simply, the complaint focuses on the means rather than ends. The complaint is posted below.

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250px-Statue_of_Liberty_7President Obama’s changes to the immigration status of millions of illegal immigrants has caused the expected firestorm of controversy. I have previously criticized the decision to withhold the details of the plan until after voters went to the polls and I continue to view the changes as an assault upon the doctrine of separation of powers. While I have always recognized the wide latitude given to presidents in the past in prioritizing enforcement, this is an open circumvention of Congress to achieve by executive fiat what was denied in legislation. However, I have also been thinking about the families themselves and my own family’s history in coming to this country. Many Americans are finding themselves taking journeys of their own — retracing the often harrowing steps of their ancestors in coming to this country in looking for a better life.

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maxresdefaultThere is a troubling report out of Ireland that raises many of the concerns that we have discussed earlier about the erosion of free speech in the West. Bernadette “Bernie” Smyth is one of Northern Ireland’s most prominent anti-abortion activists and the founder of Precious Life, a pro-life group. She was convicted this week of two counts of harassment that stem from her picketing of the country’s only abortion clinic. The charges were brought by the clinic’s director, Dawn Purvis, who runs the Belfast branch of Marie Stopes. However, the line drawn in the case could create a chilling effect on political and religious speech in the future.

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220px-CatfillerRadioactive SymbolThere are so many surprising aspects to this story including the two salient points that we use kitty litter in nuclear plants and using the wrong kitty litter can cost you half a billion dollars. However, a recent report states that the mismanagement of the kitty litter issue at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico by its private operator, Los Alamos National Security LLC, led not only damage, but the injury of at least 20 workers — and the creation of a type of kitty litter dirty bomb. The concerns of an Al Kitta threat however may be premature. It turns out that you can avoid the risk by selecting clay-based kitty litter over wheat-based kitty litter.

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