Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

Watching the waves roll in here in Duck, NC, I have to admit things seem pretty peaceful and serene. It got me wondering why the folks in Ferguson, Mo. are demonstrating on a daily basis about their policing. Wonderment stopped last evening when I came across this video by 35-year veteran of the St. Louis County Police Department, Sgt. Major Dan Page.  Former Green Beret and supervising cop, Dan’s vaguely known to most  CNN viewers as the enlightened peace officer who shoved reporter Don Lemon from a Ferguson street corner as he tried reporting on the mass protest of 17-year-old Michael Brown’s police-facilitated killing. Lemon was shoved and then was herded to some “Free Speech Zone” in a remote parking lot. Now street-savvy Page is back … and with a right-wing philosophy and blood thirsty vengeance that you’d have to go to 1970s Cambodia to match — “We can kill you anyway we want!”

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President_Barack_Obama305px-USA_PFC_BoweBergdahl_ACU_CroppedThe Government Accountability Office has rendered a decision on the actions of the Obama Administration in swapping five Taliban leaders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl earlier this year. At the time on CNN and other forums, I noted that President Obama had again openly violated federal law which requires at least 30 days of advance notice in such a change. The GAO agreed and found that the Administration clearly violated federal law. I recently testified (here and here and here and here) and wrote a column on President Obama’s increasing circumvention of Congress in negating or suspending U.S. laws. As in past cases, defenders of the President insist that any violation was done for the best of reasons, but that is a dangerous rationalization for any violation of law. Presidents always insist that they are acting with the best of motivations when they violate laws. We remain a nation of laws and presidents do not have the option of not complying when the laws are inconvenient or counterproductive. Notably, it was not just one law that President Obama violated in taking this unilateral action.

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220px-Felthat300px-Muddy_Water_Red_desertBelow is my column today on the Perry indictment. I have previously raised my serious reservations about the factual and legal basis for a criminal charge. We obviously do not know what evidence will be presented, particularly evidence of back channel communications that might have occurred over the threatened veto. Such conversations can have a highly damaging effect on jurors as shown by the trial of Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich. They can also damage someone politically by exposing uninhibited moments or comments. I have heard from reporters in Texas that there might have been communications between Perry and Lehmberg about her resigning but I have yet to see clear accounts of such communications. However, at the moment, I cannot see the basis for these charges. Perry publicly stated his intent to use his lawful power to veto the line item for the office budget if Lehmberg did not resign. I do not see how the use of such a lawful power in this case would rise to the level of a criminal act.

At the moment, I see a compelling case for dismissal as a threshold legal question for the court. However, the degree to which the court views this matter as turning on the factual allegations as opposed to the legal questions, it could be held over for trial. That is the problem with such ambiguously written provisions is that the court may feel more constrained in dismissing the counts. The result for Perry can be damaging even if he is acquitted as was former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison two decades ago. Hutchinson was charged with using state employees to plan her Christmas vacation in Colorado and write thank-you notes. The case was so weak that it took only 30 minutes for the jury to find her not guilty on all charges. The political danger is the exposure of private communications. Few of us are as crude as Blagojevich or his wife even in private but none of us is likely to look good if our unguarded comments were played out for a national audience. Once again, only time will tell what type of evidence was heard by the grand jury. Yet, my view is that this indictment is very problematic from a constitutional standpoint and offers little to support such a major prosecution.

Here is the column:

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Rho-Chalmers-TDPC-SelfieThere is an interesting story out of Texas in the Perry controversy that raises the difference between grand juries and petit juries. One of the grand jurors, Rho Chalmers, who indicted Governor Rick Perry turned out to be a delegate to the Texas Democratic Party convention who not only actively participated in the convention during her service but actually took a picture with a Democratic state representative who appeared as a witness before her jury.

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250px-flag_of_iransvgWhen following the news from Iran, it is often hard to tell the difference between a news story and a really good joke. The latest story on the Islamically correct lifestyle, according to the Iranian government, involves a study that found that young Iranians were having sex, even homosexual sex, in rising numbers. The 82-page report, issued by Iran’s parliamentary research branch, is alarmed at the findings and recommends that the government push for the use of “temporary” marriages that may last no longer then the tryst itself. It is something akin to a Vegas marriage for good Muslims. Marry, have sex, and then divorce. You are happy. The Mullah is happy. Everyone is happy.

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196px-National_Football_League_2008.svgAvariceI have said it before but I will say it again. The The National Football League (NFL) remains one of the most greedy and thuggish organizations in the country in dealing with host cities, artists, and citizens. The fact that it has been allowed to retain not-for-profit status is a grotesque triumph of money and lobbying in our country. Now, as proof that the NFL has lost any sense of shame, it is asking artists who want to play at the Superbowl to not simply play for free but to actually pay to play.

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bildeWe just discussed the Generation Z murder where a college student was convicted of murder in part on evidence that he asked Siri on his iPhone for suggestions on how to dispose of a body. Now the same type of evidence is being raised in the case against Christopher Lee, 24, in California in the alleged murder of his lover. Lee reportedly admitted to doing internet searches on the same question and a witness said that he was also asked by Lee about “what was the best way to dispose of a human body.”

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perry2Yesterday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry turned himself in response to the indictment for alleged abuse of power. Regardless of how you feel about Perry, he takes a damn good mug shot.

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1407928162027_wps_35_SiriOne of the first things that my kids did when I got my iPhone with Siri was to ask “how do I get rid of a body.” The question is such a favorite that Siri is programmed to answer. However, police allege that Pedro Bravo, 20, was serious when he asked Siri that question after kidnapping and strangling his friend Christian Aguilar (below), 18, in September 2012. The two were sharing a room at University of Florida. On the day that Aguilar died, police say that records show that Bravo asked “‘I need to hide my roommate.” Siri responded “What kind of place are you looking for? Swamps. Reservoirs. Metal foundries. Dumps.” Aguilar was later found in a shallow grave in a Levy County forest, about 60 miles southwest of Gainesville. The ultimate Generation Z murder case. Siri however was not indicted as an accessory before the fact.

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uptown-armand-bennett-2In New Orleans, Armand Bennet, 26, was shot in the forehead during a traffic stop by New Orleans police officer Lisa Lewis. However, the police department did not reveal until much later that Lewis turned off her body camera just before shooting Bennett. Bennett survived and has now been charged under prior warrants for his arrest. It also reviewed that Lewis had had a prior run in with Bennet who escaped about a week earlier.

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iseecrash2011Nigerian Christian preacher Temitope Joshua is a multi-millionaire wannabe messiah with a devoted following in Africa. Joshua has decided to act to help the desperate situation in Sierra Leone. He sent a private jet to deliver 4,000 bottles of his patented holy anointed water and $50,000 in cash to defeat Ebola. Just what these ebola villages need, holy water from Brother Joshua.

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enhanced-7068-1408216757-1Now here is real progress that we all can rally behind. Sharon Standifird, a mother in New York, was tired of having her teenagers ignore her calls. Rather than continuing the usual threats of punishment, Standifird went “all techno” on her kids. She spent months developing an app, “Ignore No More,” that prevents a kid from making any calls until they return the call from their mother (and presumably their father).

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milleryoungincident2 We have been following the controversy surrounding the confrontation of Feminist Studies Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Younga with pro-life advocates on campus. Miller-Young led her students in attacking the pro-life display, stealing their display, and then committing battery on one of the young women. Thrin Short, 16, and her sister Joan, 21, filed complaints and Miller-Young was charged with criminal conduct including Theft From Person; Battery; and Vandalism. To the surprise of some of us, faculty and students rallied behind Miller-Young. She remains employed as a faculty member. Miller-Young initially pleaded not guilty but later entered a guilty plea with an apology. She has now been sentenced to sentenced to three years of probation, 108 hours of community service, 10 hours of anger management, $500 in restitution and a small fine. While her actions (and absence of serious university punishment) remain highly disturbing, some of the letters written on her behalf raise new questions over the commitment of University of California faculty to free speech and core academic principles. Miller-Young has been defended by faculty as the victim of a media campaign to portray her as “an Angry Black Woman” and her seemingly happy demeanor on the videotape has been dismissed as a “mask” that she wears as part of a “cultural legacy of slavery.”

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10342429_10152397718914106_6678266630162495328_nThere is a truly horrific story out of South Jordan, Utah where retired teacher Jan Harding is in critical condition after drinking tea accidentally poisoned with an industrial oven cleaner by Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. An employee confused the oven cleaner with sugar in making the sweet tea for customers. The tort liability is obvious in such a case and could involve both negligence and strict liability claims given the involvement of food or drink served at a restaurant. The chemical has been described as Lye in some news accounts.

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300px-fomfr_whipThe Saudi Sharia system has again made headlines with its perverse view of justice. The latest victim is a businesswoman who will receive 50 lashes for merely insulting the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, or the Saudi morality police. Of course, the Saudi morality police is widely ridiculed and denounced as a group of religious fanatics upholding a medieval system of religious law.

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