Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

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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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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4529478_GThere is an interesting case out of Orlando that raises questions about the use of felony murder charges by prosecutors whenever there is a fatality in the commission of a crime. Kody Roach was charged with felony murder even though he never fired a shot and the victim, Maria Fernada Godinez, 22, was actually killed by a police officer.

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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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Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 9.04.11 AMThere is an interesting controversy out of Winooski, Vermont over a sign for Sneakers diner. As part of a city program, Sneakers helped beautify its street with flower beds and in return was allowed to put up a sign. The diner featured its favorite dish with a sign that read: “Yield For Sneakers Bacon.” However, a Muslim woman who was also a vegan objected that a sign with the word bacon was offensive to her due to her religion’s ban on eating pork products. The diner responded by immediately taking down the sign and personally apologizing to the woman. That accommodation has led to a backlash from others who feel that the diner is yielding to ultra-sensitive individuals and encouraging such demands from others who may be offended by any number of food references and dishes.

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jorge-luis-azucena The Los Angeles Police Department is under fire for its treatment of a suspect in custody after Jorge Azucena died from an asthma attack. Azucena repeatedly told the officers that “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” . . . I have asthma, I have asthma.” However, LAPD officers refused to help him with one sergeant telling him “You can breathe just fine. You can talk, so you can breathe.” He died after being left lying face down on his cell floor. Roughly a year has passed but there is no reported discipline in the case.

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1408728555478_wps_9_Caius_Veiovis_unique_appeThere is an interesting debate going on in a Massachusetts courtroom over prejudicial evidence in a murder trial. No, it is not pictures of the victims or crime scene. It is the appearance of the defendant himself. You see, Caius Veiovis, 33, had himself implanted with horns and had a satanic tattoo put on his face. Now this defense counsel is understandably concerned that the jury will recoil at the very sight of him. However, there is only so much that a court can do to protect a defendant against his own appearances, particularly when he spent considerable time and money to look satanic.

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