Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

latrez-cummingsjpg-094c83ec448d23fcfeatured_Steve_Utash_12395The public is shocked by the decision of Detroit Third Judicial Circuit Judge James Callahan who gave Latrez Cummings, 19, just six months for his participation in the savage beating of Steve Utash, 54, who hit a 10-year-old boy with his vehicle and then jumped out to try to aid the boy. Cummings then set upon him and beat him almost to death — leaving him with brain damage. His survival was not expected and doctors had to induce a coma to keep him alive. In a mob attack that came close to murder, Callahan decided a six-month sentence was sufficient for Cummings who is a gang member.

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225px-Richard_Durbin_offici300px-Flickr_-_Israel_Defense_Forces_-_Iron_Dome_Intercepts_Rockets_from_the_Gaza_StripThe US Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee just approved the transfer of $351 million to Israel for the Iron Dome missile defense system — that will bring the appropriations this week for Israel to $621 million. There has been virtually no debate about such huge payments to another nation’s defense budget when cities and schools continue to cut back on programs for lack of fund. In Fairfax county, our kids are being placed in classes of over 30 kids with a single teacher because there is no money to hire more staff. Congress has cut historic programs and environmental projects for lack of a few million dollars but approves these transfers with little debate. It is not just Israel, as we have previously discussed, but the continuation of huge expenditures abroad in various countries from Pakistan to Iraq to Afghanistan to Egypt. It is not necessarily the ultimate appropriation decision as much as the lack of any discussion on such budgetary priorities and policies that is so striking.

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220px-The_ProcuressThe criminalization of prostitution has always been an anomaly in the law when compared to sex on camera for the adult entertainment industry. Libertarians question why consenting adults should not be able to agree to such arrangements since they can have as many lovers for free as a form of protected conduct. For those who have argued for legalization of prostitution, a recent study by Baylor University’s Scott Cunningham and Manisha Shah of the University of California, Los Angeles may give them something of a boost. The study found that, for the years when prostitution was effectively legal in Rhode Island (but not street walking), both public health and public safety substantially improved with a drop in rape and a drop in the rate of gonorrhea among women.

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300px-Flickr_-_Israel_Defense_Forces_-_Eight_Qassam_Launchers_in_GazaIsrael has long accused Palestinian groups of using schools and hospitals as launching or storage areas for weapons. The practice effectively uses patients, children, and others as human shields and increases civilian fatalities when Israel retaliates after rocket attacks. It is obviously a despicable practice that violates basic rules of international law as well as the law of war. On Thursday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency confirmed this practice when it found 20 rockets at a UN-funded school in Gaza in “the course of the regular inspection of its premises.”

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Badge_of_the_Riverside_County_Sheriff's_DepartmentThe video below has been released in a lawsuit over a highly disturbing case where a Riverside undercover officer befriended a 17-year-old boy with autism and convinced him to buy pot for him. They then arrested him and added him to their list of drug war statistics. Before the arrest, in addition to autism, their son had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Tourette syndrome and anxiety disorders.

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220px-AYELET_SHAKED220px-Erdogan_croppedThe situation in Israel and Palestine continues to grow worse on both sides. First you had the savage murder of three Israeli teens. Then you had the retaliation burning of a Palestinian teenager. Now protests are erupting all over Israel and the world on both sides. Some of the coverage is focusing on statements made by Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked on Facebook that day before three Israeli men went out and picked up Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, at random and burned him alive. Shaked’s post calls Palestinians “little snakes” and declares that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy.” Now comments by Israeli Knesset member Ayelet Shaked has caused an international outcry including contributing to a continuing rift with Turkey. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced the remarks and denounced Israel in an analogy to the Nazi regime. The situation is clearly getting worse by the day in the region.

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200px-Tony_Abbott_-_2010220px-AlfedPalmersmokestacksIn a major setback to effort to combat climate change, Australia’s Abbott government has secured a repeal of the carbon tax. It is the first major country to rollback on the basic environmental protection. Abbott’s government is suggesting that it will pay corporations not to pollute — a proposal that would cost a huge amount and environmentalists insist is unlikely to be successful.

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libertyFor years, we have lamented the wholesale attack on free speech in France from ever-expanding hate speech ruling to stripping away anonymity on the Internet to censorship of expression to criminalizing historical claims (though the last move was later reversed). The erosion of such protection has never been so evident as with the ruling against blogger Caroline Doudet. A French judge has issued an emergency ruling forcing that one of the titles of a blog restaurant critique be changed to reduce its prominence on Google and for Doudet to pay damages. It is an absurd ruling and frightening in its implications for free speech. France appears to have dived headlong into speech regulation and censorship.

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260px-capitol_building_full_viewThis morning I will be testifying as the lead witness before the House Rules Committee on the authorization of litigation by the House of Representatives to challenge the unilateral actions of President Obama. The authorization makes it clear that the House will focus on the ACA changes. The hearing will begin at 10 am in H-313 in The Capitol building. It will be aired live on C-Span 3.

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350px-Washington_Redskins_logo.svggavel2An interesting footnote appeared in an opinion by U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte in Maryland this week. Messitte stated that the court would no longer use the team name “Redskins” in any opinion and will refer instead to “the Washington Team.” I recently wrote a Washington Post column on the controversy over the Redskins name. The question is whether it is appropriate to limit the use of the name in an opinion when there is considerable public debate over whether it is offensive and whether, if it is barred in opinions, the court should bar its use in court.

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220px-John_Swallow220px-Mark_ShurtleffWe have been following the investigation of former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff. When I first met Mark Shurtleff, he was Utah Attorney General leading the case against my clients, the Brown family in the Sister Wives case. After years of abusive investigations and public statements, we challenged the state criminalization of polygamy and Shurtleff fought to defend the law. He was then replaced in the case by Swallow. Now both have been arrested and taken into custody. For the Browns who were threatened with arrest and the loss of their children, it must be a truly ironic moment.

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Gomery, Clarence MugFormer prosecutor Clarence Gomery is in jail after a court imposed a $5 million bond for his release pending trial on charges that he tried to arrange to have attorney Christopher Cooke killed in a murder-for-hire scheme. The bad blood with Cooke is believed to stem from his representation of Gomery’s former business client in a heated litigation.

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No_alcoholIn Kano, Nigeria, 55 people have been arrested and convicted for alcohol consumption in violation of Sharia law. Making the violation more serious in the view of the Sharia “judges” is the fact that they were drinking during Ramadan. They received four months in prison for failing to live up to the religious demands of their government.

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gavel2There is an interesting ruling out of California where the Third Appellate District has reversed a dismissal of tort claims against two defendants who were sued by their former friend after he fell off a cliff while drunk. The appellate court ruled that there are triable issues in the culpability of Zachary Gudelunas and Sarah Koivumaki in bringing Jason Michael Carlsen to the cliff knowing that he was drunk and then waiting for hours before calling police after he fell off the cliff in Redding above the Sacramento River.

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chiefweb11USA_-_NORTH_CAROLINA_-_City_of_Durham_police_departmentWe have followed the scandals in Durham involving its police chief and former district attorneys. Now Durham police officers have been shown to have lied about non-existent 911 calls to enter the homes of citizens without a warrant. Despite this illegal tactic that was admitted on the stand, no officers have been fired. Instead, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez (left) has sent out a memo. You may recall Lopez who earlier reportedly said that a public defender deserved to be shot.

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