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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw) Weekend Contributor

It never ceases to amaze me that the heads of major corporations and officers of those companies just never seem to go to jail when the corporation’s fingers are caught in the cookie jar.  We saw two separate examples of that concept this week.  One example is simply a case of corporate greed at employees expense and the other is a brutal and deadly tragedy that caught up the corporate employees, but not their bosses.

In the past, I have written about banks getting away with fines and financial penalties for committing crimes, but today the focus is on two corporations in two different areas of endeavor.  I am referring to the corporation formerly known as Blackwater and Electronics for Imaging (EFI).  Blackwater as you may recall was in the private security and intelligence gathering business with many government clients, while EFI is a Silicon Valley tech firm with earnings of over $100 million in 2013.  They both have one thing in common.  They broke the law and one got a slap on the wrist and the CEO and founder of the other and his fellow corporate officers avoided any culpability in a brutal murder case. (more…)

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10258065_10152705666090673_8596767114169859453_oBus riders this week found themselves under attack by dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews who hurled stones and slashed the tires of their buses. The reason? Some buses featured ads supporting the right of women to worship at a holy site in Jerusalem. This is only the latest such attack by ultra-Orthodox Jews who have manned “modesty patrols” on the streets and attacked women who call for equal access at sites like the Western Wall.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

I can still remember the first time I voted in a National election.  I was a young, 18-year-old student and I could finally have a say in who was going to run the country.  It was a proud day for me and the countless other 18 year olds who were also voting for the first time.  I can honestly say that I have not missed voting in any election since.  That includes both primary and general elections.  There wasn’t always a lot to vote for in some of those primaries over the years, but I consider voting a duty, so I made sure that I made it to the polls.

It hasn’t always been easy for all citizens to cast their vote.  Even in my lifetime, the Jim Crow laws of the South made it difficult, at best for African-Americans citizens to register and to cast their ballots.  After years of protests and legal battles, I thought the Jim Crow style of voter suppression was a thing of the past.  It turns out I was wrong.  Very wrong. (more…)

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IMG_1317IMG_1319Sicily is an island filled with hidden jewels waiting for those with the curiosity and effort to find them. One of the greatest jewels is Ortigia, the small island at the center of the city of Syracuse, Sicily. Known as Città Vecchia (Old City), Ortigia is breathtaking in its beauty and its history. I cannot imagine how anyone can come to Italy and not spend time in Ortigia. I promise you: if you spend a day in Ortigia, you will spend a lifetime returning to this enchanting city.

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Day 6: Ciao Cianciana

IMG_1162Today we bid farewell to lovely Cianciana and our radii familiari. It has been a wonderful three days in the village of my grandparents and I truly leave with a heavy heart. For those who want a truly authentic experience, Cianciana (population 3300) is the place to be. You can walk the streets at night filled with the sounds of children and men talking in coffee clutch circles. It is a different world that you can only see by traveling deep into Sicily and staying in one of these small villages.

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10409336_818529138177765_9034331348658361928_nGhoncheh Ghavami, 25, is the latest victim of Sharia law and the denial of basic rights to women in some Muslim countries. Ghavami has been in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for over 40 days after committing the unpardonable sin of try to enter a stadium to watch the Iranian national men’s team was playing Italy. She was part of a large group of women who simply wanted to be able to watch a soccer game but under Sharia law in Iran it is a crime for women to even be at a sporting match with men. The world community has gone to Facebook and other social media sites to demand her release but she continues to languish in a prison known for its torture and raping of inmates.

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Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 8.30.09 AMThere are renewed questions about how the line is drawn between hate crimes and conventional criminal cases this week after a group of black teens beat a white Kroger employee into unconsciousness as part of a “fan mob.” We recently discussed similar objections in the Utash case where a group of black men also beat a white driver to death. Critics are comparing these and other cases to the rapid deployment of federal lawyers and investigators in the Fergusan case and the recent opening of a civil rights investigation as a possible hate crime. However, the distinction in this case is that police have noted that there was an African American victim even though you can hear references to the race of the first victim. The controversy is only the latest over the use of hate crime charges and how the line is drawn in launching investigations into racial elements of certain crimes. The distinction between race or rage as a motivating element can be difficult to discern in criminal cases.

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