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Selma

By: Cara L. Gallagher, weekend contributor

In one of the opening scenes in Selma, Ava DuVernay’s depiction of Dr. King’s quest for legislation that would end decades of disenfranchisement in the American South, Oprah plays a woman jammed up by Black codes prevalent in the South in 1965. A voter registrar quizzes her with questions that neither she nor any educated person of the time could possibly answer. She fails his test and is once again denied the right to register to vote. Right away we learn Selma is clearly not just a biographical film about Dr. King and other Civil Rights legends like Congressmen John Lewis, but also about the pain, shame, and violence endured by these men and women to get the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed.

A group of fellow history teachers and I went to see an early release of Selma last week. I had mixed feelings about it. (more…)

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Tamir_Rice_family_photo

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

It is always tragic when anyone is killed.  It doesn’t matter if it is accidental or intentional.  The tragedy of someone dying is universal.  However, when the person killed by a Cleveland Police Officer is a 12-year-old, tragic just doesn’t seem to describe it correctly.  You will probably recall the recent case out of Cleveland, Ohio where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by Officer Timothy Loehmann.

Tamir Rice was shot while playing in a Cleveland park.  A citizen called 911 and suggested that a juvenile was pointing a gun, which was probably a toy, at people in the park.  When Officer Loehmann and his partner answered the call they saw Tamir playing on a swing with the “weapon” in the waistband of his pants.  Released videos suggested that Officer Loehmann fired at Tamir within 1-2 seconds of arriving at the park. That same video evidence also shows police throwing Tamir’s 14-year-old sister to the ground and handcuffing her.

When I first heard about the November 22nd, 2014 incident, I was shocked that a 12 year could be gun downed by a police officer.  Even the recent stories about the police killing suspects in New Mexico, Missouri, New York City, to name a few, did not prepare me for this killing.  Tamir was a 12-year-old child.

When the videos came out and when the truth about Officer Loehmann surfaced, I realized that Officer Loehmann was unfit for duty as a police officer anywhere and the Cleveland Police Department was negligent in hiring an unstable young man to patrol its streets.  The decision to hire Officer Loehmann initiated the sad outcome in November. (more…)

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By Cara L. Gallagher, weekend contributor

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 3.46.48 PM

Gilbert, Arizona’s sign regulations.

 

 

 

A preview of a case that will be heard tomorrow in the SCOTUS: Reed v. Town of Gilbert.

Question: Can a town impose more regulations on religious signs posted on public streets than political, ideological, or property signs?

10-cent explanation: The town of Gilbert, Arizona has municipal codes about when, where, and for how long signs can be displayed in town. If you’re a candidate running for elected office, your campaign sign can remain in public for an unlimited amount of time. If the town posts signs reminding citizens what day to vote, they can be posted four and a half months prior to the date and up to 15 days after. Got a sign advertising an HOA meeting? Those can stay out 30 days before the meeting and must be taken down 48 hours after. But if the pastor of a local church in Gilbert, adorably called the Good News Community Church, wants to put signs out to remind people of upcoming services, he has only 12 hours before the event to display it and must take it down within an hour after the event or risk penalties. There are also regulations on the sizes of the signs. Good News signs can’t be more than six square feet whereas HOA signs can be 80 square feet, political signs 32 square feet, and ideological signs 20 square feet. These regulations also apply to signs for nonprofit, charitable, and educational organizations. (more…)

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220px-JMR-Lady Justice

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

In our sometimes upside down world, it can seem that the lives and secrets of our intelligence service employees and their agencies are worth more than the lives and physical and mental well-being of the countless prisoners who were tortured by the CIA .  That is the same torture that was authorized and approved at the highest levels of our government.

Let’s also not forget the many instances of allegedly criminal activity by large banks and their employees that resulted in civil fines or no action at all, notwithstanding the lives that were shattered in the meantime.

Recently it was disclosed that the Department of Justice and the FBI have recommended that Gen. David Petraeus be criminally prosecuted for allegedly passing his classified CIA email account and exposing state secrets to the biographer/author he was having an affair with.  This is the very same Department of Justice, along with the Obama Administration that claims it did not have enough evidence to file charges against admitted torturers and those that authorized the torture and destruction of evidence. (more…)

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Adolf_Hitler_retouched220px-EnichiresThis truly seemed like an April Fool’s joke or hoax, but farmer Derek Gow has a problem with Nazi cows. Gow’s cows are the only herd of Nazi-engineered cows in the country. However, he found that they have a habit of trying to kill everyone around them. It appears that the cows view all pastures as part of their Lebensraum and seek to eradicate anyone who is not a “Hecker super cows.”

(more…)

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Justice Kennedy's memo to his clerks requesting help setting up his email account.

Justice Kennedy’s memo to his clerks requesting help setting up his email account.

By Cara Gallagher, Weekend contributor

Being with family over the holidays resulted in harmonious interactions and your typical familial dust ups. One such kerfuffle, this one of the generational sort, arose when we volunteered to upgrade my father’s iPad 1 to a newer model. We’ve tried to do this before, for his birthday, and he repeatedly denies our offer. Yes, that’s a first edition iPad that he still uses and refuses to give up. Most would react to the upgrade with a swift “YES” and a maybe a backflip. His dismissive reaction is likely attributable to the glimpse he’s seen of a future where he’s forced to alter past practices in order to integrate new technology. That tension doesn’t look appealing. The possibilities of increased efficiency and productivity aren’t worth the challenges that come with new technology like learning new tricks, updating skills, and encountering hurdles along the way. After reading Chief Justice John Roberts’ year-end report, I imagine his mindset is fixed in very much the same way my father’s is when it comes to outfitting the Court with 21st century technology. (more…)

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150px-National_Security_Agency_svg

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

The instances of reported abuse of our country’s laws by our Intelligence services seems never-ending.  The National Security Agency, or NSA is at the top of the list when it comes to violations of our laws and even its own rules and procedures that are allegedly designed to protect our privacy.

Pursuant to a court order in a case brought by the ACLU, the NSA is required to provide a list of its abuses on a quarterly basis.  Of course, the NSA redacts most of what it puts in its own disclosures. (more…)

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