We recently discussed defiant ministers who have refused to end large-scale services like Pastor Tony Spell in Louisiana. Now Florida police have criminally charged Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of The River at Tampa Bay Church for defying pandemic orders with a mass service.
Fox 29 reports that law enforcement tried to dissuade Howard-Browne but the minister refused to yield and exposed his congregation and their neighbors to spreading the virus. He is charged with “unlawful assembly” and “violation of public health emergency order.”
The FBI has reportedly begun an investigation into the stock sales of Sen. Richard Burr before the crisis over the coronavirus. As I discussed in my recent column, such prosecutions are exceptionally difficult to bring by design. Like ethics investigations, these investigations often serve to simply “clear” a politician who is allowed under lax ethical rules to trade in areas of their legislative and committee work. The only real reform is not investigations but either a ban on stock ownership or, more appropriately, a requirement of a blind trust (with criminal penalties for steering trades). Moreover, if he were to be charged, I would likely be the first to object to a prosecution for trades that Congress has kept lawful for decades despite some of our calls for reform. [This article was updated]
The Council of Chief Diversity Officers at the University of California has issued a “guidance document” to reject racism, sexism, xenophobia and all hateful or intolerant speech, both in person and online” during this crisis. Specifically, it tells students to stop others from referring to the “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus.” The guideline raises renewed questions over the use of diversity rules to restrict or regulate free speech, particularly terms that have strong political or social meaning for students.
Shawn Marshall Myers, 41, has been arrested for violating the order of Gov. Larry Hogan in hosting roughly 60 people at a bonfire last Friday night. Myers defied the order to keep any gathering to 10 people or less.
While Meyers might not have coronavirus, he might not be on the top of the list of most people as someone to party with at any time. He is a registered sex offender.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the continued calls for federal takeovers and nationalization of industries. The past commentary often reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of both our constitutional and statutory laws. What is also striking is that a significant number of governors appeared on Sunday shows but not one was asked about the failure of his or her state to prepare for such a public health emergency. Governors are referring to this crisis as if it were a previously unknown meteor from space. In fact, we have been discussing the utter lack of preparation for a pandemic for over two decades and states like New York were warned that they would be dangerously short such items as ventilators. I was part of that debate back in 2002 and 2003 when the model law for pandemic was being adopted by states — reaffirming the primary responsibility of the states to address pandemics.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is threatening to sue Rhode Island for its effort to stop cars with New York license plates to be sure that New Yorkers quarantine for two weeks. This includes police going door-to-door. Apparently, the image of some guy with a bell crying “bring out your New Yorkers” in the streets is not appealing to Cuomo. Yet, this could present a knotty legal issue.
We have previously discussed how NBC News anchor Chuck Todd uses questions to express extreme condemnations of President Donald Trump and his supporters. While Todd realizes that he would be fired for saying outright that Trump supporters “just want to be lied to,” he can make the same point by asking another person if they “just want to be lied to.” Todd returned to his feigned neutrality in asking presidential candidate Joe Biden if “there is blood on the president’s hands.” Not to be undone, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has declared that “as the president fiddles, people are dying.” At least Pelosi had the integrity to make the statement outright.
Pennsylvania prosecutors have charged Margaret Cirko, 35, who recently coughed and spit on produce at a store — resulting in Gerrity’s Supermarket throwing out $35,000 of fruits and vegetables. We are seeing the expanding use of terrorism charges against such pranks and displays. The Justice Department is now joining local prosecutors in pledging to bring more terrorism charges against pranksters and intentional spreaders of the virus. However, these cases raise concerns over such charges and the complexity of some of these cases.
The restrictions enforced against Washingtonians are approaching absurdity. Somehow Washington State believes that fishing alone in the middle of Banks Lake will lead to worsening the COVID19 outbreak, so it banned recreational fishing. Yet going into a crowded big box store to panic-buy toilet paper and bags of flour is legal and safe.
Is there a threat that we the public are not aware. Is it that Corona Viruses from China can waft into the jet stream and drop like paratroops onto fisherman at Westport? Might it be frightfully possible that we may be swallowed whole by mutant razor clams lurking beneath the sand. What, if we may ask, is this horrorshow?
I suspect it is one of the worst kind of threat…a government agency given too much authority.
The controversial speech of Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., on the floor of the House of Representatives shows how members can fuel rather than fight hysteria and panic. The incredible scene was played out as the very task force members who she referenced are trying to rebut some alarmist predictions and estimates. Much of the nation is sheltering in place. We get it. However, Rep. Stevens seems intent on elevating not the discussion but the volume of the national discourse.
Dean Allyson Green at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts is facing quite a backlash over a response to the demand for a refund from students of part of their tuition. Green sent out a video of her dancing. She has instantly become the image of a dean fiddling (or dancing) as academia burns in the Corona crisis. Indeed, the backlash is so great, they may be soon calling Emperor Nero the Allyson Green of ancient Rome.
We have previously discussed the use of lethal force to protect one’s home or business both in terms of the common law and “castle doctrine” laws. It is rare for jurors to convict homeowners who wound or kill armed robbers or burglar. However, in Glasgow, Patrick Phinn, 49, has been sentenced to five years for stabbing to death Ronald Pattison, who broke into his home and threatened Phinn and his partner.
We recently discussed the bizarre trend of teenagers coughing on fruits and vegetables at stores — and efforts of the police to find the culprits shown on social media. In the prior blog, I raised the possibility of prosecutors charging such pranksters with terroristic threats. Now, in Missouri, Cody Pfister, 26, has been arrested and charged with making terrorist threats due to his taking and posting video of himself licking products in a store.