Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
This past week the main stream media made a big deal about the unemployment rate declining to the five-year low of 7%. While it was good news that over 200,000 jobs were added to the economy and that the unemployment rate decreased, the economy and main street are still lagging behind Wall Street. The Federal Reserve has been attempting monetary easing strategies in an effort to stimulate the economy. It may have worked for Wall Street, but the rest of us are still catching up.
“The Federal Reserve is the only central bank with a dual mandate. It is charged not only with maintaining low, stable inflation but with promoting maximum sustainable employment. Yet unemployment remains stubbornly high, despite four years of radical tinkering with interest rates and quantitative easing (creating money on the Fed’s books). After pushing interest rates as low as they can go, the Fed has admitted that it has run out of tools.” Ellen BrownContinue reading “Revamp the Federal Reserve”→
Universities UK (UUK) is an advocacy organization whose members include just about every university in the United Kingdom. UUK provides its members with policy guidelines regarding all aspects of university life. The UUK recently released a report advocating a policy of gender segregation to preserve the freedom of speech of external speakers. The report uses a hypothetical case study of a representative of an “ultra-orthodox religious group” whose freedom of speech is imperiled if his demands for gender segregation in the seating arrangements aren’t met.
Contributed by Charlton Stanley (aka Otteray Scribe), Guest Blogger
I remember where I was and what I was doing shortly after one o’clock in the afternoon on December 7, 1941. My dad called me in to where he and a couple of his friends were sitting by the huge Stromberg Carlson 350R console radio, its front doors swung open. They were leaning forward, hanging onto every word coming out of the polished walnut cabinet. The breathless announcer was talking so fast he sometimes stumbled over his words. The usual calm and soothing baritone of a professional radio news reporter was replaced by an almost panicked staccato, an octave higher than his voice would have sounded normally. One phrase has stayed stuck in my mind’s ear all these years, “They stabbed our boys in the back!”
At first I thought they were talking about Japanese soldiers bayoneting our soldiers and sailors in the back, as I had seen them do in the newsreels of the massacre of Nanking. Even as a kid, I knew war was on the horizon. Six weeks earlier, a Nazi U-boat had sunk the destroyer USS Reuben James as it escorted a convoy of cargo ships carrying food and supplies to England.
Everyone thought that when war did come, it would come from Europe. No one but a few farsighted tacticians like General Billy Mitchell were looking west, and even predicting that an attack would come by air. Mitchell was Court Martialed for his outspoken military and political heresy. When Americans were killed in what was to be the first military engagement of WW-2 with the sinking of the Reuben James, President Roosevelt held back committing troops and sailors to combat despite the provocation. Hitler was counting on that kind of restraint, or he would not have been so bold as to sink an American warship. He knew the US was not prepared to fight a war, since American troop levels had been drawn down to very low numbers, and much of the equipment was either obsolete or obsolescent. The country was recovering from the Great Depression, and needed time to re-arm.
Admiral Yamamoto took Roosevelt’s options away from him that Sunday morning. Hitler was said to be furious with his Japanese allies.
Many blogs have been written here that deal with the phony “War on Drugs” and the negative effects it has on society, particularly those lacking resources, or being people of color. This piece is not about the “War on Drugs”, but this ridiculous “war” has actually driven the abuses of our criminal justice system that is my topic today. Because the “War on Drugs” provides context for this subject I’ve included links at the bottom that supply the context behind my opinions here. Human Rights Watch produced a report this week about how most defendants in Federal drug cases are forced to plead guilty under the threat of the imposition of a mandatory sentence. I read an article in Huffington Post referencing this study and it immediately brought to mind two aspects of law enforcement and prosecution today that raise my ire.
The first is the process of plea bargaining, which I believe makes a mockery of our Criminal Justice System. The second is the concept of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MMS) which in my opinion leads inevitably to miscarriages of what we would like to call justice. The idea of negotiation, bargaining if you will, is that each of the two sides has the ability to provide enough of value to be able to establish a mutually beneficial contract. Clearly though when it comes to a Prosecutor bargaining with a defendant there is, except in the case of the wealthy/powerful, an unequal negotiation. The Prosecution has the authority and resources of the State backing it up. Most defendants and indeed most people in prisons, have little resources. In the public’s (thus jury’s) mind, most defendants are really guilty until proven innocent, despite the “presumption of innocence” that is supposedly a hallmark of our legal system. Adding immeasurably to the Prosecution’s resources are “Mandatory Minimum” sentences (MMS). They were instituted by legislators who wanted to appear “tough on crime” and so represent drastic solutions to punishment needs, in order to appear as “tough” as possible. With the trump card of MMS prosecutors are in a position to threaten a defendant to “cop a plea” to avoid a more draconian prison sentence. The Human Rights Watch study shows how these two procedures have become a feature of American Criminal Justice that in my opinion makes a mockery of it. Continue reading “Cheap Justice, Bad Law = Broken System”→
A restaurant owner in one of Richmond’s rural suburbs is defending his use of a surveillance camera in the men’s room. Owner of Calabash Seafood Restaurant and Club Midway, Dennis Smith, isn’t letting anybody tell him how to protect his property from would-be vandals. “I’ve been doing this for 34 years. I’m not concerned with the public’s opinion of how to run my business,” said the 55-year-old owner. “I know how to run it better than anybody. I don’t need them, the county, the government or anybody else telling me how to do it.”
On September 14, Glenn Broadnax, 35, allegedly jumped in front of cars in New York’s Time Square. He was reportedly disoriented and, according to his counsel, was communicating with dead relatives in his mind. However, two police officials feared that the unarmed Broadnax was reaching for a weapon. They responded with a barrage of gunfire that cut down two bystanders. Now, prosecutors have charged Broadnax with assault for the shootings by the police officers on the theory that “recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death.”
We previously discussed the curious case of Dayna Morales, a lesbian waitress a tip because they refused to support her “lifestyle.” An ex-Marine and server at Gallop Asian Bistro in Bridgewater, N.J., produced a receipt that said “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I don’t agree with your lifestyle and how you live your life.” People flocked to the restaurant to leave big tips for Morales and she received national acclaim for donating the tips to the Wounded Warrior charity. She was later challenged by the couple who produced a receipt showing that they did in fact tip her, never wrote anything on the receipt and actually support gay rights. Former friends also came forward to allege that Morales is a habitual liar who was discharged from the Marine Corps for failing to go to training. She has since been suspended from her job at the restaurant. We explored the possible criminal and civil liability that Morales could face if she had in fact lied. I noted that Morales’ promise to give the windfall of sympathetic tips to Wounded Warriors was a good idea to avoid allegations of fraud. However, new local coverage reports that Wounded Warriors has no record of the donations, though she may have made the donations under a different name or in a different locality.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has issued an interesting opinion in the case of Royal v. CCC&R Tres Arboles on what constitutes sexual harassment and retaliation. Denise Royal alleged that she was the subject of repeated sniffing by co-workers and was later fired for complaints of being continually sniffed. The Fifth Circuit ruled that sniffing can constitute sexual harassment.
While politicians continue to push for wars in places like Syria to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction, they tend to ignore the much greater amounts of radioactive material available in this and neighboring countries at hospitals and other institutions. This week we saw just how easy it is to acquire such material capable of being used as a weapon. Thieves simply hijacked a truck with medical waste that would have allowed them to create a potent radioactive dirty bomb. It was a mistake and they likely paid for the mistake with their lives.
If a recent story is to be believed, it appears that there are many things that you can demand to see in the “show me state” but a warrant is not one of them. A Kansas City man is accusing the police department of shocking conduct after he declined a demand that he allow police officers to search his house without a warrant. Eric Crinnian, a lawyer, said that an officer threatened that, if he insisted on his getting a warrant, he would come back in force, bust down his door, and shoot any dogs in the house. The response from a local criminal justice professor is also rather interesting.
In a case that seems right out of Arsenic and Old Lace, Carla Rae Hague, 71, has been arrested for allegedly attempting to kill Judge Charles Hague, by putting antifreeze into his food or drink. Judge Hague survived but the hospital found high levels of ethylene glycol in his system. Police arrested Carla Rae Hague for felonious assault and is sitting in a jail cell next to the courthouse where her husband is a judge. She is expected to be charged with attempted murder and possible tampering with evidence.