Author: Darren Smith

Ode To Stumps

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Nature can be mesmerizing when we afford ourselves the opportunity to believe such. Often we keep ourselves at a distance to the outdoors and view each element only as an abstraction: too ordinary and mundane and something simply to drive past.

In such as this example of nature before us, from afar we only see stumps in a drying reservoir. Yet for a small investment in our time and close attention, a century of nature’s craft shows some true woodworking.

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Does Lighting Fireworks Constitute Free Speech?

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

180px-San_Diego_FireworksWith the coming this week of this year’s Independence Day, I thought we would revisit an article from 2016 and pose a question to you. Does the use of fireworks constitute protected free speech?

A tradition spanning multiple generations in the United States is that a large portion of our society celebrates and shows tribute to the United States through the lighting and observance of fireworks. Yet numerous municipalities and counties impose sweeping and total bans of fireworks. Some statutes regulate the type of firework allowable, such as those having a ferocity that safety requires certified technicians. Others ban benign devices such as snakes and small fountains.

But does a complete ban on fireworks regardless of size constitute an infringement on the first amendment rights of citizens?

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Honorable Civil Disobedience

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Having seen over the years protesters engaged in voicing their grievances in fashions ranging from the peaceful to the violent, I believe it is incumbent to provide a guidelines in the hope of furthering a cause without the distractions that spill over into not only silencing important messages but preventing consequences that hurt others.

I propose the idea of Honorable Civil Disobedience.

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Unholy Apostilles: Intermediaries Fleece Unsuspecting Applicants For Government Document Credentialing

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A concerning practice has emerged over the years where intermediary service providers proffer to obtain apostille certifications on behalf of the those unfamiliar with the credentialing process for documents sent overseas. Unscrupulous providers charge hundreds and some over a thousand dollars for several documents while a typical cost assessed by each state’s secretary of state centers around fifteen dollars per document.

Most of these providers are unregulated and operate from virtual offices or use addresses traceable to private mail box companies such as the UPS Store. Some go so far as making promises of authenticity under legally questionable guises.

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Thieving Maggie

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

In an interesting reversal, a young Chinese child unseated the predominating meme of hungry birds stealing food from humans.

The setup played into the hands of the girl, who took charge of the unsuspecting avian and snatched a morsel directly from the victim dove’s beak. All while her unwitting accomplice–her mother–attracted the bird under the guise of feeding pigeons.

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WA Sex Offender Registration Requirements Can Cause Indefinite Opportunity For Imprisonment Of The Homeless

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A recent case before the Washington Court of Appeals for Division I highlights what has as a direct result of an increasingly punitive legislation become a perilous trap for a homeless, mentally handicapped citizen–and by extension likely many more.

In February 1998, when he was 23 years old, Jayson Lee Boyd had sex with a 15 year old. On May 27, 1999, Boyd pleaded guilty to Rape of a Child in the Third degree. Boyd was sentenced on July 29, 1999. He has not committed a sex offense since his original conviction. Nevertheless, he is required to register as a sex offender under RCW 9A.44.130 and RCW 9A.44.140. Since his original conviction in 1999, Boyd has been convicted of failure to register as a sex offender three times, all in Skagit County.

Thus his station in life: Seemingly perpetual incarceration is his future.

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Worst Phishing Email Ever

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

I received this week a true gem of a phishing e-mail. I have to admit however that I was a bit disappointed in its transparency.

Usually the notion of the Confidence Man of the past involves lavishing praise on his mark. Since the 1990s when a flim-flam attempted to scam a person they often provide respect by extending the courtesies of a learned barrister representing wealthy Nigerian politicians or royalty. But it seems cynicism finally overcame this fraud and it consumed him.

But then again, this onerous email might act as a filter to winnow out the intelligent from the truly gullible who are more easily victimized.

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Some Appellants Never Get A Break

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

In our criminal justice system, appellants tend to fall into three categories: Those who ultimately prevail in their arguments; those who are unable to convince justices of their case’s merits; and those who fall off a cliff and strike every sharp rock on their way to the bottom. Steven Canha apparently suffered the fate of the last category.

After extensive appeals, one of which was to the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Canha lost what could be his final personal restraint petition before Washington’s courts of appeals and now the state’s Supreme Court halted the years long contention for his release from prison.

Mr. Canha argues, in short, for a resentencing based on Washington’s determinate sentencing grid by reason of incompatibility of foreign laws to Washington’s and argues for removal of prior convictions to reduce his prison term. But being probably the most unfortunate man in recent memory, a unanimous Court determined applicability of prior violations based largely upon obsolete laws (effective at the time) and time/date dictated ultimately how long his imprisonment occurred.

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NFL Logo No Longer Shown On NFL Sponsor Papa John’s Website

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

After the recent controversy involving NFL players kneeling before the National Anthem at the beginning football games, long time NFL sponsor Papa John’s Pizza no longer displays the NFL Logo or indications of sponsorship on its official website.

While no reference as to the reasons given has been made readily publicly available, there exists the possibility the company might be having at least reservations with presently displaying a logo engendering increasing disfavor with large segments of its customer base.

Papa John’s once branded itself as the Official Pizza of the NFL.

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The United Methodist Church And My Loss Of Faith In Its Mission

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

It comes with much personal reflection that after the United Methodist Church’s Annual Conference for the Pacific Northwest Conference area, encompassing where I live in Washington State, I decided to leave the church after seeing what I believe to be the church leadership moving away from spirituality and Christian teachings to a place where members of the hierarchy in our conference use the Church as a platform to pontificate a particular flavor of politics, aligning itself with an American political party, promoting organizations that provide legal advice to those who evade the law, and worst of all having members that promote an organization that advocates the killing of law enforcement officers. This is a sad outcome, but it represents an evolution of thinking becoming endemic to particular districts. I do not believe that most of the districts approve generally of these changes but unfortunately for me they encompass the area I reside. The best choice for me was to end my relationship.

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Tenth Circuit Strips Qualified Immunity After Sheriff’s Office Raids Home Of Tea Growers

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

There are some cases where probable cause is questioned and there are a few others that leave me shaking my head in disbelief of how ridiculous some officers can be.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently handed down a stinging rebuke of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and its deputies some of whom, Plaintiffs claim, lied about a field test of a suspected Marijuana product, finding evidence of marijuana grow derived from purchasing tools at a gardening retailer somehow established probable cause sufficient to send in a SWAT team to execute a search warrant and detain a couple for several hours.

The leafy green vegetable matter in question was not marijuana but tea leaves.

It is a classic example of department officials promising to make a publicity garnering drug sweep and when arrests are not made, someone must be sent to jail at all costs. And as can often be the case with such maligned efforts the end result was a civil rights lawsuit in federal court.

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Oregon Organic Farm Threatened With Forced Herbicide Use Reaches Settlement With County

Last weekend we featured two articles (HERE and HERE) describing a controversy involving the forced use of chemical herbicides on an organic farm that according to County officials was out of compliance in controlling noxious weeds that were threatening neighboring farms and crops.

The 2,000 acre organic farm in North Central Oregon is facing what could be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides to eradicate weed growth.

I attended the public hearing held at the Sherman County seat located in Moro, Oregon. Due to a very high volume of interest expressed by residents and those outside the community, the venue was changed from the County Courthouse to a gymnasium at the Sherman County High School. There was a great deal of uncertainty manifest in this hearing with strongly held opinions on many sides and one can say with near certainty that the publicity generated caused turmoil in this small community. In fact, the concern was so great, that a number of law enforcement officials were dispatched to the area to provide security to address a worry that things might get out of hand. But in the end the two sides reached an agreement that precludes the forced use of herbicides–and offered both a carrot and stick for both parties to strongly consider.

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Agricultural Scientist Responds To Oregon County’s Mandate To Apply Herbicides To Organic Farm

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Yesterday I fielded an article concerning a rather distressing mandate by an Oregon county weed control agency seeking to force the application of hazardous herbicides onto a 2,000 acre organic farm owned by Azure Farms. Sherman County Oregon maintains this scorched earth policy is necessary to abate, or more specifically “eradicate”, weeds listed by state statute as noxious.

Now, the scientific community is responding to this overreaching government action by acting in the interests of health and responsible environmental stewardship through advocacy in the hopes that officials in Sherman County will reconsider their mandate.

Dr. Charles Benbrook is a highly credentialed research professor and expert serving on several boards of directors for agribusiness and natural resources organizations. Having read news of Sherman County’s actions, he penned an authoritative response I believe will make informative reading for those concerned by present and future implications in the forced use of herbicides under the rubric of noxious weed eradication, and the damage to organic farming generally arising from such mandates.

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Oregon County Mandates 2,000 Acre Organic Farm Sprayed With Chemical Herbicides

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A 2,000 acre organic farm in central Oregon is facing what could be a be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides, such as Roundup, to eradicate weed growth.

The mandate would bring to an end nearly 18 years of organic farming, placing a significant loss of organic food to the public.

Azure Farms is a certified organic farm located in Moro, Sherman County, Oregon. The farm produces almost all the organic wheat, field peas, barley, Einkorn, and beef for Azure Standard.

Sherman County could issue a court order on May 22, 2017 to quarantine Azure Farms and possibly to spray the entire farm with poisonous herbicides contaminating them with Milestone, Escort, and Roundup.

Such a unilateral action on the behalf of the few individuals representing county government could set a precedent in damaging perhaps one of the few remaining healthy alternatives to mass-market agribusinesses.

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Indiana Jones Was Banned From Washington Territory

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Indiana Jones must have caused a great uproar against the peace and decency of the Pacific Northwest.

On February 27, 1854 the first Legislative Assembly in the newly organized Washington Territory ratified the Statutes of the Territory of Washington. While the criminal code is rather ordinary for the mid-nineteenth century, one has to wonder what kind of menace was to be found in the territorial capital of Olympia. It seems the likes of Indiana Jones was one of those menaces.

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