Category: Society

Pandemic Passport And The Danger Of Immuno Discrimination

1193px-SARS-CoV-2_without_backgroundBelow is a longer version of my column that ran in the Los Angeles Times on the danger of using antibody testing as a basis for discrimination.  The concept of a pandemic passport of course will only be plausible if such antibodies truly yield a form of immunity.  The WHO has declared that there is no evidence to support that claim.  Yet, plasma treatments are reportedly successful.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Pandemic Passport And The Danger Of Immuno Discrimination”

Mississippi Mayor Bans Open Carry As A Public Health Measure During The Pandemic

flag-of-mississippiThere is an interesting fight brewing in Jackson, Mississippi over gun rights — a dispute that could foreshadow the type of constitutional concerns that Attorney General Bill Barr referenced earlier.  Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba relied on state law for emergency orders and the current pandemic to justify a ban on open carry within city limits.  That drew an objection from Attorney General of the State Lynn Fitch that such an order is unconstitutional.  I previously wrote how churches could be restricted under the pandemic. However, this is an example of officials exceeding their authority in limiting the exercise of a constitutional right.  Open-carry has not been declared a federal constitutional right, but the justification by Lumumba would be difficult to maintain on a legal basis. Continue reading “Mississippi Mayor Bans Open Carry As A Public Health Measure During The Pandemic”

Citing Privacy Concerns, Israel Ends Cellphone Location Tracking For Enforcement of Quarantine

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

The government of Israel suspended a program enacted last month at the behest of the prime minister’s government granting the police the authority to track roaming and location data of those under quarantine order. A parliamentary oversight committee held that the loss of privacy was a greater cost to society than the proffered benefit of tracking those suspected of carrying or transmitting the COVID-19 virus.

The underlying technology used to track civilian COVID patients stems from that developed for Shin Bet (The Israeli General Security Service) for counter-terrorist tracking of cell phones carried by security risks to the state.  In this case the technology was co-opted for use against medical patients health officials suspected might violate quarantine orders.

While the reversal of policy is welcomed, it does provide a proof that any technology or power crafted under the promise of addressing a great and manifest danger to the people or the state usually finds a way to be used against ordinary citizens when politicians or government become tempted to broaden its application under “emergency” conditions.

Continue reading “Citing Privacy Concerns, Israel Ends Cellphone Location Tracking For Enforcement of Quarantine”

Some Washington State Sheriffs Begin Refusing To Enforce Gov. Inslee’s Lockdown Orders

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

To date, three county sheriffs in Washington State broke ranks and announced they will not enforce some of Governor Inslee’s executive orders relating to his several, and increasingly frequent lockdown orders–proclaimed under the auspices of state of emergency declarations to the COVID-19 situation. The dominant subject of dissent among these law enforcement officials centers around what are regarded as unconstitutional intrusions by the governor enacted against the citizens of their respective counties and the inconsistency of regulations applied unequally by the state.

It is my belief that unless a strong reversal of Governor Inslee’s resolve to remain steadfast in his prosecution of ordinary Washingtonians is not fielded soon, the “insubordination” as he claims will only grow and serve to weaken his position, adding spark to a movement against him and his office if it continues in its present form for months.

The time has come for the governor to put his ego aside. For if he chooses to adversarily engage these sheriffs and others who will come to join them he will lose in the courts of public opinion of these various counties.

Continue reading “Some Washington State Sheriffs Begin Refusing To Enforce Gov. Inslee’s Lockdown Orders”

Illinois Democrat Gives Mitch McConnell A Needed Boost With An Obscene Bailout Demand

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been under fire for his suggestion that states declare bankruptcy rather than seek federal bailouts.  McConnell’s view is that many states like Illinois were near bankruptcy in years before the pandemic because of irresponsible union contracts that agreed to crippling pension plans.  There are good-faith reasons to question the proposal as voiced by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as well as reasons to advocate the bankruptcy approach, including a concern of how such declarations will impact loan money rates etc.  However, the President of the Illinois Senate Don Harmon just gave McConnell a massive boost by demanding a $40,6 bailout, including a $10 billion pension bailout.  I have previously criticized my home state for these contracts that were cavalierly accepted by politicians over the years with little concern for the ballooning debt.

Continue reading “Illinois Democrat Gives Mitch McConnell A Needed Boost With An Obscene Bailout Demand”

Nevada Brothel Causes Stir With Stimulus Request

There is an interesting controversy brewing in Nevada over stimulus money and morality. Bella Cummins is the owner of a lawful small business who initially refused an emergency loan under the pandemic stimulus money. The reason? Her business is a brothel.  The CARES Act makes no distinction between moral and immoral businesses so long as they are lawful (and such a distinction in my view would challengeable). Brothels are lawful in Nevada.  Yet, Cummins was eventually allowed to apply for the loan but there are objections to giving stimulus money to an over-stimulating business.

Phi Beta Casha: Harvard Vows To Keep Stimulus Money . . . Then Vows Not To [Updated]

Harvard-seal-3In yesterday’s press conference, President Donald Trump said that Harvard University “is going to pay back the money and they shouldn’t be taking it.” Harvard however says that it intends to keep the money.  That will set off an interesting legal fight, which could ultimately cost much of the grant’s worth in legal fees. Update: Harvard is now reportedly not going to seek or accept stimulus money. Continue reading “Phi Beta Casha: Harvard Vows To Keep Stimulus Money . . . Then Vows Not To [Updated]”

Fifth Circuit Rules For Texas In Blocking Pill-Induced Abortions As “Non-Essential” Procedures

US-CourtOfAppeals-5thCircuit-SealOne of the more interesting legal fights during the pandemic have centered on abortion rights in Texas.  Some governors, like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, have sought to limit abortions as non-essential or “not immediately medically necessary” procedures during the pandemic.  That has been challenged by pro-choice advocates who insist that this is just an opportunistic use of the pandemic.  One such fight is bouncing around the Fifth Circuit over the use of pill-induced abortions.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit just ruled in favor of the state restriction. Continue reading “Fifth Circuit Rules For Texas In Blocking Pill-Induced Abortions As “Non-Essential” Procedures”

Painted Ladies: A Few Photographs of Victorian Style Homes

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A Painted Lady describes a coloring schema of Victorian and Eduardian style houses common of the era between the middle 19th century to the 1910s yet repainted starting in the 1960s to accentuate the architecture through the use of many differing colors, often to a great level of precision (Some attaining not quite a Jan Van Eyck granularity but certainly above that of McMansions blighting many neighborhoods.

Here are a few for your enjoyment. Click each to enlarge.

Continue reading “Painted Ladies: A Few Photographs of Victorian Style Homes”

No, President Trump Does Not Have Total Power Over The States

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedThis morning I ran a column in the Washington Post on the President’s claim that he has “total” and “absolute” power to order all states to lift their pandemic orders and re-open the economy.  Both Republicans and Democrats have objected to the President’s statementsin last night’s press conference.  The fact is that our Constitution was designed expressly to bar such claims.  Absolutes find little sanctuary in a Constitution designed for limited government with shared powers.

Continue reading “No, President Trump Does Not Have Total Power Over The States”

Virginia Pastor Who Defied Lock Down Order Has Died From Coronavirus

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New Deliverance Evangelistic Church / Facebook

We have been discussing ministers who have defied state orders to avoid large services, even refusing to yield after criminal charges.  Now one of those ministers, Bishop Gerald O. Glenn, has died of coronavirus.

He was widely qouted for saying “I Am Essential . . . I Talk to God!”:  Continue reading “Virginia Pastor Who Defied Lock Down Order Has Died From Coronavirus”

Why The Government Can Shut Down Church Gatherings During Pandemics

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper. This weekend the Kansas Supreme Court ruled with the Governor in upholding her order to close church services over 10 persons. That is particularly notable since, as mentioned in the column, Kansas is a state with enhanced protections for the free exercise of religion.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “Why The Government Can Shut Down Church Gatherings During Pandemics”

Having The Best Easter In The Worst Of Times

I wanted to send my best wishes everyone celebrating the holiday today. This is a difficult holiday for many due to missing members due to quarantines or, most tragically, loss of loved ones to the coronavirus. That is the case with my family but that does not mean that this Easter is a bitter one. Indeed, I will be having a special dinner with women who embody what this holiday is really about in celebrating hope even in what can seem hopeless times.

Continue reading “Having The Best Easter In The Worst Of Times”

Some People Take Enormous Exception To The 5G Cell Service Roll-out.

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

For many of us who hold on to old technology until the bitter end, issues such as the obligatory upgrade to a newer generation of cell phone technology brings irritation. But for a few in The Netherlands, it seems burning down cell towers is the retort of choice.

De Telegraaf reports that antenna systems in Liessel, Beesd, Rotterdam and Nuenen had their cabling set alight in what is believed nearly certainly to be arson. One of the control boxes at a cell site had “F*** 5G” spray painted, not the usual result of an arc-flash I would venture to say.

Some of the motivation for the dissent leading to these types of arson stems from the belief that the 5G system as utilized by telecoms curtails privacy and that the propagation of electromagnetic radiation transmissions could have health consequences. There are legitimate arguments to these positions, but there is wide variation in the perceived scope and danger they might actually present. Despite this, there remain always a few who so self-righteously bind themselves to causes célèbres they think very little of the actual damage such acts cause others.

Continue reading “Some People Take Enormous Exception To The 5G Cell Service Roll-out.”