Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why the US Won't be Speaking Out Against Brunei's Gay Stoning Laws

by Nomad

Does the silence from the Obama Administration about Brunei's decision to enact Sharia laws against homosexuality reveal a disturbing double-standard of the US government?
Or could this just another example of the kind of CIA miscalculation that has plagued the agency for decades?

When Existence Is Illegal
On April 22 2014, some of the most extreme anti-gay laws came into effect in the tiny Sultanate of Brunei. The Southeast Asia nation has enacted  punishments mandated by Sharia law for a number of offenses, including same-sex-activity. For crimes of a sexual nature, stoning to death- as well as slicing selected parts of criminal anatomy- will be a newly adopted method of punishment under the new laws. These laws will be gradually phased in over the next few years. 

"Rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sexual relations for Muslims, insulting any verses of the Quran and Hadith, blasphemy, declaring oneself a prophet or non-Muslim, and murder are the other offences for which the death penalty could be applied under the revised code."

Although tiny country is predominantly Muslim (67%) there are also Buddhists (13%), Christian (10%) who will from now on be obliged to live under Sharia laws.  
In point of fact, the Koran has this to say about the law when it comes to homosexuality.
If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. If they repent and amend, leave them alone; for Allah is Oft-returning, Most Merciful (Sura al-Nisa' 4:16)
So, it would seem laws that require punishment are, strictly speaking, interpretations of the Sharia law and not based on what the religion actually dictates anyway. (But that's a matter for Koranic scholars to argue about.)

In any case, the United Nations Human Rights strongly condemned the new laws as a violation of human rights. Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Colville  said, 
“Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offences contravenes international law.”
Colville pointed out other problems with the new laws. 
"Stoning to death, under international law, constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is thus clearly prohibited,”
Additionally, he noted that  the "criminalization and application of the death penalty for consensual relations between adults in private also violates a whole host of rights, including the rights to privacy, to equality before the law, the right to health and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention." 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lawsuit by North Carolina Church A New and Surprising Challenge to Same-Sex Bans

by Nomad

One North Carolina Church has taken the unusual step of challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban. The suit claims that  the state's ban violates its constitutionally-protected freedom to worship and conduct religious rites. 
Turning the whole argument on its head, this latest objection is one that lawmakers in North Carolina- and other states- should take seriously. It could just be the final nail in the coffin for same-sex bans across the country. 

Religious Freedom Working Both Ways
This has to be the weirdest twist in the same-sex marriage debate so far. On Monday, a liberal Protestant denomination opened a lawsuit challenging North Carolina's laws prohibiting same-sex marriage in that state. The suit argues that by forbidding its clergy from blessing gay and lesbian couples, it is effectively violating constitutionally protected religious freedom. According to an article in the New York Times:
The lawsuit, filed in a Federal District Court by the United Church of Christ, is the first such case brought by a national religious denomination challenging a state’s marriage laws. The denomination, which claims nearly one million members nationwide, has supported same-sex marriage since 2005.
That NYT piece also quotes Donald Donald C. Clark Jr., general counsel of the United Church of Christ.
“We didn’t bring this lawsuit to make others conform to our beliefs, but to vindicate the right of all faiths to freely exercise their religious practices.
According to the leaders of this denomination, the state of North Carolina has no jurisdiction to criminalize what any church can and cannot do. It would, they argue, against the First Amendment which guarantees that the government, whether local, state or federal, keep a hands off policy when it comes to religious practice.

Clark points out that North Carolina laws is not only unconstitutional, it is clearly inconsistent. Although clergy of the denomination are allowed to bless same-sex couples who have been married in other states, they are prohibited by law from performing religious blessings or marriage rites for same-sex couples within their own congregation. Violating such a prohibition would, according to the state law, subject the clergy to prosecution and civil judgement in court.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Nation Adrift: Studies Confirm The Slow Sinking of the US Middle Class

Cartoon Middle Class Declineby Nomad

Due to economic policies of going back 30 years, studies show, the American middle-class is withering on the vine. While the US may still be the richest country in the world, that wealth has not trickled down to the middle class at all, compared to other nations. The effects of this shrinkage of the middle class could spell big trouble in America's future. 

Falling Behind
Most of us have known for quite some time now but a New York Times article has recently confirms the fact. According to an analysis of the numbers based on surveys reviewing the last 35 years, figures show that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.
In other words, the impact of income inequality based on flawed policy is driving Middle-class families to the point of extinction.
The numbers, based on surveys conducted over the past 35 years, offer some of the most detailed publicly available comparisons for different income groups in different countries over time. They suggest that most American families are paying a steep price for high and rising income inequality.
Hardly startling news, of course, but the proof is fairly conclusive when compared to other countries. 
If studies are anything to go by, then it isn't that America overall is being poorer, only that the middle-class is withering away. The top half of the income scale is still wealthier than any other nation. Indeed, when it comes to global economic growth, America is still a powerhouse, but that's not the problem. The problem is the middle class is clearly not benefiting. 

While America might remain the most wealthy country in the world, the actual distribution of that wealth has changed considerably since our parents' day. As a New York Times article explained:
With a big share of recent income gains in this country flowing to a relatively small slice of high-earning households, most Americans are not keeping pace with their counterparts around the world.
And a comparison of nations makes pretty grim reading. While median income has risen in other countries, in the US, adjusting for inflation, median income per capita has remained virtually unchanged since 2000.
The same measure, by comparison, rose about 20 percent in Britain between 2000 and 2010 and 14 percent in the Netherlands. Median income also rose 20 percent in Canada between 2000 and 2010, to the equivalent of $18,700. Other income surveys, conducted by government agencies, suggest that since 2010 pay in Canada has risen faster than pay in the United States and is now most likely higher. Pay in several European countries has also risen faster since 2010 than it has in the United States.
The cause of the decline are obvious but that doesn't mean they are easy to fix. There will be no quick fixes. It will take compromise and concerted effort to reverse the trend. 
That's something that seems to be in short supply in Washington.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Musical Sanity Break: Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

by Nomad

The combination of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash might not, at first glance, seem to be a obvious pairing. Cash was, after all, a famous name in the older tradition of country music while Dylan was a icon of first folk music and later the protest songs of the 1960s. 
However, the two men actually had a warm relationship based on a deep respect, and it was  a friendship that was to last nearly 40 years. Despite that, they only had one two-day recording session that began on Feb. 17, 1969. 

How that friendship began was revealed in Cash's autobiography.
“I had a portable record player that I’d take along on the road. And I’d put on ‘[The] Freewheelin’ [Bob Dylan]‘ backstage, then go out and do my show, then listen again as soon as I came off. After a while at that, I wrote Bob a letter telling him how much of a fan I was. He wrote back almost immediately, saying he’d been following my music since ‘I Walk the Line,’ and so we began a correspondence.”
That mutual admiration remained throughout both careers. Upon Cash's passing in 2003, Dylan had this to say about the man. 
“In plain terms, Johnny was and is the North Star; you could guide your ship by him — the greatest of the greats then and now, Truly he is what the land and country is all about, the heart and soul of it personified and what it means to be here; and he said it all in plain English. I think we can have recollections of him, but we can’t define him any more than we can define a fountain of truth, light and beauty. If we want to know what it means to be mortal, we need look no further than the Man in Black. Blessed with a profound imagination, he used the gift to express all the various lost causes of the human soul.”
That's quite a eulogy.
Here's a site with more details of that relationship.
The clip below comes from the debut of The Johnny Cash Show in which Dylan made a guest appearance. (Along with Joni Mitchell.) The date was June 7th, 1969. The place: the Grand Ole Opry.

They are singing one of Dylan's previously-recorded songs,  "Girl from the North Country."

Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash - Girl From The North Country from brilliant orks on Vimeo.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Sad Reality Behind Putin's Claim that the Internet is a CIA Project

Vladimir Putinby Nomad

Yesterday Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the Internet was an ongoing CIA plot. 
Once again, he demonstrated how he is not interested in providing an alternative to US-dominated hegemony. What Putin wants is something a bit more predictable and a bit more obvious.  

The Alternative that Wasn't
Sometimes I think there's a tendency in the West to give too much credit to Vladimir Putin. Oddly, the West has always seen the Russian leader as some kind of chess master when Putin's approach has been anything but subtle or even very clever. 
Lately and in many ways, the Russian president seems to have exposed himself as a somewhat backward leader without much in the way of a constructive vision. He is found playing the same word games that once discredited the Soviet Union

The great modern Russian tragedy is that it began with such promise. Over and over. Russia's greatest strength -even during Soviet times- has been that it offered an alternative view of the world. We didn't have to live in a world dominated by special interests. Through struggle, we could make the world better. True, it was always reactionary but at least, that vision provided a kind of independent analysis of the West. 
So went the theory at least. 
Today, only Edward Snowden might agree with that. Some American-born reporters on Russia Today might still think that's true but, from the outside, that idea looks a little naive.  While rushing to condemn the West for all its many faults and unscrupulous behavior, defenders of Putin require some skillful mental gymnastics to ignore something that is growing clearer every time Putin opens his mouth. 

Under Vladimir Putin, Russia's view is neither different and definitely not indifferent. The Kremlin's objectives are shaped by an agenda not unlike any corrupted capitalist empire in the West.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tulsa Church Throws in Towel over Negligence Lawsuit in Boxing Match Death

by Nomad

The death of young football coach after a charity boxing match has cost a Tulsa "rock and roll" church a small fortune. For the victim's family, it was a clear case of negligence.
Shouldn't somebody have asked whether a 12-round brawl was really the best way to raise money for a Christian organization?

Slug-Fest for Jesus

Oklahoma is the kind of place where, when it comes to either big business exploitation or church activities, just about anything goes. Absolutely nothing should surprise you. Even so, I was a little taken aback when I saw this news story in a Tulsa newspaper.
A Tulsa church's owners have settled a civil lawsuit filed by the family of a man who died in the wake of a boxing event at the church, a lawyer confirmed Tuesday.
The family of George Clinkscale III, a former TU linebacker, alleged negligence in a lawsuit against the church following the boxing event that featured untrained and unlicensed fighters.
A tragedy to be sure but the question that stuck in my head was: Who on earth thought a "slug-fest" was appropriate for a church?  (Isn't it carrying the Biblical passage "if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" a bit too literally?)
Clinkscale died as a result of injuries he suffered in a boxing match at Guts Church's Fight Night VI, held in the church's parking lot in September 2011.
So apparently these events had been going on for years.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Football Hall of Famer and Republican Donor John Elway Doesn't Support Hand-outs.. Except for the NFL

by Nomad

Football Hall of Famer John Elway doesn't believe in safety nets for the poor, but, like many a big bucks Republican contributor, he tends to ignore how much of his millionaire wealth originally came from his career with the tax-exempt, government-subsidized NFL.
Former American football quarterback and current General Manager and Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Denver Broncos, John Albert Elway, Jr. has made an ass embarrassment of himself in an Fox News interview. He explain his reason for voting Republican was that he didn't believe in "safety nets."
According to Raw Story:
In a interview on Fox News prior to Super Bowl XLVIII, host Chris Wallace pointed out that Elway was a “big Republican” who had contributed “a lot of money” to former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.
“Why do you support the GOP?” Wallace wondered.

“Well, it goes to what my beliefs are,” Elway explained. “I believe that we’re giving the opportunity to succeed or not succeed.”
“I don’t believe in safety nets,” he continued. “Obviously, we’ve got to have some kind of safety nets. But I think my philosophy is when given the opportunity to go take advantage of that, I think that’s when you get the best out of people.”
What is the poor man trying to say?  
But hold up a second, didn't Romney say that he wasn't overly worried about the poor because there were safety nets? And these were sufficient then he- as (shudder) president would "fix" them. Well, at least, that's what Mitt Romney said publicly but, as we came to learn in the middle of his campaign, that's probably not what he was telling rich donors like Elway.

Monday, April 21, 2014

How Blind Woman and Dog Struggle to Put Lives Together After Hit-and-Run Driver

by Nomad

Hit-and run accidents are on the rise across the country. Here's a story about how one accident has shaken the confidence of one blind woman. 
Still, the problems don't stop there. 

Most of us have a hard time trying to imagine what life would be like without our independence. We just take it for granted that we can go  where we like wherever we wish. For the disabled, of course, it is quite another story.

The US has made great strides in allowing the disabled to live more independent (and therefore more fulfilling) lives.  In fact, The United States of America was the first country to pass laws protecting the right of blind individuals to enter public establishments, and to  travel on all modes of public transportation accompanied by a guide dog. It's called progress and it is something that America should be proud of.   

So when I read this news story out of St. Louis, it made me more than a little angry. Denise Hollinshed, a crime reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, describes how, in one week, the life of one blind woman has been turned upside. All due to the carelessness and lack of compassion of a driver.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Why This Century-Old Cartoon Could Have Been Printed Yesterday

by Nomad

I found this political cartoon in an online archive. Incredibly, it was printed in 1912.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lee Jeffries: Portraits of the Forgotten Homeless

by Nomad

Lee Jeffries started out as a sports photographer but after a chance encounter with a young homeless person on the streets of London, his career took a completely different turn. Since that meeting Jeffries has dedicated his time taking photographic portraits of the homeless in Britain and in the United States. As our source explains:
Shooting exclusively in black and white, Lee Jeffries’ 135+ pictures can be viewed in his Flickr Photostream. The majority are closeup portraits with incredible detail. Each photograph exudes so much raw character and depth, you find yourself studying each shot with great intensity.
Here are a few examples from a much larger collection which can be found  on Flickr.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Class Mobility: Why Moving Up is Just a Dream for Many American Children

by Nomad

Recent studies about class mobility in America reveal some interesting findings on upward mobility- the core principle of the American Dream. 
They suggest that one key factor between making that dream a reality or not could just be where you happen to live.

A recent study, commissioned by  the Equality of Opportunity Project and funded by the National Science Foundation, made some interesting correlations. Researchers found that areas with greater mobility-where people can rise out of the class they were born into- tended to have five characteristics: 
  • less segregation
  • less income inequality
  • better schools
  • greater social capital,
  • more stable families

Researchers are quick to point out that the study was more about finding patterns. The study was not an attempt to decide what is a cause and what is an effect.  In any event, the findings themselves provide valuable information about the state of cyclical poverty in the US.

Where You Call Home
One factor is simply where you live. For example, the cards are stacked against the poor in the Southeast and the industrial Midwest. Basically, if you are poor there, you're stuck. 
On the other hand, if you are born poor in in the Northeast, Great Plains and West, including in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and large swaths of California and Minnesota, you may be able to climb out of the inherited hole. At least, there's a chance.

Pastor Hagee and Blood Moon Nonsense: Promoting Superstition and Fear

Blood Moon Superstition Hageeby Nomad

Megachurch pastor, televangelist and author John Hagee is warning the world that the lunar eclipses today is just God is cracking down on rule-breaking mortals. 
Such superstitious nonsense is nothing new. More than any other natural phenomenon, eclipses have been used frighten the under-educated and gullible.

Just when you thought it was safe to go forward into the future, now this. After we somehow survived the end of world predicted by the Mayans, we poor humans are clearly not out of danger just yet. 

The Raw Story has a article about the pastor of Texas’ Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas., John Hagee who has apparently dusted off his well-thumbed copy of the 1970 End Times bestseller The Late, Great Planet Earth. The world will face a wrath of God that will make the Mayan's 2012 non-event look like a Harpo Marx with a seltzer bottle and a cream pie. 

The End of the Age.. Again
Hagee told his congregation that the astronomic events will be God's way of warning of an upcoming cataclysm involving Israel, Russia and a “world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015.” 
"Every time this has happened in the last 500 years, it has coincided with tragedy for the Jewish people followed by triumph. And once again, for Israel, the timing .. is remarkable."
It's strange, a critic might say, that God forgot to warn the Jews about the Holocaust with a couple of red moons.
According to the article:
“Is this the end of the age?” Hagee asked during a recent sermon, before quoting Acts 2:19-20: And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”
“I believe that the heavens are God’s billboard, that he has been sending signals to planet Earth,” he explained. “God is literally screaming at the world, ‘I’m coming soon.’”
In actuality, today's' lunar eclipse, scientists inform us, will be the first of four in six month intervals. These eclipses are often referred to as “blood moons” because of their appearance (not for any supernatural reason).  Astronomers tell us that's simply due to sunlight shining on the moon filtered by the Earth’s atmosphere. However, to the Texas pastor, the event is God's way of clearing out the orgy, a kind of closing time last call for humanity.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Are GOP Governors who Reject Medicaid Expansion Violating their Residents' Civil Rights?

by Nomad

If the first duty of government is to protect its citizens then isn't access to health care included in that idea? 
Are the 21 governors that rejected the Medicaid expansion violating their state residents' civil rights? 

It has been long recognized that the first duty of government is to protect the people. Everything else- including party politics and budget considerations come after that responsibility. (This was something that even Ronald Reagan recognized.)  

The Most Basic Duty of Government
The idea that government has its special duty is based on the so-called Social Compact that pre-dates (but is upheld by) the US Bill of Rights and the Constitution. 
It works like this: The government has a duty to protect and in turn, all citizens conditionally surrender their absolute freedom (but not surrender absolutely) as a form of consent. Furthermore as subjects, all citizens were obliged to contribute- in the form of taxes and in the form of general compliance- to maintain the general welfare of the nation.
More and more we see some- especially in the Tea Party- calling to question this compact. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Women and Politics: Why We can Never Go Back to the 1950s

by Nomad

In my formative years (which, as far as I can tell, haven't ended) there was a popular tune was by Helen Reddy called "I am Woman." It became a kind of anthem to the Feminist Movement of the 1970s. It was a song that clearly changed lives.

Back then, I couldn't understand what the fuss was about back then. I mean, apart from the dubious grammar, my thought was "Okay, you are woman. Wasn't it obvious?" Since that time, the tides of enlightenment through liberation have swept in, left their marks and in some ways, swept out again. 

For some people, the fact that women really are people who deserve the same rights as the male population isn't all that obvious and some of these people somehow find themselves in positions of power.
In any event,  related to that idea,  here are two articles from women I thought I would share with you. 
First, there one by Kimberley A. Johnson, the author of The Virgin Diaries. It is called "Why I Am Leaving The Democratic Party And Voting Republican." 

Here's an excerpt:
I imagine this will come as a great shock to many but I have decided that rather than vote for the losing team in November, I will vote a straight Republican ticket.
I have been singing the liberal song for so long now and it just isn’t working. I have asked so many senators and representatives to support the Equal Rights Amendment because for some crazy reason, I thought women should earn as much as men for the same work. They just ignore me. Every time I turn around, I hear Republican women telling me that pay inequality is just a myth. Men say it too. Rick Perry just said it is ridiculous to even discuss it, and he has GREAT HAIR!
She goes on to say:
I think the main reason why I have decided to vote Republican is because I am just sick and tired of worrying about my rights. It’s exhausting. Voting is such a pain anyway. I could be at the mall getting my nails done and ENJOYING a nice massage and some Republican man can pay for it. I am sick and tired of having to make every decision myself.
I tend to think she might be pulling my leg. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

NYT Editor John Swinton and The Truth about the Independent Press

by Nomad

The American journalist, orator, and fighter for progressive causes, John Swinton (1829-1901) has long been forgotten by the public but his comments on the Independent press of his day seems strikingly familiar to our own.

To Fawn at the Feet of Mammon

In 1880, newspaper publisher, New York Times chief editor and orator John Swinton was the guest of honor at a banquet for the press. When a toast was raised to the independent press, Swinton reportedly had this rather surprising announcement:
THERE is no such thing in America as an independent press, unless it is in the country towns. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write his honest opinions, and if you did you know beforehand that it would never appear in print.

I am paid $150.00 a week for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with—others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things—and any of you who would be so foolish as to write his honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job.
The business of the New York journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his race and his country for his daily bread.

You know this and I know it, and what folly is this to be toasting an "Independent Press." We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping-jacks; they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men.
We are intellectual prostitutes.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Call It Irony: Mormon Leaders Oppose Re-Defining The Concept of Marriage

by Nomad

The official opposition of the Mormon Church to same-sex marriage reveals an amusing paradox, unique to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
Given its history with polygamy, what authority does the Mormon Church have to dictate what is and what is not a traditional marriage?

A few days ago Neil L. Andersen , a well-respected leader of the  Church of the Latter Day Saints,  had an announcement to make on the official position of the Mormon Church on same-sex marriage.  The opinions of Andersen, as a member of of the Quorum of the Twelve, carry a lot of weight. He declared:
"While many governments and well-meaning individuals have redefined marriage, the Lord has not. He designated the purpose of marriage to go far beyond the personal satisfaction and fulfillment of adults, to more importantly, advancing the ideal setting for children to be born, reared and nurtured."
One can scrutinize the position and point out its flaws, such as the fact that, while the Church gives its stamp of approval on all traditional marriage, it doesn't dare claim that every marriage is an ideal setting for children. So why does it do so in this case?
Apart from some manufactured evidence from special interests, there is no actual proof that same-sex marriage is any better or any worse for child rearing and nurturing. At least that's what qualified doctors tell us:
“Many studies have demonstrated that children’s well-being is affected much more by their relationships with their parents, their parents’ sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family than by the gender or the sexual orientation of their parents,” Siegel writes with coauthor Ellen Perrin, a Tufts University professor of pediatrics and director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics.
Nevertheless, Andersen knows because .. well, he just knows because God told him so. Yet, Church leaders have been wrong in the past. And they have had to suddenly reverse their formerly rock-solid positions on marriage in the past.

The Evolving Republican View on Obama's Affordable Care Act

by Nomad

ACA Republican

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Musical Sanity Break: Austin Criswell

by Nomad

One of the best things about the Net is that gives people a stage where they can shine. Take the example of Austin Criswell, a singer-songwriter from Pennsylvania. 
Not your typical pop idol type, but what a fantastic voice. 

By the way, although Adele made this song a hit it was actually written by Bob Dylan from his 1997 album Time Out of Mind .It was first recorded and released commercially by none other than Billy Joel.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sarah Palin and Protege Lizbeth Benacquisto Play Magic Trick on Florida Voters

Sarah Palin nomadic politicsby Nomad

In an effort to show how Tea Party conservatives really (REALLY) are not waging a war on women, Sarah Palin has been been showing up throwing her weight behind female conservative candidates. 
It didn't take long for the giggles to start.

Wherever the shadow of Palin falls, something turns rotten, it seems. According a local news report- A Fox News outlet nonetheless- Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto from Florida's District 30 played an impressive magic trick with the help of Sarah Palin's witchery.

Benacquisto was able to make a simultaneous appearance at two places at the same time,  campaigning in southwest Florida with Sarah Palin, while voting on the Senate floor in Tallahassee.
Senator Benaquisto said she left the capitol early Thursday, though we confirmed business did not conclude that day until 6 p.m. She spent that evening at a barbecue fundraiser for her Congressional campaign with Palin in Naples.
Yet, the voting record showed she stayed in the Senate to continue to vote -- indicating someone voted in her place (in violation of legislative rules.)
Hardly a high crime but it does provide proof- as any more were required- that politicians are much more interested in fund-raising and campaigning for their esteemed position than actually doing the required tasks. A fundraiser is a like a party with a purpose whereas the responsibility of actually voting is dull, dull, dull.

Apparently this sort of absentee voting goes on quite a bit despite the rules. But then a rule never stopped Palin so why should it stop her protege? You can almost hear Palin saying "Ah, rules, schmules! Trust me, girlfriend!"

Friday, April 4, 2014

Police Brutality: Is This The Price of Empire?

by Nomad

Recent cases of police overreaction have led to public outrage. But the question is: Is this the inevitable consequence of imperial war? If so, it shouldn't surprise anybody. One politician from an earlier age warned us that this would happen.

A few recent news stories about the  police caught my attention. Here's one from the Chicago area:
A suburban police officer has been charged with reckless conduct, in the death of a 95-year-old World War II veteran who was shocked with a stun gun and shot with beanbag rounds at a Park Forest nursing home last year.
Park Forest Police Officer Craig Taylor was charged with one count of reckless conduct in the death of John Wrana. at the Victory Centre nursing home on July 26, 2013.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said Wrana died from internal bleeding from blunt force trauma caused by the bean bag rounds. Cook County prosecutors said Wrana was struck five times with beanbag rounds fired from a shotgun.
According to one source, police misconduct has cost the City of Chicago over $500 million in legal settlement, fees and other costs. People are quite rightly starting to ask questions about the training and oversight of the force. 
In 2013 alone, the city shelled out $84.6 million — the largest annual payout in the decade analyzed by the Better Government Association (BGA), and more than triple the $27.3 million the city had initially projected to spend last year.
That's a lot of taxpayers' money being needlessly shelled out. Moreover, events like this seem to be happening more and more. Or maybe they are just getting reported more.