… over at my other blog.
Go there, for more Will S.
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… over at my other blog.
Go there, for more Will S.
Or see my Twitter feed, on the right of this post.
The prevailing image of North Korea in Western minds is a closed society where the people have little sense of life beyond its borders. How, then, does one explain the mobile phones, DVDs and – most bizarrely of all – South Korean chocolate snacks.
Every now and then, the mask slips, and the absolute imperial nature of the American government system is revealed.
California would allow noncitizens to serve on juries under a proposal being considered by state lawmakers, potentially expanding a fundamental obligation of American life to millions more people.
The measure, which would apply only to legal residents, would make California the only state to open the jury box to noncitizens who meet all other requirements of service, according to legal experts. The proposal raises the question of what it means to be judged by peers in a state where more than one in seven residents is not a citizen. One of the bill’s authors, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), said the proposal would help ensure an adequate pool of jurors, help immigrants integrate into American society and make juries more representative of California.
Juries “should reflect our community, and our community is always changing,” Wieckowski said. “It’s time for California to be a leader on this.” The Assembly passed the bill this week on a party-line vote, with most Democrats lining up in favor and Republicans standing in opposition.
Legal and trial experts had mixed reactions to the measure, which would open a distinctly American institution to non-Americans. Legal proceedings, particularly civil cases, in many parts of the world are not decided by a jury.
“The real goal is to have people in the community make a determination about guilt or innocence. There could be a value in adding different perspectives into the deliberation process,” said Matthew McCusker, president of the American Society of Trial Consultants. But noncitizens may not have the same understanding of the judicial system, he said.
“Jury instructions are remarkably complex,” McCusker said. “If you add in further barriers, whether it’s language or cultural, you’re adding more difficulties in following the rule of law.”
Niels Frenzen, a professor of immigration law at USC, said he doubted immigrants would have any more trouble handling jury duty than citizens would. “There is not often that great a divide of knowledge between immigrants and …citizens.”
If Frenzen is right, that’s hardly encouraging; it’s more a damning indictment of Americans’ profound ignorance about their own history and their judicial and legal system, today.
The day has come, folks.
I’m facing some big events in my real life in the near future – two relocations over the next couple months, a return to school in the new year (in a one-year program with an intensive reading and study load), a potential vacation before that begins.
For those reasons, among others, I’ve reflected, and decided that it’s time for me to move on.
Effective immediately, I am leaving Happolati’s Miscellany. Thanks to Johann Happolati for inviting me aboard.
Vaya con Dios.
An SAS soldier has been jailed for possessing a “war trophy” pistol presented to him by the Iraqi Army for outstanding service.
Sgt Danny Nightingale, a special forces sniper who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was sentenced to 18 months in military detention by a court martial last week.
His sentence was described last night as the “betrayal of a war hero”, made worse because it was handed down in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday.
Sgt Nightingale had planned to fight the charge of illegally possessing the 9mm Glock.
But his lawyer said he pleaded guilty after being warned that he could otherwise face a five-year sentence.
The soldier had hoped for leniency given the circumstances. At the court martial, even the prosecution described him as a serviceman of exemplary character, who had served his country for 17 years, 11 in the special forces.
The court was told that he returned to Britain in a hurry after two friends were killed in Iraq, leaving his equipment — including the pistol — to be packed up by colleagues.
It accepted evidence from expert witnesses that he suffered severe memory loss due to a brain injury.
Judge Advocate Alistair McGrigor, presiding over the court martial, could have spared the soldier prison by passing a suspended sentence. Instead he handed down the custodial term.
Sgt Nightingale and his family chose to waive the anonymity usually given to members of the special forces.
His wife, Sally, said her husband’s sentence was a “disgrace”. She called him a “hero who had been betrayed”. She said she and the couple’s two daughters, aged two and five, faced losing their home after his Army pay was stopped.
The soldier’s former commanding officer and politicians have called for the sentence to be overturned.
Lt Col Richard Williams, who won a Military Cross in Afghanistan in 2001 and was Sgt Nightingale’s commanding officer in Iraq, said the sentence “clearly needed to be overturned immediately”.
He said: “His military career has been ruined and his wife and children face being evicted from their home — this is a total betrayal of a man who dedicated his life to the service of his country.”
Patrick Mercer, the Conservative MP for Newark and a former infantry officer, said he planned to take up the case with the Defence Secretary. Simon McKay, Sgt Nightingale’s lawyer, said: “On Remembrance Sunday, when the nation remembers its war heroes, my client — one of their number — is in a prison cell.
“I consider the sentence to be excessive and the basis of the guilty plea unsafe. It is a gross miscarriage of justice and grounds of appeal are already being prepared.”
In 2007, Sgt Nightingale was serving in Iraq as a member of Task Force Black, a covert counter-terrorist unit that conducted operations under orders to capture and kill members of al-Qaeda.
He also helped train members of a secret counter-terrorist force called the Apostles. At the end of the training he was presented with the Glock, which he planned to donate to his regiment as a war trophy.
This is why people shouldn’t volunteer for the military today, not only in Britain, but everywhere in the West; no State deserves such loyalty today.
The owner of 5-Hour Energy says a ban of his product over reports that some people with heart conditions experienced dangerous side effects would make about as much sense as banning peanuts because some people who eat them are deathly allergic.
In an extended interview with CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook Thursday (above), 5-Hour Energy CEO Manoj Bhargava said his product is safe and contains ingredients that have been tested. The proof of that for him, he says, is he drinks it every day and his son in his early 20s uses it.
“I would not sell a product that my family wouldn’t use,” Bhargava told Dr. LaPook.
Source: CBS News. Read full article. (link)
An Oklahoma senator has released a report outlining what he believes is some of the Pentagon’s most wasteful spending. Among a number of odd items includes a workshop on how Christianity would be affected if aliens were proven to exist.
Senator Tom Coburn is known to be the “waste-watcher” on Capitol Hill, as he investigates unnecessary spending in various branches of the government. On Thursday, he issued what some consider to be a laughable list of Defense Department expenditures that have nothing to do with defense.
In addition to $1.5 billion being spent on a plan to invent roll-up beef jerky, an iPhone app that helps people schedule their coffee breaks and scientific research on the swimming patterns of goldfish, was a workshop blending Christianity with the existence of aliens.
The event, entitled “Did Jesus Die for Klingons Too?,” focused on “the implications for Christianity if intelligent life were to be found on other planets.” According to the Global Post, actors such as LeVar Burton and Nichelle Nichols were present, and an “intergalactic gala celebration” was included, at which attendees were urged to don “starship cocktail attire.”
Klingons are are a group of aliens from the fictional sci-fi television and movie series Star Trek, which originated in 1966 and continues (at least in movie format) to present day. The series deals with a band of aliens and humans that seek to solve the problems of the universe, tackling topics such as imperialism, class warfare and racism. Some episodes are also said to have addressed sexism, feminism and religion.
Coburn issued a statement along with the list, asserting that the Pentagon needs to cut non-defense expenditures such as these.
A college professor in Vermont has released a book in support of polygamy, explaining why she believes it is the next civil right in America.
Janet Bennion is a professor of anthropology and sociology at Lyndon State College in Lyndonville. Earlier this year, she released a book entitled Polygamy in Primetime: Media, Gender and Politics in Mormon Fundamentalism, outlining her research on the topic and why she supports the idea of a woman or man having two or more spouses.
Recently, Bennion sat down with the Vermont publication Seven Days to further explain her views on polygamy, as she has been studying the lifestyle for over 20 years, and even spent time herself among a polygamist group. Bennion, who said that she does not wish to be a polygamist as she is happily married to one man, outlined that much of her book is based on talks with Mormon women or those involved with the Apostolic United Brethren.
“The groups vary, and some women find that working with other women in the home is beneficial to them,” she told the publication. “One woman described her co-wives as ‘second mothers’ [who do the childcare], so she can go find a job in the community. They have this economical and social network that provides a little bit more freedom than you might see in a monogamous pair bond.”
Bennion said that while most modern Mormons no longer follow polygamist doctrine, there are a number of them who still do.
“[T]he mainstream is made up of people with ancestors who were polygamists,” she added. “You can see that there are some sensitivities there, especially in an election year. Half of my family was for Romney, the other half for Obama. The Romney half was saying, ‘You shouldn’t have that book out there.’”
The professor advised that lesbianism even exists within polygamist relationships. She said that she received “love letters” once from a married woman, and was also invited to dinner by another who wanted to see if she was marriage material.
“There are women in the Utah pioneer days who formed a sisterhood network and allowed for lesbian connections,” Bennion stated. “I talked to at least three women who had formed sexual connections to their sister wives or to another woman in the community.”
She said that she feels that those who oppose polygamous marriages are bigots.
“We need to just step back, get off our high horse, and look at this from a civil liberties perspective. If we’re going to pave the way for alternative sexuality, why not provide liberties for those who choose the polygamy form?” Bennion asked. “As a feminist, I say, ‘Bring it on; let’s legalize it.’”
Islamic Sharia law is on the rise in Great Britain as members of the UK parliament are seeking to ban self-established Muslim courts in the nation.
There are approximately 85 Sharia tribunals throughout Great Britain, all of which are run by Islamic judges who rule according to the Koran. There are no appeals following judgment and sentencing.
Sharia courts have been in existence in the country for some time, but in 1996, the passage of the Arbitration Act was seen by Muslims as being a doorway to enforcing Sharia law within British law. Now, some of the cities that have the greatest Muslim concentration, such as London, Birmingham, Manchester and Bradford, also possess an Islamic court. The Tower Hamlets area is especially stated to be the seat of Sharia rule.
“If people are afraid of having their hands cut, don’t steal,” UK Islamic leader Anjem Choduary told reporters. “If you don’t want to be stoned to death, don’t commit adultery.”
Others state that homosexuals have been publicly beaten in the streets for violating Sharia law, and women have been threatened for not covering themselves with a Burqa.
Some tribunals are not courts at all. It is stated that rulings are sometimes issued at area mosques, especially as they relate to domestic issues, such as family disputes.
As a result of the prevalence of these courts, the Arbitration and Mediation Services Bill is now pending in the UK parliament, which seeks to put an end to Sharia tribunals, especially in England and Wales. Continuing to operate as a legitimate court could result in criminal penalties.
According to Baroness Cox, a Third World campaigner in the country who introduced the measure, a number of women have lodged complaints about the enforcement of Sharia law in the land. She recently debated the matter on the parliament floor.
“I feel betrayed by Britain. I came to this country to get away from all this, but the situation is worse here than in my country of origin,” she relayed one woman as stating.
Religious minorities in India have long faced persecution and resentment by dominant religious groups, but new developments indicate that the discrimination is not solely attributable to religious groups as government entities also become complicit in the acts.
Reports indicate that tribal Christians living in rural areas of India have been continually denied services due to their faith and minority status.
Christians who reside in India’s eastern state of Orissa, an area known for intense fighting between religious groups like Hindus and Christians, have claimed they are being denied access to government scholarships for education based entirely on their religious affiliation.
Local residents expressed anger over claims that authorities in the Kandhamal District have continually denied to issue government documents that are needed for local Christians to attend primary schools, colleges and universities. The injustice is the product of a government program that was created to help disadvantaged people in a Hindu dominated area of the country, according to reports from Christian Solidarity.
This most recent controversy centered on education has increased tensions in an already volatile situation in the Kandhamal District, where over 100 people died in anti-Christian protests in December 2007.
One of the hopeful students affected by these latest developments is Prakash Pradhan, from the Kandho tribe in Pikoredi village. He explained how local government officials told him he would not receive the required documents to attend school because he was a practicing Christian.
Contemplate German food. It’s a sea of brown and white characterized by meat and potatoes, sausage and bread, and cabbage that’s been fermented until all the color has drained away.
German cooking is often described with the rustic adjectives herzhaft and deftig, or “hearty” and “hefty.” It’s thought of as comfort food, not fine dining. But in the last few years, at least as far as the haute cuisine kingmakers at the Michelin Guide are concerned, Germany has bucked this stereotype to become an anointed powerhouse of European gourmet cuisine. With the 2013 “Michelin Guide,” unveiled at a ceremony last week in Berlin, the number of two-star restaurants in Germany has doubled in the last two years, from 18 to 36.
German chef Kevin Fehling also received his third Michelin star to become Germany’s 10th chef with the world’s top culinary designation, awarded for his work at La Belle Epoque, located at the Columbia Hotel in the northern city of Lübeck. Germany now has more three-star restaurants than any European country after France. German chefs are “breathing down their neck,” said the worldwide director of the Michelin Guide Michael Ellis last Wednesday at the release. There are now a total of 311 Michelin stars between 255 German restaurants.
After initially denying revelations made this April on SVTSveriges Television, Ikea on Friday admitted that prisoners had been used to make its products in East Germany.
“We deeply regret that this could happen,” said sustainability manager Jeanette Skjelmose in a statement.
Auditors Ernst and Young combed through tens of thousands of documents from the Ikea and German federal archives to produce the report, which Ikea presented at the Stasi victim association UOKG headquarters in Berlin.
Although steps were apparently taken to ensure prisoners were not used, the company did not “have the well-organised control system we have today and clearly did not do enough to prevent this type of production method,” Skjelmose added.
There were managers in the company at the time who knew there was a chance it was happening, the report revealed.
Since the investigation began in May, around 90 people have been interviewed – including prisoners who made the furniture. Both former and current staff were asked to fill out questionnaires and a hotline was made available for those with information.
Before being brought up on SVT, a German television documentary aired on WDR in July 2011 first accused Ikea of using prisoners. The company said in May that they had looked into it, and the accusations were false.
During the 1970s, Ikea developed a strong manufacturing presence in the GDR (German Democratic Republic), establishing operations in 65 locations across the country to produce parts and furniture.
You can write pretty much whatever you want, but if you do so you cannot hide behind the financial largesse of the taxpayer.
Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s; or, don’t be hypocrites! Leading to various fellow travellers and tiresome anti-Tory types to moan on about censorship and free speech.
In fact, the Mennonites themselves can be a little fuzzy about free speech, as I found out when I was lecturer-in-residence at the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg.
For a week I delivered a number of speeches on various theological and social issues, and was stunned how secular and even mocking of Christianity some of the students and especially staff were.
Many were also outraged and wanted me silenced for daring to say at a Christian college that Jesus was God, marriage was the union of a man and a woman, and life begins at conception. Perhaps I should have asked for a tax-break.
You see, while the Mennonites are divided and do contain many fine people, their left wing is powerful and, if you’ll forgive the phrase, aggressively pacifist.
This alleged pacifism — itself a misunderstanding of Christ’s teaching — translates less to deploring violence than to opposing the United States, capitalism, the West, and more recently Israel.
They’re intensely political and they detest the Conservative government.
And all that is being said here by the authorities is that nobody is above the law or the tax code, and that while you have a right to speak your mind, you need to do so with an honest heart and clean hands.
The Supreme Court has ruled that a British Columbia man who tried to circumcise his 4-year-old son on the kitchen floor of his house is guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.
The top court was asked to hear whether his attempt was allowed under freedom of religion provisions.
The botched surgery happened in April 2007. He used a carpet blade that he purchased at Home Depot earlier that day and sterilized. He didn’t give his son any anesthetic, just four ounces of homemade honey wine.
According to the Crown, the father lacked the medical skills to perform a circumcision. He tried to circumcise himself in 2005 using a Zhenxi ring, or circumcision ring. It wasn’t successful and the father had to be rushed to a hospital.
The circumcision he performed on his son two years later wasn’t successful either and there was significant bleeding, which the father stopped with the help of a veterinary blood-stopping agent and paper towels. “The result,” according to court documents submitted by the Crown, was “the foreskin on D.J.’s penis stuck out like two arms. D.J. was not circumcised. He was disfigured.”
The pair cannot be named.
In 2009 the man was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. He was convicted of criminal negligence causing bodily harm but acquitted of the other two charges. The B.C. Court of Appeal found him guilty on all counts, and he appealed to the Supreme Court.
The father, as a Jehovah’s Witness, said he believes circumcision is necessary to “make things right with God.”
The Jehovah’s Witness church does not condone or forbid circumcision.
The man also argues he didn’t intend to hurt his son and took many safety precautions including consulting doctors (who advised him against it) and reading about circumcision online.
So, he claimed he did it for religious reasons, but his ‘church’ doesn’t even take a stand on the matter…
Lock him up and throw away the key.
Though tattoo removal is painful, time consuming and expensive, it is a booming industry. The pool of people acquiring them continues to rise, at the same time increasing the group who want them removed — about a third of those who get a tattoo, according to the British Association of Dermatologists.
For some it’s about getting rid of a reminder of the past (two years after her divorce, actress Eva Longoria is still trying to remove Tony Parker-inspired ink); for others, it’s about growing up and changing priorities; still others want to create space for new designs.
U.S. industry research firm IBISWorld says revenue from tattoo removal has increased at an average annual rate of 20.9 per cent over the past five years, to $65.6 million.
Removal is performed at small business concentrating solely on tattoos, medical laser clinics and cosmetic clinics offering it alongside Botox and hair removal.
Tattoos are a good indicator of the level of “future time orientation” a person has – and thus a “red flag” when considering someone as relationship material…
Meat-eaters “easily cheat, lie, forget promises and commit sex crimes”, according to a controversial school textbook available in India.
New Healthway, a book on hygiene and health aimed at 11 and 12 year-olds, is printed by one of India’s leading publishers.
Academics have urged the government to exercise greater control.
But the authorities say schools should monitor content as they are responsible for the choice of textbooks.
“This is poisonous for children,” Janaki Rajan of the Faculty of Education at Jamia Millia University in Delhi told the BBC.
“The government has the power to take action, but they are washing their hands of it,” she said.
It is not known which Indian schools have bought the book for their students, but correspondents say what is worrying is that such a book is available to students.
“They easily cheat, tell lies, forget promises, they are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes,” it says.
The chapter, full of factual inaccuracies, refers to Eskimos (Inuit) as “lazy, sluggish and short-lived”, because they live on “a diet largely of meat”.
It adds: “The Arabs who helped in constructing the Suez Canal lived on wheat and dates and were superior to the beef-fed Englishmen engaged in the same work.”
Ambrose Bierce once noted, regarding India and their British conquerors, that:
In India one hundred thousand beef- eating and brandy-and-soda guzzling Britons hold in subjection two hundred and fifty million vegetarian abstainers of the same Aryan race.
“Tell bad words”? Proper English, which a good English-language textbook would use, would use “say bad words”, but it’s still a lie, like the rest of the garbage these vegeterrorist propaganists are pushing. (Don’t try to tell us the Inuit, who HUNT WHALES for their diet, are lazy and sluggish…) The rest of the bullshit needs no comment.
The maker of Twinkies, the cream-filled sponge cakes well-loved in the US, has said it will close down the company, leading to the loss of 18,500 jobs.
Hostess Brands said a strike by the bakers union would force it to shut all operations and sell all assets.
It has long been in trouble – emerging from bankruptcy protection in 2009 only to file again in January 2012.
The wind-down also means the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centres and 570 bakery outlet stores.
“We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” said chief executive Gregory Rayburn.
“Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”
The company is also behind the Wonder and Merita bread brands, as well as Drake’s cakes.
Last week, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union went on a nationwide strike.
On Thursday, Hostess Brands said it determined that an “insufficient number of employees had returned to work to enable the restoration of normal operations”.
Hostess Brands was founded in 1930 and had revenues of $2bn last year.
The union’s pension fund is its biggest unsecured creditor, and is owed about $944.2m.
More than 10 years after the $1,000 bill disappeared from circulation 946,043 of them are still out there, somewhere.
The whereabouts of almost $1-billion worth of the banknotes is a mystery rekindled this month at Quebec’s corruption probe when a witness spoke of a safe over-stuffed with cash, including $1,000 notes, inside a political office.
Retired on May 12, 2000, for being mostly used in criminal transactions, any $1,000 note deposited at a bank is destroyed, although the bills — nicknamed “pinkies” by gangsters because of the pinkish-purple ink — remain legal tender.
Money-laundering experts believe most of the missing bills continue to circulate among criminal elites who use them to pay large debts, with the recipient, in turn, using them to pay their own debts with only a portion of the notes bleeding off into the legitimate banking system.
“They are used now to pay off IOUs, not as traditional cash. They are used for buying and selling but not for cashing, because they know if they cash them, it is traceable,” said Jeffrey Robinson, a New York-based author of several landmark books on money laundering.
“They keep paying with them, over and over, and it’s only the last guy in line who has to worry about cashing them.”
The notes were retired as part of the fight against organized crime at the recommendation of the RCMP, said Jeremy Harrison, spokesman for the Bank of Canada.
I’m sure I’ve come across one (belonging to someone else) sometime in the last decade; I’m pretty sure I’ve seen one in person.
The Harper Conservatives have newly nixed the idea of reforming Canada’s pot laws but that’s not stopping activists in B.C. from mobilizing for decriminalization.
The issue is back in the news following Nov. 6 votes in Colorado and Washington to relax marijuana legislation.
Like Canada’s government, the Obama administration, remains opposed, making a showdown between state voters and Washington, D.C., almost inevitable.
The same sort of showdown, between B.C. and Ottawa, doubtless would ensue should a proposed 2014 referendum to decriminalize pot be endorsed by B.C.’s voters.
B.C. decriminalization, promoted by a group calling itself Sensible B.C., would represent a first step in addressing the mess that is the existing system of cannabis oversight.
Right now, marijuana use is illegal under the federal Criminal Code.
Sensible B.C. wants:
• B.C. to pass a Sensible Policing Act, directing police away from searches, seizures or arrests for drug possession; and to establish a commission enabling citizens to help devise a legally regulated, taxed cannabis system.
• Ottawa to grant a legislative exemption that would allow the province to regulate and tax pot.
The longer term goal, of course, would be to discourage pushers and illegal growers through establishment of government-run cannabis outlets where individuals could make their purchases legally.
Sensible B.C.’s campaign officially launched its effort in October. The group is in the process of hosting information sessions around B.C., including a stop next January in the Lower Mainland.
It’s worth noting that many supporting decriminalization aren’t pot users; they’re pragmatists who recognize prohibition isn’t working and want to stop wasting police and court resources (some 3,000 people in B.C. get charged annually for pot-related offences). They’re folks who want taxation imposed on a B.C. industry worth as much as $8 billion a year.
Sensible B.C.’s website predicts: “Decriminalizing the simple possession of cannabis … will save taxpayers money, help unclog our justice system and stop young people from having their lives ruined over a joint.”
What a sensible idea.