Archive for November 21st, 2009

A Kodak Moment for the UK

By Jerry A. Kane

A criminal case involving a former soldier who found a shotgun in his yard and dutifully turned it over to the police proves that prosecutors and judges in the United Kingdom cannot administer justice or thoughtful discretion in the courts because they have succumbed to political correctness and the gun-control ideology embedded in UK law.

The jury at Guildford Crown Court took a mere 20 minutes to convict 27-year-old Paul Clarke of possessing a firearm that he had handed in to police officers on March 20 of this year. Clarke now faces a minimum of five years in prison for his “crime.”

Clarke stated that he saw a black bin liner at the end of his garden from the balcony of his home and when he opened it discovered a sawed-off shotgun and two shells inside. The next morning he phoned the Chief Superintendent and took the gun to the Reigate police station to give it to the police. After he arrived, he was immediately arrested, charged with possession of a firearm, and locked in a cell.

“I thought it was my duty to hand it in and get it off the streets. I didn’t think for one moment I would be arrested,” Clarke said.

In court, Clarke’s defense attorney pointed to a police leaflet that urged citizens to report found firearms. The attorney argued that the leaflet contained no information warning citizens not to touch the firearm, report it by telephone, or take it into a police station.

The prosecutor argued that possession of a firearm is a “strict liability” charge and one’s intent is irrelevant. The prosecutor maintained that Clarke is guilty of having the gun in his possession and therefore has no defense in law against the charge.

Although the judge admitted the case was unusual, he added that “in law there is no dispute that Mr Clarke has no defence to this charge.”

Clarke is scheduled to be sentenced December 11.

Only in totalitarian societies can handing in a discarded firearm to the police be construed as criminal behavior punishable by imprisonment.  To picture what lies ahead for the UK, “imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”

I.M. Kane

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Okla. senator to propose bill to counter hate crimes law

By Ricky Maranon

An Oklahoma state senator plans to offer a bill in the spring legislative session that would give the state of Oklahoma the power to opt out of federal requirements for carrying out the newly amended hate crimes law.

State Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City, said the newly passed Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which extends hate crimes law protections to include actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability, oversteps the bounds of the federal government and hinders free speech and religious freedom.

“The federal government should not be creating a special class of people, and that is just what they did when they passed and signed this bill,” Russell said.

“All crimes against another person have some level of hate in them, and people can be assured that our laws that protect people against crimes such as murder are sufficient to protect everyone.”

Russell said because the government has decided to intervene on issues of morality, he is worried that religious leaders who speak out against any lifestyle could be imprisoned for their speech.

“The law is very vague to begin with,” Russell said.

“Sexual orientation is a very vague word that could be extended to extremes like necrophilia.”

Russell said he is also concerned if someone is attacked and killed for his or her sexual orientation, the suspect could pass the blame onto a religious leader who preached out against the lifestyle of the victim who was attacked.

Russell said, as a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, he is upset that the new hate crimes bill was attached to a defense spending bill.

“This bill couldn’t stand on its own merits through multiple sessions of Congress, so a few activist representatives stuck it into a defense spending bill,” Russell said.

A bill supporting the troops was turned into an activist bill where, if you voted against the hate crimes act, it made you look like you were voting against the troops.”

Russell said Oklahoma can opt out of the law on the basis of the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. [emphasis mine]

“The bill gives the federal government power that was not given to them in the Constitution,” Russell said.

“I am aware of the supremacy of the federal government over state governments, but the federal requirements are vague enough for us to make actions. We just have to be very careful on how we proceed.”

When asked about whether the state of Oklahoma should reject the $5 million in federal funds that the federal government would give to law enforcement agencies to help prosecute hate crimes, Russell said he thought about finding a way to pass his law while taking the money, but said it would be a compromise in the values of his bill.

“I understand the state could use all the money it can get, but we can’t compromise our values for some quick cash,” Russell said.

He said he is just looking out for everyone’s civil liberties.

“We are trying to protect everyone’s right to free speech as guaranteed in the First Amendment, not just those in a special, protected class,” Russell said.

Spokespeople from the Norman chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and Oklahomans for Equality both said they are still studying the proposed bill and did not want to issue a statement until an actual bill was up for consideration in the state Legislature.

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Did Holder stiff Senate on Justice Dept. lawyers who defended jihadis?

By: Byron York

Some Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee were taken aback Wednesday by Attorney General Eric Holder’s refusal to reveal conflicts of interest involving Justice Department lawyers who, before joining the Obama administration, worked on behalf of Guatanamo detainees.

One reason it has taken so long to deal with the Guantanamo cases is the number of legal challenges lodged by lawyers for the detainees, some of whom are now working on detainee matters in the Obama Justice Department. At Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing, amid discussion of Holder’s decision to grant 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed full American constitutional rights, the issue was brought up by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, who told the attorney general:

I want to know more about who is advising you on these decisions. There are attorneys at the Justice Department working on this issue who either represented Guantanamo detainees, or worked for groups who advocated for them. This prior representation I think creates a conflict of interest problems for these individuals.

Grassley brought up the case of Neal Katyal, who is now the Principal Deputy Solicitor General. Katyal, formerly a law professor at Georgetown University, worked on legal challenges to the Military Commission Act — he represented Osama bin Laden’s driver — and is reportedly still working on detainee questions at the Justice Department. Other department lawyers represented other detainees.

“I want to know more about these potential conflicts,” Grassley told Holder:

Would you provide me and members of the committee with the following information? The names of political appointees in your department who represent detainees or who work for organizations advocating on their behalf? The cases or projects that these appointees work with respect to detainee prior to joining the Justice Department? And the cases or projects relating to detainees that have worked on since joining the Justice Department? Would you please provide that information to me and the committee?

It seemed a reasonable request, but Holder appeared decidedly cool to the idea.

“Yes, I will certainly consider that request,” he said.

“But I want to make sure that you understand that the people in the department understand their ethical obligations. And to the extent that recusals are appropriate on the basis of prior representations or prior connections, people in the department have recused themselves from specific cases.”

But I asked you for information,” Grassley responded.

Will you provide it?”

I will consider that request,” Holder repeated, adding that the lawyers involved are “fine public servants” and “patriots” who have “national security uppermost in their minds.”

Grassley still wanted an answer.

The very least you can give me is a list of the recusals,” he said.

I will consider that,” Holder said again. [emphasis mine]

To Republicans, it appeared that Holder was stiffing Grassley on a legitimate matter of oversight.

“It certainly came across that way,” says one GOP aide. Before the hearing was over, Holder apparently thought better of his position.

“I didn’t mean to be flip when I said that I would consider the request about turning over the names of people who had previous representations that might conflict with their duties as Department of Justice attorneys,” Holder told the committee:

When I said I would “consider,” I only meant to say that I don’t know if there are ethical concerns with regard to attorney-client privilege and things of that nature, and I need to consider those before I would actually be able to respond to the question. So I didn’t mean to say that I was not being — trying not to be responsive or not taking seriously a question that was posed I guess initially by Senator Grassley&hellipI just wanted to talk to the experts back at the department about whether there was an ethical concern in responding to the question.

Grassley accepted the explanation — sort of. But he wants the information.

“Sen. Grassley expects Attorney General Holder to respond fully to all requests from committee members, including the important requests for ethics recusals discussed at today’s hearings,” a Grassley spokesman said after the hearing.

“Those requests should be complete and timely.”

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Unburied bodies tell the tale of Detroit — a city in despair

By Tim Reid

The abandoned corpses, in white body bags with number tags tied to each toe, lie one above the other on steel racks inside a giant freezer in Detroit’s central mortuary, like discarded shoes in the back of a wardrobe.

Some have lain here for years, but in recent months the number of unclaimed bodies has reached a record high. For in this city that once symbolised the American Dream many cannot even afford to bury their dead.

“I have not seen this many unclaimed bodies in 13 years on the job,” said Albert Samuels, chief investigator at the mortuary.

“It started happening when the economy went south last year. I have never seen this many people struggling to give people their last resting place.”

Unburied bodies piling up in the city mortuary — it reached 70 earlier this year — is the latest and perhaps most appalling indignity to be heaped on the people of Detroit. The motor city that once boasted the highest median income and home ownership rate in the US is today in the midst of a long and agonising death spiral.

After years of gross mismanagement by the city’s leaders and the big three car manufacturers of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, who continued to make vehicles that Americans no longer wanted to buy, Detroit today has an unemployment rate of 28 percent, higher even than the worst years of the Great Depression.

The murder rate is soaring. The school system is in receivership. The city treasury is $300 million (£182m) short of the funds needed to provide the most basic services such as rubbish collection. In its postwar heyday, when Detroit helped the US to dominate the world’s car market, it had 1.85 million people. Today, just over 900,000 remain. It was once America’s fourth-largest city. Today, it ranks eleventh, and will continue to fall.

Thousands of houses are abandoned, roofs ripped off, windows smashed. Block after block of shopping districts lie boarded up. Former manufacturing plants, such as the giant Fisher body plant that made Buicks and Cadillacs, but which was abandoned in 1991, are rotting.

Even Detroit’s NFL football team, the Lions, are one of the worst in the country. Last season they lost all 16 games. This year they have lost eight, and won just a single gane.

Michigan’s Central Station, designed by the same people who gave New York its Grand Central Station, was abandoned 20 years ago. One photographer who produced a series of images for Time magazine said that he often felt, as he moved around parts of Detroit, as though he was in a post-apocalyptic disaster. [emphasis mine]

Then in June, the $21,000 annual county budget to bury Detroit’s unclaimed bodies ran out. Until then, if a family confirmed that they could not afford to lay a loved one to rest, Wayne County — in which Detroit sits — would, for $700, bury the body in a rough pine casket at a nearby cemetery, under a marker.

Darrell Vickers had to identify his aunt at the mortuary in September but he could not afford to bury her as he was unemployed. When his grandmother recently died, Mr Vickers’s father paid for her cremation, but with a credit card at 21 per cent interest. He said at the time it was “devastating” to not be able to bury his aunt.

What has alarmed medical examiners at the mortuary is that most of the dead died of natural causes. It is evidence, they believe, of people who could not afford medical insurance and medicines and whose families can now not afford to bury them.

Yet in recent weeks there have been signs of hope for Mr Samuels that he can reduce the backlog of bodies. Local philanthropists have donated $8,000 to help to bury the dead. In the past month, Mr Samuels has been able to bury 11 people. The number of unburied is now down to 55.

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