Thursday, November 29, 2007

Oral Arguments In Cadet Webster Smith Case 16 Jan 2008.

The U.S. Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals has scheduled oral arguments in the Case of The Appeal of the Court-martial Conviction of Cadet Webster Smith for January 16, 2008 in Arlington, Virginia.
A legal brief filed by his lawyers claims the convictions should be thrown out because the defense team was not allowed to fully cross-examine one of his accusers during Smith's court martial. They say that meant the jury didn't hear testimony that the accuser, a female cadet, Shelly Raudenbush, had once had consensual sex with a Coast Guard enlisted man and then called it sexual assault.

"The excluded cross-examination would have devastated (the accuser's) credibility, on which the government's case depended completely, making it all but certain that the outcome in this pure credibility contest would have been different," according to the brief.

Lt. Cmdr. Patrick M. Flynn, the government's lawyer for the appeal, said 27 November that the jury "heard enough" and the trial judge was within his rights to impose reasonable limits on the cross-examination.
"They didn't need to hear the additional details the defense is arguing they should have been allowed to hear."
The defense also is asking the court to set aside Smith's convictions on two lesser charges of failing to obey an order and abandoning watch.

Lawyers from the WilmerHale law firm for former Coast Guard cadet Webster Smith also contend in their legal brief “The excluded cross-examination would have devastated Shelly Raudenbush's(the accuser's) credibility, on which the government's case depended completely, making it all but certain that the outcome in this pure credibility contest would have been different."
The convictions on the three charges were based on the testimony of the female cadet, who said Smith coerced her by threatening to reveal a secret she had confided in him. That secret was about the past relationship.
Besides the question of whether the military judge abused his discretion, oral arguments will focus on whether Smith's conviction for sodomy was constitutional and whether the government proved the extortion charge.
Smith's lawyers argue that Smith engaged in private, consensual sexual activity with another adult and should not be punished.

Smith's lawyers said the evidence does not prove the extortion charge because prosecutors did not demonstrate a direct link between the female cadet's presumption of a threat and a sexual encounter, which occurred a few hours apart. She said Smith told her he needed more “motivation” to keep her secret, according to the records.

Criminal sanctions cannot be based on the subjective perceptions of the recipient of a communication, perceptions that the communicator plainly cannot control,” Smith's lawyers argued in the records.
The court may hear arguments about the failing to obey an order and abandoning watch charges or issue a ruling based on the briefs filed by both sides.

The defense also is asking the court to set aside Smith's convictions on two lesser charges of failing to obey an order and abandoning watch.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

450 E Street, Northwest

Washington, D.C. 20442-0001


United States v. Webster M. Smith, No. 08-0719/CG

(Appellee) (Appellant)

Counsel for Appellant: Ronald C. Machen, Esq.

Counsel for Appellee: LT Emily P. Reuter, USCG

Case Summary: GCM conviction of going from place of duty, attempting to disobey an order, sodomy, extortion, and indecent assault. Granted issue questions whether the military judge violated Appellant’s constitutional right to confront his accusers by limiting his cross-examination of [SR], the government’s only witness, on three of the five charges.

NOTE: Counsel for each side will be allotted 20 minutes to present oral argument in this case.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Judge Gets The Boot For Jailing Innocent Spectators.

A judge in Niagara Falls, New York, has apologized for jailing nearly four dozen people over a ringing mobile phone in his courtroom, his attorney said Wednesday.

In removing City Court Judge Robert Restaino from office Tuesday, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct called his decision to lock up 46 people after no one claimed ownership of the phone "a gross deviation from the proper role of a judge."

But Restaino's lawyer, Terrence Connors, said Wednesday the judge "profoundly apologizes for his actions" during the March 2005 hearing and will appeal the panel's ruling.

"It is our hope that the Court of Appeals will measure those few hours against a decade of exemplary conduct on the bench," Connors said in a written statement.

But the commission found Restaino's conduct so egregious that his 11 years of service and clean record did not matter.

"We conclude that respondent's behavior ... warrants the sanction of removal, notwithstanding his previously unblemished record on the bench and the testimony as to his character and reputation," the panel ruled.

According to the commission report, Restaino was presiding over a domestic-violence case when a ringing mobile phone interrupted proceedings. When no one took responsibility for the ringing phone, Restaino ordered that court security officers search for the device.

About 70 defendants were in the courtroom that day to take part in a monitoring program for domestic violence offenders. When no one admitted to owning the phone, Restaino heard the remaining cases and then recalled the cases of defendants who had already been released to question them about the phone, according to the commission report.

After all the defendants denied having the phone or knowing who it belonged to, Restaino sent 46 people to jail. Fourteen who were unable to make bail were handcuffed and jailed for several hours.

According to the report, Restaino decided to release defendants only after learning reporters were inquiring about their incarceration

Public Schools to Teach Immorality.

Righteousness exalth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. (Prov.14:34)
A concerned California grandmother is urging all parents to boycott the public schools in her state. Her action is in response to recent legislation that introduced forced sexual indoctrination into the government-run schools. The two bills, signed into law last month by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, have been roundly criticized by family advocates across the country.

Joy Stutz, a grandmother from Southern California, is deeply grieved about two laws passed in California that have been criticized for mandating homosexual indoctrination of all children -- without parental consent and without an opt-out provision. Senate Bill 777 mandates positive portrayal about homosexual and alternative sexual lifestyles in instruction and activities in public schools. Assembly Bill 394 orders "anti-harassment" training for students, parents, and teachers including publications, handouts, and classroom curriculum.
In response, Stutz is calling for all parents to boycott the public schools and keep their children home tomorrow and Thursday (November 28-29) as a sign of solidarity against the pro-homosexual measures.
"What [passage of the bills] effectively did was open the door wide [so] that the children in the public schools -- all public schools in California -- will be indoctrinated with the homosexual agenda, beginning with age five on up," she explains.
The result, she says, will be that the "color" of the schools will undergo tremendous change. "Because they will no longer be able to have a reference of 'mommy and daddy' as being a normal family," she laments. "It will now be taught that it is perfectly normal to have two mommies or two daddies."
Stutz hopes a mass boycott will get the attention of state officials. She says parents cannot give up the right to raise their children in the right way. "If this law stands, we must pull our children out of public schools," she asserts. The Golden State grandmother says the only way for loving, responsible parents to protect their own children is to flee to the sanctuary of home schools and private schools.

SB 777 and AB 394 are set to take effect on January 1, 2008. Petitions are circulating throughout the state to prevent implementation of SB 777 and have a statewide referendum on the law.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Only An Unseaworthy Ship Will Sink.

The M/S Explorer, a Canadian cruise ship, sank after it hit an iceberg in Antarctic waters, 23 Nov 2007. A Norwegian cruise ship rescued everyone aboard.
Someone is not being completely honest about this cruise ship. A hole the size of a fist will not sink a ship, not even the worse rust bucket. This was a Liberian registered vessel. That means it was registered under a flag of opportunity to avoid safety inspections and compliance with the Coast Guard's safety regulations.
Also, ships are deliberately compartmentalized to prevent them from sinking until more than one-third of the living spaces are completely flooded. Did this ship have water tight compartments? Did it have a double bottomed hull?
My ship, USCGC Glacier (WAGB-4) was punctured while I was onboard but not on watch by the underwater projection of an iceberg which was more than 2 miles away on the surface. It ripped open a fuel tank and we lost over 10,000 gallons of fuel. And it flooded an engine room. We had free-communications with the sea; but, we dogged the hatch to that compartment and experienced no danger of capsizing or sinking. Ships are designed that way. It is hard to sink a ship. A hole the size of a fist would not sink a ship. Even if you do not seal off the compartment, a standard bilge pump could easily pump out the volume of sea water entering through the fist size hole.
Was the M/S Explorer equipprd with bilge pumps? Were they working? What was the pumping capacity of one of the bilge pumps? Even the smallest bilge pump would be capable of pumping out the amount of sea water that could be expected to enter the ship through a hole the size of a man's fist.
Moreover, most ships have double bottoms. The iceberg would have to be shaped like a battering ram to penetrate both bulkheads and flood the compartment. Even then, because of the compartmentilization of the ship she would not sink. Even if disabled, and badly listing to one side, the ship would stay afloat indefinitely. It would not sink.


M/V Explorer launched 1969.
Sank in Antarctica 23 Nov 2007.
About 2400hrs (Midnight) 22 Nov M/V Explorer hit an iceberg or bergie bit causing fist-sized hole in hull.
About 0015 hrs 23 Nov ship hit an ice floe causing a crack in the hull spanning several compartments. This was the second collision. This was most likely a stress fracture. If you apply pressure on an area of the hull under great stress, it will crack like an egg shell. In such a case the hull and the bulkheads will open up like a ripe watermellon.

About 0030 hrs M/V Explorer made International Distress Call. (MayDay, MayDay) An Argentine Rescue and Command Center picked up the distress call amid reports the ship was taking on water despite efforts to use onboard pumps. (This was according to Capt. Juan Pablo Panichini, an Argentine navy spokesman.)

0230 hrs Flooding shorts-out all electrical power.
0300 hrs 23 Nov Captain, Bengt Witman, gives order to abandon ship. All 91 passengers take to life boats, and 13 Officers remain onboard with the Capt.
0500 hrs Captain and 13 officers abandon ship.
1100 hrs M/V Nordnorge begins rescuing passengers from the water.
Water temperature is 33 Degrees (Fahrenheit), or 2 Degrees (Centigrade). Water freezes at 32 Degrees Fahrenheit.
2000 hrs (800 PM) 23 November 2007 M/V Explorer sinks beneath the frigid waters with thousands of gallons of fuel and oil. The first Antarctic ecological tragedy.

The Guardian reported that inspections this year found 11 deficiencies
in the ship, including missing search-and-rescue plans and
lifeboat-maintenance problems. Lloyd's List reported the Explorer had
five deficiencies in its last inspection in May, including watertight
doors that were not as required.

The M/S Explorer sank in a matter of hours. That can mean only one thing. The ship was not seaworthy. It was unsafe and had no business carrying passengers for hire. It was a liability.
Someone is trying to limit their liability with these false stories about a hole the size of a fist, and othersuch nonsense.
The Norwegian vessel, Nordnorge, picked up 154 people - all the passengers and crew of the cruise ship M.S. Explorer. It supposedly hit an ice floe before dawn on Friday and immediately began taking on water. There were 13 American tourists onboard. Incidents of this nature are sure to become more common in the Arctic as global warming makes the Northwest Passage more accessible.

An order to abandon ship was sounded after the Canadian ship began listing sharply, and everyone boarded lifeboats and inflatable rafts.

The captain of the Norwegian ship said the passengers and crew were cold and wet but in good condition despite spending four hours in icy, windswept seas off the South Shetland Islands. By Friday evening, several hours after the rescue operation was complete, the stricken Explorer disappeared beneath the Antarctic waves.

The rescue ship landed the Explorer's crew and passengers on nearby King George Island, despite delays caused by high winds and seas. They are staying at Chilean and Uruguayan military stations on the island, and will be flown to Punta Arenas on the Chilean mainland as soon as weather conditions permit.

A Canadian adventure company owned the sunken vessel, which had been on a 19-day tour of the Antarctic and the Falklands.

Passengers came from more than a dozen countries, including Britain, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada and Australia.

Less than a year ago, M.S. Nordnorge was involved in another Antarctic rescue. The Norwegian cruise ship evacuated 294 passengers after another ship from the same cruise company, M.S. Nordkapp, ran aground on a remote Antarctic island. The Nordkapp was later refloated.

The British luxury passenger liner Titanic sank on April 14-15, 1912, en route to New York City from Southampton, Eng., during its maiden voyage. The vessel sank with a loss of about 1,500 lives at a point about 400 miles (640 km) south of Newfoundland.

The great ship, at that time the largest and most luxurious afloat, was designed and built by William Pirrie's Belfast firm Harland and Wolff to service the highly competitive Atlantic Ferry route. It had a double-bottomed hull that was divided into 16 presumably watertight compartments. Because four of these could be flooded without endangering the liner's buoyancy, it was considered unsinkable. Shortly before midnight on April 14, the ship collided with an iceberg; five of its watertight compartments were ruptured, causing the ship to sink at 2:20 AM April 15. Inquiries held in the United States and Great Britain alleged that the Leyland liner Californian, which was less than 20 miles (32 km) away all night, could have aided the stricken vessel had its radio operator been on duty and thereby received the Titanic's distress signals. Only the arrival of the Cunard liner Carpathia 1 hour and 20 minutes after the Titanic went down prevented further loss of life in the icy waters.

Many of those who perished on the ship came from prominent American, British, and European families. Among the dead were the noted British journalist William Thomas Stead and heirs to the Straus and Astor fortunes. The glamour associated with the ship, its maiden voyage, and its notable passengers magnified the tragedy of its sinking in the popular mind. Legends arose almost immediately around the night's events, those who had died, and those who had survived. Heroes and heroines, such as American Molly Brown, were identified and celebrated by the press. The disaster and the mythology that has surrounded it have continued to fascinate millions.

As a result of the disaster, the first International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea was called in London in 1913. The convention drew up rules requiring that every ship have lifeboat space for each person embarked (the Titanic had only 1,178 boat spaces for the 2,224 persons aboard); that lifeboat drills be held during each voyage; and, because the Californian had not heard the distress signals of the Titanic, that ships maintain a 24-hour radio watch. The International Ice Patrol also was established to warn ships of icebergs in the North Atlantic shipping lanes.

On Sept. 1, 1985, the wreck of the Titanic was found lying upright in two pieces on the ocean floor at a depth of about 4,000 m (about 13,000 feet). The ship, located at about 41° 46' N 50° 14' W, was subsequently explored several times by manned and unmanned submersibles under the direction of American and French scientists. The expeditions found no sign of the long gash previously thought to have been ripped in the ship's hull by the iceberg. The scientists posited instead that the collision's impact had produced a series of thin gashes as well as brittle fracturing and separation of seams in the adjacent hull plates, thus allowing water to flood in and sink the ship. In subsequent years marine salvagers raised small artifacts and even a 20-ton piece of the hull from the wreckage.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Vaccinate Your Kids or Go To Jail.

The Right to Refuse Vaccination is one of the biggest health freedom issues that we have today. When we give government the power to make medical decisions for us, we, in essence, accept that the state owns our bodies.
More than 2,000 Prince George's County students in Maryland have not gotten their state-mandated shots. On November 14, an ultimatum was issued to some of those parents: Come to court, get the shots, or else.

Some students have missed as much as a month and a half of school because they haven't gotten the required immunizations-- for chickenpox and hepatitis B. So now the school system says it's time to get tough and take those parents to court.

Free clinics, free shots, door-to-door visits, and countless letters. Still more than 2,300 Prince George's county students don't have their required immunizations. This Saturday, more than 1600 students and their parents have been ordered to appear in circuit court for the children to be immunized. Health workers will be on hand to give the shots immediately.

The problem is a new law that took effect last year requiring students in the fifth through 10th grade to also have the chicken pox and hepatitis b vaccine. Parents who don't show up or fail to comply-- could be fined up to $50 and get up to 10 days in jail. Although getting students vaccinated by "court order" may seem unusual, the law is on the school district's side.

Mary Kivlighan with the University of Maryland's School of Public Health says-- the Supreme Court weighed in on this very issue more than 100 years ago with smallpox. The school district does grant exemptions for religious purposes or other medical reasons but only if parents apply. Going to court was a last resort. Jehovah's Witnesses have consistently resisted laws requiring undesired medical procedures.

Most of these mandatory laws contain an "opt out" provision that will exempt anyone who has a deep seated religious conviction against the mandatory requirement. If the tenets of your faith prohobit you from complying with the law, you might be excused from complying, if you say, "it is against my religion".

Hepatitis b vaccine requires three shots over six months. One of the problems has been that students get one shot but don't get the others, therefore, they're not in compliance.
This push for vaccination is completely out of control. Mandates and requirements are put into place by uninformed and under-educated State legislators who are sold a bill of goods by smiling pharmaceutical lobbyists pedaling their poisons. Parents do not have an opportunity to vote on the necessity of mandates; they are shoved down their throats. They pay taxes to get their children into schools. Then they are required to inject their children with substances that could maim or kill them in order to be in "compliance."
The vaccines that are being required in Prince George's County -- for chickenpox, a benign short-term illness and for hepatitis b, a disease of drug-using homosexual adults -- are not necessary for the health of these children. Do parents know what is in these vaccines? The chickenpox vaccine is made from aborted fetal cells and contains sucrose, hydrolyzed gelatin, salt, MSG (0.5 mg), sodium phosphate dibasic, potassium phosphate monobasic, potassium chloride, trace EDTA, neomycin and serum from cows. The hepatitis b vaccines contains aluminum and yeast.
The parents of these children need to ban together and revolt. Protest, march in the street, pay the fine and spend the time in jail on principle alone. When will this stop? When will we wake up and JUST SAY NO to mandatory injections?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

All Justice and No Mercy!

Saudi Arabia defended on Tuesday a court's decision to sentence a woman who was gang-raped to 200 lashes of the whip, after the United States described the verdict as "astonishing".

The 19-year-old woman from the town of Qatif in the Eastern Province and an unrelated male companion were abducted and raped by seven men in 2006.

Ruling according to Saudi Arabia's strict reading of the law, a court had originally sentenced the woman to 90 lashes and the rapists to jail terms of between 10 months and five years. It blamed the woman for being alone with an unrelated man.

Last week the Supreme Judicial Council increased the sentence to 200 lashes and six months in prison and ordered the rapists to serve between two and nine years in jail.

The ruling provoked rare criticism from the United States, which is trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to attend a Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland next week.

A State Department spokesman told reporters on Monday that "most (people) would find this relatively astonishing that something like this happens".

The court also took the unusual step of initiating disciplinary procedures against her lawyer, Abdul-Rahman al-Lahem, forcibly removing him from the case for having talked about it to the media.

"The Ministry of Justice welcomes constructive criticism ... The system allows appeals without resort to the media," said Tuesday's statement issued on the official news agency SPA.

It berated media for not specifying that three judges, not one, issued the recent ruling and reiterated that the "charges were proven" against the woman.

It also repeated the judges' attack against Lahem last week, saying he had "spoken insolently about the judicial system and challenged laws and regulations".

Lahem was not available for comment.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has called on King Abdullah, who last month announced plans to overhaul the system, to drop all charges against the woman.

A series of erratic verdicts have focused attention on the Saudi legal system, which is dominated by clerics. Personal status law remains uncodified and the system does not recognize the concept of precedent.

On 19 December 2007 we learned that Saudi King Abdullah had pardoned the young woman known as "Qatif Girl" -- who was gang-raped and then sentenced to 200 lashes and six months imprisonment for "improper mingling".

With something less than gratitude -- how does one feel grateful for mercy when none should have been required in the first place? -- Westerners are nonetheless relieved. It is quite possible that the first lady Laura Bush's October journey to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries to promote breast cancer awareness, research and treatment may have had a little something to do with the King assuming the Mercy Seat.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Barry Bonds Black Home Run King Indicted.

Barry Bonds Black Home Run King Indicted. He has more to worry about now than an asterisk beside his name in the record books. Just three months ago, the Black Super Star from San Francisco Giants angrily defended himself against steroid allegations on the night he surpassed Hank Aaron to become baseball's home run king.
"This record is not tainted at all," Bonds declared. "At all. Period."
Barry Bonds has never been identified by Major League Baseball as testing positive for steroids. His personal trainer Greg Anderson has spent most of the 2007 in jail for refusing to testify against his longtime friend. His attorney, Mark Geragos, said the trainer didn't cooperate with the grand jury at all.
This indictment came out of left field," Geragos said. "Frankly, I'm aghast. It looks like the government misled me and Greg as well, saying this case couldn't go forward without him."
Bonds is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Dec. 7.
Government lawyers didn't notify Bonds of the impending indictment, a courtesy typically extended to white collar defendants so they can prepare for the public announcement.
"I'm surprised," said one of his lawyers, John Burris, who was notified of the indictment by The Associated Press. "But there's been an effort to get Barry for a long time. I'm curious what evidence they have now they didn't have before."
Defense attorney Mike Rains said he spoke briefly with Bonds but did not describe his reaction. At an evening news conference, he read a statement accusing federal prosecutors of "unethical misconduct" and declined to take questions.
"Every American should worry about a Justice Department that doesn't know if waterboarding is torture and can't tell the difference between prosecution on the one hand and persecution on the other," Rains said.
The indictment charges Bonds with lying when he said he didn't knowingly take steroids given to him by Anderson. Bonds is also charged with lying that Anderson never injected him with steroids.
"Greg wouldn't do that," Bonds testified in December 2003 when asked if Anderson ever gave him any drugs that needed to be injected. "He knows I'm against that stuff."
Prosecutors promised Bonds they wouldn't charge him with any drug-related counts if he testified truthfully. But according to the indictment, Bonds repeatedly denied taking any steroids or performance-enhancing drugs despite evidence to the contrary.
On Thursday,15 November 2007, his very freedom was put in jeopardy when a federal grand jury indicted him on five felony counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, charges that could result in a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison if he's convicted.
I am appalled at the federal indictment of Barry Bonds on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. Of course, lying to federal authorities is wrong and poisonous to the criminal justice system, if Barry lied.
I admire tenacious no-holds-barred prosecutors -- when they go after violent thugs, mobsters and would-be terrorists. The U.S. Department of Justice, however, has gone overboard in wielding its awesome might for years -- acting on a tip received in August 2002 -- to prolong a case it could have wrapped up long ago. The feds have crossed the line from closing a righteous case to prosecutorial overkill.
The charges against Bonds concern grand-jury testimony four years ago, on Dec. 4, 2003. Under grant of immunity (unless he lied), Bonds asserted that he never knowingly used banned steroids. He said he thought his personal trainer was treating him with flaxseed oil and arthritis balm.
And I wonder why the feds have put so much energy into this case, when there are so many truly dangerous criminals out there.
Why did the U.S. attorney take another four years to indict? If their case is so strong, what were they waiting for?
If they consider perjury to be a threat to the system, why wait years to go after a man whom so many observers believe lied to a grand jury? Doesn't that undermine the system's credibility, too?
Joe Russoniello was nominated to become Northern California's U.S. attorney on Thursday. Attorney General Michael Mukasey assumed his post this month. I agree with Debra J Saunders. They've both inherited this headache.
The indictment culminated a four-year investigation into steroid use by elite athletes.
Bonds and his lawyers long have accused the government of targeting a high-profile, unpopular player merely for political gain while pondering if the investigation was racially motivated.
Charges of leaks to the media and unethical legal behavior flew from both camps as the investigation dragged on and questions mounted about the government's intentions.
The 10-page indictment mainly consists of excerpts from Bonds' December 2003 testimony before a grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO. It cites 19 occasions in which Bonds allegedly lied under oath.
Bonds, who surpassed Aaron's career home run mark of 755 on Aug. 7, finished the season with 762. A seven-time NL MVP, he also holds the season record with 73 home runs in 2001.
He is a free agent after being told late in the season that the San Francisco Giants didn't want him back next year.

Asked directly if Anderson supplied him with steroids, Bonds answered: "Not that I know of." Bonds even denied taking steroids when he was shown documents revealing a positive steroids test for a player named Barry B.
"I've never seen these documents," Bonds said. "I've never seen these papers."
The indictment does not explain where prosecutors obtained those results, but may have been seized when federal agents raided BALCO in September 2003.
At the end of the 2003 season, Bonds said, Anderson rubbed some cream on his arm that the trainer said would help him recover. Anderson also gave him something he called "flax seed oil," Bonds said.
Bonds then testified that prior to the 2003 season, he never took anything supplied by Anderson — which the indictment alleges was a lie because the doping calendars seized from Anderson's house were dated 2001.
Bonds has long been shadowed by allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. The son of former big league star Bobby Bonds, Barry broke into the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986 as a lithe, base-stealing outfielder.
By the late 1990s, he'd bulked up to more than 240 pounds — his head, in particular, becoming noticeably bigger. His physical growth was accompanied by a remarkable power surge.
Bonds is by far the highest-profile figure caught up in the steroids probe, which also ensnared track star Marion Jones. She pleaded guilty in October to lying to federal investigators about using steroids and faces up to six months in prison.
Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who is investigating drug use in baseball, declined to comment, but the Giants, the players' union, even the White House called it a sad day for baseball.
"These are serious charges," the Giants said. "Now that the judicial process has begun, we look forward to this matter being resolved in a court of law."
In Washington, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said: "The president is very disappointed to hear this. As this case is now in the criminal justice system, we will refrain from any further specific comments about it. But clearly this is a sad day for baseball."
Commissioner Bud Selig withheld judgment, saying, "I take this indictment very seriously and will follow its progress closely."

Rare Robbery Case Renders Cries of Racism.

In Lakeport, California three young Black men break into a white man's home in rural Northern California. The homeowner shoots two of them dead — but it's the surviving Black man who is charged with murder.
Was it self-defense or murder? Was deadly force reasonable or unreasonable under the circumstances? Was the shooter a drug dealer? Had the three youths bought drugs from him before? Why did they go to his house looking to score some drugs? At what point did they disengage and flee for their lives? Why did he have to shoot two of them when he had already killed one? Was he really trying to kill all three fleeing youths? How many slugs did he pump into the backs of the two that he hit with his unsteady aim while under the influence of drugs? All reasonable questions that the prosecutor must have asked and answered before deciding to charge the fleeing unarmed Black youth with two counts of first degree murder!Renato Hughes Jr., 22, was charged by prosecutors in this overwhelmingly white county under a rarely invoked legal doctrine that could make him solely responsible for all the bloodshed. This has brought cries of racism from civil rights groups.
District Attorney Jon Hopkins said that Hughes was responsible for "setting the whole thing in motion by his actions and the actions of his accomplices." Three young Black men broke into the Clearlake house of Shannon Edwards demanding marijuana and brutally beat his stepson. Two of the Black men, Rashad Williams, 21, and Christian Foster, 22, were shot in the back. Hughes fled.
Tests showed that Shannon Edmonds, the white homeowner, had marijuana and prescription medication in his system the night of the shooting. Edmonds had a prescription for both the pot and the medication to treat depression.
Hughes, the surviving Black man, was charged with first-degree murder under California's Provocative Act doctrine, versions of which have been on the books in many states for generations but are rarely used.
Hughes' mother, San Francisco schoolteacher Judy Hughes, said she believes the group didn't intend to rob the family, just buy marijuana. She called the case against her son a "legal lynching." "Only God knows what happened in that house," she said. "But this I know: My son did not murder his childhood friends."
The Provocative Act doctrine does not require prosecutors to prove the accused intended to kill. Instead, "they have to show that it was reasonably foreseeable that the criminal enterprise could trigger a fatal response from the homeowner," said Brian Getz, a San Francisco defense attorney unconnected to the case.
The NAACP complained that prosecutors came down too hard on Hughes, who also faces robbery, burglary and assault charges. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.
The Rev. Amos Brown, head of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP and pastor at Hughes' church, said the case demonstrates the legal system is racist in remote Lake County, aspiring wine country 100 miles north of San Francisco. The sparsely populated county of 13,000 people is 91 percent white and 2 percent Black.
Brown and other NAACP officials are asking why the homeowner is walking free. Tests showed that Shannon Edmonds, the white homeowner, had marijuana and prescription medication in his system the night of the shooting. Edmonds had a prescription for both the pot and the medication to treat depression.
"This man had no business killing these boys," Brown said. "They were shot in the back. They had fled."On Thursday, a judge granted a defense motion for a change of venue. The defense had argued that he would not be able to get a fair trial because of extensive local media coverage and the unlikelihood that Hughes could get a jury of his peers in the county. A new location for the trial will be selected Dec. 14.
The district attorney said that race played no part in the charges against Hughes and that the white homeowner was spared prosecution because of evidence he was defending himself and his family, who were asleep when the assailants barged in at 4 a.m.
"I didn't do anything wrong. All I did was defend my family and my children's lives," said Edmonds, 33. "I'm sad the kids are dead, I didn't mean to kill them."
He added: "Race has nothing to do with it other than this was a gang of black people who thought they were going to beat up this white family."
California's Provocative Act doctrine has primarily been used to charge people whose actions led to shooting deaths.
However, in one notable case in Southern California in 1999, a man who robbed a family at gunpoint in their home was convicted of murder because a police officer pursuing him in a car chase slammed into another driver in an intersection, killing her.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Don’t ask; Don’t tell; and Don’t speak.

Don’t ask; Don’t tell; and Don’t speak.
New Federal Hate Crimes Legislation.
Act Up and Shout Out under the protection of laws.
Last spring, a move to change hate crimes to include special protection for gays, lesbians, and a litany of other groups began to suddenly build steam. The Congress took HR 1592 from subcommittee to law vote in less than three weeks. Many Christians were not aware as the law was being rushed through Congress and passed in early May. Congressional offices refused to talk realistically about the legislations – calling major Christian ministries (Concerned Women for America, Traditional Values Coalition, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, High Impact Leadership Coalition and a host of other organizations) “alarmists” and “liars.”
Although similar laws are being enforced around the world with a disturbing anti-Christian bias, voters were told they had nothing to fear. Yet, the bias has already begun in America. In Philadelphia (in 2004) an incident occurred during a legally arranged, protest rally at a gay convention. A 75-year old grandmother of three was arrested, jailed, and charged under existing state hate crimes law for attempting to share the gospel of Jesus Christ concerning people who burn with lust for same sex partners..
Ironically, the rally did not result in any gays being hurt, wounded, or even intimidated by their actions. If anything, law enforcement officials were the ones who sent the citizens of their state a clear message – “Gays can protest, intimidate and harass anyone anywhere- but Christians had better not speak.”
First, it was the civil rights movement, then the feminist movement, then the gay liberation movement. Gays used to be called homosexual, but then they decided to pick a positive-sounding name like "gay." Suddenly the meaning of the term "gay" was entirely appropriated by homosexuals. Gays went from being defined by their enemies to defining themselves in a favorable way. First, they came out of the closet. Then they formed lobbying groups and "rights" groups. Then, Affirmative Action for gays. Now, hate crimes laws to keep Christians from quoting the Bible in public. An Annual Parade, complete with Act Up dancers and Shout Out floats. What next, Gay History Month?
ENDA (The Employment Non Discrimination Act)
Despite the efforts of many Christian organizations, Congress passed HR 3685 in late October 2007. In concept, ENDA sounds like a positive step to end discrimination in the workplace. However, this legislation has five problems:
1. ENDA would overturn the historical basis of protected class status by adding “actual or perceived sexual orientation.”
2. ENDA expands civil rights protections on the vague basis of perception.
3. ENDA infringes on the religious liberties of Christian lay people.
4. ENDA puts the integrity of Christian ministries in jeopardy.
5. ENDA is a direct attack on the freedom of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment.
This bill can still be stopped in the Senate if concerned citizens hurry to respond.
Now, what concerned patriots can do to make a difference. Four things come to mind.
1. Join millions of other Christians this Thanksgiving season in praying five minutes a day for our nation.
2. Contact the office of the President and ask him to keep his promise to veto both the Hate Crimes and the ENDA legislation.
3. In the 2008 election, let’s vote for candidates that hold our values in every office – from president, to congressmen, and down to school board members.
4. Finally, keep the faith!
(Excerpted from Henry R. Jackson Jr.)