Category: Justice

Are Republicans right? Will same-sex marriage ruin civilization?

Same-sex marriage is now legal throughout the USA. This is a good thing, it’s always nice when people get equal treatment under the law. Sadly, not everyone agrees. Such is the speed of modern news and communication that announcement of the Supreme Court decision was essentially immediately followed by furious objections and doom-laden predictions of the collapse of society for various reasons.

It’s easy to dismiss these objections as angry incoherent bitterness from people who can’t or won’t accept that the rest of the human race doesn’t have to conform to their antiquated views, and many people do just that. But what if they’re not? What if there are genuine scientific reasons to fear same-sex marriage? After all, we in the UK know that same-sex marriage caused extreme flooding when it was legalised here, and now that it’s permitted in a country with the size and influence of the USA the consequences could be even more catastrophic. Here are just some possibilities we should brace ourselves for.

The overturning of nature

Governor Mike Huckabee pointed out that for the Supreme Court to legalise same-sex marriage is to overturn nature, which is impossible…

However, same-sex marriage is now legal, so clearly it is possible for humans to overturn nature. This opens up a wide variety of problems, given how nature is responsible for everything that keeps the planet running. Clearly LGBT people have the power to overrule nature to suit their own needs. While we can hope they restrict this ability to things like increasing the number of rainbows, there’s no guarantee of this. What if some careless homosexual is struggling with a heavy suitcase and decides to lower the mass of the planet to reduce the strength of gravity? We’d all be flung out of the atmosphere without warning…

Too many rainbows

As already hinted at, the celebrations of the legalisation of same-sex marriage have resulted in a stark increase in the number of rainbows seen everywhere. The rainbow is the symbol of the LGBT movement, so this makes sense. No harm in rainbows, right?

Wrong! It may seem like harmless celebration to put rainbows in every possible location, but what about the effect this is having on the eyes of those who have to look at them? The retina in the eye relies on photoreceptors, specialised cells that detect light. Because they’re organic and rely on biological processes, these photoreceptors can become exhausted if exposed to a particular stimulus for too long. Constant exposure to rainbows could mean people can’t see colours as well, and this could be disastrous. How will they know when to stop or go at a traffic light? Or which wire to cut when defusing a bomb?

RTFA. Good for a chuckle. A witty rejoinder to the animal spirits of the ignorant. Read on and learn about The climate damage and The slippery slopes.

Congratulations to our LGBT friends and relatives – Constitutional progress prevails

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White House illuminated in celebration, tonight

A special Thank You to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. He is the sole traditional American conservative within that court. The sole honest conservative in that court. Willing to look forward, willing to join in building progress and understanding in a nation still wracked by divisions grounded in hate and fear on the Right.

Including the syllabus of the original filing, here is the Supreme Court’s decision [.pdf] – which Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority.

Court rules “gay conversion therapy” nothing more than consumer fraud

A New Jersey group that claimed it could “cure” gay people and make them straight has been ordered to pay $72,400 in damages to its former clients, after being found by a jury to have broken the state’s consumer fraud protection law.

A jury of seven men and women took about three hours to reach what is being hailed as a landmark civil-rights verdict on Thursday against the founders of Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (Jonah), a group that said it had provided “gay conversion therapy” to clients largely from the Jewish faith.

The group was sued by three former clients and two mothers of ex-clients, who collectively told the court in Jersey City that they had suffered great psychological damage as well as considerable financial loss as a result of the fraudulent program.

The lawsuit, launched by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is believed to have been the first in the US to use consumer protection laws to challenge the controversial practice. Most of the major professional bodies including the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association have long denounced the treatment, and many states have also moved to restrict its practice. The White House supports a ban…

David Dinielli, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s deputy legal director…said…“Conversion therapy and homophobia are based on the same central lie – that gay people are broken and need to be fixed,” he said. “Conversion therapists, including the defendants in this case, sell fake cures that don’t work and can seriously harm the unsuspecting people who fall into this trap.”

Theocratic mumbo-jumbo has a “cure” rate roughly akin to any other placebo based on superstition. That someone might convince themselves to behave to a societal norm doesn’t have a damned thing to do with altering behavior that’s part of the genetic chemistry set you were handed on birth.

Nice to see a brilliant legal response like this winning the start of what I hope will be a long string of victories.

Mexico latest Latin nation to pass USA on legalizing same-sex marriage


Hiram Gonzalez married Severiano Chavez in ChihuahuaCheros/AC

His church turned him away, his family discouraged him from a public fight and the government of the state where he lives vowed it would never happen.

But it did. Hiram Gonzalez married his boyfriend, Severiano Chavez, last year in the northern state of Chihuahua, which, like most Mexican states, technically allows marriage only between a man and a woman.

Mr. Gonzalez and dozens of other gay couples in recent months have, however, found a powerful ally: Mexico’s Supreme Court.

In ruling after ruling, the court has said that state laws restricting marriage to heterosexuals are discriminatory. Though the decisions have been made to little public fanfare, they have had the effect of legalizing gay marriage in Mexico without enshrining it in law…

As the United States awaits a landmark decision on gay marriage by the Supreme Court, the Mexican court’s rulings have added the country to a slowly growing list of Latin American nations permitting same-sex unions.

Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil already allow same-sex marriage. Chile plans to recognize same-sex civil unions this year; Ecuador approved civil unions in April; and Colombia grants same-sex couples many of the same rights extended to heterosexual married couples…

The shift in Mexico, the second largest country in Latin America after Brazil, is the product of a legal strategy that advocates used to bypass state legislatures, which have shown little inclination, and often hostility, to legalizing gay marriage.

In 2009, Mexico City, a large liberal island in this socially conservative country, legalized gay marriage — a first in Latin America. There have been 5,297 same-sex weddings there since then, some of them couples coming to the city from other states…

The Supreme Court upheld Mexico City’s law in 2010, adding that other states had to recognize marriages performed there.

Alex Ali Mendez, the lawyer pressing these cases, said the next step in the legal process was compiling enough injunctions in each state to reach a threshold under which the court could formally order state legislatures to rewrite their laws.

But experts said that Mexico had already reached a watershed.

A similar watershed exists among ordinary American citizens. Meaningless to Congress.

There are a fair number of judges in Mexico who hold to the traditions of law aiding the progress of their nation. Completely at odds with the philosophy of American conservatives and their pet judges on the Supreme Court. Progress for our nation, our people, means nothing to their theocratic minds. Preserving a backwards view of the past, as distorted as that may be, is their cardinal waypoint.

With politicians as corrupt as any in the hemisphere, Americans see the only exceptions being political action in blue states and the majority of federal courts. Still, when you get to the ultimate federal court in the nation, progress is held hostage to liars, frauds appointed by reactionary and cowardly hacks under Republican administrations.

Feds abuse another law — defendant charged with clearing his browser history


A law designed to prosecute corporate fraud – but that requires work, integrity, dedication

Khairullozhon Matanov is a 24-year-old former cab driver from Quincy, Massachusetts. The night of the Boston Marathon bombings, he ate dinner with Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev at a kebob restaurant in Somerville. Four days later Matanov saw photographs of his friends listed as suspects in the bombings on the CNN and FBI websites. Later that day he went to the local police. He told them that he knew the Tsarnaev brothers and that they’d had dinner together that week, but he lied about whose idea it was to have dinner, lied about when exactly he had looked at the Tsarnaevs’ photos on the Internet, lied about whether Tamerlan lived with his wife and daughter, and lied about when he and Tamerlan had last prayed together. Matanov likely lied to distance himself from the brothers or to cover up his own jihadist sympathies—or maybe he was just confused.

Then Matanov went home and cleared his Internet browser history.

Matanov continued to live in Quincy for over a year after the bombings. During this time the FBI tracked him with a drone-like surveillance plane that made loops around Quincy, disturbing residents. The feds finally arrested and indicted him in May 2014. They never alleged that Matanov was involved in the bombings or that he knew about them beforehand, but they charged him with four counts of obstruction of justice. There were three counts for making false statements based on the aforementioned lies and—remarkably—one count for destroying “any record, document or tangible object” with intent to obstruct a federal investigation. This last charge was for deleting videos on his computer that may have demonstrated his own terrorist sympathies and for clearing his browser history.

Matanov faced the possibility of decades in prison — twenty years for the records-destruction charge alone.

Federal prosecutors charged Matanov for destroying records under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a law enacted by Congress in the wake of the Enron scandal. The law was, in part, intended to prohibit corporations under federal investigation from shredding incriminating documents. But since Sarbanes-Oxley was passed in 2002 federal prosecutors have applied the law to a wider range of activities.

RTFA for all the details, all the analysis about what is reasonable – nothing the Feds want to do in this case.

Just like the Patriot Act, lousy policing leads to abuse of laws written for another purpose. Just like the Patriot act, abuse of constitutional rights is OK with incompetent cops who can’t begin to prove guilt under relevant law. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a local cop using the Patriot Act for parking violations.

Copper kills unarmed man who “walked with purpose” towards police car

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Seven years on the force – probably had one of their shiny new police cars

A veteran police officer shot and killed an unarmed man this week in Des Moines, Iowa, after firing through the rolled-up window of her patrol car. Police say the man, identified as 28-year-old Ryan Keith Bolinger, “walked with purpose” toward officer Vanessa Miller’s vehicle when she fired the fatal shot.

According to police, the incident began on Tuesday night when Bolinger pulled up his Lincoln sedan to a Des Moines police patrol car helping to make an unrelated traffic stop of another vehicle. Bolinger was allegedly so close to the pullover that the officer inside could not open his door.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Des Moines police sergeant Jason Halifax said Bolinger then got out of his car and began “dancing in the street or making unusual movements in the street”.

Halifax said that Bolinger then got back into his vehicle and led police on a low-speed chase before making a U-turn, giving officers an opportunity to block his path with their patrol cars.

It was at this point, Halifax said, that Bolinger got out of his Lincoln and rushed toward the officer’s vehicle. Officer Miller, a seven-year veteran, fired one shot at Bolinger’s torso, who died on the scene.

No weapons were found on or near Bolinger’s body.

Life in America. Anywhere in these United States. Your life is in the hands of someone with a gun.

NYC coppers kill homeless man in Riker’s Island prison cell

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Jerome Murdough was just looking for a warm place to sleep on a chilly night last month when he curled up in an enclosed stairwell on the roof of a Harlem public housing project where he was arrested for trespassing.

A week later, the mentally ill homeless man was found dead in a Rikers Island jail cell that four city officials say had overheated to at least 100 degrees, apparently because of malfunctioning equipment.

The officials told the Associated Press that the 56-year-old former marine was on anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medication, which may have made him more vulnerable to heat. He also apparently did not open a small vent in his cell, as other inmates did, to let in cool air.

“He basically baked to death,” said one of the officials, who all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to discuss specifics of the case.

The medical examiner’s office said an autopsy was inconclusive and that more tests were needed to determine Murdough’s exact cause of death. But the officials, all with detailed knowledge of the case, say initial indications from the autopsy and investigation point to extreme dehydration or heat stroke.

Advocates for mentally ill inmates in New York say the death represents the failure of the city’s justice system on almost every level: by arresting Murdough instead of finding him help, by setting bail at a prohibitive $2,500 and by not supervising him closely in what is supposed to be a special observation unit for inmates with mental illnesses.

Department of correction spokesman…said…blah, blah, blah.

Murdough’s 75-year-old mother, Alma Murdough, said she did not learn of her son’s death until the AP contacted her last week, nearly a month after he died

Wanda Mehala…one of Murdough’s sisters, said the family wants an explanation.

“We want justice for what was done,” she said. “He wasn’t just some old homeless person on the street. He was loved. He had a life. He had a family. He had feelings.”

I’ll second that emotion!

Judge orders parishioners to vacate church they’ve occupied for 11 years

Mary Fernandes inside Mother Cabrini church
Click to enlargeDina Rudick/Boston GLOBE Staff

Mary Fernandes, parishioners, continue to occupy their church

A Massachusetts judge ordered St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church be vacated as parishioners continue to keep an around-the-clock vigil in the shuttered church that has lasted more than a decade.

Judge Edward P. Leibensperger ordered parishioners out of the Roman Catholic church that was closed by the Archdiocese of Boston in 2004 as part of a downsizing plan. But church members, calling themselves The Friends of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, said they have no plans to end their 11-year occupation, instead opting to appeal Leibensperger’s ruling.

Jon Rogers, a leader and founder of the nonprofit group, said the archdiocese’s decision to close the church was solely based on money. The church needs money to pay off clergy sex abuse scandals, he said. The church sits on 30 acres of ocean-view land worth some $4 million.

“Here’s the crux of the matter — we are sitting on one of the most valuable of pieces of property in Boston. And they need the money,” he said. “You don’t get to hurt children and then steal our church to pay off your crimes…”

The occupation has been ongoing, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, since the church closed. Parishoners have been working in shifts, sleeping on floors and pews and holding Sunday services with consecrated bread and wine for the Eucharist secretly provided by area priests.

Anyone see anything about this courageous act on national TV? Any family values hustlers helping out?

Sister Megan Rice, freed, ready for more anti-nuclear activism

Megan Rice
Click to enlargeNicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
Sister Megan Rice at the Isaiah Wall near the United Nations

For more than a year, Sister Megan Rice, 85, a Roman Catholic nun of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, had caught occasional glimpses of the glittering World Trade Center from her living quarters: the Metropolitan Detention Center, a federal prison on the Brooklyn waterfront.

So when the Volvo she was riding in one morning last week crested the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the skyscraper came into full view, it made a strong impression.

“Oh, my gosh,” Sister Rice exclaimed. Drinking in the scenery and the panorama of New York Harbor, she added, “We’re well on our way.”

It was her fifth day of freedom after two years behind bars for a crime for which she is boldly unapologetic. In 2012, she joined two other peace activists in splattering blood and antiwar slogans on a nuclear plant in Tennessee that holds enough highly enriched uranium to make thousands of nuclear warheads. All three were convicted and sent to prison. But on May 8, an appellate court ruled that the government had overreached in charging them with sabotage, and ordered them set free…

Now, dressed in a sweatsuit that fellow inmates had given her, the nun was traveling to the American headquarters of her order in Rosemont, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. The agenda was to confer with her superiors about her future — one in which she plans to continue her antinuclear activism. One threat was that the federal government might challenge the recent ruling and try to have her thrown back in prison.

“It would be an honor,” Sister Rice said during the ride. “Good Lord, what would be better than to die in prison for the antinuclear cause?”…

Sister Rice, thin but seemingly healthy, was in high spirits and voluble as she talked about her religious order, her atomic radicalization, her life in prison and what may come next…

The pacifists belong to the Plowshares movement, a loose, mostly Christian group that seeks the global elimination of nuclear arms.

For now, at least, Sister Rice is a free woman.

Read the whole article. A tale of the kind of Catholic foot-soldier I occasionally shared a cell with back in the day.

I’m certain one or another of my kin who still are religious are Catholics like this. Or Congregationalists. Or Buddhists. Or non-religious like me, philosophical materialists, spinning the science-based reality dialectic. Before I left the Great Northeastern dynamo I could always find a couple of kindred spirits at annual get-togethers of my extended family. Philosophy didn’t matter as much as a quest for justice as strong as the quest for fire before we evolved into more sophisticated tool-makers.

It’s nice to see someone with liberal sensibilities and opposed to the insanity of nuclear weapons risk it all out of conscience. We have a president somewhere south of Megan Rice’s prison home who says he shares her ideals. Too bad he doesn’t match her courage.