Dems vs. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?

don't ask don't tell, gay soldiers, flagsIn a surprising twist on Thursday, both parties voted to continue forcing homosexual members of our military to stay in the closet.

And now Libertarian Party Chairman Mark Hinkle is saying that Democrats are failing to keep their word. 

They could have repealed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’  They could have gotten rid of the Defense of Marriage Act, but they didn’t do either of those things.  That’s a complete and total betrayal of all the promises they made to gay and lesbian voters for years.

Three of the votes in favor of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell were Democrats and on Thursday the White House tried to reassure gay rights groups that the administration was still in favor of ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

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Charles Rangel Using Campaign Funds for Legal Fees

charles rangelThe AP reports that New York Rep. Charles Rangel has spent over $100,000 on legal fees since July, over $1.8 million since the start of the case.  Rangel has been charged by a House ethics panel with 13 violations, including tax evasion and using a New York City rent controlled apartment as a campaign office.

While Rangel runs for a 20th term in the House for Representatives, much of his legal bill is being paid by campaign money.

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Top 7 Law Myths: Illegal or Not Illegal, That is the Question

top ten law myths, illegal adulteryThe law in the United States is a tricky thing to keep track of.  With a complicated history and constant day to day changes, it’s hard to always be aware of what really is punishable by the law.  We’ve taken some of the top myths about unknown crimes and provided a list of perhaps the most surprising facts about your judicial system.

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Dog Kennels in Pennsylvania Under New Regulations

pennsylvania dog lawsThe Canine Health Board developed the 2008 provisions which will become official regulation standards for ventilation, temperature, humidity and lighting in Pennsylvania’s 100+ commercial dog kennels.

Approval of these regulations now means there is no doubt about what breeders who own commercial kennels need to do to comply with the law, which raises the standard of care for dogs in commercial kennels even higher – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.

There may be one significant oversight in the new measure, however.  The Independent Regulatory Review Commission has final say on all regulatory provisions, and is in agreement with animal welfare advocates who say the language of the new law allows nursing dogs to stand on wire cage flooring for months. The law does have a ban on wire flooring but some say the wording needs to be amended to protect canine mothers.

Details are set to be published in October and will take effect next July, allowing applicable kennels to undergo the necessary renovations to comply.  There are 111 commercial kennels in Pennsylvania, which are defined as one that breeds dogs and sells more than 60 per year or selling any to pet stores.

Pennsylvania’s Governor Edward Rendell is pleased with the state’s enthusiasm to enforce the strongest dog law in the nation.

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Hijacking Threat for New York-bound Jetliner

A federal law enforcement official called it non-credible, but the phoned-in threat of a potential hijacking kept the New York-bound American Airlines flight from leaving San Francisco International Airport Thursday.  The flight was already running 2 hours behind schedule as passengers were removed from the plane and sent through airport security for a second time while the FBI swept the jetliner for indications of danger.

Two passengers were removed from the aircraft in handcuffs but were later released and allowed to rebook their flight.

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Michael Vick’s Dog Fighters Saved From Death

parade magazine, michael vick, dog fighting, pit bullsIt’s hard to believe little Johnny (left) used to be a part of the Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting ring.  Trapped in the disturbing world of NFL quarterback Michael Vick, Johnny spent most of his time locked up in a pen and testing his fighting skills against his fellow canines.

Fifty-one pit bulls were seized from Vick’s property after a raid in 2007.   The then Atlanta Falcons quarterback was arrested with his cousin for possession of narcotics.  When police conducted a search of his Smithfield VA home, they found signs of dog fighting and conducted an investigation.  The dogs were taken, deemed as evidence and put into shelters for the duration of the investigation.  And their lives.  It was more than assumed the pits would all be euthanized as soon as Vick’s verdict was delivered. Continue reading

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Ignition Locks for DWI Offenders in New York State

dwi, new york, leandra's law, interlockStarting today, anyone with a DWI conviction in the state of New York will be forced to install a device that will prevent them from driving if they’ve had even one sip of beer.

It’s called an interlock and you have to breath into it before your ignition will start.  If it finds any trace of alcohol, it looks like you’ll be walking home.

State Senator Charles Fuschillo has called it an epidemic; more than 30% of traffic accidents in New York State are caused by drunk drivers.  So when 11-year-old Leandra Rosado was killed last October by a driver under the influence, state officials wasted no time implementing a law that might ease those statistics.  Leandra was riding in her friend’s mother’s car when it flipped over on the West Side Highway in New York City.  Last week the driver of the car, Carmen Huertas, pleaded guilty to drunk driving, admitting to downing cognacs before driving seven children to a slumber party. 

Leandra’s Law (Child Passenger Protection Act) was passed last December, making it a felony to drive drunk with passengers under the age of 15.  The final provision of the act is being rolled out today, making New York one of 10 mandatory first offender ignition interlock states.

So far there have been 311 Leandra’s Law arrests across the state, proving quite disturbingly that the crackdown is indeed necessary.

The mandatory breathalyzer test will not only serve as an annoyance to DWI offenders, it will also come with a financial burden as they run about $100-150 for installation and $80 in monthly maintenance.  The device will also record all tests taken and their results.  Every month the results will be sent to the driver’s probation officer and each time you fail the test, it could mean more quality time with your interlock.

Don Prudente, owner of DriveSafe Ignition Interlock of New York says the breathalyzer test is extremely sensitive.  “It’s so sensitive, it picks up what they did the night before.  It picks up their hangover.”  Which is intentional because while the legal threshold for drunk driving is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08, anyone with a DWI conviction is not even allowed so much as one drink before getting behind the wheel.  “It’s a small price to pay for having their license back.”

And while the law may be good for business, Prudente says the intention is to make the roads safe and keep our kids alive.

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The Great Mosque Debate: Update

freedom tower, new york city, ground zero, mosque debateThis debate isn’t necessarily wrapped around law, but when the constitution is being questioned, Order in Report will … well … report.

The most recent drama comes out of Washington as President Obama speaks out in support of, not necessarily this exact proposed mosque, but the idea that America was founded upon principles of religious freedoms and everyone should be entitled to that.  Naturally, leading Republicans have spoken out against Obama and his beliefs, including Newt Gingrich, John Boehner and of course New York’s Peter King.  But it’s expected as we live in a country where any one that defends freedom for non-white, non-Christians is deemed “radical.”

Obama says he believes Muslims have the same rights as any religion, including the right to practice on private property in lower Manhattan as long as they work in accordance with the law.  His comments have only added fuel to an already raging national debate on whether or not a mosque and Muslim cultural center, which would house a fitness center, an auditorium, a restaurant and a library, should be opened up blocks away from the future site of the ironically named “Freedom Tower.”  The city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has also publically supported the building of the mosque on the same principle – that New York is a tolerant city of equality, understanding and non-discrimination.

Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, also held annual Ramadan celebrations and frequently took pains to draw a distinction between Al Qaeda and Islam, as Mr. Obama did Friday night. But Mr. Obama, unlike Mr. Bush, has been accused of being a closet Muslim (he is Christian) and faced attacks from the right that he is soft on terrorists. – New York Times

As we recently reported, the proposed mosque has by all accounts been approved with the Landmarks Preservation Commission ruling that the building in question does not qualify for landmark status based on its little architectural significance.  With the property deemed private, it can be used for anything that abides local and federal laws, including a mosque.

An estimated 300 Muslims were killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, maybe we should hear what their families have to say too.

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Gone. James Gone.

entertainment weekly goodbye mr. bondWith the recent financial woes of MGM (Metro Goldwyn Mayer), and the very real prospect that the motion picture studio giant will have to face bankruptcy come mid-September, the filming of the 23rd Bond movie has been placed on hold indefinitely.

The company owes at least $400 million in debt and interest payments that will come due next month, which, I’m not going to lie, makes me feel slightly more confident about my own financial problems.  

Tied down by almost $4 Billion (with a capital B) in total corporate debt, MGM managed to get their lenders to postpone payments for, well, too long.  Now with interest racked up and no films of great success to help, Metro Goldwyn Mayer will be forced to reorganize by filing for bankruptcy. 

The budget crisis has put several movies on hold aside from the latest Bond flick, including two movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.  And while I doubt anyone will be severely distraught if the Robocop remake never happens, we’re all pulling for the studio’s recovery.  Even if MGM gets back in the movie-making game, something tells me their boastful lion-y roar will be reduced to a whimpering meow, at least for a while.

In more optimistic news, Disney, who experienced some financial problems of their own, is set to release some interesting films in the next 2 years, including Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, Pixar’s Brave starring Reese Witherspoon, The Lone Ranger supposedly starring Johnny Depp and Yellow Submarine, Disney’s CGI update of the 1968 Beatles animated flick.

disney-mgm studios, earful tower, orlando fl, disney worldAnd speaking of Disney, don’t worry about the Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando being affected by MGM’s bankruptcy.  If you’re like me and haven’t been to Disney World in a while, you might be unaware that as of January 2008, the park was re-branded as Disney’s Hollywood Studios, to show Disney’s growth in an ever-changing world of pop culture.  So I guess that means no more Earful Tower?.

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No-Fault New York: Breaking Up Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

marriage, wedding, no-fault divorceWhile getting married in New York if you’re gay is still a losing battle, getting divorced in New York if you’re straight just got a whole lot easier!  Amen for the sanctity of marriage!

Miserable couples all over the Empire State will soon be able to file for divorce without having to designate blame to one spouse or another.  Governor Patterson was set to have signed the law on Friday (though he has until midnight tonight) which would go into effect in 60 days.

Presently, state law forces couples seeking divorce to brave a one-year trial separation, or have one spouse accuse the other of either cruel treatment, adultery or abandonment.  And while a one-year trial separation may sound like a lot when you just want to get the hell out, I would think it’s really not much to ask for considering at one point you made a legal (and maybe religious) vow to be together for-ev-er.  Republicans?  Now you’re quiet?

Even better?  New York is the last of the 50 states to have some kind of no-fault divorce policy in place.  I’m so confused.

It’s just good to know that apparently all of New York’s financial crises are under control since Gov. Patterson has time to deal with things like this.  Oh, they’re not?  Oh well.  Happy divorcing, New York!

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BP Oil Spill in Photos

Dave Martin and Charlie Riedel shoot for the Associated Press and they’ve taken some remarkable shots of BP’s destruction of the Gulf of Mexico.

dave martin, bp oil spill, ap(AP Photo/Dave Martin)

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Pres. Obama Signs Border Control Law

U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday signed into law a bill to improve security at his country’s border with Mexico.  The $600-million US measure will pay for the hiring of 1,000 new Border Patrol agents and the purchase of new communications gear — including surveillance drones. – CBC News

 

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Triskaidekaphobia: Not A Fear of Triscuits

Friday the 13th, superstitionsYou may often wonder where the fear of Friday the 13th comes from.  And there isn’t necessarily a one-stop answer.

For many, the superstition begins with two separate issues; a fear of the 6th day of the week, and a belief that the number 13 is supremely unlucky.

Religious history plays a role in Triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13) too.  Thirteen people were at the Last Supper, eventually one died.  And Judas, the bad guy as we know him, was the 13th person to join the table.  The Bible also fuels fears specific to Friday as we believe three main events occurred on the day we now celebrate with happy hour; Eve temped Adam, Cain killed Abel and of course Jesus was crucified.

The number 13 might also be discriminated against because it comes after 12, a number often representative of wholeness – 12 months in a year, 12 zodiac signs, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 apostles of Jesus.   There are only so many places to go after something is complete.

It is also well discussed that the 13th law of Babylon’s Code of Hammurabi is missing – some say it never existed, but some archaeologists say there’s evidence it was scratched out, perhaps because the government decided to remove it after the tablet was already numbered.  There are also reports that the original Code of Hammurabi was never numbered, when numbers were later added, 13 was skipped per the amended law.  Either way, it potentially fueled suspicion dating back to Babylon in 1700 B.C.

How about the unfortunate incident involving a military order of Jerusalem and a political conspiracy by the King of France?

The Knights Templar were a monastic military order founded in Jerusalem in 1118 C.E. Over the next two centuries, the Knights Templar became extraordinarily powerful and wealthy. Threatened by that power and eager to acquire their wealth, King Philip secretly ordered the mass arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307 – Friday the 13th.

Sounds pretty unlucky to me.

Whether caused by ancient law, religion or modern-day misfortune, Friday the 13th suspicions are undoubtedly noted at each occurrence.  Just lay low and be sure to stay out of trouble.

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Another Hold Up For Same-Sex Californian Couples

same-sex marriage, proposition 8I’m scratching my head trying to figure out why some people are putting forth such tremendous effort to make other people miserable.  A little help?

Last week a California judge ruled the ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8, unconstitutional.  As threats poured in from all around that the case would be taken to the Supreme Court to be overturned, said judge, Vaughn Walker, put a hold on his ruling.

Lawyers and fans of Prop 8 have asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to impose a stay prohibiting same-sex marriage until Walker’s decision can be examined.

According to a report by the NY Daily News, some legal experts have said the ban’s sponsors will only be able to appeal Walker’s decision with the support of Governator Schwarzenegger or Attorney General Jerry Brown.  Both officials, however, have come out in support of Walker’s decision.  In fact they have both pushed for same-sex couples to be able to wed immediately. Continue reading

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Smoking Soon to be Legal in the California Workplace

legal marijuana in California, proposition 19It appears that smoking might soon be legal in offices and public spaces all across the Golden State. No, not cigarettes. The other thing.

The details are not yet clear, but with a ballot measure to legalize marijuana in California, opponents are up in arms over the potential risks of a new work environment.

Known oh-so-well for their propositions, California will include Prop 19 (Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010) on their November 2010 election ballots as a movement to legalize cannabis and various marijuana-related activities statewide.

The State of California analysis of Prop 19 describes the following details as only part of the proposed bill.

  • Persons over the age of 21 may possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal consumption.
  • May use marijuana in a non-public place such as a residence or a public establishment licensed for on site marijuana consumption.
  • May grow marijuana at a private residence in a space of up to 25 square feet for personal use.

In a legal analysis released by the California Chamber of Commerce Thursday, concerns have arisen that the bill will lead to more accidents in the workplace as it forces employers to allow workers to smoke marijuana on the job.  Also mentioned in the analysis is the threat that Prop 19 would make California companies ineligible for federal contracts as employers will no longer be able to guarantee a drug-free work environment.

Now business groups are uniting across the state in an effort to stop the bill from even being voted on.  They feel a new class of protected Californians under this law will create an out of control situation.

According to the AP, recent polls in California have shown voters are closely divided over the bill.

This all seems a bit silly to me.  You see, alcohol consumption is legal, but if I show up to work drunk, I won’t get away with it.  Why can’t a line be added to the Prop 19 making marijuana consumption legal but public “intoxication” not?

What do you think?  Continue with the legalization or ban it altogether because no one seems to be coughing up productive ideas on restrictions?

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