June 27, 2009

Giving Michelle Bachmann a break

More proof that it is all the fault of the queer's ...

Sally Kern gives Michelle Bachmann a run for her money when it comes to wingnutia. You really must read her proclamation [PDF].


It was bound to happen

Once the hate trash starts it will always go out of control. The anti-abortion crowd had been preaching hate for years, and now we have nut-jobs killing abortion doctors in church and Christian whackos calling the murder God’s answer to prayers.

The Minuteman movement is another hate tribe that I have long said was a powder keg waiting to blow up into full scale violence, and as if to prove me correct, we now we have this. My favorite quote from one of Forde’s email messages, proving that these thugs are nothing more than common criminals, is that she is alleged to have said that she "had a guy" in Arivaca (the town where the robbery and murders took place, who could not only identify drug traffickers for home invasions but also help sell any drugs seized.

To be fair, other Minuteman associates have come forward to help identify the murderers and Forde, the leader of the group who allegedly committed the murders.

FOX News is amazingly quiet on this.


June 26, 2009

Zero Tolerance - Unexpected, but welcome ruling

Contrary to what I expected, on Thursday SCOTUS ruled [PDF] that the school officials who strip searched 13-year-old Savana Redding girl based on an uncorroborated accusation, violated her 4A protection against unwarranted searches and seizures.

To recap (as if anyone needs a recap), Savana Redding was an eighth grade Safford, AZ Middle School honor roll student who, in October of 2003, was yanked out of class by school officials. A vice-principle had found prescription-strength, 400 mg ibuprofen on one of Redding's classmates. To dodge trouble, the kid claimed that Redding had given her the ibuprofen. Once in the office, Redding was made to submit to a search of her possessions, which found nothing.

Adamant about the school’s zero tolerance policy; the vice-principle had a school secretary and the school nurse strip search Redding. This search again produced nothing, and Redding’s family sued the school. "The strip search was the most humiliating experience I have ever had," Redding said in her affidavit. "I held my head down so that they could not see that I was about to cry."

Redding won in District Court. The school district appealed and the ruling was overturned by the 9th Circuit Court and eventually made its way to SCOTUS.

I’ve made it known that I am not a fan of Zero Tolerance policies, and the Redding case is the poster child for the unreason this policy represents. Such policies prevent rational people from thinking and acting rationally. David Souter, writing for the 8-1 majority says "What was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana was any indication of danger to the students from the power of the drugs or their quantity, and any reason to suppose that Savana was carrying pills in her underwear. We think that the combination of these deficiencies was fatal to finding the search reasonable."

Justice Souter’s opinion further stated, “No legal decision cited to us or that we could find permitted a strip search to discover substances regularly available over the counter at any convenience store throughout the United States.”

This both surprised and delighted me. After following the oral arguments in April, in which Justice Ginsberg was a lonely voice of reason [PDF], and Justice Breyer spent his time discussing how kids put stuff in his underwear when he was a child in school, I was certain the case was doomed. None of the male panelists seemed to have a clue. In the end only Justice Clarence Thomas remains clueless.

As Savana’s attorney says, "Today's ruling affirms that schools are not constitutional dead zones,” and as Drug Policy Alliance Network executive director Ethan Nadelmann said following the ruling, "It's good to see that even the Roberts court recognizes when zero tolerance policies grounded in drug war hysteria go beyond the dictates of reason and the Constitution."

Score one for the good guys.


June 16, 2009

Look familiar?

June 12, 2009

Wired in from the road...

The Boulder Daily Camera

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Motorcyclist killed in Peak to Peak Highway accident

It wasn't much of a newspaper story. Just 56 words, and I imagine it was buried somewhere in section B along with other news of local interest. I decided to scan the online archives after taking the route myself today.

The Peak to Peak Highway is Colorado Hwy. 72, and it runs from Estes Park southward to Nederland where it joins with Hwy. 119. This is a ride with which I am familiar, although it has been many years since I last cruised these roads on a scooter. It is a lovely ride alongside the eastern boundary of the Rocky Mountain National Park, passing thru little villages with names like Peaceful Valley and Sugarloaf.

The traffic wasn't always like it was today. I remember riding that road and never seeing a vehicle, but today the cars and campers were running as if in caravan. They would stack up behind the slowest moving vehicles a couple dozen deep. I would imagine it might have been that bad or maybe worse last Sunday. A dude trying to take it easy on a scooter might find it difficult to go as carefully as he would like with a string of four wheelers stacking up behind him.

The road is full of steep grades and switchbacks, and there are numerous unpaved side roads and blind driveways. Vehicles entering the highway from these bring gravel and sand onto the roadway. This is early spring and there is still a good bit of the sand laid down by the snowplows still on the asphalt as well.

It is easy to lose it on roads like the Peak to Peak, especially if you are unfamiliar with the hazards, and possibly pressured by folks in four wheelers wanting to go a little faster.

Of course I have no idea what happened to cause the accident, but what I came upon today, and my knowledge of this particular road, gives me a fair idea.

It is a true rush cruising those mountain curves at speeds higher than the posted limits, but signs like this one are found in several locations along the Peak to Peak Highway for good reason.

Wherever a side road or driveway intersects with the paved road, and in many areas where runoff from snow melt of rain crosses the road, you'll find this stuff. On a switchback curve it can be hazardous.

It was just a couple miles south of Ward, just past the apex of a 30 MPH switchback, where I found these paint marks on the roadway.

Then just off the pavement, in a direct line with the paint marks, there were these busted off lodgepole pines.

It was this little memorial on the narrow shoulder that caused me to stop, and that caused me to search the Daily Camera archives once I got back to my hotel.

From what I coud see, the dude amost made it. There is straight line blacktop just past where he went off.

Cause for pause.

June 11, 2009

Wired in from the road...

Rolling thru Denver I think I discovered a good reason not to run from the cops...

In between rain showers I tried to do a little cruising on the front range back roads. The dichotomy that is the Boulder valley is represented in this photo. We have the peaceful valley with rolling hills, speckled with farms, country homes, barns, and the occasional satellite tracking antenna array.


June 8, 2009

Wired in from the road...

Monday, June 08, 2009Last Update: 10:35 AM PT

Ambulance Firms Accused of Medicare Fraud

DALLAS (CN) - The owner and managers of two ambulance companies face a 15-count federal indictment with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud and money laundering. They are charged with fraudulently supplying ambulances to dialysis patients who didn't need them: "many of the companies' records revealed that patients rode to their appointments in a captain's chair in the back of the ambulance rather than lying on a stretcher" prosecutors said.

Muhammed Nasiru Usman, of Arlington, Texas; David McNac of Dallas and Shaun Outen of Aubrey are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and multiple counts of health care fraud. They are accused of falsely billing Medicare, Texas Medicaid, and the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program for non-emergency ambulance transportation of patients to and from dialysis appointments starting in early 2004.

Usman also was charged with one count of money laundering: buying a Lexus with the fraudulently obtained payments from the health-care programs.
Usman, the owner of Royal Ambulance Services, and First Choice EMS, employed McNac as a director of both companies and Outen as a supervisor. Prosecutors say all three were responsible for fraudulent billing exceeding $1.5 million and the payment of more than $550,000 by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance.

"The fraudulent claims misrepresented medical conditions of patients in order to qualify for reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance, and falsely stated that legitimate ambulance services were provided," prosecutors say. "In reality, many of the companies' records revealed that patients rode to their appointments in a captain's chair in the back of the ambulance rather than lying on a stretcher."

The defendants each face up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of conspiracy and up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine for each count of health care fraud. Usman also faces up to 10 years, restitution and a $250,000 fine if convicted of money laundering.

The indictment stemmed from "Operation Easy Rider," in which search warrants were executed on ambulance companies across Texas. It was a joint operation between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.


June 7, 2009

Wired in from the road…

Shades of gray?

Perhaps Bill O’Reilly is the most recent inciter of violence, calling Dr. George Tiller “Tiller the baby killer”, and “Dr. Killer”… sending his ambush “journalists” out to confront the doctor, but Bill O was certainly not the first to incite the fanatics, and Scott Roeder was not the first threat faced by Dr. Tiller. They’ve been trying to kill him since at least 1993. Roeder, the suspected murderer of Dr. Tiller, warns that we can expect more of the same so long as the late term abortion procedure remains legal.

Murders of physicians, clinic bombings, acid attacks, sniper shootings, fake anthrax filled letters... these are only some of the tactics used over the years by anti-abortion extremists. Since 1977 there have been over 6,000 acts of violence against medical facilities and personnel providing a procedure deemed legal by the Supreme Court of the United States. These are acts of terrorism, but where is the outrage? Fanatics are murdering and maiming human beings in the name of Christ. Someone please tell me…

...what exactly is the difference between these Christian terrorists and the Islamic terrorists we are fighting in the much ballyhooed “War on Terror”? The right wingnuts are singing the praises of Scott Roeder, calling the murder the answer to prayers.

Please tell me, what is the difference?

June 5, 2009

Pardon my absence

Once the bike gets out of the shop (clutch spring busted) I'll be taking a bit of a walkabout over the next week or so. The Rockies are calling me, and I must answer the siren song. Depending on the kind of accommodation I can find, blogging might be hampered by lack of Internet connection... but I'll be back.

Y'all stay tuned.


June 3, 2009

Savana Redding and Sonia Sotomayor

Back on April 21st, Savana Redding and Zero Tolerance (ZT) both had their day in court. As I mentioned then… it didn’t sound good for Savana. Sometime in the next few weeks we should know how SCOTUS will deal with this, and determine if this is a 4th amendment violation or action in the best interest of the state.

As you may remember, Savana claims her rights were violated by Safford, AZ school staff with an embarrassing search. Savana was a 13 year old 8th grader at the time, and an honors student. She had no previous disciplinary history, and, in fact, had been an exemplary student. Base solely on a tip from a student who *did* have a disciplinary history, and with no corroboration, school officials believed that Savana had prescription strength ibuprofen stashed in her underclothes in violation of school rules. SCOTUS has been asked to determine if strip searching this young girl meets the 4th amendment bar of unreasonable search.

There are some legitimate, compelling, yet competing interests that must bear upon the court’s decision. The school has an interest in maintaining a safe environment for students, but more importantly in my mind is the interest of a minor child subjected to false accusations and unwarranted humiliation. In oral arguments, Justice Ginsburg seemed to be the only member of the court offering any hint of dissatisfaction with Savana’s treatment. None of the male justices seemed to understand the depth of humiliation and embarrassment, and the long lasting effects of the school’s actions on a prepubescent female child. The omens do not read well for Savana.

One must wonder if Savana might have found another ally if Justice Ginsberg were not the only female on the bench. Judge Sonia Sotomayor, if she were there, might feel that empathy for young Savana that President Obama has mentioned. A review of 2nd Circuit 4th amendment rulings in which Judge Sotomayor was involved indicates only two cases that were upheld by judicial panel.

In N.G. & S.G. v. Connecticut, the parents of two teenage sisters placed in state juvenile detention centers for truancy violations, sued the state because the girls were strip searched several times by detention center personnel. Records indicate that the girls were searched each time they returned from court appearances, even though they were never out of state custody, and were forced to “lift their breasts and spread out folds of fat.” The girls were not at the time convicted of any crime, and there was no specific indication that either possessed weapons or drugs.

Judge Sotomayor was one of a three-judge panel that ruled unanimously that all strip searches beyond the initial were indeed unconstitutional. The panel split, however, on the question of the initial search upon entering the facility, with Sotomayor dissenting. Judge Sotomayor argued that the state had an obligation to weigh its interest carefully against the humiliation and embarrassment felt by youngsters who had not been tried or convicted of any crime.

Sotomayor further argued that courts should be wary of strip searches of children, since youth “is a time and condition of life when a person may be most susceptible to influence and to psychological damage.” Judge Sotomayor, in a review of precedent, observed that the court had “never found that a strip search in the absence of any individualized suspicion was reasonable” outside of a prison setting. She cited evidence that strip searches conducted under the state’s blanket policy had almost never produced contraband that could not be revealed by alternate methods. Then she argued that the government had failed to meet the burden of proof that the invasive strip searches bore a “close and substantial” relationship to any state need sufficient to justify “a highly degrading, intrusive strip search.”

The other case is Kelsey v. County of Schoharie [PDF], in which two men, one accused of violating a child support order and the other for driving under the influence, had been required to strip nude in full view of jailers. The men claimed that this constituted a strip search, but the jailers claimed it was merely to get them into jail uniforms, and that the men could have undressed behind a half wall. The men countered by claiming that a guard ordered them to stand in front of and face him. District court sided with the prisoners, and the guards appealed.

The same 2nd Circuit Court panel, in a 2 to 1 ruling, decided that the events did not constitute a search, but were “clothing exchanges.” Sotomayor again dissented, stating that “the privacy interests protected by the Fourth Amendment do not become irrelevant merely because we use the nomenclature of ‘clothing exchange’ instead of ‘strip search.’” Even though dissenting, she noted that if the men had been allowed to change clothes without exposing themselves, she would have agreed with the majority “that Fourth Amendment interests would not be implicated and violated.”

Do these decisions reflect the empathy President Obama says he wants to see in his first Supreme Court nominee? Maybe, but maybe not. In an article published on Slate, author Emily Bazelon calls attention to a case in which Sotomayor apparently convinced her colleagues to overturn a jury verdict that had found police misconduct. We do not know what happened in deliberations, but it seems possible that former prosecutor Sonia Sotomayor might possibly move the Supreme Court in a conservative direction in some areas of criminal law and procedure. The two strip search dissents, however, seem to reveal that she will not be automatically pro-state or pro-plaintiff. In the illustrated cases, she appears to take a strict, originalist view of the Fourth Amendment, but pays homage to precedent as well.

Sotomayor appears to recognize and carefully weigh competing interests when determining whether the state has violated constitutionally protected privacies of those individuals entrusted to state custody. That’s what a good judge should do, and Savana would likely have an ally in Sotomayor.

June 2, 2009

So… It’s okay to murder an abortion doctor

Quoted verbatim from Christian News Wire

Rediscovering God in America' LIVE on GOD TV

Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Lou Engle, Ron Luce and others link up this week to inspire people of faith to reclaim the Nation's spiritual foundation.

Contact: Jeffrey Levinson, GOD TV, North America Regional Office, 407-862-5084, jlevinson@god.tv

MEDIA ADVISORY, June 2 /Christian Newswire/ -- 'Rediscovering God in America' is the name of a best-selling book by US former speaker, Newt Gingrich; the subject of a movie, and now a special event which will be broadcast LIVE on GOD TV on Thursday June 4 at 8.30pm and Friday June 5 at 8am (Eastern).

Broadcast live from Rock Church International in Virginia Beach, the Rediscovering God in America Pastor's Briefing will serve as a reminder of the major role faith has played in the founding and development of the USA and challenge spiritual leaders as well as the youth of today to make a stand for the Biblical principles handed down to us by our forefathers.

In addition to Newt Gingrich, featured speakers include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee; historian David Barton of Wall Builders; congressman, Bob McEwen and Lt Col Oliver North. Well known GOD TV featured speakers, Lou Engle of TheCall and Ron Luce of Teen Mania will also be sharing their passion to turn the nation back to God's heart. Worship will be led by Matt Gilman.

"There is no attack on American culture that is more destructive or more historically dishonest than the secular Left's relentless effort to drive God out of America's public square," says Newt Gingrich. "I wrote Rediscovering God in America as a response to the 9th District Federal Court of Appeals' ruling that the phrase 'one nation, under God' as part of the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional. This event aims to ignite people of faith to again engage the culture as we reclaim the centrality of God in American life."

GOD TV's founders Rory & Wendy Alec continue to carry a great burden in their hearts for America to turn back to God and encourage viewers to tune in from coast to coast for this special broadcast. "God is calling the Church in the USA to awaken from her slumber to become the pure Bride of Christ He has called us to be," said Wendy, who is also the Network's head of television. "We have to be stirred by God's might and His power and rise up as a holy and righteous people, who will humble ourselves and cry out to God, so that the enemy's plans for this Nation shall be reversed."

GOD TV can be accessed on channel 365 of DIRECTV or watched online at www.god.tv/stream. The Rediscovering God in America program will also be made available for video on demand viewing at http://www.god.tv/god.%20

Contact: Jeffrey Levinson, GOD TV North America Regional Office, 375 Douglas Ave Suite, 1008, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714. Telephone (407) 862-5084, fax (407) 682 2407, e-mail; jlevinson@god.tv

About GOD TV: GOD TV was founded in the UK in 1995 by Christian media pioneers Rory & Wendy Alec and in 13 short years has become a global phenomenon. Today the network beams a broad cross section of cutting-edge programs, including many life-changing LIVE broadcasts, into millions of homes worldwide. The only Christian broadcaster to transmit globally from Jerusalem, GOD TV's powerful signal is carried via multiple satellites providing free viewing to almost half a billion people 24-hours-a-day. In the USA, GOD TV can be viewed on DIRECTV channel 365 as well as on select cable channels. It can also be viewed online at www.god.tv/stream and via VOD at www.god.tv/god. The network has offices in Washington, DC and Orlando, Florida and Kansas City, Missouri. Other offices are situated in Europe, Africa and Asia. In addition to its vast media outreach, GOD TV also helps people in charitable ways by supporting feeding schemes, orphanages, water drilling projects and disaster relief funds.

GOD TV USA: Suite 1008, 375 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida, 32714Telephone: +1 407 862 5084, Fax +1 407 682 2407

Broadcast HQ: Jerusalem, Israel

International offices: Africa, Asia & Middle East, Europe, Scandinavia, UK & Ireland

Angel Christian Television \Trust, Inc is a Not-For-Profit Florida Corporation with 501 ( C ) ( 3 ) tax-exempt status from the IRS.