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Tag Archives: obama
Posted: January 18, 2017 at 12:52 pm
“For your faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country and for your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations, I’d like to ask the military aide to join us on stage,” Obama said in the ceremony. “For my final time as President, I am pleased to award our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”
Biden, who appeared extremely emotional during the tribute and was seen tearing up, accepted the award but said he did not deserve it.
“This honor is not only well beyond what I deserve, but it’s a reflection of the extent and generosity of your spirit,” Biden said. “I don’t deserve this but I know it came from the President’s heart.”
Before surprising Biden with the award, Obama gave lengthy and colorful remarks praising Biden, his wife Dr. Jill Biden and his children and grandchildren.
“This is the kind of family that built this country,” Obama said. “That’s why my family is honored to call ourselves honorary Bidens.”
Obama noted that while their term is almost over the two will be “forever binded as a family,”
“If you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person you’ve got a problem,” Obama said quoting a Republican senator. “He’s as good a man as God ever created.”
Biden, who was shocked by the entire gathering, said he had no “inkling” it was going to happen. The Vice President said he thought he was coming to toast senior staff with the first lady and his wife Jill Biden.
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Posted: December 26, 2016 at 2:54 pm
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump arrives to speak during a USA Thank You Tour event at Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, U.S., December 15, 2016. Lucas Jackson / Reuters
FADA would prohibit the federal government from taking “discriminatory action” against any business or person that discriminates against LGBTQ people. The act distinctly aims to protect the right of all entities to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on two sets of beliefs: “(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”
On December 9, Sen. Lee’s spokesperson, Conn Carroll, told
“Hopefully November’s results will give us the momentum we need to get this done next year,” Carroll said. “We do plan to reintroduce FADA next Congress and we welcome Trump’s positive words about the bill.”
“During oral arguments in Obergfell, President Obama’s solicitor general admitted that if a right to same-sex marriage were created, religious institutions, including many Catholic schools, could have their tax exempt status revoked by the IRS,” Carroll told NBC Out on Wednesday. “The First Amendment Defense Act was created to make sure that does not happen.”
But while Carroll claims “FADA in no way undermines federal or state civil rights laws,” it would take away the government’s recourse in terms of punishing businesses, institutions or individuals who break civil rights law by discriminating against LGBTQ people.
Jennifer Pizer, Law and Policy Director at Lambda Legal, told NBC Out FADA “invites widespread, devastating discrimination against LGBT people” and is a deeply unconstitutional bill.
“This proposed new law violates both Equal Protection and the Establishment Clause by elevating one set of religious beliefs above all others,” Pizer said, “And by targeting LGBT Americans as a group, contrary to settled constitutional law.”
Pizer warned that the bill’s language also left room for individuals and businesses to discriminate against unwed heterosexual couples and single mothers, because of the clause stating that “sexual relations are properly reserved” to marriage between a man and a woman.
“There cannot be even one iota of doubt that this bill endorses one set of religious beliefs above others, and targets people in same-sex relationships, married or not, as well as unmarried heterosexual couples who live together,” Pizer said. “It’s an unconstitutional effort to turn the clock back to a time when unmarried mothers had to hide in shame, and LGBT people had to hide, period.”
FADA was first filed in the House and Senate in 2015, but was met with protests from Democrats and resulted in just one House hearing amid concerns that Obama would veto the bill. It is currently co-sponsored by 171 House Republicans and just one Democrat (Daniel Lipinski of Illinois.)
State-level legislation similar to FADA has failed in recent years, usually resulting from lawsuits and nationwide boycotts. When Vice President-elect Mike Pence passed a “religious freedom” bill as governor of Indiana in March 2015, it was met with
A lawsuit brought by Mississippi religious leaders alleges the state law actually violates religious freedom by determining that religious belief necessitates anti-LGBTQ discrimination. The group of ordained ministers suing the state said in the lawsuit,
Barber v. Bryant is currently at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, after a federal trial court ruled HB 1523 violates the federal Equal Protection and Establishment Clauses. Pizer said the case stands as an example of the legal explosion that would occur in reaction to FADA.
“If Congress were to pass the federal FADA as currently written, and the next president were to sign it into law, I’m confident heads would spin at how fast the constitutional challenges would fly into court,” Pizer said, adding “we’re likely to have a great many allies because these attempts to misuse religion for discrimination offend enormous numbers of Americans who cherish both religious liberty and equality for all.”
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Posted: November 23, 2016 at 10:05 pm
Why governments aren’t all that different from street gangs 3/12/2016 – At some point, you may have heard someone call the government a “gang of thieves writ large,” which is a generalization of a quote attributed to libertarian thinker Murray Rothbard. However, if you’re not familiar with the philosophy behind that quote, you might mistakenly believe that it is nothing… Have you ever felt like the government doesn’t really care what you think? 3/2/2016 – Professors Martin Gilens (Princeton University) and Benjamin I. Page (Northwestern University) looked at more than 20 years worth of data to answer a simple question: Does the government represent the people? (Article republished from Represent.Us.) Their study took data from nearly 2000 public opinion… A message to Libertarians about the FDA 2/6/2016 – “When I ran for a seat in the US Congress in 1994, I was very aggressive in demanding that we go after the FDA as a rogue criminal agency. Others, at the time, who were in favor of Health Freedom, said I should dial back my rhetoric; all we needed was a good law that would protect our right to take… The emergence of Orwellian newspeak and the death of free speech 1/23/2016 – “If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it……. UK government caught running ISIS Twitter accounts 1/7/2016 – Americans are rightfully concerned that jihadis from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are already on U.S. soil, but apparently we’re not the only Western nation with an ISIS problem. Britain, it seems, has one as well. As reported by the UK’s Mirror, hackers have made the claim that several… DHS gives TSA authority to forcibly irradiate Americans against their will 1/3/2016 – Americans who understand the health risks of full-body TSA X-ray scanners will choose to opt out of the invasive scan. The TSA requires those who opt out of the full-body scan to undergo a physically invasive full-body pat down. Now, a new rule created by the Department of Homeland Security will… Propaganda at your expense: U.S. govt. is second largest P.R. firm in the world 12/23/2015 – It’s no secret that many people feel that the U.S. Government is synonymous with all things shady, filled with half-truths, loopholes and lingo that sounds fancy, but is really a self-serving set of words designed to offer minimal benefits to the rest of society. Supporting these opinions is a finding… The dire state of our nation (what you won’t hear from the politicians) 12/10/2015 – “As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air — however slight — lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.” –… Vaccine vs. Virus: Which is the bigger threat? 12/3/2015 – Mainstream media clamor for mandatory vaccines, ignoring official statistics that show the drug is more dangerous than the disease. Should government force parents to vaccinate their children? The deaths of more than 100 children have been officially linked to receiving a measles vaccine during the… Evidence of vaccine injuries memory-holed from U.S. government website 11/9/2015 – The federal government, perhaps at the behest of the Obama administration, has been quietly removing vaccine injury court data from a publicly reported chart that at one time was updated monthly, investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson reported recently on her web site. “In March, the federal government… U.S. government STEALS American family’s land near Area 51 Air Force base 10/31/2015 – For decades, the U.S. government has maintained that “there’s nothing to see” at its secretive Air Force base designated as “Area 51.” Certainly not Martians or other creatures from outer space, as many have theorized. And yet, for some reason, Uncle Sam seems to have something to hide out there… DARPA creates search engine to expose the dark web to government surveillance 10/21/2015 – The Defense Department’s most secretive research division has created a new computer program giving America’s spies a powerful tool to search the so-called “dark web,” where some of the most sophisticated terrorist organizations operate. DARPA – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – recently… The Gestapo is alive and well in Obama’s America 10/18/2015 – Hi. I’m Wayne Allyn Root for Personal Liberty. Barack Obama is going rogue. By every metric, the Obama economy is melting down. We are seeing the beginning stages of another recession, at best, or a total economic meltdown, at worst. (Story by Wayne Allyn Root, republished from PersonalLiberty.com) At… Russian government to outlaw all GMO food products to protect citizens’ health 10/3/2015 – As the American people are being force-fed GMOs and petitioning their government for honest food labels, other countries around the world are already removing the transgenic ingredients from their food supply. As Americans beg to know what kind of agro-chemicals and GMOs are in their food, the Russian… UK government to require registration of all religious leaders 9/16/2015 10:29:24 AM – In September 1620, pilgrims from England set sail for the “new world,” hoping to find new opportunities and escape religious persecution. Today, hundreds of years later, its possible British subjects might once again be forced to flee religious oppression. Canada’s National Post reports that religious… Government water police state almost here 7/30/2015 – Anyone who says that liberty, freedom and individualism has thrived under the Obama administration has either been living in a cave or is far too partisan to acknowledge what’s really been going on. The Obamaites have long used the power of the federal bureaucracy that the president controls to limit,… New Zealand government takes further steps to ease raw milk prohibition 7/17/2015 – It’s not exactly a complete scrapping of the country’s antiquated prohibition laws governing the production and sale of raw milk, but the government of New Zealand has responded to consumer demand and made it at least somewhat easier for individuals and families to access this highly sought-after food… Supreme Court rules against federal seizure of farmer’s crop production 7/15/2015 – The U.S. Supreme Court has either been a bane on the Constitution or a champion of civil rights with rulings handed down in recent days, but one issue in particular that appears to win approval of a large majority of Americans garnered far fewer headlines and attention. On June 22, in one effort,… See all 2206 government feature articles. 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Posted: at 9:56 pm
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan recently signed an executive order forbidding Maryland public schools from beginning classes before Labor Day. Governor Hogans executive order benefits businesses in Marylands coastal areas that lose school-aged summer employees and business from Maryland families when schools start in August. However, as Governor Hogans critics have pointed out, some Maryland school districts, as well as Maryland schoolchildren, benefit from an earlier start to the school year.
Governor Hogans executive order is the latest example of how centralized government control of education leaves many students behind. A centrally planned education system can no more meet the unique needs of every child than a centrally planned economic system can meet the unique needs of every worker and consumer.
Centralizing education at the state or, worse, federal level inevitably leads to political conflicts over issues ranging from whether students should be allowed to pray on school grounds, to what should be the curriculum, to what food should be served in the cafeteria, to who should be allowed to use which bathroom.
The centralization and politicization of education is rooted in the idea that education is a right that must be provided by the government, instead of a good that individuals should obtain in the market. Separating school from state would empower parents to find an education system that meets the needs of their children instead of using the political process to force their idea of a good education on all children.
While many politicians praise local and parental control of education, the fact is both major parties embrace federal control of education. The two sides only differ on the details. Liberals who oppose the testing mandates of No Child Left Behind enthusiastically backed President Clintons national testing proposals. They also back the Obama administrations expansion of federal interference in the classroom via Common Core.
Similarly, conservatives who (correctly) not just opposed Clintons initiatives but called for the abolition of the Department of Education enthusiastically supported No Child Left Behind. Even most conservatives who oppose Common Core, federal bathroom and cafeteria mandates, and other federal education policies, support reforming, instead of eliminating, the Department of Education.
Politicians will not voluntarily relinquish control over education to parents. Therefore, parents and other concerned citizens should take a page from the UK and work to Ed-Exit government-controlled education. Parents and other concerned citizens should pressure Congress to finally shut down the Department of Education and return the money to American families. They also must pressure state governments and local school boards to reject federal mandates, even if it means forgoing federal funding.
Parents should also explore education alternatives, such as private, charter, and religious schools, as well as homeschooling. Homeschooling is the ultimate form of Ed-Exit. Homeschooling parents have the freedom to shape every aspect of education from the curriculum to the length of the school day to what their children have for lunch to who can and cannot use the bathroom to fit their child’s unique needs.
Parents interested in providing their children with a quality education emphasizing the ideas of liberty should try out my homeschooling curriculum. The curriculum provides students with a well-rounded education that includes courses in personal finance and public speaking. The government and history sections of the curriculum emphasize Austrian economics, libertarian political theory, and the history of liberty. However, unlike government schools, my curriculum never puts ideological indoctrination ahead of education.
Parents interested in Ed-Exiting from government-run schools can learn more about my curriculum at ronpaulcurriculum.com.
Posted: October 27, 2016 at 11:56 am
The word “longevity” is sometimes used as a synonym for “life expectancy” in demography – however, the term “longevity” is sometimes meant to refer only to especially long-lived members of a population, whereas “life expectancy” is always defined statistically as the average number of years remaining at a given age. For example, a population’s life expectancy at birth is the same as the average age at death for all people born in the same year (in the case of cohorts). Longevity is best thought of as a term for general audiences meaning ‘typical length of life’ and specific statistical definitions should be clarified when necessary.
Reflections on longevity have usually gone beyond acknowledging the brevity of human life and have included thinking about methods to extend life. Longevity has been a topic not only for the scientific community but also for writers of travel, science fiction, and utopian novels.
There are many difficulties in authenticating the longest human life span ever by modern verification standards, owing to inaccurate or incomplete birth statistics. Fiction, legend, and folklore have proposed or claimed life spans in the past or future vastly longer than those verified by modern standards, and longevity narratives and unverified longevity claims frequently speak of their existence in the present.
A life annuity is a form of longevity insurance.
Various factors contribute to an individual’s longevity. Significant factors in life expectancy include gender, genetics, access to health care, hygiene, diet and nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, and crime rates. Below is a list of life expectancies in different types of countries:
Population longevities are increasing as life expectancies around the world grow:
The Gerontology Research Group validates current longevity records by modern standards, and maintains a list of supercentenarians; many other unvalidated longevity claims exist. Record-holding individuals include:
Evidence-based studies indicate that longevity is based on two major factors, genetics and lifestyle choices.
Twin studies have estimated that approximately 20-30% the variation in human lifespan can be related to genetics, with the rest due to individual behaviors and environmental factors which can be modified. Although over 200 gene variants have been associated with longevity according to a US-Belgian-UK research database of human genetic variants, these explain only a small fraction of the heritability. A 2012 study found that even modest amounts of leisure time physical exercise can extend life expectancy by as much as 4.5 years.
Lymphoblastoid cell lines established from blood samples of centenarians have significantly higher activity of the DNA repair protein PARP (Poly ADP ribose polymerase) than cell lines from younger (20 to 70 year old) individuals. The lymphocytic cells of centenarians have characteristics typical of cells from young people, both in their capability of priming the mechanism of repair after H2O2 sublethal oxidative DNA damage and in their PARP gene expression. These findings suggest that elevated PARP gene expression contributes to the longevity of centenarians, consistent with the DNA damage theory of aging.
A study of the regions of the world known as blue zones, where people commonly live active lives past 100 years of age, speculated that longevity is related to a healthy social and family life, not smoking, eating a plant-based diet, frequent consumption of legumes and nuts, and engaging in regular physical activity. In a cohort study, the combination of a plant based diet, normal BMI, and not smoking accounted for differences up to 15 years in life expectancy. Korean court records going back to 1392 indicate that the average lifespan of eunuchs was 70.0 1.76 years, which was 14.419.1 years longer than the lifespan of non-castrated men of similar socio-economic status. The Alameda County Study hypothesized three additional lifestyle characteristics that promote longevity: limiting alcohol consumption, sleeping 7 to 8 hours per night, and not snacking (eating between meals), although the study found the association between these characteristics and mortality is “weak at best”. There are however many other possible factors potentially affecting longevity, including the impact of high peer competition, which is typically experienced in large cities.
In preindustrial times, deaths at young and middle age were more common than they are today. This is not due to genetics, but because of environmental factors such as disease, accidents, and malnutrition, especially since the former were not generally treatable with pre-20th century medicine. Deaths from childbirth were common in women, and many children did not live past infancy. In addition, most people who did attain old age were likely to die quickly from the above-mentioned untreatable health problems. Despite this, we do find many examples of pre-20th century individuals attaining lifespans of 75 years or greater, including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Cato the Elder, Thomas Hobbes, Eric of Pomerania, Christopher Polhem, and Michelangelo. This was also true for poorer people like peasants or laborers. Genealogists will almost certainly find ancestors living to their 70s, 80s and even 90s several hundred years ago.
For example, an 1871 census in the UK (the first of its kind, but personal data from other censuses dates back to 1841 and numerical data back to 1801) found the average male life expectancy as being 44, but if infant mortality is subtracted, males who lived to adulthood averaged 75 years. The present male life expectancy in the UK is 77 years for males and 81 for females, while the United States averages 74 for males and 80 for females.
Studies have shown that black American males have the shortest lifespans of any group of people in the US, averaging only 69 years (Asian-American females average the longest). This reflects overall poorer health and greater prevalence of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer among black American men.
Women normally outlive men, and this was as true in pre-industrial times as today. Theories for this include smaller bodies (and thus less stress on the heart), a stronger immune system (since testosterone acts as an immunosuppressant), and less tendency to engage in physically dangerous activities.
There is a current debate as to whether or not the pursuit of longevity is a worthwhile health care goal for the United States. Bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel, who is also one of the architects of ObamaCare, has stated that the pursuit of longevity via the compression of morbidity explanation is a “fantasy” and that life is not worth living after age 75; therefore longevity should not be a goal of health care policy. This has been refuted by neurosurgeon Miguel Faria, who states that life can be worthwhile in healthy old age; that the compression of morbidity is a real phenomenon; that longevity should be pursued in association with quality of life. Faria has discussed how longevity in association with leading healthy lifestyles can lead to the postponement of senescence as well as happiness and wisdom in old age.
All of the biological organisms have a limited longevity, and different species of animals and plants have different potentials of longevity. Misrepair-accumulation aging theory  suggests that the potential of longevity of an organism is related to its structural complexity. Limited longevity is due to the limited structural complexity of the organism. If a species of organisms has too high structural complexity, most of its individuals would die before the reproduction age, and the species could not survive. This theory suggests that limited structural complexity and limited longevity are essential for the survival of a species.
Longevity traditions are traditions about long-lived people (generally supercentenarians), and practices that have been believed to confer longevity. A comparison and contrast of “longevity in antiquity” (such as the Sumerian King List, the genealogies of Genesis, and the Persian Shahnameh) with “longevity in historical times” (common-era cases through twentieth-century news reports) is elaborated in detail in Lucian Boia’s 2004 book Forever Young: A Cultural History of Longevity from Antiquity to the Present and other sources.
The Fountain of Youth reputedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks of its waters. The New Testament, following older Jewish tradition, attributes healing to the Pool of Bethesda when the waters are “stirred” by an angel. After the death of Juan Ponce de Len, Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo y Valds wrote in Historia General y Natural de las Indias (1535) that Ponce de Len was looking for the waters of Bimini to cure his aging. Traditions that have been believed to confer greater human longevity also include alchemy, such as that attributed to Nicolas Flamel. In the modern era, the Okinawa diet has some reputation of linkage to exceptionally high ages.
More recent longevity claims are subcategorized by many editions of Guinness World Records into four groups: “In late life, very old people often tend to advance their ages at the rate of about 17 years per decade …. Several celebrated super-centenarians (over 110 years) are believed to have been double lives (father and son, relations with the same names or successive bearers of a title) …. A number of instances have been commercially sponsored, while a fourth category of recent claims are those made for political ends ….” The estimate of 17 years per decade was corroborated by the 1901 and 1911 British censuses. Mazess and Forman also discovered in 1978 that inhabitants of Vilcabamba, Ecuador, claimed excessive longevity by using their fathers’ and grandfathers’ baptismal entries.Time magazine considered that, by the Soviet Union, longevity had been elevated to a state-supported “Methuselah cult”.Robert Ripley regularly reported supercentenarian claims in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, usually citing his own reputation as a fact-checker to claim reliability.
The U.S. Census Bureau view on the future of longevity is that life expectancy in the United States will be in the mid-80s by 2050 (up from 77.85 in 2006) and will top out eventually in the low 90s, barring major scientific advances that can change the rate of human aging itself, as opposed to merely treating the effects of aging as is done today. The Census Bureau also predicted that the United States would have 5.3 million people aged over 100 in 2100. The United Nations has also made projections far out into the future, up to 2300, at which point it projects that life expectancies in most developed countries will be between 100 and 106 years and still rising, though more and more slowly than before. These projections also suggest that life expectancies in poor countries will still be less than those in rich countries in 2300, in some cases by as much as 20 years. The UN itself mentioned that gaps in life expectancy so far in the future may well not exist, especially since the exchange of technology between rich and poor countries and the industrialization and development of poor countries may cause their life expectancies to converge fully with those of rich countries long before that point, similarly to the way life expectancies between rich and poor countries have already been converging over the last 60 years as better medicine, technology, and living conditions became accessible to many people in poor countries. The UN has warned that these projections are uncertain, and cautions that any change or advancement in medical technology could invalidate such projections.
Recent increases in the rates of lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, may eventually slow or reverse this trend toward increasing life expectancy in the developed world, but have not yet done so. The average age of the US population is getting higher and these diseases show up in older people.
Jennifer Couzin-Frankel examined how much mortality from various causes would have to drop in order to boost life expectancy and concluded that most of the past increases in life expectancy occurred because of improved survival rates for young people. She states that it seems unlikely that life expectancy at birth will ever exceed 85 years.Michio Kaku argues that genetic engineering, nanotechnology and future breakthroughs will accelerate the rate of life expectancy increase indefinitely. Already genetic engineering has allowed the life expectancy of certain primates to be doubled, and for human skin cells in labs to divide and live indefinitely without becoming cancerous.
However, since 1840, record life expectancy has risen linearly for men and women, albeit more slowly for men. For women the increase has been almost three months per year, for men almost 2.7 months per year. In light of steady increase, without any sign of limitation, the suggestion that life expectancy will top out must be treated with caution. Scientists Oeppen and Vaupel observe that experts who assert that “life expectancy is approaching a ceiling … have repeatedly been proven wrong.” It is thought that life expectancy for women has increased more dramatically owing to the considerable advances in medicine related to childbirth.
Mice have been genetically engineered to live twice as long as ordinary mice. Drugs such as deprenyl are a part of the prescribing pharmacopia of veterinarians specifically to increase mammal lifespan. A large plurality of research chemicals have been described at the scientific literature that increase the lifespan of a number of species.
Some argue that molecular nanotechnology will greatly extend human life spans. If the rate of increase of life span can be raised with these technologies to a level of twelve months increase per year, this is defined as effective biological immortality and is the goal of radical life extension.
Certain exotic organisms do not seem to be subject to aging and can live indefinitely. Examples include Tardigrades and Hydras. That is not to say that these organisms cannot die, merely that they only die as a result of disease or injury rather than age-related deterioration (and that they are not subject to the Hayflick limit).
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Longevity – Wikipedia
Posted: September 20, 2016 at 7:08 pm
SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER WASHINGTONFor the first time in U.S. history, a federal appeals court on Friday struck down a federal gun-control law for violating the Second Amendment, meaning that next year the Supreme Court will hear a case that includes the opportunity to abolish citizens right to bear arms by overruling the Courts famous Heller precedent.
Clifford Tyler is a law-abiding and peaceful citizen living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1985, his wife of 23 years was having an adulterous affair. She ran off with the other man and took all of Cliffords money with her. His daughters found him so upset and depressed, banging his head on the floor, that they called the authorities, fearing he might harm himself.
Tyler was taken before a Michigan judge, who ruled there was sufficient reason to be concerned about the distraught man to commit him to a facility for psychiatric evaluation. A couple weeks later the doctors released him with a clean bill of health, saying that he was a perfectly normal person who had a really horrible day. Tyler continued to be a good citizen, a good employee, got remarried, has been a good father, and eventually even repaired his relationship with his unfaithful ex-wife.
Hes now age 74, and wanted to buy a handgun to keep at home for self-defense. But the government told him that federal law bars him from ever owning a gun, so he went to court to assert his Second Amendment rights.
In 2008, the Supreme Court inDistrict of Columbia v. Hellerone of the most famous decisions ever written by Justice Antonin Scaliaheld that the Second Amendment is an individual right, and as such does not allow the federal government to bar law-abiding and peaceable American citizens from keeping a handgun in their home. Heller was a 5-4 decision, and left other gun-rights questions for future cases.
Heller specified that it was not weighing in on certain issues, including laws that prohibit certain people from owning guns. Federal law in 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4) is one of these gun-control laws, providing that no one who has been committed to a mental institution can own firearms.
In 1986 President Ronald Reagan signed an NRA-supported law advancing Second Amendment rights, including 18 U.S.C. 925(c), which empowers the Justice Department to restore gun rights if the attorney general finds a particular person to be safe and sane. But Congress stopped funding that program in 1992, canceling out that Reagan-era protection for Americas 90 million gun owners.
So in 2007 Congress passed a new law empowering states to set up their own review process to restore gun rights. Most states have established such a program, but some statesincluding Michigan, where Tyler liveshave not.
The federal district court in Michigan ruled against Tyler, but a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed. The Obama administration petitioned the Sixth Circuit to rehear the case en banc, meaning all the judges on the courtin this case, 16 judgeswould reconsider the case.
The petition was granted, and on Sept. 15, by a 10-6 vote in Tyler v. Hillsdale County Sheriffs Department the full Sixth Circuit struck down 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4) as a violation of the Second Amendment, and remanded the case back down to the district court for more hearings. The court noted that Heller said laws that kept mentally ill people from getting guns were allowed under the Second Amendment, but held that Section 922(g)(4) went too far by mandating that any person who has ever been involuntarily committed to a mental institutioneven for a single daycan never own a gun for the rest of his or her life.
Writing the lead opinion for six judges of the en banc court (which is less than a majority, but still the controlling opinion in this case), Judge Julia Gibbons explained that similar to several other appeals courts, the Sixth Circuit had recently adopted a two-step process for Second Amendment cases. The first step asks whether the challenged law burdens conduct that falls within the scope of the Second Amendment right, as historically understood, she wrote. If it does, then the government bears the burden of justifying the constitutionality of the law under a heightened form of scrutiny.
Specifically, these judges decided that intermediate scrutinya term invented decades ago by the Supreme Courtshould apply to this type of gun-control law. As Judge Gibbons wrote, intermediate scrutiny requires (1) the governments stated objective to be important and (2) a reasonable fit between the challenged regulation and the asserted objective. This standard is less stringent than strict scrutiny, which is another judge-made test.
The lead opinion noted that the Justice Department in this case failed to cite historical material or other evidence supporting Section 922(g)(4). In the absence of such evidence, it would be odd to rely solely on Heller to rubber stamp the legislatures power to permanently exclude individuals from a fundamental right based solely on a past involuntary commitment.
Judge Gibbons continued, Some sort of showing must be made to support Congresss adoption of prior involuntary commitments as a basis for a categorical, permanent limitation on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
The judges thought this principle applied with special force in this case. Tylers [lawsuit and evidence] suggest that Tyler is thirty years removed from a brief depressive episode and that he has no intervening mental health or substance abuse problems since that time.
None of the governments evidence squarely answers the key question at the heart of this case: Is it necessary to forever bar all previously institutionalized persons from owning a firearm?, the court reasoned. Then noting Congresss own restoration program in Section925(c) and the 2007 law allowing for state restoration programs, added, But the biggest problem for the government is Congresss most recent answer to this very question: No, it is not.
Thus, the court concluded that since the Obama administration presented no evidence supporting this statute, There is no indication of the continued risk presented by people who were involuntarily committed many years ago and who have no history of intervening mental illness, criminal activity, or substance abuse.
The Sixth Circuit thereby invalidated this federal law, holding, As we see it, the government may justify 922(g)(4) in one of two ways: (1) with additional evidence explaining the necessity of 922(g)(4)s lifetime ban or (2) with evidence showing that 922(g)(4) is constitutional as applied to Tyler because he would be a risk to himself or others were he allowed to possess a firearm.
Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote a separate opinion, joined by several judges, as to why this federal law must be struck down.
Keep in mind that Tyler is not demanding a gun today, he wrote. He is demanding only what Congress used to permit and what most States still permit: an opportunity to show that he is not a risk to himself or others.
After a lengthy discussion, Judge Sutton continued, If there is one thing clear in American law today, it is that the government may not deny an individual a benefit, least of all a constitutional right, based on a sky-high generalization and a skin-deep assumption stemming from a long-ago diagnosis or a long-ago institutionalization.
Tyler has presented plenty of evidence that he is just fine, Judge Sutton concluded.
Judge Karen Moorea Clinton-appointed liberal who is a perfect example of the sort of judge Hillary Clinton would be expected to nominate to the Supreme Courtwrote an energetic dissent, joined by several other liberal judges. In it, she argued that Tyler should never be allowed to own a gun, and that Congress has all the power it needs to ban gun ownership by many other types of Americans as well.
Judge Moore also argued for the dissenting judges that Heller should be interpreted as saying that the Second Amendment does nothing to block federal gun-control power here, a reading that is utterly incompatible with what Justice Scalia actually wrote.
Although the Cincinnati-based appeals court reached the right result, it did not do so for the right reasons.
In fact, the only judge who followed Justice Scalias famous originalist approach in Hellerthe method of interpreting the Constitution and all laws according to the original meaning of their words, a method always followed by Justice Clarence Thomas, and often followed by Justice Samuel Alito as wellwas Judge Alice Batchelder.
Judge Batchelder faulted both the lead opinion and the dissenting opinion for failing to give adequate attention to the Second Amendments original public meaning in defining the contours of the mental health exception. And it is that meaning, informed as it is by the history and tradition surrounding the right, that counts.
She continued that the other opinions debate over strict and intermediate scrutiny gives little more than a nod to the originalist inquiry. This shortchanging of the Supreme Courts approach in Heller (and many other cases) thereby radically marginalizes the role played by the text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment, and it replaces them with a thoroughly modern (and judge empowering) regime of heightened-scrutiny review.
The appeals courts taking such a course here is a forbidden peregrination from the actual meaning of the Constitution into the realm of judicial policymaking. Instead of fixating on strict or intermediate scrutiny with only a glance at history, the Supreme Court in Heller and McDonald put the historical inquiry at the center of the analysis, not at the margin.
Judge Batchelder then explored sources from the time of the Constitutions writing, examining what they said about mental illness, including the relevant factor here of when a person is unable to distinguish good from evil, and could be deprived by the law of certain rights.
She then noted that such deprivations were not once-for-all, and cited numerous sources from the time the Second Amendment was adopted to show that if a person regained their reason and sense of morality, they were no longer regarded as mentally ill.
Judge Batchelder then concluded:
As has been mentioned many times today, the dangers presented by guns are real, frightening, and obvious. Those realities will continue to factor heavily in the scrutiny analysis. Less obvious to the contemporary judicial mind are the Founding-era fears of tyranny and defenselessness that provided the impetus behind the Second Amendment. Whether the Founding generation struck a wise balance in ratifying that amendment is perhaps debatable. What is not debatable is that we federal judgesare neither philosopher kings empowered to fix things according to the dictates of what we fancy is our superior insight, nor rubber stamps, approving whatever laws the legislatures of this country happen to pass. We are bound, rather, by our oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, and we must therefore show restraint when that document restrains us and be active when it commands action.
As important as the Sixth Circuits Tyler decision is, that is not the most newsworthy aspect of this case. Because now a federal appeals court has struck down an Act of Congress on constitutional grounds.
That means the Obama administrations solicitor general will now petition the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari to review this case. Under these rare circumstances, it is virtually 100 percent certain that the justices will grant review and hear the case.
That means that the Second Amendment will be back before the Supreme Court in 2017, after a ninth justice has been confirmed to replace Scalia. The Second Amendment has survived twice at the Supreme Court over the past decade, both by only 5-4 votes.
One of the ways that the justices could rule in favor of the federal government would be to overrule Heller, and hold that the Second Amendment does not apply at all to private citizens. [The leftist view of the Second Amendment is that its only meaning is that the federal government cannot stop state governments from arming their National Guard (i.e., militia) units with guns.]
So declarations from Donald Trump and Mike Pence that gun rights are in danger is no longer hypothetical. It is now certain. If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, the Second Amendment can be effectively erased from the U.S. Constitution.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.
Posted: August 23, 2016 at 9:34 am
By Tom Head
At the turn of the 20th century, the drug market went mostly unregulated. Medical remedies, which often contained cocaine or heroin derivatives, were freely distributed without prescription–and without much consumer awareness of which drugs were potent and which were not. A caveat emptor attitude towards medical tonics could have meant the difference between life and death.
The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 targeted toxic drugs, and was expanded to address misleading drug labels in 1912. But the piece of legislation most relevant to the War on Drugs was the Harrison Tax Act of 1914, which restricted the sale of heroin and was quickly used to restrict the sale of cocaine as well.
And into this new national enforcement framework came the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which attempted to tax marijuana into oblivion Marijuana had not been shown to be dangerous, but the perception that it might be a “gateway drug” for heroin users–and its alleged popularity among Mexican-American immigrants–made it an easy target. More
Not that it did so alone. The Boggs Act of 1951 had already established mandatory minimum federal sentences for possession of marijuana, cocaine, and opiates, and a committee led by Senator Price Daniel (D-TX, shown left) called that the federal penalties be increased further, as they were with the Narcotic Control Act of 1956.
But it was Eisenhower’s establishment of the U.S. Interdepartmental Committee on Narcotics, in 1954, in which a sitting president first literally called for a war on drugs.
So when the Nixon administration looked for ways to block the import of marijuana from Mexico, it took the advice of radical nativists: close the border. Operation Intercept imposed strict, punitive searches of traffic along on the U.S.-Mexican border in an effort to force Mexico to crack down on marijuana. The civil liberties implications of this policy are obvious, and it was an unmitigated foreign policy failure, but it demonstrated how far the Nixon administration was prepared to go.
Nixon also targeted the trendy, psychedelic image of illegal drugs, asking celebrities such as Elvis Presley (shown left) to help him send the message that drug abuse is unacceptable. Seven years later, Presley himself fell to drug abuse; toxicologists found as many as fourteen legally prescribed drugs, including narcotics, in his system at the time of his death.
The addition of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to the federal law enforcement apparatus in 1973 was a significant step in the direction of a criminal justice approach to drug enforcement. If the federal reforms of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 represented the formal declaration of the War on Drugs, the Drug Enforcement Administration became its foot soldiers.
It is not insignificant that the policy also came with political benefits. By portraying drugs as a threat to children, the administration was able to pursue more aggressive federal antidrug legislation.
Then along came crack, cocaine processed into little rocks at a price non-yuppies could afford. Newspapers printed breathless accounts of black urban “crack fiends” and the drug of rock stars suddenly grew more sinister to white middle America.
Congress and the Reagan administration responded with the Antidrug Act of 1986, which established a 100:1 ratio for mandatory minimums associated with cocaine. It would take 5,000 grams of powdered “yuppie” cocaine to land you in prison for a minimum 10 years–but only 50 grams of crack.
So when Senator Joe Biden’s 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill included a provision allowing for the federal execution of drug kingpins, it indicated that the War on Drugs had ultimately reached such a level that drug-related offenses were regarded by the federal government as equivalent to, or worse than, murder and treason.
What is confusing is the issue of what happens when a state declares that a drug can be made legal with a prescription, and the federal government bullheadedly insists on targeting it as an illegal drug anyway. This happened in 1996 when California legalized marijuana for medical use. The Bush and Obama administrations have arrested California medical marijuana distributors anyway.
So far, the Obama administration’s actual drug policy enforcement has not differed significantly from that of the Bush administration. But the War on Drugs has always been a rhetorical convention–you can’t declare war on inanimate objects, social phenomena, moods, or abstractions–and it’s a rhetorical convention that has determined the way our country views drug policy enforcement. Acknowledging that this is a policy initiative, not a war, is a good step.
Posted: August 19, 2016 at 4:08 am
Edward Snowden is seen on a screen as he delivers a speech during the Roskilde Festival in Roskilde, Denmark, June 28 2016. Mathias Loevgreen Bojesen / Scanpix Denmark via Reuters
In clumsily worded English, the Shadow Brokers also boasted online that they were saving their best stolen material for a public auction, to be sold to the highest bidder.
Since then, many cybersecurity experts — including some former NSA officials — have come to believe the material posted by the Shadow Brokers is indeed “exploits” and other specially constructed pieces of malware created by the NSA to break into the computers and communications devices of governments like Iran and China, as well as companies and individuals, and to either steal or manipulate the data they contain.
Snowden, the self-described superhacker spy, took to Twitter on Tuesday to say he thinks the public posting of what he described as NSA cybertools may be part of a broader influence operation by Russia.
The U.S. intelligence community believes Russia is behind numerous hacks of entities and people associated with the Democratic Party over the past year, and federal authorities are investigating them and the subsequent release of information via WikiLeaks and other outlets. Many U.S. officials believe those hacks are part of an effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to help his favored candidate, Republican Donald Trump, and hinder his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
But so far, the Obama administration hasn’t formally accused Russia or taken steps to publicly confront it or issue sanctions. And Snowden speculated that Russia may be using the weekend disclosures to warn the White House against taking such actions.
In one tweet, Snowden noted that the “undetected hacker squatting on this NSA server lost access in June 2013,” suggesting the hackers have been sitting on the material for three years.
“Why did they do it? No one knows, but I suspect this is more diplomacy than intelligence, related to the escalation around the DNC hack,” Snowden tweeted. He also said the weekend postings “may be an effort to influence the calculus of decision-makers wondering how sharply to respond to the DNC hacks. This leak looks like a somebody [sic] sending a message that an escalation in the attribution game could get messy fast.”
The NSA leaker also said any U..S. action against Russia could result in the public disclosure of embarrassing information about cyber-operations of its own: “Here’s why that is significant,” Snowden said. “This leak is likely a warning that someone can prove US responsibility for any attacks that originated from this malware server.”
Such a disclosure could have huge foreign policy consequences, Snowden said, especially if it shows that NSA hackers were targeting U.S. allies. “Particularly if any of those operations targeted elections,” he said.
The NSA did not respond to requests for comment, but when asked if the agency had been hacked, one NSA official told NBC News that, “I don’t have anything for you on that.”
NSA expert James Bamford said the hack appeared to be significant, but he cautioned against pointing the finger at Russia, especially the government, given how many different groups of hackers routinely target NSA servers.
“There are so many unknowns here, and a lot of people in the hacking community don’t think this is the Russian government,” said Bamford, the author of three books about the NSA who has also visited Snowden in Russia and interviewed him there.
“I don’t know how Snowden would have any idea who did this, sitting there in an apartment in Moscow,” Bamford said. “Even the NSA probably doesn’t know who did this.”
In recent days, other security experts also have come to believe that the computer code comes from the NSA and that Russia is behind its theft and release.
Former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker told NBC News that “there is a lot of consensus among technical experts” that the cybertools were indeed stolen from the NSA, most likely from an external command and control server created to launch hacking operations that couldn’t be traced back to the U.S.
“The more disastrous and less likely scenario is that someone has hacked U.S. infrastructure and extracted large files,” said Baker, a prominent international cybersecurity lawyer.
Either way, the weekend postings are cause for dismay, Baker said, noting that “the assumption that it is Russian intelligence is a good first estimate, as it’s one of a half dozen leaks of information directly hostile to the U.S. government and U.S. institutions.”
“It shows how very sophisticated the spy-vs-spy game in cyberspace has become,” he said. “What we are now seeing is an example of one spy agency trying to compromise the infrastructure of another spy agency and how that it is happening at an almost unfathomably sophisticated level.”
Read the rest here:
Were Russians Involved in NSA Hack? – NBC News
Posted: July 25, 2016 at 3:58 pm
Donate Supreme Court Affirms Rule of Law; Separation of Powers in DAPA Ruling
June 23, 2016
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March 29, 2016
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 29, 2016 Latinos for Tennessee Urges Passage of HB2414 Nashville, Tennessee Today, Raul Lopez, Executive Director for Latinos for Tennessee, a statewide organization dedicated to promoting and defending faith, family, freedom and fiscal responsibility to the Latino community in Tennessee issued a statement concerning Tennessee House Bill 2414,
March 23, 2016
President Barack Obama made history this week by becoming the first sitting United States President in nearly nine decades to visit the communist island of Cuba. As a Cuban that fled to the United States seeking refuge from Communism, it has been tough to watch images of the president shaking hands with Cuban President Raul
March 17, 2016
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February 27, 2016
Even as the number of Latinos in Nashville and elsewhere around the country grows, misinformation abounds about the fastest and youngest growing demographic community. The biggest misconception is that Latinos all speak in one voice. This is patently false and does a great deal of disservice to the millions of individuals who are unique and
February 11, 2016
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September 16, 2015
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 16, 2015 Media contact: Israel Ortega email@example.com (202) 345-9130 Latinos for Tennessee Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month Makes Appeal to Policymakers for Greater School Choice to Help Close Educational Achievement Gap Nashville, Tennessee Latinos for Tennessee, an organization dedicated to providing the Hispanic community in the state with information
August 24, 2015
When the job numbers came out early this month, they were not pretty especially for the Latino community. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the unemployment rate for the Latino community had risen to 6.8% well above the national average of 5.3%. These numbers suggest that in spite of claims that
July 14, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 14, 2015 Media contact: Israel Ortega firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 345-9130 Latinos for Tennessee Co-Hosts Nashville Mayoral Forum on Tuesday Six candidates for Mayor confirmed to attend; Metro Council Candidates also confirmed Nashville, Tennessee Six of the seven candidates vying to become the next mayor of Nashville are set to appear before