Archive for the ‘law’ Category

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Phelps Fallout

February 10, 2009

It has been quite a while since my last toke of the weed (a couple years, actually), so my interest in this might not be what it once was, but I can’t help but scratch my head and wonder why the heck I just saw this headline: Eight arrested in Michael Phelps case

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – New details have emerged about a party where Olympic champion Michael Phelps was spotted.phelpsbong

On Feb. 2, a British tabloid published a picture of the 14-time Olympic gold medalist using a water pipe to smoke marijuana. The picture was taken at a party in Columbia back in November when Phelps was here for a visit.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department has been taking a lot of heat from people in this country and all over the world.

They want to know why Sheriff Leon Lott is going after Michael Phelps.

Many are saying the sheriff should concentrate on more serious crimes, or at the very least, not focus solely on the Olympic champion when there were others at the party who were also breaking the law.

Now it appears the case has expanded beyond Phelps’ activities.

I swear, someone could break into my house tomorrow, steal all my stuff, kill my dog, and piss on the floor, and all I’d be able to do is file a report that would get placed on a shelf somewhere and eventually get ignored. But someone takes a pic of Michael Phelps taking a hit of pot, and suddenly there’s some sheriff who thinks he’s Horatio Caine and the CSI team performs 128-bit analysis of the photo, dusts for prints, checks shoe sizes and tread on the carpet, samples the wallpaper for residue, and pulls hair out of the bathtub in search of the perps responsible for this heinous crime. 

I’m sure that I’m not the only one out there wondering why this is even a big deal to begin with.  Heck, I wonder why people swoon over Michael Phelps at all.  Sure, the guy won a ton of gold medals, but he’s a swimmer.  Just think about it, no one gives two turds about swimmers otherwise.    It’s not like people are going to the sports bar on Mondays to watch Monday Night Swimming, after all.

Anyway, since the guy is freakishly good at swimming, he’s apparently perceived as some role model (for reasons that are obviously beyond me, he’s near the top with almost 2 million fans on facebook), and the fact that he has had his picture taken with a bong to his lips represents some sort of scandal.  I suppose that may mean something in the realm of endorsements and the sales of his Officially Licensed Merchandise, but for God’s sake, leave the other poor saps at the party out of the blast radius. 

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

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Not Just Another Blackwater Thread

December 7, 2008

Tomorrow, those Blackwater security guards are supposed to surrender to authorities in Utah:

WASHINGTON – Five Blackwater Worldwide security guards indicted in Washington for the 2007 shooting of Iraqi civilians plan to surrender to the federal authorities Monday in Utah, people close to the case said, setting up a court fight over the trial site.

The case already is shaping up to be a series of contentious legal battles before the guards can even go to trial. By surrendering in Utah, the home state of one of the guards, the men could argue the case should be heard in a far more conservative, pro-gun venue than Washington, some 2,000 miles away.

The five guards, all military veterans, were indicted on manslaughter charges Thursday for their roles in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. A sixth guard reached a plea deal with prosecutors to avoid a mandatory 30-year prison sentence.

Now, I say “just another thread”, because I did have a thread about the incident after it happened last year.  mercsribbon2And in the spirit of the other post,  I’m not sure if I want this one to focus on the incident itself or the legal situation that these five guys find themselves in.  Instead, I think I’m going to use the story as an excuse to revisit the topic that kinda flew under the radar the last time, especially now that we’re a over a year post-surge in Iraq and people are now declaring our victory and everything.  So…

Just how big of an impact have the contractors like Blackwater had on what’s transpired?  Or, asked another way, how large of a component of the “surge” have they been, and how critical to the mission’s success?

It’s a topic that doesn’t get mentioned much, so I’m mentioning it.  The effort has been more privatized than any other in our history, so I think it’s worth examining.  And while the V-I Day proponents claim to honor the sacrifice of American, Iraqi, and other coalition forces, they’re ignoring the tens of thousands of hired guns who were handsomely compensated by the American taxpayer.  How come?  After all, contractors (armed and otherwise) have suffered over 1,000 dead and 10,000 wounded, a rate of approximately one for every four of the U.S. Armed Forces.

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

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Obligatory Black Friday Stampede Death Post

December 2, 2008

I know I’m more than a few days late on this.  I apologize, but I’ve been a little busy with other stuff.  But hey, better late than never:

Having worked in retail for over a decade, and witnessing my share of craziness on Black Friday (years ago, I remember telling myself that I had lost hope in humanity the day I saw one sweet old lady shove another over a free clock radio), I figured that I better comment on this.  

I was getting my daily dose of talk radio the day after it happened, and as usual, there were quite a few opinions about who was to blame and questions about what would drive such madness, but there was something that I didn’t hear anyone point out.  That is, the notion that this wasn’t “stuff” that people were jockeying for.  This was money

Here’s the thing.  Assume for a second that you’re predisposed to buy a 50″ plasma TV.  You’re going to buy one.   Assume again that the regular cost is $1600.  So, if a local retailer is advertising that they can get this same TV for $800 if you’re one of the first people through the doors at 5 AM, you’re not racing for the TV.  You’re racing for the other $800. 

So, for the sake of making a point, imagine that your local bank put out an advertisement that said that they’re giving away stacks of cash, and you’ll get it if you’re one of the first people through the door.  Does anyone have any illusions about what kind of mob scene they’d have on their hands?  I don’t think so.  I would think that any rational person might even suggest that the bank make sure that they have police donning riot gear on hand.  Now, if the bank had no preparation, and in the chaos someone got trampled to death.  Does one blame the mob, or the stupid people at the bank? 

At what point does a “door buster” sale become as dangerous as yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theater? 

Now, I know that the “stacks of cash” may be an exaggeration of an example, and I’m sure that there are a certain number of shoppers out there that are more motivated by some bragging rights than pure greed, but the point is that there are certain precautions that these retailers need to take in the way of crowd control if they’re going to do this sort of thing.  There’s certainly no excuse for being taken by surprise, since I  watched it get a little worse year after year (at least from where I was sitting).

I know what you’re thinking.  Like “OK genius, what would YOU do to control the mob?”  And I’d naturally segue into what we did at our store, which actually worked quite well.  You see, instead of handling the customers in a chaotic reaction to a metaphorical dam-breaking (like obviously happened at this WalMart), we’d catch the customers as they came in the parking lot.  We’d have greeters out there early, meeting people as they came in.  We’d talk to them, ask what items they intended on purchasing, and gave them a voucher for those items.  And since we only had as many vouchers for each item as we had items, there was no risk of people fighting over them.  No voucher, no item.  Customers could take off, have breakfast, and come back and pick up their thing.  Does it ruin the “thrill” of chaotic holiday shopping?  Probably.  But, heck, no one died at least.

Anyway, one really has to wonder what the hell these employees at the WalMart must have been thinking to themselves as they saw the mob of a couple thousand people gather outside.  I’m guessing that, at some point, the management realized that they had gotten a little over their heads. But what did they do?  Because they obviously didn’t adequately prepare for what came barging down their doors, I’m inclined to blame WalMart for the tragedy (unlike the hosts of my local FM talk show).

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Attention Thrill-Seekers!

September 25, 2008

I’m going to give a plug to a magnificent locale that happens to be just a few hundred yards from where I went to high school:  Blondie’s Sports Bar & Grill

Naturally, one might ask why in the heck I’d suggest an innocently named sports bar as a destination for the steel-nerved.  I mean, it looks like a pretty harmless place, right?  It’s got a nice-looking patio, cash bingo, and even karaoke on Saturdays.  Well, don’t be fooled, daredevils.  You’d better keep your head on a swivel and your running shoes tied tight if you plan on stepping foot in this joint (It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to review Minnesota’s conceal and carry law, either).

For example, just the other day, some poor kid was gunned down in cold blood right there on that patio, and two more of his pals wound up in the hospital:

Family members say Jones was just dropping off a set of keys to his cousin at Blondie’s Sports Bar and Grill at 7495 Brooklyn Boulevard when shots rang out just after midnight Wednesday.
Jones was dead at the scene. The two others were taken to North Memorial with non-life-threatening injuries. One of the injured had a bullet wound, the other was a victim of a related assault.

But I know what you’re thinking.  Surely this was just a one-time fluke incident borne out of too many drinks and machismo.  

On the other hand, ask the guy who went there last year and had his nutsack ripped open by Thor, the establishment’s not-so-friendly barkeep:

Thor Gunderson

“It is not like he was drunk and disorderly. There was a dispute over the time it was going to take for his food. But he decided he didn’t want to pay for it and for that he ends up with these types of serious injuries,” said acting Brooklyn Park Police Chief Greg Roehl.

Investigators say the owner, Thor Gunderson, even tried to stop the man from calling 911 for help. When police got to the bar, they say they found the customer bleeding and on the ground, restrained by Gunderson and a bouncer.

“At the hospital they determined he had an injury which was to his scrotum and that one of his testicles was actually torn loose,” said Roehl.

Yea, um, can you say…check please?

Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that there’s no shortage of “activity” at Blondie’s.  In fact, when you look at the history of the place over the last few years, one has to wonder why any reasonable person would ever go there:

City records show Blondie’s, at 7495 Brooklyn Blvd., had 221 calls for service in 2006, 215 in 2007 and 156 so far this year.

That’s nearly 600 visits from the police in under 3 years.  Or if you do the math, you’ve got better than a 50/50 chance that the cops will show up for some reason on any given night.   Here’s the breakdown (pdf) for 242 calls in 2007 (not sure of the reason for the discrepancy).  And keep in mind, Brooklyn Park is a suburb.


Casual dining with a sports flair…
…If you dare.

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Did Palin’s Email Hacker Break The Law?

September 18, 2008

I was hoping to see a WPPBA thread on this subject, so I thought I’d just throw it out there for the Alliance…

With all the buzz over this, I’ve seen plenty of claims on blogs out there that what was done here constitutes a federal crime.  What I haven’t seen, however, is exactly which law was broken.  I’ll admit that I’m no lawyer, and I’m still trying to figure this out, so I’m hoping that someone can help me in the comments section here. 

For the time being, I’ll start with what I know.  Via the much linked-to Malkin page, the pertinent part of the hacker’s “confession”:

In the past couple days news had come to light about palin using a yahoo mail account, it was in news stories and such, a thread was started full of newfags trying to do something that would not get this off the ground, for the next 2 hours the acct was locked from password recovery presumably from all this bullshit spamming.

after the password recovery was reenabled, it took seriously 45 mins on wikipedia and google to find the info, Birthday? 15 seconds on wikipedia, zip code? well she had always been from wasilla, and it only has 2 zip codes (thanks online postal service!)

the second was somewhat harder, the question was “where did you meet your spouse?” did some research, and apparently she had eloped with mister palin after college, if youll look on some of the screenshits that I took and other fellow anon have so graciously put on photobucket you will see the google search for “palin eloped” or some such in one of the tabs.

I found out later though more research that they met at high school, so I did variations of that, high, high school, eventually hit on “Wasilla high” I promptly changed the password to popcorn and took a cold shower…

So, the hacker was basically able to exploit Yahoo!’s password recovery system, reset it, and gain access to the account (quite easily, it would seem).  In other words, this person used the tools that Yahoo! itself provides visitors to its site, as opposed to something akin to a script kiddie “hack”.  (Nevermind what this says about Palin and/or Yahoo!’s ability to protect a password, I’m still trying to make sense of what law was broken. )

Remember that Yahoo! is basically a free email service, so to me, it would be unclear if anything that transpires on their servers is “owned” by Palin or anyone else who uses it.  I would think that you’d be at the mercy of Yahoo! and whatever their terms of service are.  So, speaking of that (emphasis mine):

5. MEMBER ACCOUNT, PASSWORD AND SECURITY

You will receive a password and account designation upon completing the Service’s registration process. You are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of the password and account and are fully responsible for all activities that occur under your password or account. You agree to (a) immediately notify Yahoo! of any unauthorized use of your password or account or any other breach of security, and (b) ensure that you exit from your account at the end of each session. Yahoo! cannot and will not be liable for any loss or damage arising from your failure to comply with this Section 5.

I don’t know about you, but what I’m reading there is that the responsibility for Sarah Palin’s password winding up on some 4chan message board falls on….Sarah Palin.  In fact, as you read the terms of service, one gets the impression that any given user can expect very little guarantee of, well, anything.  Heck, they can just shut your account down if they feel like it (see section 15).

So, I open up the thread to enlighten myself.  Was the offence related to posting the new password online?  Just accessing the account? 

Have at me, and I’ll update when I see the light.

 

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

Update: I was wrong about the WPPBA not having a thread up. DandelionSalad has one (that’s getting a lot of hits, actually), with more background on what happened.

Update:  Another WPPBA member posts, this one hoping the culprit goes to jail.  Still waiting for the charge…

Update:  Another reason I ask, is because there are “lock door/throw away key” comments being posted on other blogs, or discussions about whether Palin should show mercy and drop the charges.  But no one seems to be stopping to ask if there is a there there to begin with. (of course, going public with showing mercy in light of having nothing to charge the kid (?) with might just be a great political cover for the aforementioned section 5 oopsy).

Update:  I thought I’d add that Gawker (the site that posted screenshots of the emails in question), feels good about their legal situation. Here is the rundown on their coverage.

Update:  Thanks to commenter Mike who finds a post over at the Volokh Conspiracy, and OrinKerr states:

UPDATE: The FBI and Secret Service are conducting a joint investigation. The easiest crime to prove here is 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2)(C), accessing a protected computer without authorization to obtain information, with the possibility of felony liability under 18 U.S.C. 1030(c)(2)(B)(ii)-(iii) and also the possibility of felony liability under 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(4). As with most computer crime cases, the real trick will be finding the bad guy rather than finding a charge.

For the record: § 1030. Fraud and related activity in connection with computers

I dunno.  I think the “trick” would be equating what happened and “accessing a computer without authorization”.   Again, what this person essentially did was gain access to web pages (as opposed to a computer) using the tools that Yahoo! provides.  No trojan horses, no spyware, no keystroke logger.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I’m not seeing anything sticking at this point.  But again, I’m not a lawyer and am unaware of precedents here.

Update: The most comprehensive breakdown I’ve seen thus far of the legalities involved at Threat Level: Little or No Jail Time Likely for Palin Hacker 

The law really does appear to be ambiguous on this one.  But to prove how little I know, I had no idea that there was such a thing as the Stored Communications Act.

Update:  There’s been an indictment, and they’re charging him in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 2701 and 1030(a)(2) (as Volokh predicted).

Update:  There’s and excellent discussion going on over at Volokh, and the title says it all:  Is the Palin E-Mail Hack Indictment Legally Flawed?

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Please…No More OJ

September 19, 2007

I just turned on Fox and CNN* to discover the press conference with Simpson’s attorney taking place (LIVE!).  Other than the fact that I was a little curious who the toothless moron with the “OJ 07” shirt standing next to him was, I’m dismayed that this is getting so much attention.  Not surprised, just dismayed.  I’m afraid that this will be our national distraction for the next year or so.

And as further evidence of our screwed up priorities, check out this headline:  Most Voters Say Election 2008 is Annoying and a Waste of Time

Oh well…

*So far it looks like Fox is a little more obsessed with this than CNN, for what it’s worth.

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Mystery Solved: Stolen Buddha Statue

September 2, 2007

It isn’t often that I include local news here on the blog, but I was a little intrigued by this story:
Elk River woman arrested in theft of Thai Buddha statue

The high demand and soaring prices for scrap metal appeared to be the reason a 7-foot statue of Buddha, covered in copper-laden bronze, was stolen from an outdoor temple shrine at the Thai Buddhist Center of Minnesota, police said.

Police Chief Jeff Beahen said a 45-year-old Elk River woman was arrested Friday night, and a male family member was being looked at as another suspect in the theft.

The statue, valued at $10,000, was stolen Wednesday night, and a detective issued a statewide alert to police and scrap dealers Thursday with a photo of the stolen statue.

Early Friday afternoon, a recycling company in Monticello called the detective, saying they had taken in two pieces of scrap they believed to be from the statue.

I had no idea that there is a black market for scrap metal.  I’m also wondering exactly how someone would steal it.  I mean, the thing must have weighed hundreds of pounds.

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First Rove, Then Gonzales

August 27, 2007

Is it just a coincidence that two of the most loyal Bushies in Bushville -both of whom are involved in the supposed non-scandal scandal of the firing of US attorneys- resigned within weeks of each other?

Hhhhhmmmmm…

via Raw Story: Fired attorney: Rove, Gonzales resignations ‘absolutely linked’

During an appearance on CNN, former US Attorney David Iglesias said Gonzales‘s resignation is “absolutely linked with Karl Rove leaving two weeks ago,” and speculated the two resigned “for the same reason”: Congressional investigators closing in on their suspected roles in the attorney-firing scandal.

I’ll admit that I haven’t been following the US attorney scandal very closely. Even for a seasoned Bush-basher, it’s hard to keep up with all shows in this circus.  On the surface, however, it’s pretty hard to overlook the timing of the two.

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Making Sense Of Bush’s Latest Executive Order

July 19, 2007

The top story on Digg right now is “So, as of yesterday, If you protest the war, the Prez can take your stuff” (over 1,000 comments, 5,600+ diggs) and it’s referring to this: Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq

Now, the diggers may be more than a tad alarmist here, as the Order doesn’t refer to protesting specifically. It’s referring to acts of violence, either directly or indirectly through some material support. I’m no lawyer, but when I read it, it seems to be talking about directly assisting the Iraqi insurgency.  From the document:

…any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,

(i) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of:

(A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; or

(B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people;

(ii) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or…

I think the diggers are flying off the handle here.  In fairness, however, there were plenty of them that pointed this out, and I definitely think this is worth debating.  The Order does effect U.S. citizens, after all, and it’s somewhat vague in it’s language.  In fact, when I read it I was immediately reminded of a letter written by a soldier in Iraq, accusing the media of indirectly assisting the insurgency:

“Hello media, do you know you indirectly kill American soldiers every day? You inspire and report the enemy’s objective every day. You are the enemy’s greatest weapon. The enemy cannot beat us on the battlefield so all he does is try to wreak enough havoc and have you report it every day. With you and the enemy using each other, you continually break the will of the American public and American government.

“We go out daily and bust and kill the enemy, uncover and destroy huge weapons caches and continue to establish infrastructure. So daily we put a whoopin on the enemy, but all the enemy has to do is turn on the TV and get re-inspired. He gets to see his daily roadside bomb, truck bomb, suicide bomber or mortar attack. He doesn’t see any accomplishments of the U.S. military (FOX, you’re not exempt, you suck also).

Also, I haven’t really seen any coverage on this beyond Digg.  That in and of itself is a bit odd I think, since the E.O. is talking about property rights of U.S. citizens (not to mention Iraq, which is of course on everyone’s mind these days).  Maybe what’s behind the knee-jerk alarmism is the fact that Bush issued it and it seemed to have snuck in under the radar.  Or, the problem lies in the “any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense” line.  I dunno.  Like I said, I’m no lawyer.

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Dogs Against Vick

July 18, 2007

Just last week I highlighted a blog that was inspired by Mitt Romney’s alleged dog abuse, but now it’s probably time to start a new one based on the news regarding NFL star Michael Vick:  Falcons’ Vick indicted by grand jury in dogfighting probe

RICHMOND, Va. — NFL star Michael Vick was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges of sponsoring a dogfighting operation so grisly the losers either died in the pit or sometimes were electrocuted, drowned, hanged or shot.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback and three others were charged with competitive dogfighting, procuring and training pit bulls for fighting and conducting the enterprise across state lines.

The operation was named “Bad Newz Kennels,” according to the indictment, and the dogs were housed, trained and fought at a property owned by Vick in Surry County, Va.

Dogfighting?  DOGFIGHTING!  My goodness.  Where are we, Afghanistan?  (the practice was actually banned under the Taliban, oddly enough).  Is this actually fun to watch?  I can’t imagine being able to stomach it, personally.  There are probably hundreds of things people can gamble and bet on that don’t involve killing man’s best friend. 

Disgusting.

EDIT: I removed the pic of the poor dog that was all cut up from fighting. I just didn’t want to look at it anymore.

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My July 4th Sentiment

July 4, 2007

I have a confession.  I was pretty close to celebrating the 4th of July on my blog by posting a nice video of flags waving or fireworks bursting and the national anthem blaring.  I must have searched YouTube for a half an hour looking for the perfect vid.  However, as I sat there watching these videos I couldn’t help but to think that the whole idea just didn’t seem sincere. 

Call me unpatriotic if you want, but displaying such a video while our country is being led by a dangerous administration and an equally broken Congress wasn’t going to encapsulate my attitude this day.  I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that ‘taps’ would be the tune that jumps ahead in one’s mind, actually.  So, I’ve decided to post a different video.

As I mentioned a couple of posts down, I did a lot of blogging on the FearBush.com site before starting the blog here (I’m still a regular in the forums).  I thought of it as kind of a privilege, since it was one of the few sites out there whose founders were prophetic enough to have actually predicted the Bush disaster back in early 2000.  In fact, the url was originally intended as a warning (as you might have guessed).  Since then, many others have joined on the anti-Bush bandwagon, and I suppose by now I feel a sense of vindication for having felt passionately about this for so long. 

Of all the anti-administration rants I posted over there over the last couple of years, I never posted any of the Keith Olbermann “Special Comments”, since I preferred to give my own perspective.  Today, however, I’m gonna give Keith a post on this blog, because tonight’s edition was one heck of a doozy.  On this 4th of July, we should all consider what’s being said here and what it really means to be patriotic.


(video hat tip: Suzie Q)

Enjoy the fireworks.

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As Long As Bush Is Commuting “Excessive” Sentences…(Update: Nevermind)

July 2, 2007

Bush got busy today playing politics with the justice system and decided to commute Scooter Libby’s prison sentence:

I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.

No doubt there will be plenty of debate over this over the next week.  I’m probably the 12,645th blogger to comment on it in the last hour alone, actually.  I realize that this was a politically motivated action, and I’m really not going to place as much blame on Bush as others would for this.  I mean, the guy has very little to lose at this point.  He kinda split the difference here, and maybe it’s better that way.  Let’s face it, he could have given Libby a full pardon without taking much more of a dent politically.

I’m commenting here because of Bush’s referral of Libby’s prison sentence as “excessive”.  That’s probably his opinion, and I’m not sure if that’s the opinion of the nation as a whole, but he’s the President.  But this word “excessive” reminded me of another convicted felon that has been featured here in the Chamber before: Genarlow Wilson

Here we have a kid that is 2 years into a 10-year sentence for receiving (consensual) oral sex from a 15-year-old when he was just 17.  You’d think this thing happens every day in America, but because of a legal loophole in the state where the act occurred, Mr. Wilson got the shaft.  Much has been made about Mr. Wilson’s case in the media, and it’s almost a universal opinion that the prison sentence in his case was most certainly excessive.

So…what say you Dubya?  Wanna bust Genarlow out while you’re at it?

Update:  Nevermind.  “Bush has denied more than 4,000 commutation requests, and hundreds of requests for pardons and commutations are still pending”  I’m guessing that Wilson’s was one of those requests. (hat tip: Think Progress)

Update:  OK I feel kinda stupid, as I probably should have brushed up on facts regarding clemency before posting this thread.  Thanks to fellow LGFer Darren.  From wiki:

The pardon power of the President extends only to offenses cognizable under U.S. Federal law. However, the governors of most states have the power to grant pardons or reprieves for offenses under state criminal law. In other states, that power is committed to an appointed agency or board, or to a board and the governor in some hybrid arrangement.

Since this is a stupid law in the state of Georgia, Bush has no power to grant this poor kid a commutation of his sentence. 

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The Story That Snuck Past Everyone: DEA Busts “Prince of Marbella”

June 22, 2007

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Justice released a statement claiming that the Spain arrested Monzer al-Kassar (aka “Prince of Marbella”) based on a year-long operation conducted by the DEA: International Arms Dealer Charged With Conspiracy to Kill Americans and Related Terrorism Violations

You’d think that with a headline like that, you’d see a little more traction from this story.  I mean, here we have a guy with a resume that resembles Nick Cage’s character in Lord of War, with the added attribute of having a penchant for killing Americans.  Add to that the fact that we’re supposedly in the middle of a ‘war on terror’, along with the little detail that he was #26 on Iraq’s ‘most wanted’ list for supplying weapons to the insurgency, and you’d think this would be bona fide news. 

But what do I know?

Anyway, here’s what he’s charged with:

  1. Count One: Conspiracy to provide material support or resources to adesignated foreign terrorist organization, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339B;
  2. Count Two: Conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332(b);
  3. Count Three: Conspiracy to kill U.S. officers or employees, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1114 and 1117; and
  4. Count Four: Conspiracy to acquire and use an anti-aircraft missile, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332g.

And here’s what he looks like:

alkassar.jpg

More from the article:

“Monzer al Kassar has long been one of the most prolific arms dealers in the world. He has supported terrorists and insurgents by providing them with high-powered weapons that have fueled the most violent conflicts of the last three decades,” said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia. “Today, Kassar and two of his criminal associates face charges for agreeing to arm a terrorist organization whose aim it was to kill American citizens.”

“Monzer al Kassar commands a global munitions empire, arming and funding insurgents and terrorists across the globe, particularly those who wish to harm Americans,” said DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy. “He operates in the shadows, the silent partner behind the business of death and terror. Kassar’s capture is a testament to DEA’s unique investigative skills and broad reach of its international intelligence network.”

Sounds like good news to me.  Amazing what slips past us when Paris Hilton decides to have a nervous breakdown, eh?

Update:  I did some more searching on Digg, and noticed that WaPo had a story on it, but it’s hard to find many others mentioning it.

Update:  It didn’t slip past Pat Dollard.

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Kevorkian Made It

June 1, 2007

One of today’s top stories:

Kevorkian leaves prison after 8 years

Jack Kevorkian had few words but a broad smile as he walked out of prison Friday, ending eight years behind bars for helping end the life of a man suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The retired pathologist known as “Dr. Death” said his release felt “wonderful — one of the high points in life” as he paused near a van that was waiting to drive him to the home of friends in suburban Detroit.

Outside a gift shop across from the 25-acre prison grounds, about a dozen people stood in a show of support. The group held signs bearing such phrases as “Jack, we’re glad you’re out of the box” and “Dr. K is on his way!”

The attention focused on a man who claimed participation in at least 130 assisted suicides brought a rebuke from the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit.

“For 10 years, Jack Kevorkian’s actions resembled those of a pathological serial killer. It will be truly regrettable if he’s now treated as a celebrity parolee instead of the convicted murderer he is,” archdiocese spokesman Ned McGrath said in a statement.

The 79-year-old Kevorkian, wearing his trademark blue cardigan and a striped shirt and tie, spoke only a few words to reporters after leaving the prison with his lawyers and legal assistants.

I’d post this one here because 1) it’s one of those hot-button right to life/death issues that gets people all emotional and 2) get the views of some of the other WP political bloggers.

Personally, I never had a problem with this guy.  I figure, if I wanted to die, I don’t want someone anyone telling me that I can’t do it.  Like “No, sorry, you’re going to have to keep living in pain because of my beliefs”.   Sooner or later we may all get to this point, and I’m not ready to judge those who want this for themselves or the people who are brave enough to grant that request. 

It is worthy for debate though.

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