July 2, 2014










sandrock replied to your post “Just told my dad about the Hobby Lobby ruling, and he’s getting…”

wtf happened????

The Supreme Court ruled that companies can deny covering women’s contraception, I think on the basis of “religious freedom.”

A few of my opinions on this: it’s nice…

Your rights haven’t been violated you hysterical nitwit. You don’t have a right to goods and services provided by other people who object for religious reasons. The court was right to conclude that there are other ways for women to get these services without violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1992.

Either provide Insurance and take the Tax break or don’t supply the Insurance and loose the Tax break.  But don’t decide the secondary level of what you are providing.  Thus I demand that all employees must spend a percentage of pay on non Vegan foods and no portion of their pay may be donated to a charity ran by an organized religion.

Hobby Lobby didn’t try to control what their employees spend their money on.

Insurance is a form of compensation for being employed.  People are required to bee insured.  Companies get a Tax break for providing it.  Thus it IS their PAY.

It’s a form of compensation, yes. But unlike a regular paycheck, this form of compensation involved the corporation explicitly providing goodies that it objects to providing on religious grounds.

And I object to employees donating to organized religions.

Once the money is in their pocket, that’s too bad.

If the petitioner had been Mardel’s Christian Books then this Supreme Court decision might make a little more sense. Mardel’s has a definite religious core to their business model, but Hobby Lobby is at core a secular corporation. This decision is poor one. Only an attorney could love the contingencies that will arise from this profoundly poor decision.

(via the-evil-conservative-deactivat)

March 31, 2013
This Week in God - The Maddow Blog


As in every state, residents of Kentucky already enjoy religious liberty under the First Amendment, but conservatives in the state legislature decided to craft a proposal that would empower Kentuckians with “sincerely held” religious beliefs to disregard state laws and regulations. In effect, if a law conflicted with the tenets of your faith as you interpret them, your conscience would trump your obligation to follow the law.

This wouldn’t mean folks could just run red lights and tell the police their “sincerely held” beliefs trump traffic lights — the legislation has a few safeguards, though critics argue they’re overly vague — but as my friend Rob Boston at Americans United for Separation of Church and State recently explained, the Kentucky proposal could carry widespread consequences.

What are some of the things that could happen if this bill becomes law? A pharmacist could refuse to provide Plan B drugs to a rape victim. The owner of an apartment building could refuse to rent to an unmarried couple. A woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock could be summarily fired from her job. The measure would also largely nullify protections for gays and lesbians that a handful of Kentucky communities have passed.

In short, the bill could end up elevating the religious beliefs of some people over the civil rights of all.

The bill nevertheless passed the legislature, largely with Republican support, but also with the backing of some conservative Democrats. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) then vetoed the measure, citing “serious unintentional consequences that could threaten public safety, health care and individuals’ civil rights,” and the need to avoid “costly litigation” the state would likely lose.

In response, the legislature overrode the veto this week, and it will become state law in 90 days. Religious right activists who lobbied aggressively for the measure have vowed to “move along with the rest of the country,” taking their proposal to other states.

Expect some interesting lawsuits to soon follow.

"Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, ‘Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?’ But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. ‘Why are you trying to trap me?’ he asked. ‘Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.’ They brought the coin, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’ And they were amazed at him."
Mark 12:13-17

For Christians the above chapter details how God-as-flesh would have us relate to Earthly power. Christ did not recommend that anyone should transgress against the law—be it of Moses or Caesar. So when the Kentucky Legislature urges one to lean upon his own understanding to determine which laws he should follow and which laws he should break, Christians should ignore the Kentucky Legislature and instead imitate their Christ.

February 17, 2013



Just saw these photos of Ramadhaan 2012 in Guantanamo, made me tear up crazy ways man, most of these men are about to spend their 20th -24th Eid in captivity.

Keep them and their families in your du’aas iA.

This is extremely touching whether you’re a Muslim or not. GITMO is one of the United States’ greatest failures in recent history and it’s something we should become more ashamed of as each day that it remains open passes. Here are a few reasons why to refresh everyone’s memory:

  • About 780 people have been held at Guantanamo. At least 158 have been determined to be completely innocent thus far. Only 220 were ever considered dangerous threats and 380 were deemed to be “low-ranking guerrillas.”
  • At least 15 children have been detained.
  • Of the 166 people still being detained, at least 55 have been cleared for release.
  • Of the nearly 800 people detained at Guantanamo Bay, only 3 have been formally charged by a military court with a crime: David Hicks, Salim Hamdan, and Ali al-Bahlul
  • We even detained an Al Jazeera cameraman for 6 years, partially so we could interrogate him about the network. 
  • Other detainees have included an Afghan taxi driver, captured “because of his general knowledge of activities in the areas of Khowst and Kabul based as a result of his frequent travels through the region as a taxi driver,” an Afghan gentleman because he was a Mullah in a city where some members of the Taliban were suspected of living, and a British man who was detained because U.S. officials assumed he had knowledge of the Taliban because he was once imprisoned by them
  • The Bush administration knew early on that innocent people were being detained and were of little to no intelligence value but higher up officials, such as Cheney and Rumsfeld, refused to release prisoners because doing so would have left a “black mark” on their leadership and been “politically difficult.” 
  • 6 detainees are reported to have committed suicide. However, strong allegations exist that the designation of at least 3 of the deaths as suicides were attempts to cover up homicides. In addition, hundreds of suicide attempts and rampant self-harm among prisoners has been documented. In fact, during the first year and a half after the prison was opened alone, 18 detainees carried out 28 suicide attempts. 
  • Detainees have been widely subjected to physical and psychological torture during interrogations and as a form of discipline. Some of these alleged techniques include waterboarding, sexual assault/rape/harassment and humiliation by both male and female interrogators, severe sleep deprivation, prolonged solitary confinement, mock executions, medical experimentation, forced medical treatments and procedures (some detainees reported doctors forced, or attempted to force, unnecessary amputations), withholding medical treatment, threats of dog attacks, subjecting detainees to temperature extremes, sometimes to temperatures bellow freezing or over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, prolonged sensory bombardment, such as exposure to loud, irritating sounds and bright lights, often permanently damaging eyes and ears, threats of transfer for torture in other countries, exposure to irritating chemicals and substances, physical beatings, some of which have resulted in permanent injuries such as confinement to a wheelchair, shackling prisoners and putting them in painful stress positions for hours at a time, refusal to allow detainees to use the bathroom, the repeated use of tear gas and pepper spray, oxygen deprivation, the removal of everything but underwear and the Qur’an from cells, desecration of the Qur’an, religious humiliation, interference with religious practices (famous examples include female interrogators sexually assaulting detainees during prayers, guards forcing detainees to strip before prayers, withholding food when fasting breaks during Ramadan), force-feeding detainees during hunger strikes, causing detainees to bleed from the nose and throat, vomit, and go to the bathroom on themselves, etc.
  • The Obama administration has decided not to investigate or prosecute any U.S. officials for torture or abuse
  • Guantanamo Bay isn’t going to be closed any time soon.

The Guantanamo Bay detention center is unjust—a nightmare worthy of Kafka—and we all know it. I now commit to write my representatives and our President, and to speak clearly to the local organizers of my chosen political party to urge the closure of the Guantanamo Bay facility. I ask you to do what you can, please.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Jesus of Nazareth

(via goleyaas-deactivated20130319)

February 9, 2013
Purplegem: Indiana soybean farmer sees Monsanto lawsuit reach US supreme court Who controls the rights to the seeds planted in...


“On a website the firm set up to highlight its arguments in the case, Monsanto insists a Bowman victory at the supreme court could “jeopardize some of the most innovative biotechnology research in the country” in industries that range from farming to medicine. It says protecting patent rights fully is vital to preserve a commercial incentive to develop and refine new products.

But Bowman has numerous supporters who believe his case could help reform aspects of commercial farming – that is now dominated by huge corporations rather than small or family-run business – to vital reforms. Bowman’s legal team intends to argue that the case could open the industry to greater anti-trust scrutiny, arguing that large corporation’s vice-like grip on farming and control of seeds needs to be loosened. “It opens up these transactions (buying seeds) to greater anti-trust scrutiny by the Department of Justice. Right now they are sheltered by patent trust protection,” said Bowman’s lawyer Mark Walters.

Campaign groups are also eager to back the case. This coming Tuesday, farming campaign groups the Center for Food Safety and Save Our Seeds will release a joint report examining the modern seeds industry. The organizations are enthusiastic backers of Bowman’s cause. Debbie Barker, a program director for SOS, said a Bowman victory at the supreme court could nudge the industry towards opening up and treating seeds as a common resource, not a fiercely fought-over commercial battleground. “It would help with wider reforms,” Barker said. SOS believes Monsanto and other major firms are less concerned with protecting interests in research than in their lucrative business model. After all, just three firms now control more than 50% of the global seed market.

Yet, despite the vast sums of money involved in modern farming, it is ironically Bowman’s own lack of cash that has seen the case end up at the supreme court. Monsanto has a long record of reaching settlements with commercially pressured farmers it targets for patent infringements. But when the firm sued Bowman, he was already bankrupt after an unrelated land deal went wrong. Thus, he had little to lose. “I made up my mind to fight it until I could not fight it anymore,” he said. “I thought: I am not going to play dead.”

Bowman is the “little guy” who is up to bat for all of us…May he win the case. Our future depends on it.

October 15, 2012
Rabid concern over copyright throttles musical creativity.

I’m convinced of it.

"Back in the day", the pop jazz combo Steely Dan could quote a piano vamp from Horace Silver and that was cool—groovy, even. Steely Dan flatly stole from Silver, but the band made their own creative thing from the riff (and paid tribute to one of their heroes in the process.)

But today, musicians have to sweat the details of every three little notes they might play. (Three notes is the minimum legal standard for a recognizable fragment of music.) “That sounds too much like The Beatles, so drop a copy of the track on the lawyer, ‘cuz we might be rehearsing something we can never use.” And the thought that kills me is that all the legal volleys fired in the name of copyright are not shots in defense of musicians. It’s the (dying) record labels that “own” the music, and that take the lion’s share of recording-related revenue. So the copyright war is fought mainly to ensure that a dead thing made of numbers gets paid each time someone sings “Happy Birthday”. (That song is the property of AOL Time-Warner. Really. I couldn’t invent something that perverse.)

September 25, 2012
Letters to My Country: The White Fourth Amendment


In 2010, Paul Butler published a law review article entitled The White Fourth Amendment, (citation is [43 Tex. Tech. L. Rev 245], for those of you with access to Westlaw or Lexis).  In the article, Butler explains how legal rules established by the Supreme Court over the past fifty years have created a substantive body of law for police conduct that leads inextricably to racially disparate policing.  What follows is an excerpt from the article in which Butler describes the facts from a case called Immigration & Naturalization Service v. Delgado, which mostly Mexican factory workers were searched based on a hunch by INS agents that the factory was populated by illegal immigrants.  What occurred in that factory provides an excellent case study of how exactly a “White” Fourth Amendment works in practice:

[I]n Immigration & Naturalization Service v. Delgado, the INS suspected numerous illegal immigrants of working at a garment factory, so the agency acquired a search warrant to investigate the facility.  During the search, some armed INS agents were stationed at the exits of the factory in order to prevent employees from escaping, while fifteen to twenty-five other armed agents systematically moved through the rows of workers-many of whom were visibly scared and some of whom tried to hide-in order to question them regarding their immigration status.  After showing his badge, an agent would question the employee about his citizenship status and would end questioning only if he could immediately establish American citizenship or provide valid immigration papers; those who could not were handcuffed and taken away to vans waiting outside the facility.  Though the Court admitted that any “brief detention” effected by an officer’s “show of authority” is unconstitutional unless supported by reasonable suspicion of a crime, the Court held that these interrogations were constitutional because the agents were “only questioning people.”  According to the majority, the employees should have felt free to refuse to answer even though those employees who failed to provide proof of citizenship were arrested, and employees should have felt free to leave even though agents detained those “who attempted to flee or evade the agents.”
Startlingly, the majority opinion failed to mention the race of the targets of the search, the vast majority of whom were Mexican. Though the controlling question was whether the individuals in question would feel “free to leave,” the majority failed to recognize that these people were immigrants to America, and therefore might be less aware of their constitutional right to be free from searches and seizures without some degree of suspicion.  The Court ignored the fact that the employees, many of whom were visibly frightened by the experience, might have had previous encounters with abusive INS agents or police using the racial-profiling tactics surely used in this instance. Moreover, only dissenting Justice Brennan, joined by Justice Marshall, noted the impossibility of visually distinguishing illegal Mexican immigrants from American-born Latinos. This task would have been especially difficult considering that the factory was located in Southern California, an area near the Mexican border where Hispanics are the largest ethnic group. [internal citations omitted.  ed.].

I want to be clarify how this works: when the words “reasonable suspicion” or “probable cause” are used in Fourth Amendment case law, it refers to an individualized quantum of suspicion.  In other words, police cannot constitutionally suspect entire “groups” of people of criminal conduct.  You have to have individualized suspicion that a particular person has committed (or intends to commit) a crime.  This means that the only way the INS agents in the Delgado case could have developed reasonable suspicion or probable cause to suspect that the Mexican workers were illegal immigrants is by relying on the only external factor available to them at the time: their racial appearance.  

The Delgado Court blessed this normally unconstitutional search, however, by ruling that the INS agents above were not actually participating in a “search” or “seizure.”  Since the Fourth Amendment only protects you from unreasonable searches & seizures, it does not prevent law enforcement officials from “merely” asking questions, the way any other citizen would on the street.  By fashioning the actions of the INS officials in Delgado as mere inquiries not rising to the level of a constitutionally recognized search, the Court avoided the constitutional problem of group-based suspicion (in this case, members of a racial group).  By claiming that the INS agents were only “asking questions,” the Court was able to justify its ruling by claiming that the factory workers were under no obligation to answer any questions, and were “free to leave,” because there was no actual search or seizure taking place.

Of course, there’s one big problem with the Court’s analysis in Delgado: as anyone whose ever been stopped by police officers knows, the Court’s characterization of the actions taken by INS agents in this case are, well, bullshit.  David Cole put this best in 1999:

Few of us, [confronted by] armed police officers … would feel free to tell the officers to mind their own business… .“[i]mplicit in the introduction of the [officer] … is a show of authority to which the average person encountered will feel obliged to stop and respond.  Few will feel that they can walk away or refuse an answer.

— David Cole, No Equal Justice, at 18–20 (quoting Illinois Migrant Council v. Pilliod, 398 F. Supp. 882, 899 (N.D. Ill. 1975) (Marshall, J.)

This illusion—that police inquiries like those that took place in Delgado are not constitutionally recognizable searches & seizures—is a legal fiction that the Court has used to allow police to conduct racially motivated searches & seizures, and thus perpetuate the disparate racial impact of the substantive legal doctrines that govern the Fourth Amendment.  By pretending that people who are approached by police officers are “free to leave,” and will not instead be cowed and terrified by the officer’s implicit authority and visible weapons, the Court—whether intentionally or inadvertently—perpetuates and validates a White Fourth Amendment; a Fourth Amendment whose full protection is only enjoyed by Whites.

Under this legal standard, individualized suspicion no longer serves as a deterrent to group-based searches, because those searches are often characterized as “mere questions” which we are supposedly free to ignore.  But nobody in their right mind (particularly a person of color living in America) would feel free to simply walk away from a police officer without serious repercussions.  A search & seizure that takes place in fact is thus not recognized as one by the law, so long as police can assert that they were “merely” asking questions.

The Court’s reasoning in Delgado has appeared in many other cases like it before and since.  It is based on a complete legal fiction that hopefully one day will be dismantled.  But for now, it allows police to conduct racially-motivated searches for criminal activity without running afoul of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on group-based suspicion.  This is precisely what Paul Butler means by a “White Fourth Amendment:” It is an amendment that, under current Supreme Court case law, allows for police to use racial characteristics as the basis of their searches & seizures—alongside the inherently intimidating effect of visible displays of police authority—without ever conducting a constitutionally recognized search.  If you are curious as to why the racial disparities in our prisons are so absurdly high, you here have your answer.

August 17, 2012
"Pussy Riot may be guilty of ‘hooliganism,’ but have won the day by having a judge read out their manifesto live on international television."

(Source: twitter.com, via kateoplis)

August 13, 2012

My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court
I’ve been sending out some impertinent tweets about Progressive Insurance lately, but I haven’t explained how they pissed me off. So I will do that here as succinctly as possible. There’s a general understanding that says, “insurance companies— oh they’re awful,” but since Progressive turned their shit hose on my late sister and my parents, I’ve learned some things that really surprised me.
I’ll try to cleave to the facts. On June 19, 2010, my sister was driving in Baltimore when her car was struck by another car and she was killed. The other driver had run a red light and hit my sister as she crossed the intersection on the green light.

Read More

Signal boost ^


My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court

I’ve been sending out some impertinent tweets about Progressive Insurance lately, but I haven’t explained how they pissed me off. So I will do that here as succinctly as possible. There’s a general understanding that says, “insurance companies— oh they’re awful,” but since Progressive turned their shit hose on my late sister and my parents, I’ve learned some things that really surprised me.

I’ll try to cleave to the facts. On June 19, 2010, my sister was driving in Baltimore when her car was struck by another car and she was killed. The other driver had run a red light and hit my sister as she crossed the intersection on the green light.

Read More

Signal boost ^

June 14, 2012
Imagine You’re The Parent


Imagine you are the mother and/or father of two daughters, 14 and 11.  You live in a trailer.  You are not rich, but you do the best you can for your kids.  You keep a roof over their heads, and try to keep them from going hungry, and keep them out of trouble.

Now imagine the following occurs:

On the morning of January 20, 2007, Plaintiffs Thomas and Rosalie Avina and their daughters were asleep in their mobile home. At approximately 7:00 a.m., DEA Agents approached the front door of the home. The agents banged loudly on the front door and yelled “police.” They waited briefly and then used a battering ram to break through the front door. The agents then entered the Avinas’ home with their guns drawn.  Upon entering the Avina home, the agents first encountered Thomas and Rosalie Avina. Thomas was standing in an area between the living room and his bedroom, and Rosalie was lying on a couch in the living room. One of the agents approached Thomas and told Thomas to  “get down on the [fuck]ing ground.” Thomas told the agent that he was “making a mistake.” After hearing Thomas’s response, another agent “forcefully pushed” Thomas to the ground, pointed his gun at Thomas’s face, and told Thomas, “Don’t you [fuck]ing move.” Both Thomas and Rosalie were placed in handcuffs.  When Rosalie noticed agents approach the rooms of her daughters, Rosalie screamed at the agents,  “Don’t hurt my babies. Don’t hurt my babies.”

You then watch these men with guns charge into your 14-year old daughter’s bedroom, scream at her to “get down on the fucking ground” and they handcuff her.  They then proceed to do the same to your 11-year old, who at first disobeys the cops because she’s fucking terrified:

At the time of the search, eleven-year-old B.S.A. was asleep in her room. Agents entered B.S.A.’s room with their guns drawn. The agents yelled at B.S.A. to “[g]et down on the f[uck]ing ground.” B.S.A. initially refused to get down on the ground because she was  “frozen in fear.” The agents then pulled eleven-year-old B.S.A. to the ground and handcuffed her. After the agents handcuffed B.S.A., the agents pointed their guns at eleven-year-old B.S.A.’s head  “like they were going to shoot [her].” The agents then picked up B.S.A. and moved her to B.F.A.’s room. 

And now the big finish:

Sometime later, agents moved B.S.A. and B.F.A. into the living room, with their hands still cuffed behind their backs. At this point, eleven-year-old B.S.A. began to cry because she could not find her father. At some point, B.S.A. noticed her father lying on the floor. According to B.S.A., the agents unhandcuffed her about thirty minutes after they first entered her bedroom. 


The agents searched the Avina home for approximately two hours. At approximately 9:00 a.m., agents left the Avina home.

But wait!  There’s a punchline to the whole ordeal.  It’s hilarious, really:

On January 19, 2007, DEA Agents obtained a search warrant for the mobile home located at 1601 Drew Road, space #14, in Seeley, California. At the time the warrant was issued, DEA Agents believed that a vehicle belonging to suspected drug trafficker Luis Alvarez was registered at the Avina residence. After executing the search warrant on January 20, 2007, the agents discovered they had inadvertently written down a license number of a vehicle belonging to Thomas Avina instead of a vehicle belonging to Luis Alvarez.

Yet another example of Scalia’s “New Professionalism” in action.

If someone hits you with their vehicle while you’re crossing the street, they are liable, whether directly or through their insurance company, for paying your medical bills.  If during your stay in the hospital afterwards, a doctor makes a mistake and writes the wrong number on a prescription for pain medication, and you get hurt as a result of their mistake, they are sued for medical malpractice.  If during settlement negotiations, your lawyer screws up and writes the wrong number in a settlement agreement, they are liable to you for legal malpractice.

But if a DEA agent storms into the wrong house, pushes you on the ground, points guns at your children, and traumatizes your family by invading the sanctity of your home in the most violent way possible, you have all your work ahead of your to hold them accountable.  Even if they admit they screwed up.  Even if they admit they had the wrong house.  It doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter that the police made a horrible mistake.  It doesn’t matter that you are undeniably a victim.  It doesn’t matter that you got roughed up, or that your children were forced to grow up early after having assault rifles pointed at their face, and being man-handled at a young age by heavily armed and armored Drug Enforcement Agents.

No.  All that matters is we get these drugs off the streets.

Because we need to protect our children.  From the drugs.

This case, in its own way, was a small victory.  The Ninth Circuit reversed the federal district court’s order granting the DEA’s motion for summary judgment, in which the district court judge found that the force used against the children in this case was constitutionally “reasonable.”  But the Ninth Circuit did not rule in favor of the Avinas.  They simply said that they have a right to have their day in court.  

That’s what it takes to get justice when law enforcement officials make a mistake.  Only after paying what likely amounted to thousands of dollars in legal fees required to investigate, research, pay expert witnesses, curate evidence, and develop a trial strategy that will convince a panel of jurors that innocent people deserve to be compensated when law enforcement officials raid the wrong house, rough up innocent people, and point guns at your 14 and 11-year old daughters’s heads.  You’ve got to fight your ass off for every inch of ground you get in court.  And even if you manage to get through the courthouse doors, you’ve still got all your work ahead of you at trial.

It shouldn’t be this hard.  But it usually is.  That’s what we’re up against.  And given the current make-up of the Supreme Court, it’s not likely to get better anytime soon.

May 16, 2012
…and he did it all without a protocol droid!


“The importance of learning to code isn’t so that everyone will write code, and bury the world under billions of lines of badly conceived Python, Java, and Ruby. The importance of code is that it’s a part of the world we live in. I’ve had enough of legislators who think the Internet is about tubes, who haven’t the slightest idea about legitimate uses for file transfer utilities, and no concept at all about what privacy (and the invasion of privacy) might mean in an online space. I’ve had enough of patent inspectors who approve patents for which prior art has existed for decades. And I’ve had enough of judges making rulings after listening to lawyers arguing about technologies they don’t understand. Learning to code won’t solve these problems, but coding does force engagement with technology on a level other than pure ignorance. Coding is a part of cultural competence, even if you never do it professionally. Alsup is a modern hero.”

A federal judge learned to code - O’Reilly Radar (via everythingisdisrupted)

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