Category Archives: person

If Only Richmond had a King William Tea Party to Deal With the Schools!

How do you like this ad:

http://www.kwteaparty.com/Pictures/2016/Mar/2015323tea1stProof.jpg

You should see this ad shortly in King William.  Is this effective:  I heard second-hand that one person refused to run for a KW office because his wife did not want to see her husband’s name on those “damned signs”.  Good.

King William County can be the Virginia Carroll County MD.  Hat tip to Bob Shannon for the okay to run this ad.


Article written by: Elwood "Sandy" Sanders

The Harward Case Underscores Several Issues in the Administration of Justice in the Commonwealth

It is astounding for me to read in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

DNA proves man innocent of 1982 rape and murder in famous ‘bite-mark’ case, lawyers say

I was even more astounded when I read what the case was:  Harward v. Commonwealth.  Here is the first appeal of this case at the Supreme Court in 1985.  Harward was convicted of the rape and murder in Newport News and was subject to being sentenced to death (he got a life sentence).  First-degree murder in the commission of a rape is capital murder in Virginia.  However, there was twist:  The husband was killed and the wife was raped.

The Supreme Court of Virginia held in a 4-3 decision that the murder had to be of the rape victim not another person at the same time as the rape.  Because the legislature used the word “a person” rather than “any person” to upgrade the murder in the commission of rape to capital murder (and used “any person” for murder for hire and murder while armed with a deadly weapon in the commission of a robbery) the Court held that the murder victim and the rape victim had to be the same person.  (This was subsequently amended.)

From the majority opinion:

We find it most significant that the General Assembly referred to the killing of “any person” in subsections (a) through (d) of Code § 18.2-31 and then, in subsection (e), employed the term “a person.” “Any” and “a” are not synonymous. “Any” includes “all” and “a” is limited to “one.” See County of Loudoun v. Parker, 205 Va. 357, 362, 136 S.E.2d 805, 809 (1964).

From the dissent:

The statute under consideration penalizes as capital murder the killing of “a person during the commission of, or subsequent to, rape.” Code § 18.2-31(e) (emphasis added). In this case, the murderer killed the rape victim’s husband. The only definition of “person” applicable to a victim of a homicide is “an individual human being.” Websters Third New International Dictionary 1686 (3d ed. 1976).

Although contrary views are sometimes expressed, it remains my impression that husbands, as a class, retain their membership in the human race. If that proposition remains true, the victim of the murder in this case was “a person.” If he was, the statute clearly includes this homicide. We refused the defendant’s appeal as to all other assignments of error.

And who says judges don’t have a sense of humor!  I’m not sure how I would have landed on this one.  It was important that the Attorney General conceded the statute was ambiguous.  Probably I’d have voted with the majority.  But it is a close case.

My point now that you have waded through a bunch of legalese is that Harward was originally subject to a death sentence (the jury gave him life) and only by one jurist’s vote on the state supreme court was Harward spared what could have been his execution.  (Upon retrial, Harward was convicted again of first degree murder and sentenced again to life imprisonment.)

Now it turns out that Harward might be innocent!  Here is the report from the R T-D.  I’ll be interested in the end of the story but it sounds to me like since one person and only one person committed the murder and the rape if the DNA shows another perpetrator (the wife had not had sex with anyone else according to her testimony) this is pretty convincing proof of Harward’s innocence.

Several observations:

  • Newport News did not have a public defender’s office until 2004.  I do not know nor will I suggest the advocacy was not up to par.  It appears that bite mark evidence was more acceptable in 1982 than today (it is largely discredited now) and of course DNA was not available at that time.  Now the Virginia Senate did pass a study bill to look into a statewide appellate defender’s office (it was originally a study of a comprehensive statewide PD office but Senator Dance, the bill’s patron [I wrote the bill and legislative services largely left it as I wrote it] was told that the scope of the study was too broad for the Crime Commission to study.) and it was held up in the House of Delegates Rules Committee.  I am told that the Crime Commission will study the statewide appellate defender issue anyway.  KUDOS to Hanover’s own senator Ryan McDougle who helped save this bill twice and helped get this study approved!
  • But we need better indigent defense services.  Today Harward would be represented by the regional capital defender’s office.  There is simply no reason for the entire state not to have access to these services.  But too many lawyers have this view:

But many of the attorneys said they have heard enough studies.

“I don’t buy any of the statistics from anyone,” said Willard Robinson, who was the Newport News commonwealth’s attorney from 1968 to 1990. “I support the system we have in Newport News. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

  • Too many Virginia juries tend to convict people.  I hardly blame the jury in this case with experts saying Harward’s bite marks were found at the scene.  Usually the jury is right when it convicts (there might be an issue as to the level of the charge or the sentence) but as I used to argue to the jury:  Reasonable doubt was not created by liberals in DC but rather was part of our heritage from England and ought to be used when appropriate.  I would like to see the SOLs amended to include more on this and related issues in high schools or more of an emphasis on proper procedure.
  • This could have been a death penalty case.  I am not an abolitionist as far as the death penalty for willful murder.  I wish these European do-gooders see some of the heinous crimes (the murder of the entire Harvey family comes readily to mind) and could understand there is a place for the death penalty.  The ONLY WAY I would endorse abolition is if the funds saved were used to improve the legal system.  But this was close to (if the defense is right) an innocent person being executed.

Finally, this is a special case for me.  Note the name of the first lawyer in the case:  Janet I. Farquharson.  I knew Janet.  We went to Wurzburg American High School together and she graduated in 1976 (I would have graduated in 1977 had Dad not been re-stationed in the states.) as a Wolf!

I remember well when Janet was first introduced into our German I class!  Seeking the hand of the attractive blonde future varsity cheerleader was – in this corner:  The future student government president who led a rock band and was an accomplished artist and in the other corner:  Sandy the dorky conservative.  Guess how that turned out.

Janet and I soon turned the student counsel and National Honor Society at WAHS into something like Crossfire – she took the more popular  liberal position and I took the evil right-wing traditionalist view.  (One of the debates in the NHS was whether we would recommend 5 points for an A in what you would now call AP classes.  I said yes reward hard work in harder classes.  Janet thought it was elitist and would play into the hands of who who thought honor society was elitist.  She won the vote.)  Janet was a good debater and was a worthy opponent.  She was awarded a ROTC scholarship (full ride from what I recall) and indicated she’d be a physician.  I told her she would make a better lawyer than a doctor!  No lie!

For one day a year or two into my practice (I was licensed in 1985) I am minding my own business and found the Harward case and you could have knocked me over with a feather!   Janet and the other appellate lawyers in this case did a fine job.

So I say it’s good to remember this final point:  Don’t mess with a military brat!  Especially from Wurzburg High School!

 

 

 


Article written by: Elwood "Sandy" Sanders

“Eddie the Eagle” Shows the Bankruptcy of the Sports Imperialists!

There are so many movies out today I can’t even find time to blog about them.  But I have to say a few words about this one.  For Eddie the Eagle, although like many movies, is a semi-fictionalized version of a true story:  Michael “Eddie” Edwards is a real person who competed for Great Britain in the real Olympics.  Back when the sports imperialists didn’t rule the roost.

Here’s the Wikipedia account of Eddie the Eagle.  A brief bio:

Michael Edwards (born 5 December 1963), better known as Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, is a British skier who in 1988 became the first competitor to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping. At the time, he was the British ski jumping record holder (a record later broken by others[1][2]), the world number nine in amateur speed skiing, (106.8 mph (171.9 km/h)) and the stunt jumping world record holder (10 cars/6 buses).[3] Finishing last in the 70m and 90m events, he became famous as an example of an underdog or “heroic failure”, and of perseverance and achievement without funding. In 2016, he was portrayed by Taron Egerton in the biographical film Eddie the Eagle, co-starring Hugh Jackman as fictional coach Bronson Peary.

Well, now it is a movie!  Here is info on that from the official Fox site:

Inspired by true events, Eddie the Eagle is a feel-good story about Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron Egerton), an unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stopped believing in himself – even as an entire nation was counting him out. With the help of a rebellious and charismatic coach (played by Hugh Jackman), Eddie takes on the establishment and wins the hearts of sports fans around the world by making an improbable and historic showing at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. From producers of Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eddie the Eagle stars Taron Egerton as Eddie, the loveable underdog with a never say die attitude.

Now the IOC was so furious at the idea they changed the rules to make it harder to compete.

Shortly after the 1988 Olympic Games, the requirements to compete were significantly strengthened. Instead of anyone making the cut so that a country had a representative, the International Olympic Committee instituted the Eddie the Eagle Rule, which stated that all Olympic hopefuls need to place either in the top 50 competitors or in the top 30 percentile in internal competition. The aim, of course, was to keep the Eddie the Eagles of the world out of the Olympics.

This was the precursor to sports imperialism.  Today it is virtually impossible for an Eddie the Eagle to represent their nation at the Games.

Now the movie will not make anyone (especially me and I have not yet seen it) forget Chariots of Fire or Miracle but it did earn sixth place at the box office and presently about 7.7 million dollars.  So perhaps (at ten bucks a pop) about 750,000 persons went to see it.

I hope each of them will remember how far the Olympics have fallen.  Today Eddie would have no chance in basketball, golf, tennis, soccer and now probably boxing.  All for ratings and money.  Probably by the time of the Games in Rio, I’ll have Eddie the Eagle on DVD and it’ll be added to the movies I can watch instead of pro basketballers and other consequences of sports imperialism.  I’ll root instead for non-inperialistic sports such as fencing and nations who have not won a medal or never won a gold medal.  And remember:  NOT ONE DIME for the IOC or the USOC until they renounce this madness.


Article written by: Elwood "Sandy" Sanders

What About a Youthful Offender Statute similar to Alabama and/or Florida?

I am interested in overcriminalization.  I think legislatures tend to not trust judges with sentencing decisions.  What should be done is more judicial discretion and then make sure solid discreet men and women should be appointed to the bench as a priority.

In my efforts to try to find opportunities to give chances to young offenders to reform and repent rather than incarceration (the system that has obviously failed in this nation) I came up with the grand larceny threshold (not claiming it as my idea – I learned it as a member of the Richmond Crusade for Voters which I think I still am!) that I advocated at this blog today.

Now I found this statute recently:  The Alabama Youthful Offender Act.  Here’s the first and next to last section of this statute:

(a) A person charged with a crime which was committed in his minority but was not disposed of in juvenile court and which involves moral turpitude or is subject to a sentence of commitment for one year or more shall, and, if charged with a lesser crime may be investigated and examined by the court to determine whether he should be tried as a youthful offender, provided he consents to such examination and to trial without a jury where trial by jury would otherwise be available to him. If the defendant consents and the court so decides, no further action shall be taken on the indictment or information unless otherwise ordered by the court as provided in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) After such investigation and examination, the court, in its discretion, may direct that the defendant be arraigned as a youthful offender, and no further action shall be taken on the indictment or information; or the court may decide that the defendant shall not be arraigned as a youthful offender, whereupon the indictment or information shall be deemed filed.

***

(a) No determination made under the provisions of this chapter shall disqualify any youth for public office or public employment, operate as a forfeiture of any right or privilege or make him ineligible to receive any license granted by public authority, and such determination shall not be deemed a conviction of crime; provided, however, that if he is subsequently convicted of crime, the prior adjudication as youthful offender shall be considered.

(b) The fingerprints and photographs and other records of a person adjudged a youthful offender shall not be open to public inspection; provided, however, that the court may, in its discretion, permit the inspection of papers or records.

What this means is if an offender is under 21 (the age of majority at the time this law was passed and apparently that is what the Alabama Supreme Court held in 1997) and the offender is placed in the Youthful Offender status, and IF the offender complies with all terms, the offense is treated as if it was not an conviction (except for sentencing for a future offense, if any) and he or she is not a felon.  they can vote, hold office and be a upright citizen of the state and nation.  (I am not sure how this law affects the right under Federal law to own or possess a firearm.)

Florida has a similar law.  This is the pertinent section of this statute:

958.04 Judicial disposition of youthful offenders.

(1) The court may sentence as a youthful offender any person:

(a) Who is at least 18 years of age or who has been transferred for prosecution to the criminal division of the circuit court pursuant to chapter 985;
(b) Who is found guilty of or who has tendered, and the court has accepted, a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to a crime that is, under the laws of this state, a felony if the offender is younger than 21 years of age at the time sentence is imposed; and
(c) Who has not previously been classified as a youthful offender under the provisions of this act; however, a person who has been found guilty of a capital or life felony may not be sentenced as a youthful offender under this act.

(2) In lieu of other criminal penalties authorized by law and notwithstanding any imposition of consecutive sentences, the court shall dispose of the criminal case as follows:

(a) The court may place a youthful offender under supervision on probation or in a community control program, with or without an adjudication of guilt, under such conditions as the court may lawfully impose for a period of not more than 6 years. Such period of supervision may not exceed the maximum sentence for the offense for which the youthful offender was found guilty.  (Blogger’s note:  Words bolded were done by me)

 

The records of a youthful offender are sealed as well.  I draw your attention to the bolded words:  “with or without an adjudication of guilt”.  Now I am not allowed to practice law in Florida but I would say if a Virginia law had words like that it means that if the court chooses, he or she may give the adult but youthful offender the chance to keep his or her record clean.  (There is a fierce debate among and between the judiciary and the General Assembly about diversion of adult felonies in cases where the statute does not specifically authorize it.)  The Florida law states that only capital or felonies with a maximum life sentence are beyond the reach of this law.

What’s the point Sanders?  I would not say Florida or Alabama are liberal jurisdictions (although Florida is more progressive than Alabama by far!) yet they found these laws to be helpful to the administration of justice.  It might be good incentive to give some young adult offenders a one time chance (especially if it is a non-violent offense) to keep a record clean.

Perhaps it might be good to study these laws (another study bill!) or even discuss and debate a Virginia Youthful Offender Act.  (We have acts for such offenders in this Commonwealth but they do not expunge or seal a record but rather mitigate the sentence to boot camp or similar program.)  I am not yet advocating such a law or how far the law should go but overcriminalization and incarceration needs new answers.  This post could start such a debate.

 

 


Article written by: Elwood "Sandy" Sanders

My Answer to the Thoughtful Post on the Magnitsky Act

Anonymous wrote this as a comment to my recent post on Trump and the original Magnitsky Act and I think it deserves a thorough response:

I don’t think there is any due process burden on statements of condemnation. Saying the Magnitsky Act is an unconstitutional bill of attainder I think is wrong. Firstly, the implicated are foreign nationals, it does not pass guilt nor does it create any sort of mechanism for actually trying or sentencing these individuals. It is the United States Congress formally condemning individuals of suspected crimes. The only punishment it does provide is excluding these individuals from entering the U.S. or using U.S. banks. Sandy, do you think foreign nationals have any kind of meaningful right to enter the country or use banks under the Constitution (why I also think the statements that the visa-waiver restrictions we’re implementing or limitations of immigration from certain nations being unconstitutional are inaccurate).

Do you think we need to charge Kim Jong Un for being a brutal despot in a U.S. federal court in order to continue sanctions against the North Koreans?

I think it’s pretty evident that Putin has a history of illiberal rigging of democracy within his own country. The argument that “we’ve manipulated in other countries” doesn’t seem particularly persuasive to me. I don’t think its unreasonable to say what you do to your own citizens and your own people is a reflection of the type of principles you hold. We don’t – as much as our Left-wing “comrades” might believe – an overriding obligation to people who are not citizens or do not live in this country. But we do have one to Americans. If the government were assassinating Americans or rigging American elections, that would be a problem. And further if people in charge of that rigging called a foreign election candidate “strong” or “trustworthy”, I would rightly be suspicious if I was a citizen of that country of this candidate.

Anonymous says the Magnitsky Act is not a bill of attainder.  It only says you can’t visit the US and use our banks.  And even if it is a Bill of Attainder, this constitutional protection does not (and neither do most other provisions) apply to foreigners.

A bill of attainder was a act of the British Parliament that tried and punished officials for dereliction of duty and other crimes.  Let’s go the the Heritage Guide to the US Constitution (That’s right: Heritage as in the Heritage Foundation) for a more detailed treatment of this clause:

In common law, bills of attainder were legislative acts that, without trial, condemned specifically designated persons or groups to death. Bills of attainder also required the “corruption of blood”; that is, they denied to the condemned’s heirs the right to inherit his estate. Bills of pains and penalties, in contrast, singled out designated persons or groups for punishment less than death, such as banishment or disenfranchisement. Many states had enacted both kinds of statutes after the Revolution.

The United States Supreme Court seems to have had a more expansive view of the Clause (starting in the middle of a paragraph for that first one):

Beginning with Chief Justice John Marshall, however, the Supreme Court has insisted that “a Bill of Attainder may affect the life of an individual, or may confiscate his property, or may do both.” Fletcher v. Peck (1810).

Marshall and his successors saw the Bill of Attainder Clause as an element of the separation of powers. As the decisions of the Court in Marbury v. Madison (1803) and United States v. Klein (1871) made clear, only a court can hold a trial, evaluate the evidence, and determine the merits of the claim or accusation. The Constitution forbade the Congress from “exercis[ing] the power and office of judge.” Cummings v. Missouri (1867). In United States v. Brown (1965), the Court specifically rejected a “narrow historical approach” to the clauses and characterized the Framers’ purpose as to prohibit “legislative punishment, of any form or severity, of specifically designated persons or groups.”

Those cases, although they do not admittedly apply to foreigners, do sound absolute to me in practice.  Congress cannot try a person (except for impeachment or contempt of Congress) and then punish that person.  The Magnitsky Act does exactly that:  First accusing individual Russians of involvement in torture and murder and then human rights violations in general.  That is a serious charge to make.

And there is no trial.  None of the accused Russians were allowed to try to prove their innocence or to present any evidence at all.  No court or jury decided they helped torture or kill Magnitsky – or other human rights violations.  Congress (or actually the President, under Congressional authority) decides they are guilty.

There is punishment:  These persons cannot visit the USA and any property or money they may have can be confiscated.

This cite [Here] is the entire text of the Magnitsky Act.  [Blogger’s note:  The act is Title or portion four of a larger bill]

The act reads at first like an indictment:

SEC. 402. FINDINGS; SENSE OF CONGRESS.

    (a) Findings.--Congress finds the following:
            (1) The United States aspires to a mutually beneficial 
        relationship with the Russian Federation based on respect for 
        human rights and the rule of law, and supports the people of the 
        Russian Federation in their efforts to realize their full 
        economic potential and to advance democracy, human rights, and 
        the rule of law.
            (2) The Russian Federation--
                    (A) is a member of the United Nations, the 
                Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, 
                the Council of Europe, and the International Monetary 
                Fund;
                    (B) has ratified the Convention against Torture and 
                Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or 
                Punishment, the International Covenant on Civil and 
                Political Rights, and the United Nations Convention 
                against Corruption; and
                    (C) is bound by the legal obligations set forth in 
                the European Convention on Human Rights.
            (3) States voluntarily commit themselves to respect 
        obligations and responsibilities through the adoption of 
        international agreements and treaties, which must be observed in 
        good faith in order to maintain the stability of the 
        international order. Human rights are an integral part of 
        international law, and lie at the foundation of the 
        international order. The protection of human rights, therefore, 
        particularly in the case of a country that has incurred 
        obligations to protect human rights under an international 
        agreement to which it is a party, is not left exclusively to the 
        internal affairs of that country.
            (4) Good governance and anti-corruption measures are 
        instrumental in the protection of human rights and in achieving

[[Page 126 STAT. 1503]]

        sustainable economic growth, which benefits both the people of 
        the Russian Federation and the international community through 
        the creation of open and transparent markets.
            (5) Systemic corruption erodes trust and confidence in 
        democratic institutions, the rule of law, and human rights 
        protections. This is the case when public officials are allowed 
        to abuse their authority with impunity for political or 
        financial gains in collusion with private entities.
            (6) The Russian nongovernmental organization INDEM has 
        estimated that bribes by individuals and businesses in the 
        Russian Federation amount to hundreds of billions of dollars a 
        year, an increasing share of the country's gross domestic 
        product.
            (7) Sergei Leonidovich Magnitsky died on November 16, 2009, 
        at the age of 37, in Matrosskaya Tishina Prison in Moscow, 
        Russia, and is survived by a mother, a wife, and 2 sons.
            (8) On July 6, 2011, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev's 
        Human Rights Council announced the results of its independent 
        investigation into the death of Sergei Magnitsky. The Human 
        Rights Council concluded that Sergei Magnitsky's arrest and 
        detention was illegal; he was denied access to justice by the 
        courts and prosecutors of the Russian Federation; he was 
        investigated by the same law enforcement officers whom he had 
        accused of stealing Hermitage Fund companies and illegally 
        obtaining a fraudulent $230,000,000 tax refund; he was denied 
        necessary medical care in custody; he was beaten by 8 guards 
        with rubber batons on the last day of his life; and the 
        ambulance crew that was called to treat him as he was dying was 
        deliberately kept outside of his cell for one hour and 18 
        minutes until he was dead. The report of the Human Rights 
        Council also states the officials falsified their accounts of 
        what happened to Sergei Magnitsky and, 18 months after his 
        death, no officials had been brought to trial for his false 
        arrest or the crime he uncovered. The impunity continued in 
        April 2012, when Russian authorities dropped criminal charges 
        against Larisa Litvinova, the head doctor at the prison where 
        Magnitsky died.
            (9) The systematic abuse of Sergei Magnitsky, including his 
        repressive arrest and torture in custody by officers of the 
        Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation that Mr. 
        Magnitsky had implicated in the embezzlement of funds from the 
        Russian Treasury and the misappropriation of 3 companies from 
        his client, Hermitage Capital Management, reflects how deeply 
        the protection of human rights is affected by corruption.
            (10) The politically motivated nature of the persecution of 
        Mr. Magnitsky is demonstrated by--
                    (A) the denial by all state bodies of the Russian 
                Federation of any justice or legal remedies to Mr. 
                Magnitsky during the nearly 12 full months he was kept 
                without trial in detention; and
                    (B) the impunity since his death of state officials 
                he testified against for their involvement in corruption 
                and the carrying out of his repressive persecution.
            (11) The Public Oversight Commission of the City of Moscow 
        for the Control of the Observance of Human Rights in Places of 
        Forced Detention, an organization empowered by

[[Page 126 STAT. 1504]]

        Russian law to independently monitor prison conditions, 
        concluded on December 29, 2009, ``A man who is kept in custody 
        and is being detained is not capable of using all the necessary 
        means to protect either his life or his health. This is a 
        responsibility of a state which holds him captive. Therefore, 
        the case of Sergei Magnitsky can be described as a breach of the 
        right to life. The members of the civic supervisory commission 
        have reached the conclusion that Magnitsky had been experiencing 
        both psychological and physical pressure in custody, and the 
        conditions in some of the wards of Butyrka can be justifiably 
        called torturous. The people responsible for this must be 
        punished.''.
            (12) Sergei Magnitsky's experience, while particularly 
        illustrative of the negative effects of official corruption on 
        the rights of an individual citizen, appears to be emblematic of 
        a broader pattern of disregard for the numerous domestic and 
        international human rights commitments of the Russian Federation 
        and impunity for those who violate basic human rights and 
        freedoms.
            (13) The second trial, verdict, and sentence against former 
        Yukos executives Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev evoke 
        serious concerns about the right to a fair trial and the 
        independence of the judiciary in the Russian Federation. The 
        lack of credible charges, intimidation of witnesses, violations 
        of due process and procedural norms, falsification or 
        withholding of documents, denial of attorney-client privilege, 
        and illegal detention in the Yukos case are highly troubling. 
        The Council of Europe, Freedom House, and Amnesty International, 
        among others, have concluded that they were charged and 
        imprisoned in a process that did not follow the rule of law and 
        was politically influenced. Furthermore, senior officials of the 
        Government of the Russian Federation, including First Deputy 
        Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, have acknowledged that the arrest 
        and imprisonment of Khodorkovsky were politically motivated.
            (14) According to Freedom House's 2011 report entitled ``The 
        Perpetual Battle: Corruption in the Former Soviet Union and the 
        New EU Members'', ``[t]he highly publicized cases of Sergei 
        Magnitsky, a 37-year-old lawyer who died in pretrial detention 
        in November 2009 after exposing a multimillion-dollar fraud 
        against the Russian taxpayer, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the 
        jailed business magnate and regime critic who was sentenced at 
        the end of 2010 to remain in prison through 2017, put an 
        international spotlight on the Russian state's contempt for the 
        rule of law * * *. By silencing influential and accomplished 
        figures such as Khodorkovsky and Magnitsky, the Russian 
        authorities have made it abundantly clear that anyone in Russia 
        can be silenced.''.
            (15) The tragic and unresolved murders of Nustap 
        Abdurakhmanov, Maksharip Aushev, Natalya Estemirova, Akhmed 
        Hadjimagomedov, Umar Israilov, Paul Klebnikov, Anna 
        Politkovskaya, Saihadji Saihadjiev, and Magomed Y. Yevloyev, the 
        death in custody of Vera Trifonova, the disappearances of 
        Mokhmadsalakh Masaev and Said-Saleh Ibragimov, the torture of 
        Ali Israilov and Islam Umarpashaev, the near-fatal beatings of 
        Mikhail Beketov, Oleg Kashin, Arkadiy Lander, and Mikhail 
        Vinyukov, and the harsh and ongoing

[[Page 126 STAT. 1505]]

        imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Alexei Kozlov, Platon 
        Lebedev, and Fyodor Mikheev further illustrate the grave danger 
        of exposing the wrongdoing of officials of the Government of the 
        Russian Federation, including Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, or 
        of seeking to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote 
        internationally recognized human rights and freedoms.

    (b) Sense of Congress.--It is the sense of Congress that the United 
States should continue to strongly support, and provide assistance to, 
the efforts of the Russian people to establish a vibrant democratic 
political system that respects individual liberties and human rights, 
including by enhancing the provision of objective information through 
all relevant media, such as Radio Liberty and the internet. The Russian 
Government's suppression of dissent and political opposition, the 
limitations it has imposed on civil society and independent media, and 
the deterioration of economic and political freedom inside Russia are of 
profound concern to the United States Government and to the American 
people.


Then this act authorizes the President to submit a last of names of all those involved in the alleged torture and murder of Sergei Magnitsky.  Those named can only appeal to him or the Secretary of State to be removed from the list.  And they are punished with more than just “cannot visit the US” – they can have US-held property seized and frozen:

(a) <<NOTE: President.>>  Freezing of Assets.--
            (1) In general.--The President shall exercise all powers 
        granted by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 
        U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (except that the requirements of section 
        202 of such Act (50 U.S.C. 1701) shall not apply) to the extent 
        necessary to freeze and prohibit all transactions in all 
        property and interests in property of a person who is on the 
        list required by section 404(a) of this Act if such property and 
        interests in property are in the United States, come within the 
        United States, or are or come within the possession or control 
        of a United States person.
            (2) <<NOTE: Determination.>>  Exception.--Paragraph (1) 
        shall not apply to persons included on the classified annex 
        under section 404(c)(2) if the President determines that such an 
        exception is vital for the national security interests of the 
        United States.

This is trial and punishment authorized by Congress and implemented by the Executive Branch.  I contend it is immoral, violates due process, is unconstitutional and may violate international law.

And US banks MUST comply:

(2) 
        Requirements <<NOTE: Deadline. Regulations. Certification.>>  
        for financial institutions.--Not later than 120 days after the 
        date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Treasury 
        shall prescribe or amend regulations as needed to require each 
        financial institution that is a United States person and has 
        within its possession or control assets that are property or 
        interests in property of a person who is on the list required by 
        section 404(a) if such property and interests in property are in 
        the United States to certify to the Secretary that, to the best 
        of the knowledge of the financial institution, the financial 
        institution has frozen all

[[Page 126 STAT. 1509]]

        assets within the possession or control of the financial 
        institution that are required to be frozen pursuant to 
        subsection (a).

The definition of US bank is broad:

(4) United states person.--The term ``United States person'' 
        means--
                    (A) a United States citizen or an alien lawfully 
                admitted for permanent residence to the United States; 
                or
                    (B) an entity organized under the laws of the United 
                States or of any jurisdiction within the United States, 
                including a foreign branch of such an entity.

So, Anonymous and my readers, is this accusation, conviction and punishment without trial or evidence taken?

Many Americans I am afraid adhere to the Lindsey Graham and Jethro Gibbs school of jurisprudence that contends that foreigners have few if any rights under US law.  But that is not true.  Foreigners have plenty of rights under US law.

Placing economic sanctions against an entire nation like North Korea is not the same as targeted sanctions against individuals and does not apply to this analysis.

I did not fully understand the final paragraph and I think Anonymous was saying be careful of a presidential candidate that a foreign leader praises with intent to influence an election.  He’s right.  But we do judge the efficacy of foreign elections and leaders regularly and publicly.  Some things ought to be left private for negotiations and discussions.  And we ought not condemn others without trial for human rights violations; if we intend to judge others in other nations, let’s make sure our own house is in order.

Some might say, but Sandy, targeted economic sanctions are more moral than blanket ones.  I agree.  BUT it has to be done right.  I would target as a sanction items that are directly relevant to the bad behavior (computer software to Iran for example) but not try to destroy economies and systems or encourage rebellion.  The United States is too eager to enact economic sanctions against a whole host of nations.  Now all lawful sanctions must be obeyed as the law of the land.  But we ought to curb most if not all of the sanction regimes we have.

The Magnitsky Act in particular ought to be repealed and replaced with an apology to Russia.  Our President is good at the apologizing game.  He would be perfect for the job.

 


 


Article written by: Elwood "Sandy" Sanders

More Bloodshed or a Modicum of Common Sense?

By Bob Shannon, King William Virginia

Almost to the minute and perfectly on cue the media pundits, politicians , gun control advocates are lined up to instantly declare…….”if only we had some common sense gun control”.   We all mourn and pray for the victim’s families and for those injured in what happened yesterday in California. As Christians we even ask God to forgive those that carried out such a horrific act, regardless of their motives. There is however a need for some clarity and truth on whatever possible remedies or changes in our laws are needed if we are serious about doing something about this. More gun control isn’t going to do a damn thing about it and it is time we face that truth and implement what will work.

 

It is being widely reported that this man and his wife traveled to Saudi Arabia in the spring of this year. If FedEx can track a package with pinpoint precision, knowing exactly where that package is at any given point in time, then is it not reasonable to ask why can’t authorities given the resources we have given them since 9/11 track any person who travels to around a dozen nations that we know are suspect ? Of course we could if the will existed and the PC nonsense was brushed aside. This guy and his wife should have been under constant surveillance from the moment they applied for a passport to travel earlier this year to a nation that is a hot bed of Islamic terrorism. Reports of males tracking in and out of this guy’s garage by neighbor’s , had they been under surveillance would have stopped this before what happened yesterday got deep into the planning stages. What is the point in allocating the volumes of money we have towards national security if it is being spent in vain ?

Mental health some 50 years ago allowed for the institutionalization of any person deemed to be unstable or a danger to others physical safety. It is time to accept the reality that efforts to mainstream the mentally ill has been a failure in regards to any number of incidents occurring in recent years where the person committing the violence was clearly exhibiting signs of dangerous mental proclivities . If we are to error on the side of caution, of course there will be examples of abuse, detention and institutionalization of people who should not have been taken out of society. That said, remedies could be crafted to address that.

To suggest that additional gun control will solve or diminish the frequency of these occurrences is simply bordering on delusional.

Bob Shannon King William Virginia


Article written by: Tom White

Much Ado About Abortion

The following video of a Planned Parenthood executive discussing the harvesting and selling of unborn children’s organs, tissue, and extremities has reignited the abortion debate in this country. A “third-rail” topic and a Republican fund-raising topic (Republicans raise millions of dollars off of the abortion debate every year and do absolutely nothing about it), abortion is a difficult topic to grapple with. (damn prepositions)

Click here to view the embedded video.

We Libertarians are split on abortion, between those who believe that the government should keep its’ collective nose out of a woman’s pregnancy and those who believe that using force against unborn human beings is just as wrong as using force against born human beings.

I have written many papers, participated in debates, and read everything there is on abortion ethics and abortion commentary; and I think we often gloss over the fundamental realities of what abortion is all about, why it exists, and why abortion really is as awful as some people claim it is.

abortionThe reason abortion exists, is because of the fiscal and emotional costs and responsibilities associated with pregnancy and with raising children. Human beings love sex, but they do not want to take care of every single baby that results from their sexual activity. Women and men alike, both have a vested interest in contraception and abortion – whatever it takes to prevent the human consequence of sexual activity from taking place and becoming a reality in their lives. I know that when we talk about abortion, we are talking about the murder of a human being, but most people are raised to believe that a person does not develop rights, as a human being, until after they are born and after they have proven themselves capable of sustaining life after birth. So, we aren’t talking about cold hearted killers. We are talking about irresponsible people – people literally unwilling to take responsibility for the sustenance and life of their conceived children.

We try hard to pretend that these babies aren’t “people”, as if some one event in the life a person results in their person-hood. This is pretense. There is no sound philosophical or medical or ethical argument which has ever successfully demonstrated that human life starts anywhere but at conception.

When we talk about justifying abortion, we have to talk about what we’re really talking about – which is killing those of our children we are either ill-equipped or ill-prepared to care for. The only reason we cannot have this discussion, is that people who favor legal abortion do not want to have a debate wherein they must recognize that we are talking about killing a person when we talk about abortion. The rationalizations are absurd and I don’t think anyone really believes that their babies aren’t ‘alive” or “people” until after they are born. People aren’t that ignorant.

So, could we stand to live in a world where every healthy baby conceived was born? People complain about all the babies poor people have that we, as a society, are forced to pay for; how much worse would this be if it were not for the fact that we kill so many of these children before they are born? Honestly, societies are always interested in procreation, because we have to deal with every person born, good or bad, brilliant or less so, dependent upon the state or a member of the tax-base.

We argue that open borders can’t work, because of our welfare state. If it cost us nothing to accept immigrants, that is one thing. If two out of three immigrants are sucking up our tax dollars, that’s another thing all together. Is it not the same with children?

Do we truly want every 12 and 13 year old girl, who gets knocked up, to actually have and raise those children?

Do we truly want every poor person who seems to get knocked up every year or so to have all those children?

Do we really believe that forcing women to go through with their pregnancies will actually put an end to women killing their children?

Do we really want to go back to an age of back-ally abortions? Coat hanger abortions? Drug-induced abortions?

The answer to each of these questions is, that no human being has the right to murder another human being. I understand that if killing our unborn children is rightfully considered a crime, that many of our lives would look a great deal differently than they do today, and that our society would experience an untold number of complex and difficult problems; but if the only answer we have is to kill a living human being, then maybe we’ve got deeper problems than we’ve even considered. That we have to kill 3,300 children every day is a remarkably horrific reality.

We should be dealing with the causes of this reality, not with laws or murder, but with reason, morality, and individual responsibility. I know, it seems impossible to imagine that adult human beings can be trusted to behave responsibly, sexually, but I cannot accept, or stomach, the idea that abortion is a solution we can live with.

We are killing 3,300 people every day and planned parenthood is selling their organs, tissue, and extremities for god-knows-what, and we consider ourselves civilized or moral? We are barbaric. We have actually decided that murder is a just act, insofar as it alleviates responsibility. This is madness. This is evil. And this has to stop.

Abortion is a gruesome cruelty. I understand why it exists and why we accept it and why we don’t want to talk about it – but it is wrong. We must begin holding ourselves accountable for our actions, and stop excusing our worst sins by virtue of the fact of our unwillingness to deal with reality and the consequences of our actions.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Article written by: Steven Brodie Tucker

NameCheap Server Migration has been a DISASTER! Avoid NameCheap Hosting – Wish I had!

At this point, all I can say is that I have been through several days of pure hell moving this blog to NameCheap Hosting from HostGator.

And a word of advice, avoid NameCheap.

The reason I went with them in the first place was because I really liked the company. They became known for Domain Registration and when GoDaddy started shutting down the domains of political bloggers because they do not agree with their opinions, NameCheap had a “Move Your Domain Day” and GoDaddy lost a lot of business. I wrote this post on the event 3 1/2 years ago. And I encouraged as many people as I could tell to avoid GoDaddy because of their censorship policies, something that NameCheap is adamantly against.

Now let me just state for the purists, we are not talking about hosting a controversial blog. We are only talking about registering the domain. This is the equivalent of calling 411 to get a phone number for someone and the operator refusing to give you the number because they support something the operator is against. The Domain registration simply means the name of the website – the URL if you wish. The actual host can have terms of service and the blogger can be shut down for violating that, but that is just the server. All he need do is get another host that does not object to his content and point his domain at the new host. Pretty easy. But GoDaddy confiscated the Domain Name. And they are only the agent, not the actual owner of the Domain.

As far as I know, GoDaddy no longer censors people. But I no longer use the for my Domain registration.

And as far as internet services, there were no companies I held in higher regard than NameCheap. Until this week.

It was not that I was particularly unhappy with HostGator. But I have a dedicated server. For those that don’t know, what that means is that the server is mine to do with pretty much as I please. Shared hosting is much cheaper, but you share the server with dozens or even hundreds of other users. So the server admins are always shutting you down if you start getting a lot of hits – because it slows the rest of the users websites down quite a bit. After several times when I was getting a lot of hits and seeing my server host take me down – usually when there is a big story or a big election in progress – I had to bite the bullet and go with a dedicated. And the cost is very high – HostGator’s lowest price on a dedicated is $174 per month.

So when I saw an ad for NameCheap hosting, I checked it out. And it turns out that the server is much cheaper there. But they don’t come with the administrative interface I like – WHM / cPanel – but you add $25 per month for that. So taking the same basic server on Namecheap I had at HostGator and adding $25 per month for the software, it would work out to less than $100 per month. A $75 per month savings.

But I opted for a better server, more RAM, disk space and CPU cores and speed. And I am still saving $50 per month.

And they would migrate the entire server over for free, and do it when I schedule it.

How good is that?

So last Tuesday night at Midnight (really Wednesday morning) they did the migration as I slept. So when I got up Wednesday AM, it was all completed. Sweet!

Except there were a number of problems. Some I expected. For one, it takes time – 24 to 72 hours – for the new IP addresses to make their way around the internet. It usually doesn’t REALLY take but a few minutes for it to mostly work, with some slower issues.

But this was really more than that. It was totally screwed up.

And it should be noted here that they do not have a phone number you can call, but they offer a “Live Chat”. HostGator has both options and I usually go for the chat session because you can copy and paste info rather than try to speak cryptic passwords and such.

So after a 15 or 20 minute chat session trying to find out what was wrong, the person told me I had to contact my hosting people.

YOU ARE MY FREAKING HOSTING PEOPLE!!!!

Holy crap!

I finally realized that if you have an actual problem, you just open a ticket. Unlike HostGator, where the person on the other end of the chat actually IS the tech support person and can resolve your problems, not so with NameCheap. The chat people are technically useless. The best they can do is tell you to open a ticket and wait.

And wait. And wait.

And the support person that finally gets the ticket seems to blow you off right off the bat. Wait 72 hours.

But this was not simply an issue of your new information making it’s way through all of the servers in the world. It was more than that. Really weird stuff was happening.

So after a couple of tickets with no resolution, I began digging into it myself.

And after a full day of fighting it, I realized that they had failed to put in the new nameserver IP addresses. And for a Domain Registrar to miss that…

So then I found out that my varight database was corrupted in the migration process. I tried to repair the database with a software utility and it slowed the server to a complete stop. I tried to reboot it and the request to reboot just sat and sat. So I opened a ticket for them to reboot the server manually.

But instead of rebooting it, they told me the server had high CPU usage (like I didn’t know that already) and said it was probably a DDOS attack.

All I wanted was for them to reboot so I could restore from backup.

Eventually the server rebooted and I did a restore. But I still had a corrupted database. And in looking at the issue myself, because I had no confidence in NameCheap and frankly, my blood pressure couldn’t take any more. It turns out that the backup I used to restore from was done after the migration – the time zones were completely different. So I went back a day and did another restore. This one worked!

But during the chat session that I kept open for a couple of hours, I told the person that if this didn’t work, I would just go back to HostGator and use the 14 day money back guarantee their website shows. And she informed me that it didn’t apply to dedicated servers and sent me a link to the fine print. It seems it doesn’t apply to anything, really. So there is not money back guarantee if you are not happy.

Blood pressure rising again.

But I have everything working again. I think. But I learned enough about NameCheap Hosting to tell my friends and fellow bloggers to stay away. They have really poor support, essentially no money back guarantee and the “chat” feature is completely useless. And I had to wait over an hour for my ticket to be picked up by a tech support person who was completely unhelpful.

And I am pretty sure their 100% uptime guarantee will prove to be just as worthless as their 14 day money back guarantee.

I’m staying for now and I am extremely unhappy with NameCheap. The main reason I am staying is that I don’t want to go through this migration process again.

And I just got this response to my ticket:

Dear Tom,

We have reviewed Support history regarding the matter and we feel that we owe you our deepest apologies for the inconvenience you experienced.
Please rest assured that such issues are very rare and we do our best to resolve them once identified.
We value our relationship and thus we decided to provide you with a discount of 5% on the upcoming renewal in appreciation of your patronage.
Again, please accept our sincere apologies for this matter.

We look forward to working with you in a cordial and positive atmosphere again soon.


Regards,
Alexander E.
Technical Support Team
Namecheap Group
http://www.namecheapgroup.com

So $5 for 3 days of headaches. I suppose that covers most of the Advil. And we will see.

But for anyone considering moving to NameCheap – I would urge you to find another host or prepare for the worst. And that is based entirely on my experience.


Article written by: Tom White