Star Trek Actor Lived At Internment Camp As A Child


TYT Network

Some of Star Trek performer George Takei’s family was forced into a Japanese internment camp on the West Coast of the United States during World War II.

In the recent Supreme Court ruling over gay marriage, Supreme Court judge Clarence Thomas, who is black, wrote that “human dignity cannot be taken away by the government…” He added, “Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them.”

After having spent time in a Japanese internment camp as a child, George Takei disagrees.

(Updated article)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/03/george-takei-clarence-thomas-clown-in-blackface_n_7719110.html

Attorney General Backs Clerks Who Refuse To Marry Same Sex Couples


The Young Turks

The Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Sunday that county clerks can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on religious objections to gay marriage.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/06/29/paxton-state-workers-can-deny-marriage-licenses-same-sex-couples/29456745/

A Brief Look At The Death Penalty And The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court recently made a ruling on Glossip v. Gross, a case on the death penalty. By a 5-4 vote, the court upheld the use of the controversial drug midazolam as part of a three-drug cocktail used in carrying out the death penalty.  The Supreme Court concluded its term on Monday, writes NPR.

Let’s take a brief look at the situation, shall we?

According to The Economist, of the 35 people who were executed in America in 2014, at least three died a death that was unduly harsh or violent.

The problem is that states are having trouble getting the drugs they need to ensure the deaths are painless.

European companies will not sell drugs to be used in executions, and American companies are increasingly uncertain (or worried about lawsuits?) about having their brands linked to lethal injections.

Oklahoma and other states have been changing the three-drug protocol, and in some cases using a drug called midazolam, which was apparently used in the “botched” execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma last year.  It was used in others as well.

Does using midazolam defy the Eighth Amendment ban on “cruel and unusual punishment”? According to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Glossip v Gross, the answer, surprisingly, was no.

“The case was brought before the court by three prisoners on death-row in Oklahoma, who are understandably wary of an execution cocktail that includes midazolam,” writes The Economist.

In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that the petitioners failed to prove that midazolam offers a ‘substantial risk of serious harm’.

Citing evidence that the sedative is effective at the right dosage, the court found that while Clayton Lockett received too little of it, the same three-drug mix finished off 12 other prisoners “without any significant problems”.

The 8th amendment reads:  Amendment VIII. “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

The 28 member nations of the E.U. have banned the death penalty.   It is a requirement for joining the E.U.

Let’s look at some history of the death penalty in the West.  According to deathpenalty.org:

“In the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This 1948 doctrine proclaimed a “right to life” in an absolute fashion, any limitations being only implicit. Knowing that international abolition of the death penalty was not yet a realistic goal in the years following the Universal Declaration, the United Nations shifted its focus to limiting the scope of the death penalty to protect juveniles, pregnant women, and the elderly.”

“During the 1950s and 1960s subsequent international human rights treaties were drafted, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the American Convention on Human Rights.

“These documents also provided for the right to life, but included the death penalty as an exception that must be accompanied by strict procedural safeguards. Despite this exception, many nations throughout Western Europe stopped using capital punishment, even if they did not, technically, abolish it. As a result, this de facto abolition became the norm in Western Europe by the 1980s.” (Schabas, 1997)

The U.S. already had a moratorium on the death penalty.  That began in 1972 after the case of Furman v. Georgia.

According to deathpenalty.org:

“In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, (1972), the Court invalidated existing death penalty laws because they constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.  The Court reasoned that the laws resulted in a disproportionate application of the death penalty, specifically discriminating against the poor and minorities.  The Court also reasoned that the existing laws terminated life in exchange for marginal contributions to society.”

The death penalty was reinstated in 1977, after the case of Gregg v. Georgia:

In Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, (1976), the Court refused to expand Furman.  The Court held the death penalty was not per se unconstitutional as it could serve the social purposes of retribution and deterrence.  Specifically, the Court upheld Georgia’s new capital sentencing procedures, reasoning that the Georgia rules reduced the problem of arbitrary application as seen in earlier statutes.

Clayton Lockett spent 43 minutes writhing in pain on the gurney, according to The Economist.  “This shit is fucking with my head,” he said before finally dying.

What Are The Chances Of Getting Rid Of Obamacare?


TYT Network

Probably not much.

On Thursday, for the second time in three years, the Supreme Court rejected a major lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), thereby preserving the largest expansion in health coverage since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid half a century ago, writes the Huffington Post.

The stakes of the case, King v. Burwell, were enormous. Had the plaintiffs prevailed, millions of people who depend upon the Affordable Care Act for insurance would have lost financial assistance from the federal government. Without that money, most of them would have had to give up coverage altogether.

In an interesting twist, Forbes reported that the Supreme Court decision has helped investment in health care Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) – in other words, investing in health care real estate.

Forbes: “As a result, health systems and doctors will now be able to move forward with the certainty they need to make major decisions such as leasing, capital expenditures and other investments.

“The ACA is projected to add an additional 35 to 45 million insured patients into the marketplace. These individuals are expected to increase their utilization of health services, which should bode well for hospitals and physicians volumes – a net positive for hospitals and the owners of on-campus medical office buildings.”

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks breaks it down.

(Updated post)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/bradthomas/2015/06/29/affordable-care-act-serves-as-strong-tailwind-for-healthcare-reits/

John Oliver Discusses ‘ISIS Flag’ At London Gay Pride Parade


John Oliver

The black “ISIS flag” spotted at a gay pride parade in London was not what CNN thought it was…

Oliver also looks at the recent Supreme Court decisions.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3142221/CNN-confuses-black-white-flag-covered-sex-toy-symbols-ISIS-London-gay-pride-parade.html

Fox Analyst Questions Civil Rights Precedent On Interracial Marriage, De-Segregation

Yesterday, during an episode of Fox News’ Outnumbered, guest Julie Roginsky made the point that the Supreme Court has ruled on marriage cases prior to the ruling on gay marriage – for example with interracial marriage.   Contributor Arthur Aidala seemed to go back in time and question whether Loving v. Virginia – the case that made interracial marriage legal across the U.S. – was legal or moral.

Aidala then seemed to go even further back and question whether or not Brown v. Board of Education – a desegregation decision – was acceptable.

The below transcript comes from the Media Matters for America website.

MELISSA FRANCIS: Alright, I’ve got to bring Julie in on this, because she’s chomping.

JULIE ROGINSKY: I’m dying. Look, we’ve had this before, Loving V. Virginia, which allowed and legalized marriage between a black man and a white woman, or vice versa, I don’t remember who was who in that situation. That came from the courts. And there was a religious furor about it and people used religion back then, as ridiculous as it sounds, to say that we shouldn’t have mixed races, we shouldn’t promulgate biracial families. And the reality is it was done by the courts. Can you explain to me how this is any different? Love is love and people should marry whom they want and I don’t understand how that’s not —

AIDALA : That’s not the argument I’m making. The argument I’m making is the court is not the proper branch —

ROGINSKY: But, they’ve done it before.

AIDALA: So they’ve made mistakes before, that doesn’t mean you should make mistakes again.

(The following exchange came later during the same conversation.)

ROGINSKY: But then why go to a courthouse and have a judge marry you if it’s not a legal issue? And I’ll leave it at that, because I know —

AIDALA: Because Congress is supposed to be the one who decides whether they can do it or they can’t do it. Congress empowers the judiciary. So it should be Congress’ job along with the executive.

ROGINSKY: So Brown V. Board of Education was the same thing, that Congress should have done it?

ARTHUR: Probably, yes.

Big Back-To-Back Supreme Court Rulings

In something of a watershed moment, the Supreme Court has ruled on cases in regards to The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and gay marriage.

In a landmark decision, the court ruled 5-4 that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Justice Anthony Kennedy, delivering the majority opinion, wrote that people seeking the right “seek not to denigrate marriage but rather to live their lives, or honor their spouses’ memory, joined by its bond,” writes NBC.

The president himself has endorsed same-sex marriage since May 2012. On Friday, he took note of the swift progress toward marriage equality in the United States.

President Obama’s signature health care law (the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare) survived a second challenge at the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, and the Justices ruled by a margin of 6 to 3 that the intent of Congress was clear enough to override contradictory language in law itself.

(Updated report)

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/same-sex-marraige-legal-nationwide-supreme-court-rules-n375551

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html?_r=0

Supreme Court Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Decision At ‘End Of June’

A decision is expected by the Supreme Court at the end of June on the fate of a key feature of the Affordable Care Act (the ACA).  The ACA is also known as Obamacare.

If the justices vote in favor of King v. Burwell, it could mean the loss of subsidies for millions of Americans, making their health insurance no longer affordable, writes Yahoo News.

The ACA was passed  In 2010.  That law allowed for the government to offer subsidies to people who qualified and required health insurance exchanges (marketplaces) to be set up.  Thirty-four states opted not to set up their own insurance marketplaces. This meant that the states defaulted to a federal marketplace instead.   Subsidies have been provided to those residents.

This case against Obamacare comes down to the actual language of the law, states Yahoo News.  It’s being challenged because of a section that details the subsidies as available with policies provided through health insurance “exchanges established by the state.”

Opponents say this language means the federal subsidies do not apply to residents in states using the federal marketplace.  On the other side of the debate, proponents argue that these subsidies are covered by the law as it also says that when a state does not set up its own marketplace, the federal government will “establish and operate such exchange.”

The final decision is expected at the end of June and could affect an estimated 6.4 million people who need the subsidies to afford insurance in those 34 states. This is the second time that Obamacare has faced the Supreme Court. In 2012, the individual mandate – the requirement that everyone buy insurance – was challenged, but the justices ruled 5-4 that the mandate was constitutional.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/24/us/supreme-court-ruling-on-health-law-will-shape-obamas-legacy.html

2nd Circuit Court Of Appeals: NSA Spying Program Illegal

Secular Talk

Sources state that on Thursday, a panel of three federal judges from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the NSA’s bulk-phone records spying program was illegal.

Reuters states:  “Ruling on a program revealed by former government security contractor Edward Snowden, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the Patriot Act did not authorize the National Security Agency to collect Americans’ calling records in bulk.

“Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch wrote for a three-judge panel that Section 215, which addresses the FBI’s ability to gather business records, could not be interpreted to have permitted the NSA to collect a “staggering” amount of phone records, contrary to claims by the Bush and Obama administrations.”

Also, According to the National Journal, more court decisions are on the way:

“Two other appeals courts have in recent months heard arguments considering the legality of the NSA bulk telephone program, but neither has issued a ruling yet. Any split among the courts likely will prompt a Supreme Court review.

Boing Boing and The Electronic Frontier Foundation state:

1. When Congress gave the NSA the power to gather “relevant” information and do so for an “investigation,” they didn’t mean “gather everything and store it forever in case it becomes relevant later.”

2. Having your data collected by the NSA gives you the right to sue them — even if the NSA never looked at that data.

3. Metadata is sensitive information, and the NSA can’t argue that its mass-spying is harmless because it’s collecting metadata instead of data (the fact that you called a suicide hotline is every bit as compromising as what you said while you were talking to them).

4. The judges have “concerns” about the constitutionality of mass spying (though the didn’t go so far as to say that it is unconstitutional, partly because the ACLU had already won on the statutory language alone).

5. One judge added: The government shouldn’t have secret laws. The government argued that its interpretation of surveillance laws was a secret, and the court spanked them for it, saying that a law that’s “shrouded in secrecy” lacked legitimacy.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/07/us-usa-security-nsa-idUSKBN0NS1IN20150507

http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/federal-appeals-court-says-nsa-phone-records-program-illegal-n355271

http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/federal-appeals-court-rules-nsa-spying-illegal-20150507

http://boingboing.net/2015/05/10/what-did-the-courts-just-do-th.html

Baltimore Officers Charged In Freddy Gray’s Death Want Case Dismissed

According to the Associated Press, attorneys for the six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, a man who died of a spinal injury while in custody, asked a judge Friday to dismiss the case or assign it to someone other than the city’s top prosecutor.  They claim she has too many conflicts of interest to remain objective.

The lawyers state that at a minimum, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby should be replaced with an independent prosecutor.

The motion was filed in Baltimore District Court.

In the latest legal move to challenge the charges, the motion says Mosby’s prosecution has been “overzealous” and “politically motivated.”

Ms. Mosby announced the charges a day after receiving an investigative report from the police. The motion argues that part of the reason she acted so swiftly was to quash protests that gave way to violence in West Baltimore, where Gray was arrested and “where Mosby’s husband, Nick Mosby, is a city councilman,” according to the Associated Press.   A separate motion argues that her rapid decision could be at odds with a law that requires a thorough investigation prior to filing charges.

(Updated article)

http://news.yahoo.com/officers-charged-arrested-mans-death-want-case-dismissed-022710467.html