Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘court’

Is He or Isn’t He?

41Ks4pk78-LJacqueline and the Judge by Jaye C. Blakemore.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

I don’t recall any murder mystery that has a judge as the suspect. Their surely must be one, or some, but Jacqueline and the Judge is the first one I’m aware of. Wether it is the first, or one of many, it is a damn good story. The style of writing, by Ms. Blakemore, reminded me of some of the best films from the forties and fifties, where an innocent man is accused of murder and must prove his innocence (or is found to be guilty).

This contemporary tale is told from the perspective of Judge Luca Valentino, whose wife has just died in a car accident. He is deep in grief, and the Judge’s mourning is portrayed with great insight and understanding. Here is an example. “It felt like someone had reached into his stomach and pulled his guts out. A whoop of air came out of his mouth and before he knew it, he was hunched over and uncontrollably weeping.”

In the beginning, it is clear that the judge is grief-stricken and truly loved his wife (Sylvia). He is soon spending time with a younger woman (Jacqueline), whom he happens to meet at the diner he and Sylvia frequented. Jacqueline is upset over a breakup. Luca tries to comfort her, as is his custom. His wife said he always had a soft spot for those in trouble. Jacqueline and the Judge become friends and talk frequently.

Then, out of the blue, shit hits the fan. Detectives (Teagen and Smith) show up at the judge’s house, incriminating evidence is found, and Judge Valentino’s entire life comes into question. Jacqueline and the Judge is a great story. If I didn’t have to sleep, I would have kept reading it nonstop to the end. Jaye C. Blakemore is a very good writer. I’d suggest you get a copy of this story and find out for yourself who is, or isn’t, guilty.

 

Save Rimsha

Dear friends,

Last week an enraged crowd threatened to burn my daughter alive, and in 24 hours a judge will decide whether she goes free or stays in jail. Rimsha is a minor with mental disabilities and often isn’t in control of her actions. Yet local police here in Pakistan have charged her with desecrating the Koran, and we are afraid for her life.

Right now she is being held in a maximum-security jail, and in hours, she will face the court under Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws, which can carry the death sentence. We are a poor Christian family witnessing mob fury over my daughter’s case, and many other families have faced similar intimidation forcing them to either flee or live in fear. But the international attention on Rimsha’s case has emboldened Pakistani Muslim leaders to speak out against this injustice and forced President Zardari’s attention.

Please help me keep up the global outcry on my daughter’s case. I urge you to sign my petition to President Zardari to save Rimsha and demand protection for us and other vulnerable minority families. Avaaz will share this campaign with local and international media, watched carefully by all the politicians here:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/pakistan_save_my_daughter/?bMPbqab&v=17480

An angry mob demanded the arrest of my daughter after a local imam started inciting people against her, claiming she had desecrated the Koran. Some then threatened to kill her and burn down the houses of Christians in our community. I pray that at her hearing on Saturday, the case against her is dismissed and she can come back to live with us.

Our family is in grave danger, as even talking about the blasphemy laws in Pakistan can be deadly — last year the Pakistani Minister for Minority Affairs was killed after asking for the removal of the death penalty for committing blasphemy. It’s such a sensitive situation that many of our Christian neighbours from our Islamabad slum have had to flee their homes.

We respect the religious rights of others. We simply hope for the safety of our daughter and our community and wish this had never happened. We are happy that the Ulema Council, an umbrella group of Muslim clerics and scholars here in Pakistan, spoke out, saying: “We don’t want to see injustice done with anyone. We will work to end this climate of fear.” With your help, we can not only free Rimsha but make this incident the beginning of a greater understanding between communities in Pakistan. I ask you to sign this petition, and share it with your friends.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/pakistan_save_my_daughter/?bMPbqab&v=17480

With hope and determination,

Misrek Masih with the Avaaz team

A Walk Across the Sun

A Walk Across the Sun
by Corban Addison
Released 3 January 2012
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans
New York Journal of Books
22 August 2012

A Walk Across the Sun

“A Walk Across the Sun is the kind of literature that should be celebrated and honored.”

True crime meets literary fiction with a powerful kick to the stomach and the opening of the heart.

Lawyer and human rights activist Corban Addison steps astutely and brazenly into the writing world, delivering a story that navigates cross-cultural romance, family devotion, grief, loss, and modern day slavery into an exciting, disturbing, and provocative tale about surviving the impossible and believing beyond hope.

Two Indian teenage sisters (Ahalya and Sita Ghai) have their world literally washed away when their entire family is killed by a tsunami and they are sold as sex slaves to a man in Bombay.

Just when you think their lives cannot get any worse, they do. Thomas Clarke’s life as an up and coming lawyer in Washington D.C. is falling apart with the recent death of his daughter and his Indian wife Priya, leaving him alone and returning to India.

The way in which these characters’ lives eventually intersect and how their perspectives on life and death evolve are entirely believable in A Walk Across the Sun.

Nothing in this story feels contrived or out of place.

Each character struggles to survive the circumstances they find themselves in. Ahalya and Sita have no control over or voice in what happens to them, but Thomas and Priya are privileged with both choice and the means to manifest their deepest intentions—once they have figured out what those intentions are.

Though Ahalya and Sita are bought and sold for sex (as are thousands of girls and boys throughout the world), it is clear that it is about violence, control and profit. Sex is the conduit by which those that buy and sell others make their money.

By contrasting the love story between Thomas and Priya, the unbreakable devotion and tenderness between the sisters, and those engaging in sex for personal pleasure and profit, Mr. Addison distinctly defines and shows readers the difference between love, passion, and compassion versus sex for sex’s sake (at the expense of another’s wellbeing), without exhibiting any need to delve into a philosophical or theoretical discussion.

There is no ambiguity about rape and the use of the young for profit. Rape is rape.

It is a rare find to discover a work of fiction opening readers’ eyes to an existing horror with such precision and insight. A Walk Across the Sun is such a story.

Providing a treasure chest of prose, culture, nuance, insight, despair, and hope, A Walk Across the Sun is the kind of literature that should be celebrated and honored.

Don’t let this gem slip through your fingers. It will affect you long after you’ve read the last word.

Read more of Gabriel’s reviews at New York Journal of Books.

Vote Today On Indefinite Detention

Gabriel,

UPDATE: They’re debating the NDAA even as I type. Our contacts in Congress tell us the tides are turning: It’s still an uphill battle, but we have a chance of beating indefinite detention.

Please call Congress right away and ask your member to end indefinite detention.

ORIGINAL: The timing couldn’t be any better: As Congress gets ready to vote on indefinite detention today, a judge just ruled that these provisions of last year’s National Defense Authorization Act are unconstitutional!

Congratulations to Chris Hedges and Revolution Truth — who spearheaded the lawsuit — and to the 50,000 Demand Progress members who signed on as grassroots supporters of the effort.

It’s a huge victory, but we need to keep pushing Congress to do the right thing too: The government is likely to appeal the court’s ruling, so we have to make sure we beat back indefinite detention during today’s vote.

Please click here to call your member of Congress right away — it’ll just take a minute and we’ll give you a call script you can use.

The vote is expected this afternoon, so we need calls to start pouring in first thing this morning.

Thanks!

Demand Progress

20-Year Veteran Facing Jail

From Nation of Change
by Kevin Zeese
12 April 2012

20-Year Veteran to Face Jail Time for Act of Civil Disobedience

Retired Naval Commander Leah Bolger will appear in court Thursday, April 12th 2012 on charges stemming from her arrest on October 26th, 2011. Bolger, who is a peace activist and the President of Veterans For Peace, interrupted a public hearing of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, commonly known as the Super Committee.

In a calm, articulate manner Bolger spoke for nearly a minute in the well of the Senate hearing room before Capitol Hill police escorted her out and placed her under arrest. Prominent social activist Ben Cohen praised Bolger for her courageous stand in this video which includes footage of her action: http://youtu.be/aZVtPhVBM5Q Bolger accused the sole witness, Chief Budget Officer Douglas Elmendorf, of obfuscating the true costs of military spending, and implored the Committee to enact the people’s plan for reducing the deficit—end the wars and tax the rich.

Ralph Nader, a member of Veterans For Peace, applauded retired Naval Commander, Bolger’s effort to challenge the Super Committee for a minute of an un-scheduled reminder that cutting much needed social programs that saves lives rather than cutting the bloated military budget and taxing the 1% is Congressional insanity. “The government is dysfunctional, working for corporate interests rather than providing for the peoples necessities. Bolger showed what active citizens should be doing peacefully– confronting the corruption head on and making sure the public knows what is really going on. She should be honored for her actions.”

Bolger was a member of the Occupation of Washington,DC at Freedom Plaza. The occupation protested the Super Committee by holding an Occupied Super Committee hearing which was aired on C-SPAN, see CSPAN Coverage of Occupied Super Committee Hearings, and produced its own report. By cutting military spending and taxing the wealthy, the Occupied Super Committee reached the ten year deficit targets set by President Obama and Congress in two years, and was able to fund a jobs program, forgive student debt and secure social programs. See The 99%’s Deficit Proposal: How to create jobs, reduce the wealth divide and control spending. As a result of the actions of Bolger, the Occupy movement and other activists, the Super Committee, which had been on course to cut Social Security and Medicare, decided not to issue a report.

Read entire article at Nation of Change

Unethical Supreme Court

The High Court’s Supremely Unethical Activists
Nation of Change
by Joe Conason

How the Supreme Court majority will rule on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act may well have been foretold months or perhaps years ago — not so much by their questions during argument this week, as by their flagrant displays of bias outside the court, where certain justices regularly behave as dubiously as any sleazy officeholder.

While the public awaits the high court’s judgment on the constitutionality of health care reform, it is worth remembering how cheaply Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in particular have sullied the integrity of their lifetime appointments, and how casually Chief Justice John Roberts and their other colleagues tolerate such outrages.

What is most scandalous in Washington, as a wise pundit once suggested, are the things politicians do that are perfectly legal but shouldn’t be — an observation that applies with particular force to the Supreme Court, which is not subject to the ethics restrictions applied to lesser judges on the federal bench. That was why Scalia and Thomas, for instance, could appear as guests of honor at a fundraising dinner for the right-wing Federalist Society — which was sponsored by Bancroft PLLC, a major firm involved in litigation against the Affordable Care Act — on the very same day last November that they reviewed an appeal brief on the case from Paul Clement, the Bancroft attorney whose arguments they received so cordially this week.

In fact, Clement sat at a table “sandwiched between” the two justices. Scalia was seated with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had told the Federalists that he would rely on them to help undo the “affront” represented by health care reform. And for good measure, Justice Samuel Alito enjoyed the event at another table nearby.

If they were mere federal district or appeals judges, neither Scalia nor Thomas would have been permitted to attend the Federalist celebration, while Alito’s attendance would have been questionable, to say the least. But members of the right-wing majority abuse their immunity from ethics regulation without sanction. Poised to reject the Affordable Care Act with the kind of sweeping opinion that could tear down decades of Commerce Clause jurisprudence, they merit the sharp scrutiny of their motives and conduct that they have largely escaped until now, even as they drift further and further toward the corporate right.

Investigative reports have revealed partisan and ideological ties that the justices themselves have sought to conceal, dating back to Scalia’s duck-hunting trip with then-Vice President Dick Cheney, who had pending before the court a lawsuit challenging the secrecy of his Energy Task Force.

No federal judge would have dared to rule in such circumstances, but Scalia dismissed the obvious appearance of conflict with an unbecoming sneer.

As Scott Horton reported in Harpers magazine, Scalia’s duck-hunting patrons in Mississippi had brought other vital matters before him to get their way, again in a manner that any self-respecting ethical jurist would instinctively abhor.

More recently, Scalia and Thomas were used as celebrity bait by the ultra-right Koch brothers, David and Charles, to draw well-heeled supporters to a secretive conference on undermining the Obama administration at a fancy Western resort. It would be hard to imagine any activity less appropriate for a Supreme Court justice, unless it was Thomas’ wife Ginny accepting huge payments from a tea party organization devoted to repeal of health care reform, which she did in 2010. The justices failed to report any of these screaming conflicts on their disclosure reports, compounding the offense with the coverup.

Read entire Op-ed at Nation of Change

Adoption Testify

Adopting Isn’t Always Easy

Went with some friends today, who had to go to court to have the children that have lived with them for over 2 years permanently placed in their home. They’d asked me to come testify to help their case. I was one of the many they had for support.

As it turns out, they were such good witnesses that nobody else who came needed to testify in favor of them being the adoptive home for the children who have now called them Mama and Papa for a number of years. Everyone can see what a difference these parents have made for the children and it seemed like an easy decision, but the road to get to this point hasn’t always been a walk in the park.

Through no fault of their own, these parents have had to jump through what seems like a hundred hoops and “prove” themselves worthy ten times more than any biological parent ever dreams of having to do. They’ve weathered the storm and stood their ground, all for the benefit of the children. Some people would have given up by now, but they are attached and in love with the young people they’ve taken in.

Our experience was very different, when we adopted and fostered some of our children many years ago, there seemed to be much less hassle and more support. I hope it can get back to that type of system soon, so that more parents will want to take in children that need the loving, safe kind of home that our friends provide.

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