Liberty Planet Weblog

Archive for March 2012

(CNN) — The number of children with autism in the United States continues to rise, according to a new report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The latest data estimate that 1 in 88 American children has some form of autism spectrum disorder. That’s a 78% increase compared to a decade ago, according to the report.

Since 2000, the CDC has based its autism estimates on surveillance reports from its Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. Every two years, researchers count how many 8-year-olds have autism in about a dozen communities across the nation. (The number of sites ranges from six to 14 over the years, depending on the available funding in a given year.)
In 2000 and 2002, the autism estimate was about 1 in 150 children. Two years later 1 in 125 8-year-olds had autism. In 2006, the number was 1 in 110, and the newest data — from 2008 — suggests 1 in 88 children have autism.

CDC Report link
Source: CNN Health

A student in Philadelphia has been arrested for taking photos of a traffic stop outside his house. That’s despite of the fact that police officers were specifically instructed that people can take pictures of their activity in public.

Ian Van Kuyk, a Temple University photojournalism student, has been charged with obstruction of justice, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. All for simply trying to do his course assignment.

Van Kuyk relates the story. He was sitting on the porch stairs of his home when police pulled a vehicle to the side of the street. As he was tasked with a night-photography assignment, Van Kuyk decided to use the moment, grabbed his camera and began shooting photos.

A police officer then told Van Kuyk to move away from the scene, and the student followed the order but continued shooting. However, an officer soon demanded that Van Kuyk stop taking photos. When the student asserted his rights to film on public domain, an officer reportedly said: “Public domain, yeah we’ve heard that before!” Van Kuyk says the officer then started shoving him.

“He was pushing me, and I kept taking pictures and he didn’t like it, and he … got real aggressive and threw me to the ground,” the student recalls.

Van Kuyk was then arrested. Police reportedly threw his camera, which was university property, on the ground. Meghan Feighan, Van Kuyk’s girlfriend, tried to pick up the camera to save it but was herself arrested. Van Kuyk was held in custody for 24 hours, while Feighan was under arrest for 18 hours.

Six days after the event, Feighan settled the case by agreeing to pay a $200 fine and do 12 hours of community service.
Through the head of the university’s journalism department, Mickey Osterreicher, a lawyer for the National Press Photographers Association, got to know about the incident. He then wrote a letter to the Police Department Commissioner of Philadelphia, condemning the officers for their actions and saying the charges brought up against van Kuyk were unjust.

“Not only wasn’t he committing any crimes, he was exercising a constitutionally protected form of free speech and free expression,” Osterreicher told university paper the Temple News. “The elements of most criminal charges contain a number of things, but they all have to have contained intent … his only intent at that point was to take pictures. I think they would have a very difficult time proving beyond a reasonable doubt those charges.”

If facts in Van Kuyk’s story are confirmed, the police were simply acting in violation of the Constitution, the law and an internal memorandum issued earlier by Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner. The memo clearly states that the public has a right to film police activities, and that officers have no right to prevent people from exercising this right.

This isn’t the first time police have violated the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause. However, in most previous cases, the court sided with the victims. Just recently the city of Boston settled the case of a man arrested for filming police by paying him $170,000. An appeals court had previously found that the man’s arrest was not only a violation of the First and Fourth Amendments, but also a civil rights violation, as the police knew they were acting unconstitutionally.

Last year another man was arrested for filming a police chase in New York State. The photographer was charged with obstruction but all charges were dropped when the prosecution realized it had no case.

Source: RT

The Internal Revenue Service wants to add about 4,000 agents to hunt down tax cheats and still plans to spend $303 million building a system to oversee Obamacare even though its future looks bleak in the U.S. Supreme Court.

A new Government Accountability Office review of the IRS 2012 tax return season and the taxman’s fiscal 2013 budget request also found that the agency’s customer service rating has slipped and 5.5 million returns were delayed a week because of a computer programming glitch.

The news isn’t all bad though. A March 20 GAO performance audit found that the agency has seen a steady increase in e-filing and had processed 68 million returns so far, a 3 percent bump. What’s more, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said that the American Customer Satisfaction Index for his team has jumped to 73 percent and he added that for every $1 spent on enforcement, the agency collects a return of $4.30.

The audit looked at everything from customer service to pending budget issues. It found that the agency’s “level of service” via phone calls dropped from 70 percent last year to 61 percent currently, and that the number of “abandoned (calls,) busies and disconnects” jumped 41 percent this year and almost 150 percent since 2009. The average wait time for IRS help also surged 48 percent to 16.6 minutes.

As for the new workers sought, the GAO said the total will be about 4,500 with nearly 4,000 slated for enforcement. The IRS, however, argues that past budget cuts have forced the agency to cut jobs and set a hiring freeze. On the $303 million for Obamacare, the GAO said it will “continue the development of new systems and modifications of existing systems required to support new tax credits.”

Source: Washington Examiner

A new Congressional report affirms that a potential US or Israeli strike on Iran would be useless since the Islamic Republic could recuperate from it within a six month time frame.

The report sparked by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s remarks claiming he “believes” Israel is “likely” to attack in Iran in either April, May or June, says although US and Israel aren’t certain of the precise location of the nuclear sites, the facilities may be spread out in a way that an attack would result in failure.

Bloomberg described the report stating it is “unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be on the likelihood of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.”

Iran’s alleged “workshops” for producing nuclear centrifuges have had Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushing for an airstrike on the program that Iranian officials claim is for peaceful purposes.

What to do about Iran’s nuclear program has created a divide between the US and Israel.

Although the US has hesitated to publicly endorse Israel’s plans to carry-out an attack on the Islamic Republic, Israeli officials have expressed they may have to go it alone, with or without American assistance.

According to the Bloomberg report, last month a former US government official stated to researchers that “Iran’s centrifuge production is widely distributed and the number of workshops has probably multiplied ‘many times’ since 2005 because of an increase in Iranian contractors and subcontractors working on the program.”

This echoes Netanyahu’s and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s concern that sanctions against Iran are futile and an attack should be implemented before it’s too late.

The report states “an attack could have considerable regional and global security, political and economic repercussion, not least for the United States, Israel, and their bilateral relationship.”

In the 52 page document, it states that although President Obama and leaders of Congress have expressed their concerns about a nuclear armed Iran, the American people must have trust in the US intelligence assessments that “Iran has not made a decision to build nuclear weapons.”

The report also acknowledges that the aspects of detailed text are subject to “vigorous debate and remain fully or partially outside public knowledge.”

According to the Congressional Research Service report, Iran has been engaged in nuclear activities for decades and despite extensive examination of the activities by entities such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, there is no “definitive proof” that Iran is attempting to gain nuclear capabilities for warheads. But many argue that Iran is developing their “nuclear capability” just below the verge of nuclear weapons.

In page five of the report it states that “this uncertainty and ambiguity is a major feature of the environment in which international actors decided their policies and actions vis-à-vis Iran.”

Leaders like Netanyahu have taken advantage of these grey areas.

Twice in history, the reports states, “Israel has conducted air strikes aimed at preventing a regional actor from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.” The report goes on saying Iran and Syria have been victims of the Israeli aggression that the US ally claims was self-defense. But the report says a military move on Iran “would be significantly more complex than previous attacks.”

The CRS report, asks questions like, “what are the factors in Israeli thinking? How does Israel assess the operational requirements of a potential strike? Is an attack more likely to prevent an Iran with nuclear weapons or help bring it about? If Iran retaliated, would it limit the targeted area to Israel?”

The report quotes Netanyahu as saying, “Iran has threatened to annihilate a state. In historical terms, this is an astounding thing. It’s a monumental outrage that goes effectively unchallenged in the court of public opinion…Iranian leaders talk about Israel’s destruction or disappearance while simultaneously creating weapons to ensure its disappearance.”

Although Iran hasn’t attacked a country in decades the fear of a potential assault on Israel continues to put the global community at risk.

According to an article by the Jerusalem Report news outlet, “even if the Iranians don’t use the bomb, [Netanyahu] fears the very fact that they have it could lead to a mass exodus of Jews from an Israel under nuclear threat, weakening the state and compromising the Zionist dream.”

Source: RT

Bateman v. Perdue (E.D.N.C. Mar. 29, 2012) involves a North Carolina law that bans “transport[ing] or possess[ing] off [one’s] own premises any dangerous weapon” when a state of emergency has been declared. “Due to natural disasters and severe weather, states of emergency are declared with some frequency in North Carolina. In 2010, for example, the Governor … issued four statewide emergency declarations and one declaration covering a fifteen-county area ….” There were also at least six local states of emergency declared. All five of these 2010 states of emergency were in response to weather conditions, and the frequency of such declarations may stem from the fact that “[a] state of emergency must be declared in order to qualify for federal disaster assistance.”

The court concluded that:

1. The right to keep and bear arms extends to carrying outside one’s property, for self-defense and for other reasons. The law interferes with the exercise of this right.

2. The law also interferes with the exercise of people’s right to defend themselves in their homes, because it bars people from buying weapons and them transporting them to their homes.

3. The law must therefore be considered under strict scrutiny, because it isn’t just limited to high-risk gun possessors, to particular kinds of guns, or particular manners or times of carrying guns, and because it interferes with getting guns even for home defense (though, as I noted, the court also concluded that carrying guns for defense outside the home is also generally constitutionally protected).

4. The law fails strict scrutiny, because they “excessively intrude upon plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights by effectively banning them … from engaging in conduct that is at thev ery core of the Second Amendment at a time when the need for self-defense may be at its very greatest” and therefore aren’t narrowly tailored to serve the government’s compelling interest in public safety.

Source: FedSoc

Elections, especially of representatives and counselors, should be annual, there not being in the whole circle of the sciences a maxim more infallible than this, ―where annual elections end, there slavery begins.‖ These great men … should be (chosen) once a year—Like bub- bles on the sea of matter bourne, they rise, they break, and to the sea return. This will teach them the great political virtues of humility, patience, and moderation, without which every man in power becomes a ravenous beast of prey.

Original, translated into English:

I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:

To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art; and that by my teaching, I will impart a knowledge of this art to my own sons, and to my teacher’s sons, and to disciples bound by an indenture and oath according to the medical laws, and no others.

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.

All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.

If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all humanity and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my life.

Modern version

A widely used modern version of the traditional oath was penned in 1964 by Dr. Louis Lasagna, former Principal of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences and Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University:[8]
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not”, nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, be respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

Source: Wikipedia


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