Monthly Archives: June 2014
We are watching, in real time, the collapse of the big-government model on which the house of liberalism has been built. The only question remaining is, when will those on the far left accept the results, rather than the intentions of the big government model?
President Obama ran on the idea that a big government can solve big problems, yet this model has not only not solved any of our big problems, but it has created new ones, while aggravating old ones created by prior administrations.
Think about where we find ourselves. We are in the midst of a border crisis on our southern border, a civil war in Iraq, an aggressive expansion of Russian territory, a historically unpopular healthcare initiative, record numbers of Americans both outside of our workforce and receiving disability payments from the government, a crisis where our own IRS admits to targeting Americans, then pleads the 5th, then “loses” only the emails of the suspects involved, destroys their hard-drives and tells us nothing is wrong. And where is our President on these issues? He is issuing public statements on how he disagrees with the name of an NFL team. Calling this leadership is either willfully misleading or un-willfully blind.
If “Bush did it”, then Obama “did it” worse. If we are going to blame Bush for starting the house fire, isn’t it fair to blame Obama for pouring gasoline on it?
November is rapidly approaching and yes, voting matters. If you believe otherwise, we’ll take action while you sit back and just take it. Stand up, fight back, and cede no more ground.
The box of enigma
Some of the finds
Dr Alexandra Fletcher (left) and Dr Tamar Hodos packing the items at Bristol’s Department of Archaeology in preparation for moving them to the British Museum
20 June 2014
An enigmatic box from a bygone era, filled with pottery, seeds and animal bones, has been discovered in the University of Bristol’s Department of Archaeology and Anthropology. The box was found while researchers were emptying current laboratory spaces in preparation for the installation of a new state-of-the-art radiocarbon dating facility.
Index cards nestled amongst the objects in the box provided a clue to the origins of the material. Key words such as ‘Predynastic’, ‘Sargonid’, and ‘Royal Tombs’ suggested the remains came from the famous excavations by Sir Leonard Woolley in southern Iraq at the site of Ur during the 1920s and early 1930s.
The discovery is very exciting because environmental finds were rarely collected in this early period of archaeological fieldwork, especially from this part of the world.
Further investigation revealed that these were the remains of food offerings from a royal tomb at least 4,500 years old.
The original excavation was sponsored jointly by the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and the finds were divided between London, Philadelphia and Baghdad, following the tradition of the era.
Therefore, Dr Tamar Hodos, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at Bristol, contacted Dr Alexandra Fletcher, Raymond and Beverly Sackler Curator of Near Eastern Archaeology at the British Museum, about where the material should be housed.
The British Museum immediately offered the remains a new home, where they will join the rest of the museum’s collection from Ur – holdings which are currently both on display (rooms 55-56) and part of a major digitisation programme sponsored by the Leon Levy Foundation and undertaken with the University of Pennsylvania Museum.
Dr Hodos said: “The remaining mystery is how this material came to be at Bristol in the first place. The environmental remains themselves were published in 1978 in Journal of Archaeological Science. The authors of that study were based at the Institute of Archaeology, London, and at the University of Southampton, and none of them had any known connection to the University of Bristol that might explain how the material came to reside here. If anyone can shed light on this mystery, we would love to hear from them.”
The University of Bristol’s new radiocarbon dating facility, due to open in the autumn of 2015, will allow Bristol to offer a world-beating service for the dating of ancient artefacts and ecofacts (organic material found at archaeological sites).
June is always an exciting month for law geeks and political junkies. It’s the month when the U.S. Supreme Court typically issues opinions on some of the most controversial disputes of the day. This June will be no different, with high-profile decisions expected on abortion protests, Obamacare’s contraception mandate, and the president’s recess appointment power. Yet one of the lingering mysteries of this past Supreme Court term lies in a matter the justices seemingly refuse to rule on: What happened to the Second Amendment?
The justices are rarely hesitant to wade into any hot-button legal issue, including guns. Six years ago, the court made headlines when it ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual right to own a gun. The court expanded on that decision two years later, but this term, despite numerous invitations and opportunities, the justices went out of their way to avoid the right to bear arms.
Signs of this were clear on Monday, when the court in a 5–4 ruling upheld a major gun control law, the federal ban on “straw” purchasing without so much as mentioning the Second Amendment. Writing for the majority, Justice Elena Kagan reasoned that the background checks gun dealers are required to perform before selling someone a firearm would be “virtually repeal[ed]” if anyone could go in and buy a gun for someone else, while saying it was for him. In the dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia accused the majority of misreading federal law, which he said was not intended to prohibit straw purchasing at all.
The justices’ failure to consider the Second Amendment was in part due to how the case was framed. The law wasn’t challenged as an infringement of the constitutional right to bear arms. The issue was one of statutory interpretation. Yet judges often look to background principles in deciding whether to read a statute broadly (as Kagan did) or narrowly (as Scalia did). One might have expected the values and concerns enshrined in the Second Amendment to at least make an appearance, if not a star turn. When the justices ignore the Second Amendment when construing a major gun control law, one suspects it isn’t merely an oversight.
Even as Second Amendment battles heat up in legislatures across the country—exemplified by Georgia’s recently adopted “guns everywhere” law permitting firearms in churches, bars, and airports—the Supreme Court refused to enter the fray. The justices declined to hear appeals in several Second Amendment cases this year. They turned away a case out of New Jersey on the constitutionality of discretionary permitting for concealed carry. They steered clear of a case challenging Texas’ ban on concealed carry by people under 21. And they denied cert in another case contesting the federal law banning gun dealers from selling handguns to people under 21.
Were the justices having second thoughts about the Second Amendment? One thing is certain: There were very strong reasons for the court to take a Second Amendment case this term. The court’s previous decisions left open two major questions: Does the Second Amendment protect the right of people to carry guns in public? And what test should courts use generally to determine the constitutionality of gun restrictions?
These questions have bedeviled the lower courts over the past few years, with judges all across the country offering contradictory answers. One federal appeals court held that police can exercise broad discretion over who can carry a gun in public, while another held the opposite. Some courts have adopted a test for Second Amendment cases that gives lawmakers considerable leeway to enact gun laws, while others have insisted on a more strict scrutiny. In some ways, the current Supreme Court jurisprudence on guns raised as many questions as it answered.
Such disagreement in the lower courts is usually the best predictor of whether the Supreme Court takes a case. The justices understand the nation’s need for uniformity, especially when it comes to individual rights. This term, however, the justices weren’t inclined to sort out any such inconsistencies involving the Second Amendment. Indeed, when expressly invited to wade in, they balked.
Über Supreme Court advocate Paul Clement, at the top of the shortlist of high-court nominees should the GOP recapture the White House in 2016, tried to goad the justices into taking a Second Amendment case. In a brief he filed on behalf of the National Rifle Association in the gun dealer case, Clement argued that the lower courts have engaged in a “pervasive pattern of stubborn resistance to this Court’s holdings” in the earlier gun cases. This language evoked the notorious “massive resistance” of Southern states to the court’s school desegregation decisions. Like the NAACP before him, he and the NRA were looking for the court to issue a clear, strong command to lower courts to read the Second Amendment broadly.
No thanks, said the court, declining to take the case. Indeed, the NRA may have been this term’s biggest loser. Not only did the court refuse to hear Clement’s case and another brought by the nation’s leading gun rights group, but it also rejected the NRA’s position outright in the straw-purchaser case just decided. In March, the court held in another case that a law banning guns to people convicted of misdemeanor crimes of “domestic violence” applied to those convicted of domestic “assault,” even if it was unclear that the assault involved violent force. Although the NRA didn’t take an official position in that case, many in its leadership were surely unhappy to see another Supreme Court ruling broadly reading a gun control law to reduce access to guns.
NRA disappointment might well turn into despair after Monday’s ruling, as Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court’s swing vote on the Second Amendment and so many other issues, sided with gun control advocates and the court’s liberal wing. It’s long been suspected that Kennedy signed on to the earlier Second Amendment rulings by the court only after language was inserted allowing for reasonable restrictions on guns. But the question has lingered: How far would Kennedy allow gun control to go?
That question might well have been on the minds of the other justices when they voted not to hear a Second Amendment case this year. With four justices likely in favor of broad Second Amendment rights and another four likely opposed, the scope of the right to bear arms turns on Kennedy. His views may have been sufficiently unclear that neither side wanted to take a risk of a landmark decision coming out the wrong way.
If, however, this term is any indication, Kennedy seems increasingly less likely to be a solid vote for expansive Second Amendment rights. Indeed, twice this term he voted for expansive readings of gun control laws instead. For the NRA, so used to winning in statehouses around the country, this can’t be good news. After this term, the NRA may be hoping that the Second Amendment stays out of the Supreme Court for a good, long while.
Did the ISIS in Iraq find Saddam Hussein’s WMD stockpiles of chemical weapons? While the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has been confirmed to have seized an old chemical weapons plant there seems to be a dispute over whether or not the remaining tons of chemical weapons like sarin and mustard could still be weaponized into a dangerous form.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, former CIA director Michael Hayden is claiming that the ISIS in Iraq have essentially won the war at this point and that it is very likely the nation will be split into three sections. Due to the Iraq crisis oil prices have jumped and some Americans may wonder whether this means U.S. gas prices will be rising soon, as well. But as it turns out China has a lot more to lose if Iraq’s oil supply is blocked even though America spent trillions of dollars on the Iraq war.
After the end of the Iraq War, Saddam’s missing WMDs were very controversial, leading some to claim President George W Bush lied about Iraq’s WMD programs. As one of the reasons for going to war, Bush had argued Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction might end up in the hands of terrorist groups like ISIS. After Iraq was occupied, reports from the CIA concluded they found Iraq’s WMD development programs, which included a very early development nuclear weapons program and an unexpected air force buried in the sand, but no large stockpiles of chemical weapons or other major WMDs… at first.
Wikileaks revealed in 2010 that during the occupation of Iraq the U.S. military discovered many small caches of chemical weapons, but others claimed that Russia had helped Hussein hide the most dangerous WMD stockpiles into Syria. The plot took a new twist when Syrian rebels began identifying weapons that came from Iraq last year. Then when Russia began to oversee Assad’s supposed disarmament of chemical weapons John A. Shaw, the former Pentagon official who claims to have tracked Iraq’s WMDs being moved out by Russian special forces, claimed that it was possible some of these chemical weapons were being hid back in Iraq.