Friday, March 16, 2012

Hard Cases Make Bad Law

Without gainsaying that Dharun Ravi was guilty of a hate crime, the prosecution never proved that he hated gays.

It didn’t matter. In cases where there is no way to compensate a victim juries often go for the extremes.

Such a case more than 200 years ago led to the saying that bad cases make tough law Tyler Clementi is dead. His soul left adrift on a Twitter posting.

He committed suicide after Ravi made a video of him kissing a lover.

The Convictions

Ravi was found guilty of the most serious charge, bias intimidation. He faces up to ten years in prison and possible deportation.

No one will ever know how much the video played in Clementi’s decision to kill himself. Certainly other things that had happened to him after he came out of the closet caused great hurt. Some of these events involved people he knew, including his mother.

The Web

Also weighing on the jury would be the explosion of privacy invasion that are part and parcel of the Web.

Surveillance cams are on many streets throughout the nation. People are growing tired of it.

And the Web has become a powerful tool for bullying.

This decision hopefully will cause some people to think twice before acting in harmful ways with handy Web tools, including smart phones.

What To Do In This Case

Making Ravi a martyr to some could have an impact that was the opposite of what the jury intended.

Those predicting that the decision will have a major impact on social media may not understand how powerful a force it is. Ravi became a trending topic on Twitter almost immediately after the decision was announced.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Madness

We should have known when the Ides of March was preceded by Linsanity.
Holy Steve Jobs. Not only did we have a Super Tuesday, Wednesday starts with a new iPad.
Defendant in privacy case in New Jersey is rushed by spectators in a court room.
Pirate Bay now calls itself Supr Bay.
Peyton Manning will always be a Colt. But because of an injury caused by a bounty hunter he won’t be playing for them.
Politics remain a dream. Should we call in a Lego crew? Caesar was stabbed 23 times.
A bad joke that needs to be told again. Republicans appear headed to a Sanatorium.
What did they expect after they pissed off a majority of women and workers. Who does that leave out.
Rush made sure contraception was included. I’ll bet this guy never hard of foreplay. Well, with all those drugs available why bother.
Six Brits killed in Afghanistan. No, the war is not over. Perhaps the mainstream media might mention it from time to time.
The slaughter continues in Syria. Again, too many references to screw ups elsewhere, like Vietnam. Let’s talk about Rwanda, the Balkans and Liberia.
Where is a drone when you need one.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ludicrous Tuesday

You are more likely to have an Amazon store come to your town than a Republican primary.
It certainly would mean more.
Sometimes these things look like the kind of standoff a local SWAT team would handle.
The media reports today that Independents don’t care for any of the candidates. That is blamed on bruising primaries.
It does seem that some candidates have taken out bounties on their opponents. It is easier, however, to knock an opponent out than to build your own credibility.
One possible factor, in addition to the primaries, is the possibility Independents were put off by the failure of the GOP to do anything.
President Obama, on the other hand, can probably count on enough Progressives to vote for him to win a second term.
For some it is déjà vu all over again. At least in 1968 there was a third candidate, sadly it was George Wallace.
Given the Internet’s ability to send unhappy activists into the streets of Cairo and Moscow,  and into the artillery of Syria, one wonders why so little impact here. Occupy this, occupy that.  Hey they try.
Recessions being somewhat cyclical, things are turning around.
Who will admit being a Republican in December? Kind of reminds one of the late Everett Dirksen denying he had nominated Barry Goldwater as the GOP presidential nominee. Expect something like that.
And all the stories of this boring campaign wouldn’t even fill the smallest Kindle.
The fact is they want us to have no fun of any kind.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Six Things You Didn't Know About Bison

6 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Bison
from Wildlife Promise
2 2/29/2012 // Judith Kohler
Bison, Great Plains, tribal bison, Yellowstone National Park

Photo credit: Beth Pratt/NWF
The bison, shaggy behemoth of the Great Plains, despite weighing as much as a ton, can race up to 40 mph, jump up to 6 feet vertically and can quickly pivot to combat predators. Unfortunately this mighty beast is not faster than a speeding bullet.

Though the bison’s ancestors roamed the continent with saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths, he could not protect himself from expansion and was nearly wiped out in the late 1800s as the nation’s population moved West.

Millions of bison were slaughtered for sport, for their hides, to clear the plains for settlers and their livestock and to control the Plains tribes. Native Americans used the bison for food and clothing, shelter, tools and ceremonial implements – nearly everything to survive physically and spiritually.

Before their near extermination, an estimated 30 million to 60 million bison ranged from Canada to northern Mexico and from the Plains to Eastern forests. By about 1890, roughly 1,000 remained, including two dozen in Yellowstone National Park.

Now the tribes at Fort Peck and Fort Belknap are preparing for the arrival of 65 Yellowstone bison.

The American buffalo, also known as bison, has always held great meaning for American Indian people…buffalo represent their spirit and remind them of how their lives were once lived, free and in harmony with nature.  -the InterTribal Buffalo Council

Credit: D. Forehand of Montana
6 Facts about Bison:

1) Bison are North America’s largest land animals. Mature bulls weigh up to 2,000 pounds and mature cows as much as 1,000 pounds.

2) A bison stands 6 – 6.5 feet tall and 10 – 12.5 feet long.

3) A bison’s hump is composed of muscle, supported by long vertebrae. It allows the animal to use its head to plow through snow.

4) Most of the 500,000 or so bison nationwide are raised as livestock on ranches. About 30,000 are managed for conservation in private and public herds.

5) Fossils and accounts from early travelers show that Yellowstone National Park is the only place in the U.S. where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times.

6) The Yellowstone herd is one of the few that remains genetically free of cattle genes.

By: Judith Kohler
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Thursday, March 1, 2012

The End Of Privacy

   The End of Privacy
   In this century it appears the loss of anonymity will be more shocking than the loss of virginity.
   Two events that resulted in deaths, and both involve the Internet at least tangentially, signal the need for a reexamination of privacy.
   Is it even possible in a world with surveillance cameras wherever you turn?  Drones aren’t only used in Afghanistan.
In the Princeton suicide case of Tyler Clementi his predator had figured out how to set up a remote control viewing of his sex with an older gay man.
   Even though it never happened, and even though no video of the sexual encounter was ever posted, the mere appearance on Websites of the fact it happened led to Clementi jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
   This raises another issue. In any sexual harassment case it is difficult to determine what happened, and why. There will be exaggeration, which could result in a more extreme response than might otherwise have followed.
   Can a court handle cases like this. Did events in Clementi's prior life contribute to his decision to take his life?
   How can there be free speech if your right to swing ends where my iPhone begins.
Must everything be figurative, not literal.
   AFP reports a Frenchman is suiing Google for posting a photo of him peeing in his back yard on its Street View.
   This week a teen in Chardon, Ohio, allegedly killed three high school students after publishing a poem that included references to death on Facebook that could have been a warning of what was to come.
   The Christian Science Monitor reported T.J. Lane, the Chardon killer, attended an alternative school for students who are evaluated as a high risk for “substance abuse/chemical dependency, anger issues, mental health issues, truancy, delinquency, difficulties with attention/organization, and academic deficiencies,” according to the school's website. All are red flags that should have made the family weapon more difficult to obtain, says Jennie Lintz, acting executive director of The Center to Prevent Youth Violence in New York City, the Monitor reported.
   Lane had been accused of assaulting a family member in 2009. What does it take for authorities to act.
   As far back as the Columbine High School Massacre 12 years ago, a lifetime in the Web age, killers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, issued threats on the Internet. And they were reported to area law officers.
   Families at the high school remain convinced police action could have prevented 13 deaths. Instead of investigating why no action was taken the Colorado state government has blocked release of information that may hold the answer.
   Had the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office dragged the two boys into its headquarters for questioning the officers might have faced a court order insisting the threatening words were covered by the First Amendment.
   On the other extreme, Princeton student Dharun Ravi, is on trial for revealing to the university public and beyond electronically that his dormitory roommate was gay. Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge after learning of his betrayal, it has been reported.
The author was the lead reporter for Associated Press on the Columbine Massacre, and ten years of events that followed. He also was working the night life support was turned off for Matthew Shepard in a Colorado hospital.

ICRC Syria

Syria – ICRC Bulletin No. 01 / 2012
1 March 2012

Syria: with no halt in fighting, aid effort faces major challenges

In areas affected by the violence, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, with ICRC support, is doing its utmost to evacuate the wounded and others in need. It is also distributing essential aid to the population in areas of unrest.

On 21 February, the ICRC called for a daily humanitarian pause in the fighting of at least two hours, so that ICRC staff and Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers have enough time to deliver aid and evacuate the wounded and the sick.

In Homs, as the violence continues, the humanitarian situation is very worrying. Despite ongoing negotiations with the authorities and opposition groups, Syrian Arab Red Crescent personnel managed to enter Baba Amr only twice in the last seven days. The situation makes it impossible to distribute aid in the Baba Amr and Il-Insha'at areas at present. However, assistance operations are taking place in other areas, sometimes with difficulty owing to the security conditions.

In Al-Zabadani, 50 kilometres north-west of Damascus, people have been leaving the city for Bludan and Madaya, near the Lebanese border, in search of safety. Bludan residents and people they took in from Al-Zabadani were without medical care for 10 days. There were reports of shortages – of food, electricity and water – resulting from the lack of security in the Zabadani area.

Evacuating the wounded and distributing aid in Baba Amr and elsewhere in Homs

●   Convoys of 13 trucks carrying relief goods and food, and five other Syrian Arab Red Crescent and ICRC vehicles, entered Homs between 11 and 28 February. The supplies they carried included medical items, food for 30,000 people for one month, 3,000 blankets, 1,000 baby-milk tins and hygiene items for 9,000 people.
●   The Homs branch of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent has been distributing the aid since 15 February in four areas of Homs (Al-Khalidiyah, Karm al-Zaytun, Al-Rastan and Al-Tawzi' al-Ijbari). Subsequent distributions also took place in six other parts of the city.
●   A convoy of nine ambulances, a mobile medical unit and three Syrian Arab Red Crescent and ICRC vehicles entered the Baba Amr neighbourhood of Homs on 24 February. Syrian Arab Red Crescent ambulances evacuated seven seriously wounded people and 20 sick women and children to the nearby Al-Amin Hospital.
●   Three other people, including two women, were evacuated on 27 February.
●   On 11 February, ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent personnel joined local Red Crescent volunteers in Homs in evacuating more than 80 inhabitants of the Insha'at area to a mosque in a safer neighbourhood. "A period of calm made it possible for us to evacuate people," said Jeroen Carrin, an ICRC delegate who took part in the evacuation. "People looked exhausted. They had been trying to leave the neighbourhood for nearly a week. Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers provided first aid for those who needed it."
●   The ICRC also provided medical supplies for the private hospitals that continue to function in the city.

Bringing aid to Hama, Idlib and Dara'a

●   During the past week, humanitarian convoys entered Hama, Idlib and Dara'a. The relief goods they were carrying included the first ICRC aid to reach Hama since 17 January. A total of 2,000 food parcels, 500 blankets and hygiene items for 2,200 people were delivered to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent branch in Hama. "The distribution of the assistance started on 28 February," said Rula Daoud, an ICRC field officer on the scene.
●   Another convoy reached Idlib on 28 February, carrying 1,500 food parcels, 1,000 blankets and hygiene items for 9,000 people.
●   In addition, 500 food parcels were delivered to Dara'a for distribution by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent branch in the city.

Medical teams enter Bludan and Madaaya

●   On 18 and 19 February, the ICRC set up another first-aid and medical post in Al-Zabadani, manned by 17 Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers, including three doctors and 11 first-aid workers, and provided with two ambulances and a mobile clinic. Three specialized clinics (paediatrics and surgery) were formed to provide medical care. The ambulances brought in people who would otherwise have been unable to reach the post for treatment. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent also set up a pharmacy to dispense medicines. Nearly 700 people have been treated.
●   On 12 February, Syrian Arab Red Crescent set up a medical post in Bludan. For three days, volunteer doctors attended to more than 250 people, many of them injured. Returning to Damascus, the medical team brought five patients with them, including a woman and her daughter, who could not receive proper medical treatment on location.
●   On 11 February, a Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy of ambulances and trucks carrying 480 baby-milk tins and other food for 16,200 people, 800 blankets and hygiene supplies entered Bludan.

During the same period, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent delivered and distributed 1,500 20-kilogram ICRC food parcels to the affected population in Bludan, Madaya and Buqqin and 1,000 57-kilogram food parcels from the World Food Programme in Al-Zabadani. In addition, at least a dozen injured people were evacuated to Damascus for treatment and then returned to their homes a day later.

Activities in the Golan

The ICRC continued its activities to ease the effects of the occupation on Syrian Arabs living in the Golan Heights. On 27 February, ICRC staff facilitated the return to the occupied Golan of a bride, three students, and five other people whose travel to Damascus had been arranged for humanitarian reasons.

For further information, please contact:
Saleh Dabbakeh, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 993 700 847 or +963 11 331 0476
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 41 or +41 79 536 92 57
or visit our website:

To preview and download the latest ICRC video footage in broadcast quality, go to

To find out what the ICRC is doing to put an end to attacks on health workers and patients, go to