Texas teen couple tests law protecting unborn

Texas teens test law protecting unborn

“How can two people conspire to do something like this and only one of them be punished? How can that be fair?” defence attorney Ryan Deaton asked.

Prosecutor Clyde Herrington said it was startling that “they completely leave the female out of the criminal penalty.”

“It doesn’t seem entirely fair,” Mr. Herrington said.

Basically a girl went to hospital with bruises and a miscarriage. The police throught the boyfriend was beating her. However, it was the girl who pleaded with her boyfriend to step on her stomach to end the pregnancy. She had beaten herself for two weeks prior to asking her boyfriend who eventually agreed.

The boy is charged with capital murder but not the girl since there is a ban on prosecution of woman’s right to end the pregnancy.

At four months, when the mirror betrayed her first bulge, Ms. Basoria wanted out. She feigned taking prenatal vitamins and jogged when she wasn’t supposed to.

“About two weeks before the miscarriage, I started hitting myself,” Ms. Basoria wrote. “I would do this every other day, and I would use both of my fists when I did this. I would hit myself 10 or more times.”

Then she turned to her boyfriend.

“I said I didn’t want to do it,” he recalled. But she kept pleading, he said, until he agreed to step on her.

A co-author of the state law said it was intended to protect women and unborn babies from domestic violence, drunken drivers and other assaults.

“We didn’t consider a case as ridiculous as this,” said Republican Representative Ray Allen. “I feel sad for these immature, stupid people. But the law is what the law is.”

Roger Enriquez, a criminal justice professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said prosecutors should consider the couple’s ages.

“This is a classic case here of individuals who are not mature enough to make these decisions on their own,” he said.

A discussion on Eminent Domain.

Land war goes before Supreme Court: Homeowners ask justices to block city’s use of eminent domain – CNN.Com

WASHINGTON (CNN)—A fight by homeowners to save their New London, Connecticut, neighborhood from city officials and private developers—an important property rights case with an unusual twist—will reach the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

This case before the Supreme court relates to the reach of eminent domain. Eminent domain basically means that the state can take your land, if such taking is for the public good and that there is reasonable compensation. The main question in such cases is usually what is the definition of public good. It generally refers to construction of highways, schools or that perhaps the area is a slum or is “blighted” and needs to be cleared. The question is whether can eminent domain be used by the state to take (with compensation) the land from one individual (home owners) and give it to another private individual (Pfizer corp). In this discussion, let us examine the various issues separately.

1) Basic Principle:
What is your bottom line on the usage of eminent domain. Do you believe that:
A) NO: Never be used in ANY circumstances.
B) PUBLIC ONLY: Used only for public purpose – Highways, schools, etc.
C) NO PRIVATE: Never used for private purpose – Even if say the company wants to invest $100billion in the area to create jobs and that there is only one person who refuses to sell.
D) SIGNIFICANT PRIVATE: Used for private purpose – If it is shown that there is significant benefit to the community, that also significanly outweighs the cost.
E) BALANCED INTEREST: As long as on a balance of interest there is greater benefit to the community, such as increased taxes from the new entity.

2) Interest:
If you believe in the wider (private) use of eminent domain but you are hesitant with regards to evaluation reports on the so called benefits, then your protest should be here, rather than the principle itself. Also protest about possible corruption of state officials should be directed here, since presumably a corrupted state official in the hands of the private company, would make us question the validity of the benefits report.

3) Private/Public:
Why is there is divide between private and public purposes? Should not the test be one for the community? After all a high-tech research facility (Pfizer) or a car manufacturing plant (GM in Detriot) that creates jobs in the area, may be more beneficial than a highway to nowhere. It could be argued that a private purpose only benefits the workers and perhaps its suppliers but a highway or school similarly only benefits those who drive (or takes the bus?) or have children. It could also be argued that the state should not “subsidize” one private corporation over another. But if that help results in the creation of several thousand jobs, is it really that bad?

4) Compensation:
If you are complaining about the amount paid, then obviously your protest should be the formula for calculation of the compensation rather than principle.

5) Big Corporations: Evil
If you are protesting this because you generally or as a principle protest anything that big corporation does, then this is your port of call.

So what is your opinion on eminent domain. Aye or Nay?

Gay Penguins

A zoo in Germany has imported some Swedish Seductresses lady penguins hoping to tempt the zoo’s three gay penguins back on the straight. Oddly enough, the zoo only discovered that the penguins were gay after they conducted DNA tests as they had (I assumed) thought the mating penguins were male and female.

The actions by the zoo have sparked protests from gay groups. But it must be said that the penguins in question are an endangered species. So it is not as if the zoo is homophobic, but merely trying to breed an endangered species.

The same sex penguin couples have “adopted” some stones to serve as replacement for the eggs they will never be able to lay.

While reading this story I realized that there was this famous gay penguin family at Central Park Zoo (don’t think they are together anymore). The zoo actually gave them an egg, which the penguins incubated until a female penguin, Tango, was hatched and they were great parents, keeping Tango away from dangerous areas. And apparently, as the article points out, the same sex penguin couples have not destroyed the sanctity of other heterosexual penguin couples’ relationships.

By the way, have you seen penguins holding hands (flippers) before? So darn cute.

How would you define RELIGION?

There is this interesting article from the Harvard Human Rights Journal by T. Jeremy Gunn, which I recently read. And as the God/s have willed it (keeping to the theme of religion) that article is found online here: The Complexity of Religion and the Definition of “Religion” in International Law.

Since the article is available online I will just provide the few main points, rather than the more detailed summary that I had initially planned. And spend more time on the interesting issues that arises (at least to me) after reading the article.

1) Basis
There are two main approaches to definition:
– Essentialists: Identify elements that are essential and necessary before it can be a religion.
– Polythetic: No religion have a specific element in common yet they all share a form of resemblances to each other.

2) Real Religion?: Sects and Cults
Some have tried to distinguish between “real” religion or cultish religion. One question that I would have is, is it possible to have a “Jedi” (Star Wars) religion if say the person in question really and truly believes in it. Some more relevant examples mentioned are the Scientologists, Falun Gong.

3) Religion: A view across the trenches
One interesting problem with regards to religious discrimination and how it may be necessary to look at those who seek to discriminate and persecute as a point of definition. Specifically on what they perceive as the characteristic. Example given is that of racial discrimination where biologist would provide that race is not a scientific concept. You should look at the article as it explains this interesting concept far better than I do.

4) Religion: Culture & History
The article talks about how religion may not really be about religion. It may relate to the person’s identity, way of life such as rituals, policies against women or homosexuals etc. And in such instances, the person may not actually have that much in depth knowledge of the religion in question. Examples would include things done in the name of Islam in the Middle East but is not practiced or condoned in say Indonesia. Or perhaps closer to West, the divide over churches on the issue of same sex marriage.

5) Types of Persecution
The article goes on with regards to various types of persecution although the one that is the most interesting relates to persecution through application of “neutral laws.”

Query:
As stated in the article there have been attempts to define religion but they have not been successful. Thus the following are some issues that came to my mind when reading the article.

A) I was wondering how would you people define it, taking into account the various issues raised in the article on the elements of religion.
B) Whether should there be any distinction between cults and religion and if so would that allow, say a”Jedi” religion and would preventing such recognition be against the protection of religion.
C) How can we define religion to take into account it being the identity or customs of a particular region rather than of the particular religion?
D) Also with regards to the issue of discrimination, where a particular religion is persecuted by another for some perceived characteristics that is clearly false and not part of the religion, how should we deal with such a situation.

Wider Context: Importance of definition
The definition of religion obviously goes towards determining whether protection is offered to a particular group. An example given in the article talks about immunity for refugees facing religious persecution. But it can affect rights in other areas.

Religion has often been used as a shield by countries to “protect” certain practices that seem more rooted in the culture of the place such as female genital mutilation or to be used as a sword in persecuting certain groups of people such as homosexuals, race, etc. If one were to define such practices as culture rather than religion it would mean a great deal of difference.

But the question is how much of what is acceptable ultimately is due to society. For example, violence against women has been supported by some passage in the bible but most people, even the bulk of conservative Christians would not seek to argue that curtailment of domestic violence is a curtailment of religion. Yet one might argue why is the position taken different with regards to sexual minorities.

Misc: Some Final Thoughts
There are some side questions that are not really related per se but yet it popped up when I was reading the article. Freedom of religion generally means that one is free to choose their religion and a corollary to this is the freedom to proselytize. Do you think the freedom to proselytize is an example of a neutral law that actually favors the missionary religions, for there are many religions where proselytizing is not a major part of the religion.

Finally, with regards to persecution and perceived characteristics. In the lead up to Nazi Germany, there were anti-semetic literature making the wild and obviously bigoted accusations that the Jewish people were poisoning the blood or are somehow evil or morally corrupt. One question is why did the people made these wild accusations. Could it be them (both the perpetrators and the bystanding public) seeking to verbally and mentally justify, at least to themselves the actions taken, when deep down they know such actions are inherently wrong? There is no such vilification of murderers, criminals, etc because we inherently know what they did is wrong. If so, is the situation the same with respect to homsexuals where the wild accusations made against them are quite similar, that of “poisoning the human blood,” being evil and morally corrupt.

Hindsight allows one to look back and easily state that something is wrong but the trick is to determine that something is indeed rotten in the state even before history and the majority kicks in. For those who believe in religion, perhaps in each generation and region there is a test to see which path a person would take, the path taken by a majority which loudly trumpets its policies like a gaudy salesperson selling its products of perseuction, passing off the name of morality and goodness but ultimately is the path to perdition. Or the path taken by the minority working and fighting for the rights of the persecuted and being a true guardian angel, earning their wings before ascending.

School uses RFID to keep track of students

Calif. school requires radio ID tags for students

SUTTER, Calif. – The only grade school in this rural town is requiring students to wear radio frequency identification badges that can track their every move. Some parents are outraged, fearing it will rob their children of privacy.

The short gist of the article is that a school has introduced RFID as a means of tracking students.

Security:
There are fears of people using RFID to “stalk” the students. But if I am not wrong the RFID range is not too far, so if someone was stalking the kids, it would be more effective and easier to use the old fashion way of skulking about in the shadows. Of course there are some who argue that if one can develop a long range tracking device that can be implanted into a child, there will be many parents seeking to buy such devices.
Query – If such a device exist and you have a child who does not mind being “implanted” because she/he is such a sweetie patotie who does not want mommy or daddy to be unnecessarily worried and that she/he feels that such a device is akin to a “guardian angel” would you want your kid to be implanted?
Query – What are the thoughts of the children, for those people that have school age going children on carrying such a device.

1984 and Big Brother:
I never really understood why the moment people talk about tracking or Identification Numbers everyone starts talking about 1984. After all in the utopic universe of Star Trek, all the people have the tracking device of the communication badge. As they say, its 12pm on a school day, do you know where your children are? Or what about “LoneStar” (the “tracking” device for your car, if I managed to get the name correct). Even the cellphones, which almost everyone seems to be carrying can track its signal to obtain the person’s location.

“TheSystem”
What if one is able to track the movement of everyone but such information is kept in the computer database and that one is only allowed to access them under a court order, say in the instances where the person is being charged with a crime. Is it so bad? Sure it may seem bad for one’s privacy to the extent that a non-sentient computer system knows your movement but as stated above a person’s movement can be tracked.
Query – If such a system exists would you be for it or against it.

The Mark of the Devil
Here is something which I was wondering. Some people seem to believe that RFID is the so called mark of the devil. So can a student refuse to carry the RFID on grounds of religion? What if someone was to interpret a religion to state that students cannot be held after school say for detention. How far can religion go? In areas of education, specifically evolution, it seems that it can go all the way. But in areas where the purpose is for the safety and security of children it would seem that religion may not extend that far.

Edit: I have edited the text to correct some horrific typing errors.

Student expelled from high school for being gay

Christian school kicked a teen out for being gay

A snoopy fellow student at school told several heads in the administration that Barnett was gay and was running a gay-themed Web site. He was called into the office and grilled about the site and his sexual orientation.

After the discussion Barnett asked the principal repeatedly not to inform his parents. “I again emphasized and I explicitly said, ‘I am 18, I reserve the right for my parents not to know and I do not want them involved.’”

Barnett couldn’t believe what happened next.

“The first people I see to walk in the door are my mother and my father,” he said. “This is where I bury my head in my hands and don’t really know what to do, how to respond. I, for the first time in my life, have never felt that betrayed and first time I’ve ever been speechless.”

Barnett had just been outed by the school administration. “They tell my parents I am ‘struggling with homosexuality.’ My mother broke down in tears, my dad wasn’t particularly thrilled.”

The school took six days to decide that Barnett should be expelled, citing “immoral behavior and supporting an immoral cause” as the reason.

“The reason for expulsion and the suspension is the fact that what I have done is a Class A offense. I am not given a chance to appeal to honor council. “It’s ‘too sensitive.’”

Before the expulsion the administration insisted that Barnett pull his site, even though it was not stored on the school server. It was suggested that if he complied, he might be reinstated. That didn’t happen. He has since put his site up on a private server, which is costing him $200 a month.

1) A private Christian high school expelled a student for being gay and creating a website on homosexuality. Actually the website was “found” by another student who reported it to the school.
2) The 18 year old student told the school not to inform the parents but the parents were informed.

The school is a private one (student had to pay $130,000 a year). Does the fact that it is a private institution means that it is able to set the rules on who to admit and who to expel? Much akin to the private schools in the south following integration of the education system. But as pointed out by the person in his website, there was this other student who was caught with drugs in school but was allowed to stay after a ‘donation’ from the parents. So even if the school had the right to expel, it failed in applying its rules equally to all students.

 

Alabama Judge wears Robe with Ten Commandments Embroidered

Ala. Judge Wears Ten Commandments on Robe

A judge refused to delay a trial Tuesday when an attorney objected to his wearing a judicial robe with the Ten Commandments embroidered on the front in gold.

McKathan told The Associated Press that he believes the Ten Commandments represent the truth “and you can’t divorce the law from the truth. … The Ten Commandments can help a judge know the difference between right and wrong.”

Moore said Tuesday he supports McKathan’s decision to wear the Ten Commandments robe.

 

Looks like its Ten Commandments Part II. I wonder why the religious conservatives do not call these judges “activists.” It seems interpreting the constitution and law in a way that adapts to society’s needs is activist, but actively doing something in contravention of the law and abusing one’s position is fine by the fundamentalists.

 

Faith Based Parks

This article at Time.com starts off talking about a park run by creationists that adopts the 6000 year old view of how life came to be and the belief that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is false. Which I guess is acceptable since it is a private park run by creationist.

But then comes the bombshell of the changes in the National Park Services, specifically the Grand Canyon National Park.

Two-thirds of the way across the continent, some four million people annually visit Grand Canyon National Park, marveling at the awesome view. In National Park Service (NPS) affiliated bookstores, they can find literature informing them that the great chasm runs for 277 miles along the bed of the Colorado River. It descends more than a mile into the earth, and along one stretch, is some 18 miles wide, its walls displaying impressive layers of limestone, sandstone, shale, schist and granite.

And, oh yes, it was formed about 4,500 years ago, a direct consequence of Noah’s Flood. How’s that? Yes, this is the ill-informed premise of “Grand Canyon, a Different View,” a handsomely-illustrated volume also on sale at the bookstores. It includes the writings of creationists and creation scientists and was compiled by Tom Vail, who with his wife operates Canyon Ministries, conducting creationist-view tours of the canyon. “For years,” Vail explains, “as a Colorado River guide, I told people how the Grand Canyon was formed over the evolutionary time span of millions of years. (Most geologists place the canyon’s age at some six million years). Then I met the Lord. Now I have a different view of the Canyon, which according to a biblical time scale, can’t possibly be more than a few thousand years old.”

An attempt by Joe Alston, the Grand Canyon National Park superintendent, to block the sales of the book was overruled by NPS headquarters under the premise that a high-level policy review of the matter would be launched and a decision made by February 2004, but that never happened:

According to the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), an organization that includes many Park employees, papers obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that no review has ever taken place. Indeed, PEER claims that the Bush Administration has already decided it will stand by its approval for the book and that hundreds more have been ordered. “Now that the book has become quite popular,” explained an NPS flack to a Baptist news agency, “we don’t want to remove it.”

Additionally, the Grand Canyon National Park no longer offers an official estimate on the age of the canyon, the publication of guidance for park rangers that reminds them of the lack of a scientific basis for creationism has been blocked, and the National Park Service has allowed the placment of bronze plaques bearing Psalm verses at Grand Canyon.

PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch is indignant, “If the Bush Administration is using public resources for pandering to Christian fundamentalists, it should at least have the decency to tell the truth about it.”

 

CNN Presents: The Fight Over Faith - 14 Nov, 8pm(ET). Watch it.

Do catch this Special Report on CNN relating to evangelical Christianity called “The Fight Over Faith.” It airs at 8pm (ET) tonight.

I have taken a peek at it and it is quite interesting and spine chilling too at some points. Especially take note of the 8 year old (or very young at least) girl who says she is a born again Christian and was saved at AGE 3! Also listen to her views on who goes to Hell and everything. There are also some uplifting stories that show the other side of the coin where you have some evangelicals who are extremely critical of this inclusive mindset.

At that point I suddenly recalled something Jon Stewart said in reply to the idea of the North East Liberal Elites: What can be more elite than thinking you are a chosen people and that you will go to heaven while everyone else will go to hell?

Anyhow, once you have seen it let me know what you think of this special report.

Fundamentalist Religion vs Science: A view from The Simpsons.

Fundamentalist Religion: A Simpsons view

The Simpsons: “Religion must stay five hundred yards from science at all times.”

It should be noted that the focus is on Religious Fundamentalists. Not all who subscribe to religion are conservatives. And not all conservatives are fundamentalists. Fundamentalists are defined as people who seek to impose their brand of restrictive interpretation of religion on the entire society. This should be distinguished from conservatives who personally subscribe to a particular view point but have no desire of imposing it on others.

Religion v Education:
Superintendent Chalmers: “Thank the Lord”? That sounded like a prayer. A prayer in a public school. God has no place within these walls, just like facts don’t have a place within an organized religion.
One school board in rural Pennsylvania mandates the teaching of creationism.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6470259/

Religious Group placing of stickers in textbook calling evolution “a theory, not a fact.”
http://www.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/11/12/evolution.embarrassment.ap/index.html

If they can get to place a sticker calling evolution “a theory, not a fact.” Then can we at least get to place a sticker calling:
1) Intelligent Design is “a story, not a theory.” I like this the best. Perhaps if you can design (get it?) a ‘sticker’ or something that appears whenever someone types in Intelligent Design on to this website or do that “?” and underline thing with a little textbox that appears.
2) Intelligent Design is “silly, not a theory.”
3) Intelligent Design is “ignorance, not intelligence.”
4) Intelligent Design is “neither intelligent, nor educational.” Sorry no Rhyme for this one.
5) Intelligent Design is “a story, not even a theory and definitely not a fact” If you prefer a long version without rhyme. One could sell some T-shirts with these slogans. And if one wants to capture both markets should sell both the evolution version and the intelligent design version. And should sell one where the front has the evolution warning and the back the intelligent design warning so the wearer can switch according to whom he is talking to.

Whether one calls it intelligent design or creationism the end result is still the same, the imposing of religion in school. The first question is why do they call it intelligent design. Is it to mask the distinctive lack of intelligence in the design of the concept?

The main thrust of this ‘intelligent design’ argument is that life is so complex it cannot just appear by itself and that there must be some guiding force. But then the question is, if life which is so complicated needs a guiding force (God), who created that guiding force?

Who created God?

If the answer is God is always there, then if one can accept that God which is presumably more complicated than mortal life can always be there and God was not created by some guiding force, then what is so difficult about accepting that life arises without such guiding force.

‘Perfection’ by Definition
Reverand Lovejoy: “Science has faltered once again in the face of overwhelming religious evidence.”

A failure to provide full explanation for everything is an invitation for improvement of the explanation. It is not however an invitation for one to introduce a whole range of explanations that are factually less logical and only works if one redefines the situation. For example, someone is told to paint a Green room Red. If the painter were to go to the house owner and tell them I define Green to be the same as Red, therefore the room is now painted Red, so pay me. You would just fire the painter.

‘Intelligent Design’ similarly does not provide for a better factual explanation it merely redefines the situation without actually explaining anything.

Religion v “Important Things”/Progress
Ned Flanders: Science is like a blabbermouth who ruins the movie by telling you how it ends. Well, I say there are some things we don’t want to know. Important things.
US pushes global ban on stem cell cloning
http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/11/12/science.cloning.un.reut/index.html

Religion is sometimes describes as a search for the ultimate truth. What then happens when the facts start becoming problematic for one’s definition of religion?

If we turn back several hundred years ago to the Dark Ages where the Arab-Muslim world was the beacon of science and Europe-Christian world was well as described in the Dark Ages. When people start deciding that a holy book written a long time ago contains instructions for every single aspect of life, and progress in society starts to slow to a crawl or even turn backyards, problem arises. Look at China several hundred years ago after it kicked out the Mongols, it started turning inwards and while not rejecting science merely turn its back to it and treat it more as an interesting hobby of a person. focusing instead on rules and culture by looking to the past to determine how society should behave.

Now, just like any conventions, any ban is only operative if the country actually signs on and ratifies the treaty. And since the US itself have not banned stem cell research, one is wondering what is the true purpose of this global ban. On a simple level, this is merely Bush playing to his evangelical supporters. Even if the convention is created the chances of US actually ratifying it would be quite low but Bush would have served his supporters. On a deeper level, one could see this as an attempt to ensure that US would not be overthrown in the bio-science research fields. One less foreign nation doing any research one less competitor. But that it seems is not real likely since nations that support the research will simply not sign on to the treaty.

Religion v Society
Reverend Lovejoy: This so-called new religion is nothing but a pack of weird rituals and chants, designed to take away the money of fools. Now let’s say the Lord’s Prayer 40 times, but first, let’s pass the collection plate
‘Miracle baby’ a victim
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4006945.stm

If religion is about the good one does then what happens when someone interprets the religion to support something bad such as slavery, discrimination, etc. So is religion used to justify prejudices that cannot stand along or did religion actually call for adopting such a position. Just as one can find a person using the bible to attack homosexuality another person can use the same bible to protect homosexuality.

http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/charity/sallyann.asp
Also an interesting thing which I just discovered as a result of Target preventing the Salvation Army from soliciting on its property. Apparently the Salvation Army adopts an anti-gay position and in 2001 tried to exempt itself from laws barring discrimination. So if you are about to donate to the Salvation Army, and you believe in non-discrimination, I suggest you donate the money to another organisation or send the money to a local shelter directly.

Religious Fundamentalism
Reverand Lovejoy: Ned, have you considered any of the other major religions? They’re all pretty much the same.
Protest over Alfred Kinsey movie
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4002317.stm

One that that I notice of conservative relgious fundamentalists across the world. It seems that once they remove specific religious references, their position is quite similar.

For example let us look at the following statements:

[Insert Name of Religion Here] Fundamentalist claims that man and woman serve different functions in society, with man working and woman staying at home.
[Insert Name of Religion Here] Fundamentalist claims that society is morally decadent and decaying.
[Insert Name of Religion Here] Fundamentalist claims that only man can lead the religion.
[Insert Name of Religion Here] Fundamentalist claims that woman is the reason for downfall of society.
[Insert Name of Religion Here] Fundamentalist warns of the corrupting danger of sexuality.

We must guard against the view that religion offers an all encompassing solution and if one actually looks to religion it will be a panacea for everything then perhaps one would be blinded by reality. One would seek to bend studies and facts to suit one’s particular viewpoint rather than looking at unbiased studies and facts to lead one to the viewpoint.