With their remarkable dissent in Dougan v. State, Rosemary Barkett and two of her Florida supreme court colleagues give a wild start to the New Year. The case arose from these facts: In 1974 Jacob John Dougan and four other members of his Black Liberation Army began implementing their plan to (in the words of the trial judge) "indiscriminately kill white people and thus start a revolution and a race war." Armed with a pistol and a knife, they picked up an 18-year-old white hitchhiker, Stephen Anthony Orlando, drove him to a trash dump, stabbed him repeatedly, and threw him to the ground. As Orlando writhed in pain and begged for his life, Dougan put his foot on Orlando's head and shot him twice-once in the chest and once in the ear. Later, Dougan made tape recordings bragging about the murder and mailed them to Orlando's mother and to the media. Sample content: "He [Orlando] was stabbed in the back, in the chest and the stomach, ah, it was beautiful. You should have seen it. Ah, I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved watching the blood gush from his eyes." Dougan was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
Some 18 years after the killing, on Dougan's sixth appeal to the Florida supreme court, Justice Parker McDonald, joined by Chief Justice Leander Shaw and Justice Barkett, opine in dissent that the death penalty is a disproportionate sentence under the circumstances. The dissent includes these striking observations (emphasis added):
"This case is not simply a homicide case, it is also a social awareness case. Wrongly, but rightly in the eyes of Dougan, this killing was effectuated to focus attention on a chronic and pervasive illness of racial discrimination and of hurt, sorrow, and rejection. Throughout Dougan's life his resentment to bias and prejudice festered. His impatience for change, for understanding, for reconciliation matured to taking the illogical and drastic action of murder. His frustrations, his anger, and his obsession of injustice overcame reason. The victim was a symbolic representation of the class causing the perceived injustices."
"The events of this difficult case occurred in tumultuous times. During the time of the late sixties and early seventies, there was great unrest throughout this country in race relations.. I mention these facts not to minimize what transpired, but, rather, to explain the environment in which the events took place and to evaluate Dougan's mind-set."
"Understandably, in the eyes of the victim, or potential victims, the aggravating factors clearly outweigh the mitigating; in the eyes of the defendant, his friends, and most of those situated in the circumstances of Dougan, the death penalty is not warranted and is disproportionate to the majority of hate slayings, at least where the victim is black and the perpetrator is white."
"In comparing what kind of person Dougan is with other murderers in the scores of death cases that we have reviewed, I note that few of the killers approach having the socially redeeming values of Dougan." (This apparently refers to the dissent's earlier observations that Dougan was "intelligent," "well educated," "a leader in the black community," "taught karate and counseled black youths," and once "participated in a sit-down strike in defiance of a court order" at a lunch counter that refused service to blacks.)
Influx of subsidized black renters raises tension in Bay Area
The usual stupid attempts to ignore the reality of huge black crime-rates below
As more and more black renters began moving into this mostly white San Francisco Bay Area suburb a few years ago, neighbors started complaining about loud parties, mean pit bulls, blaring car radios, prostitution, drug dealing and muggings of schoolchildren. In 2006, as the influx reached its peak, the police department formed a special crime-fighting unit to deal with the complaints, and authorities began cracking down on tenants in federally subsidized housing. Now that police unit is the focus of lawsuits by black families who allege the city of 100,000 is orchestrating a campaign to drive them out.
"A lot of people are moving out here looking for a better place to live," said Karen Coleman, a mother of three who came here five years ago from a blighted neighborhood in nearby Pittsburg. "We are trying to raise our kids like everyone else. But they don't want us here."
City officials deny the allegations in the lawsuits, which were filed last spring and seek unspecified damages.
Across the country, similar tensions have simmered when federally subsidized renters escaped run-down housing projects and violent neighborhoods by moving to nicer communities in suburban Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles.
But the friction in Antioch is "hotter than elsewhere," said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development spokesman Larry Bush. An increasing number of poor families receiving federal rental assistance have been moving here in recent years, partly because of the housing crisis. A growing number of landlords were seeking a guaranteed source of revenue in a city hard-hit by foreclosures. They began offering their Antioch homes to low-income tenants in the HUD Section 8 housing program, which pays about two-thirds of every tenant's rent.
Between 2000 and 2007, Antioch's black population nearly doubled from 8,824 to 16,316. And the number of Antioch renters receiving federal subsidies climbed almost 50 percent between 2003 and 2007 to 1,582, the majority of them black. Longtime homeowners complained that the new arrivals brought crime and other troubles. In 2006, violent crime in Antioch shot up about 19 percent from the year before, while property crime went down slightly. "In some neighborhoods, it was complete madness," said longtime resident David Gilbert, a black retiree who organized the United Citizens of Better Neighborhoods watch group. "They were under siege."
So the Antioch police in mid-2006 created the Community Action Team, which focused on complaints of trouble at low-income renters' homes. Police sent 315 complaints about subsidized tenants to the Contra Costa Housing Authority, which manages the federal program in the city, and urged the agency to evict many of them for lease violations such as drug use or gun possession. Lawyers for the tenants said 70 percent of the eviction recommendations were aimed at black renters. The housing authority turned down most of the requests.
Coleman said the police, after a complaint from a neighbor, showed up at her house one morning in 2007 to check on her husband, who was on parole for drunken driving. She said they searched the house and returned twice more that summer to try to find out whether the couple had violated any terms of their lease that could lead to eviction. The Colemans were also slapped with a restraining order after a neighbor accused them of "continually harassing and threatening their family," according to court papers. The Colemans said a judge later rescinded the order.
Coleman and four other families are suing Antioch, accusing police of engaging in racial discrimination and conducting illegal searches without warrants. They have asked a federal judge to make their suit a class-action on behalf of hundreds of other black renters. Another family has filed a lawsuit accusing the city's leaders of waging a campaign of harassment to drive them out. Police referred questions to the city attorney's office.
City Attorney Lynn Tracy Nerland denied any discrimination on the part of police and said officers were responding to crime reports in troubled neighborhoods when they discovered that a large number of the troublemakers were receiving federal subsidies. "They are responding to real problems," Nerland said.
Joseph Villarreal, the housing authority chief, said the problems in Antioch mirror tensions seen nationally when poor renters move into neighborhoods they can afford only with government help. "One of the goals of the programs is to de-concentrate poverty," Villarreal said. "There are just some people who don't want to spend public money that way."
Tensions like those afflicting Antioch have drawn scholars and law enforcement officials to debate whether crime follows subsidized renters out of the tenements to the suburbs. Susan Popkin, a researcher at the nonprofit Urban Institute, said she does not believe that is the case. But the tensions, she said, are real. "That can be a recipe for anxiety," she said. "It can really change the demographics of a neighborhood."
British married couples 'punished by tax system'
Married couples are thousands of pounds worse off than parents who do not live together under the tax and benefits system, according to a report by an influential think tank. Despite Gordon Brown's pledge to support "hard working families", those who marry or set up home together and establish a stable family are up to 20 per cent poorer, the Civitas study shows. Campaigners warned last night that the situation "punishes" families trying to do the right thing. A senior MP said it was "insane".
The findings will lead to further allegations that the system of benefits and tax is fuelling "Broken Britain". They will also reignite political debate over whether married couples should receive tax breaks, a policy abolished by Mr Brown in 1999 and likely to be a key battleground in the next general election. The report also found that so-called "pushy, middle-class parents" who provide a supportive home and try to find the best education for their children improved schools and communities. It said such people were "vital to the success of any society" and accused Labour of failing them.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "The current benefits system has huge inbuilt biases against socially responsible behaviour and the tax system punishes families who try to do the right thing. "Not only is this situation completely unfair, but it also undermines the creation of a better, more socially just society." The report, Individualists Who Co-Operate, said the system "penalises" couples who live together, adding to accusations that Labour's taxes and handouts are encouraging the death of traditional family structures. It found, in one case, that where a lone mother earned 10,000 pounds a year, and her partner earned 25,000, they were 5,473 worse off if they decided to live together. If the lone mother did not work, they were 4,522 worse off for cohabiting.
The report echoed claims that Government policies have led to the "perpetuation of single-parent families", adding: "Potential partners on low incomes (precisely those who can only make ends meet by combining their efforts) are discouraged from partnering (or re-partnering)." One in five of those who stopped receiving benefits did so to move in with a partner, it said, suggesting that more couples might live together if they were rewarded in tax breaks. "For many their decision to live together is a triumph of romance over economics. From their behaviour we can conjecture that, without powerful economic incentives to live separately, re-partnering would have been more common," it said.
Chris Grayling, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said: "Britain suffers massively from the problems caused by family breakdown. "It is little short of insane that we have a tax and benefits system that encourages couples to live apart rather than together. This is something the Conservatives are committed to changing." Last month it emerged that a mother with a two-year-old son lost a 9,400 pound child care grant after marrying her partner. Kayleigh Tidswell-Brown, who was studying to become a teacher, and her husband Leigh were considering separating to claw back the cash.
The report found that marriage combined with full-time work was the best way out of poverty for couples with children. Research last year, from the Millennium Cohort Study, found that married parents are more than twice as likely to stay together as those who are unwed.
As Chancellor, Gordon Brown abolished married couples' allowance in 1999 and introduced tax credits that reward single mothers over couples. In his first Labour Party conference speech as Prime Minister, in 2007, Mr Brown said: "I reach out to all those who work hard and play by the rules, who believe in strong families and a patriotic Britain, who may have supported other parties but who, like me, want to defend and advance British values and our way of life.'' In his New Year address yesterday he insisted that his "guiding principle" was the wellbeing of British families and businesses, adding: "What keeps me up at night, and gets me up in the morning, are the hopes and aspirations of the British people."
The Tories are proposing a 1,000 pound tax break for married couples although there were reports in November that leader David Cameron is rethinking the plans in light of the economic downturn.
The Civitas report also suggested taking all schools out of state control, and ending taxation on savings, offering further support for those backing The Daily Telegraph's Justice for Pensioners campaign. It said that those who received more in cash benefits and tax credits than they paid in personal taxes had soared from 35 per cent of all families in 1979 to 45 per cent in the current financial year. On average each household with a total income of 25,000 paid taxes of 10,362 and received state benefits of 10,503, it found. The extent to which people depended on benefits had also deepened, with costs nearly trebling to 13 per cent of the UK's gross domestic product over the past 60 years.
A Treasury spokesman said: "As a result of tax and benefit changes since 1997, four out of 10 families now pay no net tax. The government makes no apology for targeted policies that have lifted over 600,000 children out of poverty, and greatly reduced the tax burden on working families."
Britain's "New Labour" attempts to export its police state
I lived almost five years in the UK, and during that time, I got to watch what happens to a relatively free Western society when the Nanny State crosses the line over into a police state. And make no mistake, New Labour's Britain is undoubtedly a police state these days. When I lived there, I watched as prison and/or draconian fines became a standard punishment for even the most minor of "crimes." Buy the wrong class of ticket for a train? Fine and prison. Use a garden hose during a "water shortage" (caused by leaky pipes in a country where most of the year is rainy and overcast)? Fine and prison.
Demonstrate within one mile of Parliament? Fine and prison. (This law was passed after ruling party MPs got tired of seeing angry anti-war demonstrators out of their windows on their way to work). Incidentally, this law means that most of Central London, including Trafalgar Square, is now off-limits for political speech and demonstrations. The outrage over that trick was great enough that the government has promised it will repeal the law at some point. Maybe.
Cameras popped up everywhere. Britain is the most-watched society on earth, with the government boasting that it can track you on foot, and even track your car's movements at every step of the way... and keep the information for two years. Own more than one mobile phone? The government is encouraging citizens to report you as a potential terrorist.
Are you a dark-complexioned Brazilian traveling on London's underground? Well, police may shoot you eight times in the head for no reason and then lie about you "being suspicious," but the chief of police will be "sorry" about your death -- while warning that such shootings could happen again.
Mandatory ID cards with biometric imprints have been created and implemented recently, first for new migrants to the country. Eventually, they will be mandatory for everyone. Don't have the card and cannot present it on demand to authorities? Fine and prison.
Don't have a TV license to watch television? We're watching you and we're coming to get you -- it's all in the database. The license, used to pay for the BBC, is mandatory for all TV owners and the British government is spending millions on a campaign to promote its ability to track you down. Don't have the proper car tax disk? You're being tracked, and we'll come to crush your car.
But the Labour Party government in London isn't content to stop here. It has a new idea -- let's censor the Internet!
The kind of ratings used for films could be applied to websites in a bid to better police the Internet and protect children from harmful and offensive material, Britain's minister for culture has said.We have to protect the CHILDREN!
Giving websites film-style ratings would be one possibility. "This is an area that is really now coming into full focus," Burnham told the paper. Internet service providers could also be forced to offer services where the only sites accessible are those deemed suitable for children, the paper said.And helpfully, the Good Minister Of What We Should And Shouldn't See offers this helpful observation:
He said some content should not be available to be viewed. "This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people. We have got to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it."Riiiiiight. "We" meaning government, "public interest" meaning government officials' interests, and "being clear" meaning a whole new hosts of fines, penalties and prison time for noncompliant nasties who dare to publish content Labour judges "not in the public interest."
So why am I blogging on this? Because Britain's totalitarian ruling party isn't merely interested in starting this latest revolution in its Brave New World -- it wants to export it here to the United States!
Andy Burnham told The Daily Telegraph newspaper, published on Saturday, that the government was planning to negotiate with the administration of President-elect Barack Obama to draw up new international rules for English language websites.Unfortunately for the Minister, the pesky First Amendment over here would quickly put the kibosh on such a scheme (although the US government did make an attempt to implement a weaker version of censorship with the Clinton-era Communications Decency Act, which was largely stricken by federal courts. This is one carefully-wrapped package from London that the new administration should return to its sender, post-haste.
"The more we seek international solutions to this stuff -- the UK and the U.S. working together -- the more that an international norm will set an industry norm," the newspaper reports the Culture Secretary as saying in an interview.
Source (See the original for links)
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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