Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Claim that Awarding Purple Hearts to Hasan’s Victims Would Prejudice His Murder Trial Is Ridiculous!

By Andrew C. McCarthy 

What fact do you suppose is better known: (a) that Nidal Hasan has been incarcerated since he killed 13 American soldiers and wounded several others while screaming, “Allahu Akbar!” in the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, or (b) that his victims were denied Purple Heart medals by the U.S. government?
Obviously, by leaps and bounds, the answer is (a). And for this reason, among several others, it is patently disgraceful that the Obama administration and its minions in the hyper-politically correct Pentagon brass are denying those soldiers shot by Hasan the military honors they are due — long overdue, actually – from having been wounded by an enemy operative in a wartime terrorist attack.
Speciously, military prosecutors are arguing that granting Purple Heart awards to the wounded victims would somehow prejudice Major Hasan’s upcoming trial because it would be tantamount to a branch of the government rendering a judgment that he is a terrorist and therefore already criminally culpable. The White House’s hacks at the Defense Department — both uniformed and non-uniformed — are reportedly trying to run this same jive by lawmakers, several of whom are incensed by the slight to the wounded. If they are capable of shame, administration officials ought to be ashamed by this frivolous claim, which dishonors not only Hasan’s victims but also the military justice system itself.
It has always been the proud boast of the military justice system that a truly innocent person has a better chance of being acquitted there than in the civilian system. That is because military trials are typically decided by panels of commissioned officers. For them, there is a solemnity about following orders that is unmatched by cross-sections of the general public who serve as petit jurors in civilian trials.
The military judge will instruct the panel that the case is to be decided solely based on the evidence presented in court – specifically, whether it establishes the elements of the offenses charged against Hasan. The jurors will be directed that they are not to decide the case based on outside publicity or any findings already made by other government officials – including in probes by the armed forces. In the trial, it will be for the panel alone, based on its assessment of the testimony and other evidence presented in court, to decide whether Hasan is guilty. There is a presumption in both the civilian and military systems that juries follow those instructions. We can have full confidence that, in the military system, the panel will honor the instructions of the court.
The administration-driven suggestion that the panel hearing Hasan’s case will be swayed by the awarding — or, for that matter, the non-awarding — of Purple Hearts is a slander on the military justice system. It is tantamount to saying we should presume that officers of the United States armed forces will defy their orders – which would itself be a profound offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Put law and honor aside for a moment, though. The Purple Heart argument is risible as a matter of common sense. Until a few days ago, no one was even thinking about Purple Hearts, much less that there was a controversy over them. Yet virtually everyone who knows anything about the Fort Hood jihadist attack knows that — like many aggressors charged with murder in American courts — Hasan has been detained without bail because of both the dangerousness he manifestly poses to the community and the flight risk his palpable guilt implies (notwithstanding his paralysis). Furthermore, there has been far more publicity about the fact that Hasan’s attorneys represented that Hasan was prepared to plead guilty on at least some of the charges than about the Purple Heart issue.
It is thus absurd to suggest that the award of Purple Hearts to Hasan’s victims would be incurably prejudicial to the military court’s ability to give Hasan a fair trial but, somehow, that his pretrial detention for four years and his desire to admit guilt would not.
In reality, none of these matters should affect the trial in the slightest. In a criminal trial, the conclusions of other fact-finders about matters relevant to the guilt or innocence of the accused are inadmissible. This is because, in our system, the verdict must be rendered by the jury. Trial judges thus make every effort to keep conclusions by outside factfinders from the jurors — just as jurors are constantly told to avoid reading media accounts about the case.
Of course, juries will often know or learn about extrajudicial factfinding anyway. After all, a defendant would not be standing trial in the first place unless government lawyers had determined he was guilty (it is unethical to prosecute otherwise). There would also be no trial unless a grand jury (or its military equivalent, an Article 32 investigative body) had been persuaded that there was sufficient cause to indict.
Moreover, it is often very obvious that defendants on trial — especially in a murder trial — are incarcerated. Invariably, there is heavy security in the courtroom; sometimes the trial testimony touches on things that happened in jail, unavoidably bringing the defendant’s detention to the fore; and sometimes the lawyers or the defendant himself will blurt out something that makes it clear that the defendant, though presumed innocent, is in custody and thus, in a sense, being treated as if he is already guilty.
Juries, however, are always instructed to ignore these things and decide the case based solely on their own assessment of the proof. The law presumes that jurors follow these instructions — and experience shows that jurors tend to weigh the evidence carefully in deliberations and to acquit where the evidence is weak. And again, military officers on a panel must be trusted to follow legal instructions not to factor in conclusions by outside investigators — the awarding of Purple Hearts to Hasan’s victims no more proves his guilt than the denial of Purple Hearts proves his innocence.
Most preposterous of all to this former prosecutor is the military’s silly assertion that awarding the Purple Heart to Hasan’s victims would enable Hasan’s lawyers to claim prejudice. Much of what prosecutors do in litigation involves responding to frivolous defense motions – that’s the job. Claims that defense lawyers now have no real chance of succeeding routinely get posited anyway, for two reasons: (a) Defense counsel seed the appellate record with any conceivable reason to get a conviction overturned (if counsel fails to raise a matter, it is deemed waived, so the lawyer’s incentive is to raise everything); and (b) defense counsel realize that, if the defendant is convicted, they will inevitably be accused of having performed incompetently – by making lots of motions, even weak ones, counsel help the reviewing court conclude that counsel provided zealous defense.
If I were a government lawyer, I’d be licking my chops to respond to defense lawyers who were claiming prejudice based on awarding Purple Hearts to the victims. Not only are the victims extraordinarily sympathetic – and some of them performed heroically. Remember that we’re talking here about a “Purple Hearts are prejudicial” claim being advanced by lawyers who themselves have already announced that Hasan wanted to plead guilty. Many litigation arguments are stressful. For a prosecutor, that one would be fun.
Hasan was an international terrorist plant who infiltrated our military and killed and wounded our troops in an atrocity that claimed many more lives than the jihadist bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. He was not merely a domestic imitator of al Qaeda; he was in frequent communication with Anwar al-Awlaki. Awlaki was a significant al Qaeda operative according to the Obama administration. That’s why the president authorized his killing — which would be a murder if it were not justified by Awlaki’s status as an enemy combatant under the laws of war.
Palpably, what Hasan executed, with Awlaki’s encouragement, was a jihadist atrocity — one that precisely targeted American armed forces personnel who were about to deploy to war zones to fight Hasan’s fellow jihadists.
To be sure, Hasan’s situation is highly embarrassing for the government. His communications with Awlaki were well-known to government officials. (And need we be reminded of Awlaki’s own communications with Pentagon officials? Of the FBI and Justice Department’s decision to release him after 9/11?) The failure to investigate Hasan competently and prevent him from being in a position to attack American troops was a gargantuan blunder; the effort to cover it up by labeling a jihadist attack as “workplace violence” has been even more offensive.
The awarding of Purple Hearts to Hasan’s victims would carry an implied acknowledgement by the government of its abysmal performance. But it would have nothing to do with, and no meaningful effect on, Hasan’s murder trial. For the administration to claim otherwise is fraudulent.
(Thumbnail on PJM homepage assembled using a Shutterstock.com image.)

Article printed from Ordered Liberty: http://pjmedia.com/andrewmccarthy
URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/andrewmccarthy/2013/04/01/purple-hearts-to-hassans-victims/
Copyright © 2013 PJ Media. All rights reserved.

The Obamas’ Unending Summer Vacation: Four lavish vacations planned in three months!

FrontPage ^ | 04/01/2013 | Arnold Ahlert

A record-breaking 47.8 million Americans are on food stamps, an increase of about 1.3 million from a year earlier. The official unemployment rate is 7.7 percent, a number that obscures the reality that millions of Americans who have given up looking for work aren’t counted, and that the labor force participation rate of 63.6 percent measured in December 2012, is the lowest in 32 years. The national debt is $16.7 trillion and growing. White House tours have been cancelled due to sequestration. And amidst it all, Barack Obama and his family have taken four lavish vacations in three months.
Every president deserves time off. Yet the unabashed luxuriousness of the Obamas’ lifestyle reflects a genuine tone-deafness with regard to the pressing concerns of millions of Americans, as well as the president’s priorities. Even as he blamed sequestration for the decision to cancel White House tours that would have cost a total of $2 million for the rest of the year, it was revealed that the known cost of Obama’s Christmas vacation in Hawaii last year was at least $4 million. That vacation was also the fourth one taken in Hawaii in four years, three of which involved separate flights First Lady Michelle Obama took to get there ahead of her husband. This year’s separate flight, necessitated by the president’s trip back to Washington to complete the fiscal cliff deal before returning to Honolulu, cost taxpayers an additional $3.24, and ran the total tab for the 2012-13 trip to more than $7 million.

The total for the four trips combined? More than $20 million.
However, holiday vacations to Hawaii hardly scratch the surface. These vacations were also interspersed with trips to locales like Florida or Southern California. In addition, the president’s “mini-vacations” have raised eyebrows. His three-day golf outing at an exclusive club in Florida, where he was joined by Tiger Woods, occurred less than two weeks before the sequester kicked in — even as the White House Blog raised the specter of “harmful automatic cuts” that are “threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs, and cutting vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform.”
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) put that trip in perspective, noting that it cost American taxpayers “over a million dollars,” which was “enough money to save 341 federal workers from furlough.” The rest of the family was on vacation in Colorado at the time, meaning taxpayers are billed for yet another separate use of Air Force One, which costs approximately $180,000 an hour to use. This marks the fourth Colorado ski vacation in four years for the First Lady and and her daughters, Malia and Sasha. Judicial Watch confirmed that the cost of 2012 trip, including U.S. Secret Service costs, as well as accommodations at the Fasching Haus deluxe condominium and the Inn at Aspen, totaled $48,950.38.
Speaking of Malia and Sasha, Breitbart News reports they are currently on spring break in the Bahamas at the exclusive Atlantis resort on Paradise Island, a story neither the White House or Atlantis would confirm. At this time it is unclear how much this trip will cost taxpayers, but Judicial Watch confirmed that last years’ trip to Mexico by Malia, accompanied by 25 U.S. Secret Service Agents and as many as 12 of her friends, cost taxpayers $115,500.87.
And then there is Martha’s Vineyard. Politico is reporting that the First Family will be going back there for the second time in three years, for the “traditional Vineyard vacation” the president was forced to skip last year when he was campaigning for reelection. In 2011, Obama and his family spent eleven days at a $50,000-per-week beachfront rental property. At the time US News & World Report noted that while the president is picking up the tab for the rental, the title of the article reminded Americans that there are far more expenses — borne by the taxpayer — associated with such a trip: “Obama’s Vineyard Vacation Will Cost Taxpayers Millions,” it stated.
Former Clinton spokesman Mike McCurry dismissed critics of that vacation. ”I think all this ‘Why is he taking a vacation?’ stuff is ginned up by the media,” he said. “I don’t think any American will fault him for getting away, especially if he comes back with some fresh ideas on how to create jobs.”
Four days ago, Planet Money reporter Chana Joffe-Walt illuminated the Obama administration’s “success” in that regard. “Since the economy began its slow, slow recovery in late 2009, we’ve been averaging about 150,000 jobs created per month,” he said during a Public Radio International (PRI) interview. “In that same period every month, almost 250,000 people have been applying for disability.”
Again, no one is denying that vacations are a necessary component of the First Family’s life. Yet it is a bit more than ironic that the same media who roundly criticized former president George W. Bush for what amounted to a series of working vacations at his own ranch in Crawford, Texas, is conspicuously uninterested in the lavish nature of the current president’s sojourns. That silence becomes even more curious when, unlike his predecessor, Obama has constantly railed about the need for “shared sacrifice,” the “deeply destructive” nature of the sequester, and in one of the more recent of many his many class warfare rants, bashed Republicans for favoring ”jet owners over teacher jobs”–even as he and his family have often doubled down on the use of Air Force One to arrive in the same place at different times.
In fact, the only thing that has seemingly upset the media about Obama’s excess was their lack of access during his get together with Tiger Woods. Ed Henry head of the White House Correspondents Association was particularly incensed. ”We’re not interested in violating the president’s privacy. He’s entitled to vacations like everyone else. All we’re asking for is a brief exception, quick access, a quick photo-op on the 18th green,” Henry complained. “It’s not about golf–it’s about transparency and access in a broader sense.” That would be the same media that both criticized Bush for golfing, and ridiculed him when he gave it up because he thought it sent the wrong message to families grieving over soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When a member of the White House press corps recently brought up a question about the cost of the president’s outing with Woods, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was clearly agitated. “John, you’re trivializing an impact here,” Carney said, before getting back to the administration’s talking points about the sequester and its devastating effects on ordinary Americans.
Yet it is precisely those talking points that are completely at odds with the First Family’s lifestyle. As many Americans continue to cope with the weakest recovery on record, it would be nice to think the president might demonstrate some sensitivity to their ongoing plight or at least make a minimal effort at limiting the stunning bill they have left the taxpayer with. With regard to that reality, there are plenty of places Obama and his family could enjoy both down-time and privacy that would cost far less taxpayer money at a time when the economy remains exceedingly fragile — and president is allegedly concerned about every dollar in reduced spending that has been engendered by the sequester. Instead, Americans are witnessing the kind of self-indulgence that puts an exclamation point on the “do as I say, not as I do” hypocrisy that afflicts so many progressives who express their “solidarity” with “ordinary Americans” even as that solidarity amounts to little more than lip service.
When the Obamas enjoy yet another lavish vacation at Martha’s Vineyard this coming August — accompanied by a taxpayer-funded entourage that includes dozens of Secret Service agents, communications officials, aides, chauffeurs, U.S. Coast Guard personnel, a presidential helicopter, a jet, and armored SUVs to transport the First Family around the island — perhaps the president will take a moment or two to reflect on the reality that millions of Americans, due in large part to the Obama administration’s woeful economic policies, won’t be taking any vacations at all.

Texting while driving


Illegal Border Crossings More than Double Since Amnesty Talks Started

Breitbart ^

Reports indicate that since Senator John McCain's "Gang of Eight" restarted their latest push for amnesty, illegal border crossing from Mexico to the U.S. have more than doubled.
It appears those entering the country illegally want to be sure they are here in case a blanket amnesty pronouncement is issued.
As a U.S. Border Patrol Agent who spoke on condition of anonymity made clear, a number of those entering the country illegally are doing so to escape jail time or persecution in their own country: "We've seen the number of illegal aliens double, maybe even triple since amnesty talks started happening. [And] a lot of these people, although not the majority, are criminals or aggravated felons."
(Excerpt) Read more at breitbart.com ...

Tax-raising Affordable Care Act started in wrong house of Congress [Obamacare is unconstitutional]

Pacific Legal Foundation ^

Sissel v. United States Department of Health & Human Services
Contact: Paul J. Beard II or Timothy Sandefur
Status: Defendants' motion to dismiss first amended complaint filed Nov. 8, 2012. Response to the motion was filed on Dec. 3, 2012.

Pacific Legal Foundation has launched a new constitutional cause of action against the federal Affordable Care Act. The ACA imposes a charge on Americans who fail to buy health insurance — a charge that the U.S. Supreme Court recently characterized as a federal tax. PLF’s amended complaint alleges that this purported tax is illegal because it was introduced in the Senate rather than the House, as required by the Constitution’s Origination Clause for new revenue-raising bills (Article I, Section 7).
The Origination Clause argument is part of an amended complaint filed in PLF’s existing lawsuit against the ACA, Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, pending before Judge Beryl A. Howell, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
PLF’s Sissel lawsuit was on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court considered the challenge to the ACA from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and 26 states, in NFIB v. Sebelius. As initially filed, PLF’s Sissel lawsuit targeted the ACA’s individual mandate to buy health insurance as a violation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8).
The Supreme Court agreed with this position, in the NFIB ruling.
YouTube playlist
However, Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by four justices, characterized the ACA’s charge as a federal “tax,” because it requires a payment to the federal government from people who decide not to buy health insurance.
That holding prompted PLF’s new cause of action. “If the charge for not buying insurance is seen as a federal tax, then a new question must be asked,” said PLF Principal Attorney Paul J. Beard II. “When lawmakers passed the ACA, with all of its taxes, did they follow the Constitution’s procedures for revenue increases? The Supreme Court wasn’t asked and didn’t address this question in the NFIB case. The question of whether the Constitution was obeyed needs to be litigated, and PLF is determined to see this important issue all the way through the courts.”

Two ayurvedic drugs hold out hope for Alzheimer’s patients!

Pritha Chatterjee : New Delhi, Tue Apr 02 2013, 02:10 hrs

It's a disease long associated with the elderly but is now diagnosed in younger people as well and with no permanent cure available till date.
However, in what could give hope to thousands suffering from Alzheimer's Disease (AD), the pharmacology department in AIIMS has identified Ayurvedic drugs which could have a role in preventing the onset of AD and also restricting its spread in affected patients.
AD is a degenerative neurological disorder leading to progressive loss of cognitive abilities, including the patient's memory due to a drop in chemicals — known as neurotransmitters — which transmits messages between brain cells.
The latest of these studies has been published in international journal Neurochemistry International, where symptoms of Alzheimer's were induced in rats by injecting them with a chemical, streptozotocin, which replicates the clinical symptoms of the disease.
When these rats were treated with the herb Shankpushapi or Evolvulus alsinoides, the cognitive functions of rats improved.
Joginder Mehla, who has been following therapeutic options for AD as part of his PhD project, said the rats showed functional improvement in areas like memory, aggression, mood swings, ability to think and take decisions, and lack of confusion.
Last year, the institute was also able to establish similar therapeutic effects of another Ayurvedic drug — Aparajita or Clitoria ternatea.
In Alzheimer's patients, there is a cascade of biochemical changes in the brain triggered by the release of free radicals that destroy the neurons, by a vicious cycle of exciting amino acids and releasing calcium.
Dr Y K Gupta, HoD of the pharmacology and the corresponding author of the articles, said, "We found that the herbal drugs control the symptoms of AD in two ways. First, their antioxidant properties are able to control the release of free radicals that damage the brain cells. Secondly, these drugs also inhibit the activity of an enzyme that destroys Acetylcholine — the chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter."
In normal people, the body naturally replenishes this neurotransmitter through a cyclic process, after the enzyme Acetylcholinesterase destroys it. In AD patients, this enzyme destroys the chemical much faster than it can be produced, leading to an unnatural loss of Acetylcholine, Dr Gupta said. Conventional chemical drugs can only supplement the neurotransmitter, but have little role in restricting the activity of the enzyme.
Male Wistar rats, weighing 250-300 grams, were divided into seven groups, including the control and experimental arms, and injected with the chemical streptozotocin to induce AD-like symptoms.
"While we were able to clinically replicate all symptoms of Alzheimer's, two changes which occur in the brain cannot be produced by this chemical. This includes the formation of plaques, or clusters of proteins, and Neurofibrillary Tangles — the twisted strands of another protein in nerve cells," Dr Gupta said.
Doctors said in the long run, there was enough evidence to suggest that the herbal drugs, in isolation or as a supplement to conventional drugs, may help in managing AD as well as other memory disorders .

Obama and the Democrats Hate Free Americans

CFP ^ | March 31, 2013 | Michael Oberndorf,

Obama’s actions throughout his “presidency,” and the active support of Democrats, have made it crystal clear that he and the party hate free Americans. Everything they have colluded on has been aimed at harming We, the People, as free citizens of a capitalist, constitutional republic. From the daily attempts to shred the Constitution, to the total fraud of ObamaCare and the use of it to attack Christians, to the looting of the treasury and redistribution of our money to Big Banks and Big Unions, to the raising of already out-of-control taxes, to the destruction of our energy industries and much, much more, we have witnessed an attack on Americans unprecedented in the history of our country.
As many of you know, the push to turn us into a Marxist/neo-fascist, totalitarian, top-down dictatorship began in 1913 with the Democrats and the “progressive movement,” and has never gone away. Franklin Roosevelt and the Democrats kept the Depression alive and well in the United States for years after it had ended in the rest of the world, much like Obama and the Democrats have done with the government-created recession we are trapped in now. In both cases, socialist/collectivist policies and programs were foisted on an unsuspecting public. However, today, the blatant, outrageous lying, and the vicious attacks on conservatives are far beyond anything that occurred in the past.
What I find astonishing is the number of seemingly intelligent, supposedly well-informed “conservatives” who still do not understand what is going on.

(Excerpt) Read more at canadafreepress.com ...

Smoke and mirrors

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13 Rules

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If You Build It...

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You Are Fired

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Thou Shalt

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Wacko Birds?

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Paying your own way!

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Fake Chocolate

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