May 2010 Archives
In the wide panorama of human rights violations, the question just presented before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals may not be that urgent, but it sure is interesting. The essence of the case of Anderson v. Hermosa Beach is this question: is tattooing a form of free expression granted protection under the First Amendment? Or, as the City of Hermosa Beach, Ca, argues, is it just a "service" like scooping ice cream, or silk-screening T-shirts, devoid of constitutional guarantees?
The ACLU has joined a new high school sexting case. The civil liberties organization is assisting a 19-year-old Pennsylvania woman in the lawsuit against her former high school for a violation of privacy.
Turnabout is fair play.
Arizona is threatening to cut off its supply of electricity to Los Angeles if the city goes through with the proposed boycott of Arizona. Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce stated yesterday that the state may terminate all power supply contracts with Los Angeles if the immigration boycott stands. Pierce sent a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa suggesting that he "reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona's economy."
A grand jury issued a subpoena to Twitter, seeking the identities of two Twitter users. The ACLU is helping to fight to keep their accounts, and the blogs they apparently maintain, anonymous. ACLU attorney Vic Walczak says his organization will request that a judge throw out the subpoena seeking to unmask @bfbarbie and @casablancaPA. Walczak argues that the subpoena by the grand jury violates First Amendment free-speech rights.
SmartBuy, a national computer seller, is being sued by the state of New York. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo sued SmartBuy on behalf of the state, claiming that they were scamming soldiers by grossly over pricing computers and charging usurious interest rates. SmartBuy allegedly purchased the computes not from wholesalers, but retail stores, and then re-sold to them to military personnel. SmartBuy has several locations across the United States. The Attorney General believes all operate in the same manner.
A Rhode Island school has reportedly gained concessions from teachers and reversed course after firing its entire staff in February. The teachers union and the school district have reached a tentative agreement that would rehire the fired teachers.
Arizona is back in the spotlight again after Gov. Jan Brewer signed a new law designed to restrict ethnic studies courses. Supporters of the Arizona house bill, say that the ethnic studies courses were dividing the students up by race and offering them differing versions of history. Latinos in particular, say supporters, were allegedly being taught a history that emphasized their oppression and that emphasized that capitalism is the enemy.
Los Angeles has passed an Arizona boycott over its controversial immigration law. The City Council voted 13-1 to end most business with Arizona. The move involves as much as $8 million in contracts with the city. The Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, stated that he will approve the Arizona boycott.
On May 12, it was reported that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo was launching an investigation of eight major banks in relation to the information they provided to the ratings agencies tasked with grading mortgaged-backed securities offered to investors. This investigation comes at the same time as other investigations by federal authorities into many types of financial services companies and their actions in the months and years leading up to the collapse of the housing market and ensuing financial crisis.
Legislation designed to require equal insurance coverage for those with mental and physical illnesses has caused controversy in Washington. The Obama Administration has issued rules regarding a 2008 law that insurance companies and employer groups say goes too far. They argue that the mental health costs of employers and patients both would skyrocket.
A story that is becoming more and more common: what starts as innocent text messaging between teenagers turns sexual. Soon the messages, photos or videos make their way to authorities. Next, as in the case of a teenager in the La Joya School District in Texas, is being charged with possession of child pornography with the risk of prison and a sex offender label.
There is controversy in Morgan Hill, California, after a vice-principal at Live Oak High School asked two students to remove their American flag t-shirts and bandanas. It was Cinco de Mayo, and because the school has large Mexican-American student population, he believed the flags could cause a disruption.
Several media outlets have already reported on the story, focusing primarily on the controversy.
Students might just have a lot more to thank Al Franken for than the years of laughs on Saturday Night Live. Senator Franken, along with fellow Democratic Senators Richard Durbin of Illinois, and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, have reportedly introduced a bill that will make it far more possible for borrowers to discharge private student loans in bankruptcy, which have been generally shielded from bankruptcy discharge since 2005.
As the debate and controversy over Arizona's tough new immigration law continues, two Arizona city councils have voted to sue the state. Tucson and Flagstaff have made the decision to challenge the state due to several issues, including tourism and costs of enforcement. They are the first municipalities in Arizona to move forward with legal proceedings challenging the law. Phoenix had been considering filing a suit but that has been put on hold after the city attorney ruled that Mayor Phil Gordon lacked the legal authority to file the suit alone.
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson has agreed to an order temporarily blocking enforcement of a controversial Oklahoma abortion law that many are calling one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation. The law mandates that every woman considering an abortion must undergo an ultrasound and hear a description of the fetus. No exceptions are made in the case of rape or incest.
On Monday, the Lower Merion School District released the much anticipated report aimed at answering some of the questions surrounding the suit for invasion of privacy and numerous investigations over the school district's use of webcams on school issued laptops to take photos of students and their families in their homes. The most basic question can of course be summed up as: "what were you thinking?"
Well that didn't take long.
The first lawsuits have been filed challenging Arizona's recently passed immigration bill. One was filed by Martin Escobar, a Tucson police officer with 15 years of experience. He argues that the Arizona immigration law violates several constitutionally protected rights and could in fact hinder police investigations. A second lawsuit was filed by a Latino Clergy group seeking an injunction to prevent Arizona from enforcing the law.