Beneath the Surface Lies a Slippery Slope

Jill Dennison gifts us with a well researched and carefully framed discussion about limiting freedom of speech in the U.S.A. Please share…

Filosofa's Word

After a discussion last evening with friend and fellow blogger John about whether it would ever be acceptable to place certain limitations on 1st Amendment freedom of speech, and if so, under what circumstances.  Now, it’s been a lot of years since my last ConLaw class, so I had to dig out some notes and texts, but let us review briefly, the history of free speech in the U.S..

The U.S. Constitution was signed and ratified in 1787, but the first ten amendments, commonly known as the Bill of Rights, was not ratified until 1791.  The first real curtailment of free speech came some seven years later, with the Sedition Act of 1798.  At the time, war with France seemed imminent, Congress and President John Adams feared treason by French sympathisers within the U.S., thus was born the Sedition Act of 1798, which required criminal penalties for persons who…

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John’s Believe It Or Not… November 30th

* 1924 – RCA sends first wire photos from London to NYC using William Stephenson’s Technology. * 1886 Folies Bergere stage first revue. * 1874 Winston Churchill born. * 1954 Meteorite strikes Alabama woman. * 1993 Brady Bill signed into law.

It’s Thursday! Did You Know…

* 1924 – RCA sends first wire photos from London to NYC using William Stephenson’s Technology.

Sir William Samuel Stephenson 1896-1989 inventor, industrialist, intelligence chief aka The Man Called Intrepid, born at Point Douglas, Manitoba, January 23, 1896, son of a lumber-mill owner; died in Paget, Bermuda, January 31, 1989. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… November 30th”

John’s Believe It or Not… November 29th

* 1798 – Legislature of the Island of St. John votes to change name to Prince Edward Island. * 1947 U.N. votes for the partition of Palestine. * 1929 Byrd flies over the South Pole. * 1991 Dust storm causes massive pileup in California. * 2011 Dr. Conrad Murray receives a four-year sentence in Michael Jackson’s death.

It’s Hump Day Wednesday! Did You Know…

* 1798 – Legislature of the Island of St. John votes to change name to Prince Edward Island.

At the end of the Eighteenth century, St. John’s Island received a name change. It was being confused with St. John’s Newfoundland and Saint John in New Brunswick which had been founded by Loyalist refugees from the United States in 1785. Walter Patterson, the colonial governor had suggested “New Ireland” as an appropriate name in 1780, but this was vetoed by the British government.

In late November 1798, during the term of Governor Edmund Fanning, approval was granted to change the name to Prince Edward Island, in honor of the Duke of Kent [see featured image above] who was the commander-in-chief of British forces in North America and was living in Halifax. He would later be the father of Queen Victoria and the great, great, great grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II. The official name change did not happen until 1799 but was anticipated in a map created in 1798 by H.A. Ashby.

The Confederation Bridge joins the eastern Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. This is a 12.9 kilometre (8 mile) long curved bridge and it is the longest in the world.
The Confederation Bridge joins the eastern Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. This is a 12.9 kilometer (8 mile) long curved bridge and it is the longest in the world. (stantec.com)

* 1947 U.N. votes for the partition of Palestine.

Despite strong Arab opposition, the United Nations votes for the partition of Palestine and the creation of an independent Jewish state.

The modern conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine dates back to the 1910s when both groups laid claim to the British-controlled territory. The Jews were Zionists, recent emigrants from Europe and Russia who came to the ancient homeland of the Jews to establish a Jewish national state. The native Palestinian Arabs sought to stem Jewish immigration and set up a secular Palestinian state.

Beginning in 1929, Arabs and Jews openly fought in Palestine, and Britain attempted to limit Jewish immigration as a means of appeasing the Arabs. As a result of the Holocaust in Europe, many Jews illegally entered Palestine during World War II. Radical Jewish groups employed terrorism against British forces in Palestine, which they thought had betrayed the Zionist cause. At the end of World War II, in 1945, the United States took up the Zionist cause. Britain, unable to find a practical solution, referred the problem to the United Nations, which on November 29, 1947, voted to partition Palestine.

The Jews were to possess more than half of Palestine, though they made up less than half of Palestine’s population. The Palestinian Arabs, aided by volunteers from other countries, fought the Zionist forces, but the Jews secured full control of their U.N.-allocated share of Palestine and also some Arab territory. On May 14, 1948, Britain withdrew with the expiration of its mandate, and the State of Israel was proclaimed by Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion. The next day, forces from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded.

The Israelis, though less well equipped, managed to fight off the Arabs and then seize key territories, such as Galilee, the Palestinian coast, and a strip of territory connecting the coastal region to the western section of Jerusalem. In 1949, U.N.-brokered cease-fires left the State of Israel in permanent control of those conquered areas. The departure of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from Israel during the war left the country with a substantial Jewish majority.

4 Maps: The graphic above, long distributed on postcards at Palestinian solidarity events, is a work of genius; it explains the history of Israel and Palestine better than any other quick summary.
The graphic above, long distributed on postcards at Palestinian solidarity events, is a work of genius; it explains the history of Israel and Palestine better than any other quick summary. (linkedin.com)

* 1929 Byrd flies over the South Pole.

American explorer Richard Byrd and three companions make the first flight over the South Pole, flying from their base on the Ross Ice Shelf to the pole and back in 18 hours and 41 minutes.

Richard Evelyn Byrd learned how to fly in the U.S. Navy and served as a pilot in World War I. An excellent navigator, he was deployed by the navy to Greenland in 1924 to help explore the Arctic region by air. Enamored with the experience of flying over glaciers and sea ice, he decided to attempt the first flight over the North Pole.

On May 9, 1926, the Josephine Ford left Spitsbergen, Norway, with Byrd as navigator and Floyd Bennet as the pilot. Fifteen hours and 30 minutes later, the pair returned and announced they had accomplished their mission. For the achievement, both men were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. However, some doubt lingered about whether they had actually flown over the North Pole, and in 1996 a diary Byrd had kept on the flight was found that seemed to suggest that the Josephine Ford had turned back 150 miles short of its goal because of an oil leak. In the late 1920s, however, few suspected Byrd had failed in his mission.

In 1927, Byrd’s prestige grew when he made a harrowing nonstop flight across the Atlantic with three companions. Famous as he was, he had little trouble finding financial backers for an expedition to Antarctica. Byrd’s first Antarctic expedition was the largest and best-equipped expedition that had ever set out for the southern continent. The explorers set out in the fall of 1928, building a large base camp called “Little America” on the Ross Ice Shelf near the Bay of Whales. From there, they conducted flights across the Antarctic continent and discovered much unknown territory.

At 3:29 p.m. on November 28, 1929, Byrd, the pilot Bernt Balchen, and two others took off from Little America in the Floyd Bennett, headed for the South Pole. Magnetic compasses were useless so near the pole, so the explorers were forced to rely on sun compasses and Byrd’s skill as a navigator. At 8:15 p.m., they dropped supplies for a geological party near the Queen Maud Mountains and then continued on. The most challenging phase of the journey came an hour later when the Floyd Bennett struggled to gain enough altitude to fly safely above the Polar Plateau. They cleared the 11,000-foot pass between Mount Fridtjof Nansen and Mount Fisher by a few hundred yards and then flew on to the South Pole, reaching it at around 1 a.m. on November 29. They flew a few miles beyond the pole and then to the right and the left to compensate for any navigational errors. Byrd dropped a small American flag on the pole, and the explorers headed for home, safely landing at Little America at 10:11 a.m.

In 1933, Byrd, now a rear admiral in the navy, led a second expedition to Antarctica. During the winter of 1934, he spent five months trapped at a weather station 123 miles from Little America. He was finally rescued in a desperately sick condition in August 1934. In 1939, Byrd took command of the U.S. Antarctic Service at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and led a third expedition to the continent. During World War II, he served on the staff of the chief of naval operations. After the war, he led his fourth expedition to Antarctica, the largest ever attempted to this date, and more than 500,000 miles of the continent were mapped by his planes. In 1955, he led his fifth and final expedition to Antarctica. He died in 1957.

November 29, 1929 ❖ American aviator/explorer Richard Byrd and three companions make the first flight over the South Pole.
November 29, 1929, ❖ American aviator/explorer Richard Byrd and three companions make the first flight over the South Pole. (airandspace.si.edu)

* 1991 Dust storm causes massive pileup in California.

A massive car and truck collision in Coalinga, California, kills 17 people on this day in 1991. More than 100 vehicles were involved in the accident on Interstate 5, which was caused by a dust storm.

Interstate 5 runs north and south between Southern California and Northern California. On Saturday, November 29, there was considerable traffic on the highway as people were returning home after Thanksgiving. The area of the highway near Coalinga in the San Joaquin Valley is usually prime farmland. However, in 1991 many farmers had decided not to plant their fields because of severe drought conditions, leaving long stretches of dusty soil near the highway.

As the winds strengthened to nearly 40 miles per hour on November 29, dust swept over the highway, severely hampering visibility. Suddenly, a chain reaction of collisions developed over a mile-long stretch of the highway. One hundred and four vehicles, including 11 large trucks, were involved in the massive collision. It took hours for the rescuers to find all the victims in the continuing dust storm. Seventeen people lost their lives and 150 more suffered serious injuries. Meanwhile, thousands of people were trapped in their cars for the nearly an entire day until the highway could be cleared enough for traffic to pass.

The same stretch of highway was the scene of a similar, but smaller, incident in December 1978 when seven people died and 47 were injured in a large chain collision. Another storm in December 1977 caused residents to develop a flu-like respiratory infection, known as Valley Fever, from breathing in large quantities of dust.

CrashesThanksgiving weekend 1991 dust storm in California: at least 14 killed, 114 hurt in I-5 pileups
CrashesThanksgiving weekend 1991 dust storm in California: at least 14 killed, 114 hurt in I-5 pileups. (Reddit)

* 2011 Dr. Conrad Murray receives a four-year sentence in Michael Jackson’s death.

On this day in 2011, Conrad Murray, the physician convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 death of singer Michael Jackson, is sentenced in a Los Angeles County courtroom to four years behind bars. The iconic pop star died at age 50 at his California home after suffering cardiac arrest while under the influence of propofol, a surgical anesthetic given to him by Murray as a sleep aid.

Jackson, who was born in 1958 in Gary, Indiana, rose to fame performing as a boy with his older brothers in a music group called the Jackson 5. With his 1982 solo album “Thriller,” Jackson achieved international superstardom. However, by the 1990s, he became known for increasingly eccentric and reclusive behavior, and his physical appearance was radically altered through multiple plastic surgeries. In 2005, amidst intense media coverage, Jackson was tried and acquitted on child molestation charges.

In March 2009, after a lengthy time away from the public spotlight, Jackson announced he would perform a series of comeback concerts in London starting in July. That spring, Murray, a cardiologist raised in Trinidad, was hired at a monthly salary of $150,000 to serve as Jackson’s personal physician while the singer rehearsed for his upcoming shows. Late in the morning on June 25, Jackson was found unconscious in bed in his mansion in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles by Murray, who tried unsuccessfully to revive him. The legendary entertainer was pronounced dead at 2:26 that afternoon at nearby Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office ruled the performer’s death a homicide after lethal levels of the powerful sedative propofol, as well other drugs were found in his system. In February 2010, Murray, who had given Jackson propofol as a sleep aid almost every night for two months prior to his death, was charged with involuntary manslaughter. He pleaded not guilty. During his trial, which began in September 2011, Murray was portrayed by the prosecution as an incompetent, greedy opportunist who recklessly gave Jackson propofol in an unmonitored setting (the drug typically is administered only in a hospital) and kept no records, among other serious medical errors. Prosecutors said Murray set aside sound medical judgment by relenting when Jackson, one of the world’s most famous men, regularly begged him for propofol in order to sleep. Additionally, Murray was accused of belatedly calling 911 after discovering Jackson had stopped breathing, and with lying to paramedics and emergency-room doctors. The defense argued that Jackson, who was plagued by insomnia, self-administered the fatal dose of the drug.

On November 7, after deliberating for less than two days, a Los Angeles County jury found Murray guilty. Three weeks later, on November 29, the trial judge sentenced the 58-year-old to a four-year jail term, the maximum punishment allowed under law. The judge, in announcing his decision, criticized Murray for his lack of remorse and refusal to accept responsibility for his role in Jackson’s death and said the doctor became involved in “a cycle of horrible medicine” in his dealings with the pop star.

Conrad Murray was sentenced to four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death
Conrad Murray was sentenced to four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson’s death (cnn.com)

Today’s Sources: 

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology  http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php

* Island Imagined                                                                     http://www.islandimagined.ca/guides/discovery/st_johns_island

* This Day In History – What Happened Today                        http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/                               

John’s Believe It Or Not… November 28th

* 1885 – Cabinet creates Banff Hot Springs Reserve & Banff National Park – Canada’s first. * 1814 The Times of London first printed by automatic, steam powered presses built by German inventors Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Friedrich Bauer. * 1919 Lady Astor becomes MP. * 1520 Magellan reaches the Pacific. * 1925 The Grand Ole Opry begins broadcasting.

It’s Tuesday! Did You Know…

* 1885 – Cabinet creates Banff Hot Springs Reserve & Banff National Park – Canada’s first.

Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest national park and was established in 1885. Located in the Rocky Mountains, 110–180 kilometers (68–112 mi) west of Calgary in the province of Alberta, Banff encompasses 6,641 square kilometers (2,564 sq mi) of mountainous terrain, with numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes. The Icefields Parkway extends from Lake Louise, connecting to Jasper National Park in the north. Provincial forests and Yoho National Park are neighbors to the west, while Kootenay National Park is located to the south and Kananaskis Country to the southeast. The main commercial center of the park is the town of Banff, in the Bow River valley. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… November 28th”

Puerto Rico – Two Months Later …

Jill Dennison outlines the current situation in Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria. Their immediate future is bleak and much more help is needed. I am broken-hearted after experiencing the beauty and warmth of the Puerto Rican people on two separate occasions. Please share…

Filosofa's Word

I have not written much, to date, about Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria plowed through the island in late September.  The U.S. response in the immediate aftermath was delayed, pitifully inadequate, and controversial.  So where does Puerto Rico stand today, just over two months after the worst natural disaster on record in the area?

More than half of the island is still without power, and hundreds of thousands of residents are fleeing to the American mainland in an extraordinary exodus.

It has been weeks since President Trump visited to jovially toss rolls of paper towels to needy fellow Americans and brag about how successful the recovery effort was. But true evidence of progress has been hard to come by. Even the simplest symbols of government, like traffic lights, remain useless. Most of the Pentagon’s emergency troops have begun pulling out, except for those working on the island’s shattered power grid.

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John’s Believe It Or Not… November 27th

* 1885 – Wandering Spirit hanged with 7 other Cree warriors for the Frog Lake Massacre. * 1095 Pope Urban II orders first Crusade. * 1703 Freak storm dissipates over England. * 1868 Custer massacres Cheyenne on Washita River. * 1957 Nehru appeals for disarmament.

It’s Monday! Did You Know…

* 1885 – Wandering Spirit hanged with 7 other Cree warriors for the Frog Lake Massacre.

The Frog Lake Massacre was part of the Cree uprising during the North-West Rebellion in western Canada. Led by Wandering Spirit, young Cree men attacked officials, clergy, and settlers in the small settlement of Frog Lake in the District of Saskatchewan in the Northwest Territories, now located in the province of Alberta, on 2 April 1885. Nine settlers were killed in the incident. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… November 27th”

John’s Believe It Or Not… November 26th

* 1810 – John Molson starts regular steamboat service to Québec on his “Accomodation” * 1950 Chinese counterattacks in Korea change nature of war. * 1933 Vigilantes in California lynch two suspected murderers. * 1922 Archaeologists enter tomb of King Tut. * 1968 U.S. Air Force helicopter pilot rescues Special Forces team.

It’s Sunday! Did You Know…

* 1810 – John Molson starts regular steamboat service to Québec on his “Accomodation”

In 1809, English-born brewer John Molson launched his wooden paddle-wheel steamboat Accomodation for service on the St. Lawrence River between Montréal and Québec.
Built entirely in Montreal by the Eagle Foundry, the boat carried 10 passengers and was the first Canadian steamship as well as the first successful steamboat built entirely in North America. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… November 26th”

John’s Believe It Or Not… November 25th

* 1999 International day to eliminate violence against women. * 1837 – Col Wetherall and 425 British troops crush Patriote rebels at St. Charles. * 1952 Mousetrap opens in London. * 1963 JFK buried at Arlington National Cemetery. * 1986 Iran-Contra connection revealed.

It’s International day to eliminate violence against women! Did You Know…

* 1999 International day to eliminate violence against women.

The United Nations General Assembly passes a resolution designating November 25 the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The resolution, which was introduced by the Dominican Republic, marked the anniversary of the death of three sisters, Maria, Teresa, and Minerva Mirabel, who were brutally murdered there in 1960. While women in Latin America and the Caribbean had honored the day since 1981, all UN countries did not formally recognize it until 1999. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… November 25th”

John’s Believe It Or Not… November 24th

* 1807 Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant dies. * 1859 Origin of Species is published. * 1963 Jack Ruby kills Lee Harvey Oswald. * 1922 Irish author and nationalist executed. * 1971 Hijacker parachutes into thunderstorm.

It’s Friday! TGIF! Did You Know…

* 1807 Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant dies.

On this day in 1807, Mohawk Chief Thayendanegea, also known by his English name, Joseph Brant, dies at his home in Burlington, Ontario. Before dying, he reportedly said, “Have pity on the poor Indians. If you have any influence with the great, endeavor to use it for their good.” Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… November 24th”

Thought of the Day: Religion is incompatible with Modern Civilization

Robert A. Vella provides us with much food for thought in this very relevant article about the value of organized religion in modern society. Please, read on…

The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

On another blog, I stumbled upon a profoundly insightful comment.  Here’s the relevant excerpt:

“… I think we are in the dawn of an age where much of what we ‘needed’ to explain away with the supernatural is now explained by science. In addition, our culture has shifted from comprising relatively small local ‘tribes’ to one of global reach. With these changes, the primary benefit of religion has shifted from uniting us to dividing us. The disaster that religion wreaks, in today’s climate, far outweighs its benefit.”

What danicanallen essentially asserted is that religion is incompatible with our technocratic, globalized modern civilization.  Indeed, religion has always been effectively divisive, tribal, and warlike regardless of any benevolent precepts it officially espouses.  Actions speak louder than words, and history does matter… very much so.

At the crux of the Abrahamic religions‘ foundations, the world’s…

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