Man on the Spot #21: Snake handlers, capital sentencing, the NSA and more

Posted by on December 1, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Image: Wikipedi

Image: Wikipedia

Tennessee Pastor Disputes Wildlife Possession Charge by State
Asserting the Right to Handle Snakes: A 22-year-old preacher who has become a reality television star because of his experience in handling poisonous snakes is facing charges in Tennessee.
Published: November 15, 2013

Andrew Hamblin, pastor of the Tabernacle Church of God in nearby LaFollette and a star of “Snake Salvation,” a recent series on the National Geographic Channel, said he hoped to turn the case against him in Campbell County General Sessions Court into a new front in the battle for religious liberty. During the raid, the officers seized about 50 snakes from the church’s Snake Room, including copperheads, timber rattlesnakes and cottonmouths, and cited Mr. Hamblin on one count carrying a possible punishment of a $2,500 fine and nearly a year in prison. Mr. Hamblin, who is to return to court next month, has not been charged with violating Tennessee’s 1947 ban on snake handling.

A Dirty Secret Lurks in the Struggle Over a Fiscal ‘Grand Bargain’
By JACKIE CALMES //Published: November 18, 2013

But the dirty secret — a phrase used independently, and privately, by people in both parties — is that neither side wants to take the actions it demands of the other to achieve a breakthrough. “Do Republicans want to propose changes in entitlements?” he added. “Basically you’re talking about Medicare and Social Security, which a lot of Tea Party folks get, given their ages. Do Democrats want to propose changes in taxes for upper-income individuals? Well, given the support they’re getting from upper-income individuals, I’m not sure they want to take the lead on that.”

Alaska: Medicaid Expansion Rejected

Published: November 15, 2013

Gov. Sean Parnell on Friday rejected calls to expand Medicaid in Alaska, citing cost concerns and prompting an outcry from critics who say the decision will leave thousands of Alaskans without care. Mr. Parnell, a Republican, said he believes a “costly Medicaid expansion, especially on top of the broken Obamacare system, is a hot mess.” The governor faced pressure from health, advocacy and business organizations to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law. For states that do, on Jan. 1 the federal law will increase Medicaid eligibility to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, which in Alaska would be about $19,800. The federal government is expected to cover the cost for the first three years, through 2016, and the bulk of the cost indefinitely, with the states contributing. Studies have suggested that 26,000 to 40,000 people would have benefited.

Alabama Judges Retain the Right to Override Juries in Capital Sentencing
Published: November 18, 2013
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a challenge to an unusual Alabama capital-sentencing practice that has sent 95 defendants to death row despite jury determinations calling for life sentences. “What could explain Alabama judges’ distinctive proclivity for imposing death sentences in cases where a jury has already rejected that penalty?” Justice Sotomayor asked. “There is no evidence that criminal activity is more heinous in Alabama than in other states or that Alabama juries are particularly lenient.”

More Than a Decade After 9/11, a Bull Market for Barriers and Checkpoints

Published: November 18, 2013
When United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower, the windows in Mark Scherzer’s apartment collapsed inward in a fine spray of glass shards. Then the tower collapsed and a metal NSAbeam flew in, true as an arrow. Dust, inches thick, covered his floors, bed and shelves. “Security cannot be the be-all and end-all of how we organize our lives,” said Mr. Scherzer, who has joined his neighbors in suing to block the “fortresslike” plans for his neighborhood. “There is a constant sense of police presence — everything is observed, every movement regulated. “New York has never been that for me.”

by LARRY O’CONNOR 18 Nov 2013

USA Today is reporting that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been inundated with Freedom of Information (FOIA) Requests in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations of domestic surveillance carried out be the Obama Administration.

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