Friday, November 2, 2012

Helpful Links to Florida Amendments 2012

 Two helpful websites in figuring out the pending Florida constitutional amendments for 2012:

And a third (these are the actual amendments):

History of the Indian Reorganization Act (1934)

Could the US have prevented Pearl Harbor?

The U.S could have prevented Pearl Harbor by either 1) remaining completely isolated from the War or 2) not having Hawaii be a part of the U.S. in the first place.
As I have mentioned in previous discussions, the U.S. was already involved in the war before they officially declared war against the Axis powers. Not only was the U.S. involved, but they picked a side. Through programs like the Lend-Lease scheme and by supporting Britain's blockade of the Atlantic as well as their use of civilians on ships to transport war materials, the U.S. clearly showed the world that they supported the Allied powers before 1941.
U.S. imperialism was shown during the creation of Hawaii as a U.S. state. In 1893, "American sugar planters overthrew the recently enthroned Queen Liliuokalani, a Hawaiian nationalist eager to rid the island of American influence" (Davidson 616). The U.S. government wouldn't have that, however, so they stood up for the elite planter group when a "contingent of U.S. marines arrived ashore on the pretext of protecting American lives" - though the country wouldn't become part of the U.S. until years later (Davidson 616). The planter class requested U.S. military aid because they didn't want to lose the profits they were making from the native Hawaiian people and their resources. In addition, they wanted to "avoid the McKinley Tariff's new tax on sugar imported into the United States" (Davidson 616).
I wonder what would have happened had the U.S. never supported the elite group of planters in Hawaii.
The U.S. policies before Pearl Harbor would have eventually led to increased U.S. action in World War II. The Pearl Harbor bombing was just a pretext that was used so that the U.S. could officially enter the war with American "support." The U.S would have capitalized on another attack if the Pearl Harbor bombing was prevented. In addition, the discovery of the Holocaust and the use of concentration camps (though we had our very own in the U.S. ) would have gained enough American support to increase U.S. involvement in the war. The U.S. would have gotten more involved regardless; their policies implemented before Pearl Harbor were just begging for further American involvement.
Davidson, James, Brian Delay, Christine Heyrman, Mark Lytle, and Michael Stoff, Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the American Republic Volume II: Since 1865. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

History of the 14th Amendment

History of Charles Coughlin

History of the Banking Act (1935)

What is Torture?

This whole "torture" talk on both the radio and television is starting to get highly annoying. They talk all this nonsense without actually stating exactly what torture really is. This post will hopefully help you to understand the torture controversy going on right now.

The UN defines torture as:

Article 1:  "For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any
act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is
intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or
a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a
third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or
intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on
discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at
the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or
other person acting in an official capacity.  It does not include pain or
suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions."

Article 2: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a
threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency,
may be invoked as a justification of torture."

Article 11:  "Each State Party shall keep under systematic review interrogation rules,
instructions, methods and practices as well as arrangements for the custody
and treatment of persons subjected to any form of arrest, detention or
imprisonment in any territory under its jurisdiction, with a view to
preventing any cases of torture."

Article 13:  "Each State Party shall ensure that any individual who alleges he has been
subjected to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to
complain to, and to have his case promptly and impartially examined by, its
competent authorities.  Steps shall be taken to ensure that the complainant
and witnesses are protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a
consequence of his complaint or any evidence given."

This "Convention Against Torture" Charter was ratified by the United States in 1994.  
Thus we must abide by the treaty as if it was our own law.

According to the US Constitution:

Article 6:  "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be
made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be
made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme
law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby,
anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary

Article 4:  "The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities
of citizens in the several states."

8th Amendment:  "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel
and unusual punishments inflicted."

Article 1:  Congress shall have the power "To establish a uniform rule of naturalization,
and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States"

The Definition of a US citizen is: 
"Citizenship is granted at birth to persons born in the US, persons born abroad with at least
one US citizen parent, persons granted lawful permanent residence, or persons naturalized."
Thus the controversy stems over what the definition of "torture" is.  According to the UN torture
includes "severe pain and suffering."  More specifically, the controversy is in regards
to whether water boarding can be defined as "severe."  This can be left up to the reader
to decide, however, we should remember the punishments that were present throughout the Dark
Ages and the Spanish Inquisition (as well as numerous other occasions).  I would personally define
"severe" as extreme pain - such as ripping off a nail, whipping someone numerous times, and/or being
forcefully raped. 

I put all the extra stuff from the Constitution in this post in case a reader questions whether the
8th Amendment should be applied to the torture controversy.  The 8th Amendment states that "cruel
and unusual punishment" shall not be inflicted.  Remember, the Constitution and its protections only
apply to US citizens which is defined by Article 1 (and thus Congress).  A enemy combatant or anyone
captured overseas (unless originally born here) will probably not be regarded as a US citizen.  Thus
the 8th Amendment and its protections does not apply to this individual.  If they were included as a
US citizen then I could see where an argument could come up in regards to water boarding being considered
"unusual."  However, the Constitution states "cruel AND unusual."  Again, the reader can decide whether
water boarding is actually "cruel."  I would definitely not consider it cruel.  To me, "cruel" includes
the gas camps used in Nazi Germany and the horrible experiments they conducted as well.  Water boarding
does not actual harm (it is sort of a fake drowning scenario) and is far more heinous than the previously
mentioned conditions used in WWII. 

Hopefully this helps a little bit.  I personally think this whole situation is a political one used to
divert attention from other more important things going on in this nation (such as the Credit Card bill). 
I do believe torture is morally wrong - but when has the US ever been moral?  I think the detaining of 300
individuals in Guantanamo and its controversy is also ridiculous.  Again, remember these are not US citizens
and thus they should not receive the same liberties as such (even though the Supreme Court recently rule
that they do in fact have protections).  

History of the Home Owners' Loan Act (1934)

"Who Received Loans?"

America's 200 Largest U.S. Charities

Nationally, there are more than 1.4 million nonprofits vying for your normally tax-deductible contributions. The 200 on our list, many of them national brand names, get a disproportionate share: a whopping $47 billion (up from $40 billion last year).

Duval survey finds one of 12 armed in high school

Nearly one out of 12 Duval County high schoolers reported bringing a weapon to school and about 40 percent of students said they had at least one drink — both in the past 30 days, according to a survey conducted last year.
Those are some of the more dire findings from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, part of a national project that focuses on teenagers’ attitudes and experience with violence, sex, alcohol, drugs and suicide. Eating habits were also questioned.
More than 5,600 middle and high school students in 46 schools participated in the survey, part of a larger effort by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect information on teen behavior.
Other key findings from the survey:
• Thirty-four percent of students said they’ve never consumed alcohol.
• Forty-six percent of high schoolers reported never having had sexual intercourse.
• Thirty-seven percent of high schoolers described themselves as sexually active.
• Of those, 58 percent reported having sex with a condom, compared to 65 percent statewide.

Study: Breast-feeding would save lives, money

The lives of nearly 900 babies would be saved each year, along with billions of dollars, if 90% of U.S. women breast-fed their babies for the first six months of life, a cost analysis says.

The findings suggest that there are hundreds of deaths and many more costly illnesses each year from health problems that breast-feeding may help prevent. These include stomach viruses, ear infections, asthma, juvenile diabetes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and even childhood leukemia.

The $13 billion in estimated losses due to the low breast-feeding rate includes an economists' calculation partly based on lost potential lifetime wages — $10.56 million per death.

Supreme Court Rules 'Sexually Dangerous' Can Be Held Longer Than Sentences

A 7-to-2 majority of the Supreme Court ruled today that Congress has the authority to pass a law allowing federal prisoners who have been deemed "sexually dangerous" to be held beyond the date of their original sentence.
The law, a provision of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, was passed in 2006. A lower court had ruled that Congress overstepped its boundaries in passing the law.
But Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority, found that the Constitution grants Congress the authority to enact the law.
"The statute is a necessary and proper means of exercising the federal authority that permits Congress to create federal criminal laws, to punish their violation, to imprison violators, to provide appropriately for those imprisoned, and to maintain the security of those who are not imprisoned but who may be affected by the federal imprisonment of others," he wrote.
Breyer wrote, "Congress routinely exercises its authority to enact criminal laws in furtherance of, for example, its enumerated powers to regulate interstate and foreign commerce, to enforce civil rights, to spend funds for the general welfare, to establish federal courts, to establish post office, to regulate bankruptcy, to regulate naturalization and so forth."

What U.S. Companies Really Pay in Taxes

At the moment, most companies pay less than the official tax rate of 35%. A study published last summer by the General Accounting Office found that from 1998 to 2005, 55% of large U.S. companies had at least one year of paying no taxes at all.

The result is a list of players whose tax burdens ranged widely, from essentially nothing to almost 400% of pretax income a year. Troubled industries with weakening profits had the highest tax rates: The auto sector averaged 45.5%, banks paid 50.3%, and real estate companies paid 66.1%. The least-taxed industries were semiconductors, at 19.6%, often because of high expenses in the U.S. and high overseas income. Infrastructure investments helped to keep telecoms at a low 22.2%.

History of the Interstate Highway System

Click the title to learn more about the creation of our national highway system (it is a .gov website).

Gov. Rick Scott signs pill mill bill into law

After initially fighting one of its key provisions, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Friday aimed at cracking down on clinics that frivolously dispense pain pills, feeding a nationwide prescription drug abuse epidemic.
"Florida will shed its title as the Oxy Express," Scott said at a bill signing ceremony in Tampa.
Below are key provisions of the new pill mill law, which seeks to help law enforcement authorities crack down on prescription drug abuse.
• New administrative and criminal penalties for overprescribing narcotics.
• A strengthening of the prescription drug monitoring database by changing reporting requirements from 15 to seven days.
• A background check requirement for the manager and support staff involved with the database.
• A requirement that the Department of Health study an appropriate monthly dosage limit that pharmacies can dispense.
• A dispensing ban for physicians, with exceptions for surgeons, methadone clinics, clinical trials and hospice.
• A mandatory buy-back program for doctors to return controlled substances to distributors.
• A requirement that pharmacies go through new rigorous permitting by July 2012.
• Tracking of wholesale distribution of controlled substances.
• Appropriation of $3 million for local law enforcement to enact new provisions.

Census: More blacks in South moving to suburbs

The share of blacks in large metropolitan areas who opted to live in the suburbs climbed to 58 percent in the South, compared to 41 percent for the rest of the U.S., according to census estimates. That's up from 52 percent in 2000 and represents the highest share of suburban blacks in the South since the Civil Rights Act passed in the 1960s.
The South also had major gains in neighborhood integration between blacks and whites. Thirty-three of the region's 38 largest metro areas made such gains since 2000, including all the large metros in Florida and Georgia, according to a commonly used demographic index. The measure, known as the segregation index, tracks the degree to which racial groups are evenly spread between neighborhoods.
Census figures also show that Hispanics contributed more to population gains than blacks in 13 of the 16 Southern states over the last decade, compared with seven states for Hispanics from 1990-2000. It was a clear sign of the shift under way for a region in which African-Americans have been the dominant minority group dating back to slavery.
In all, Hispanics accounted for roughly 45 percent of population gains in the South over the last decade, compared with about 22 percent for whites and 19 percent for blacks. Hispanic growth also has been surprisingly larger than expected in several Southern states, with official counts exceeding earlier estimates by more than 10 percent in Alabama, Louisiana and Maryland, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

Army suicide rate highest in recent history Local News
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Staggering new numbers about the military and suicide.
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Medicare patients billed at higher rates, report finds Top headlines
Thousands of doctors and other medical professionals have added $11 billion or more to fees for elderly Medicare patients over the last decade by choosing to use more expensive billing codes and ignoring cheaper ones, a new study says.

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US-Japan OK new defenses against N. Korea Top headlines
U.S. and Japanese officials have agreed to put a second defense system in Japan aimed at protecting the country from the threat of a missile attack from North Korea.U.S. and Japanese officials have agreed to put a second defense system in Japan aimed at protecting the country from the threat of a missile attack from North Korea.

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Report: US likely created computer viruses for espionage, warfare Top headlines
Researchers have found evidence suggesting that the United States may have developed three previously unknown computer viruses for use in espionage operations or cyber warfare.

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The poorest countries in the world Top headlines
  According to 2011 data released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of individuals in the United States live below the poverty line. While down from 15.1 percent last year, it remains statistically unchanged and near a record high.According to 2011 data released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of individuals in the United States live below the poverty line. While down from 15.1 percent last year, it remains statistically unchanged and near a record high.

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Jacksonville council panel OKs bill to pay higher worker comp costs

Jacksonville Local News – and The Florida Times-Union
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office will be able to keep open a jail drug-treatment program and still meet ballooning workman's compensation costs under legislation approved Tuesday by a City Council panel.
At least, members hope so.
"It's a crap shoot," said Finance Committee Chairman John Crescimbeni, who said the city won't know its final 2012 workman's comp costs until weeks after the new budget year starts.
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Syria rejects UN report on 'child torture'

Ambassador to UN Bashar Jaafari calls allegations hostile propaganda, blaming abuse of children on "terrorist groups".
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More than 50 percent of America's black youths earn high school degree in 4 years

Jacksonville Local News – and The Florida Times-Union
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than half the young black men who graduated high school in 2010 earned their diploma in four years, an improved graduation rate that still lagged behind that of their white counterparts, according to an education group's report released Wednesday.
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Trillions of Dollars in Bank Bailouts: Socialism for the Rich?

The Rundown News Blog
Photo of the Federal Reserve by: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Paul Solman frequently answers questions from the NewsHour audience on business and economic news on his Making Sen$e page. Here is Wednesday's query:
Bill Harshaw: Sen. Bernie Sanders in July 2011 said: The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An amendment by Sen. Sanders to the Wall Street reform law passed one year ago this week had directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct the study.
"As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world," said Sanders. "This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you're-on-your-own individualism for everyone else." This seems to have become a meme on the left. Could you explain?
Making Sense
Paul Solman:I could try. The $16 trillion dollar total is, to my mind, a wildly inflated number., which was reporting this story last year, came up with a total of $1.2 trillion, pretty much the amount people originally thought the Fed had pledged at the time of the Crash of '08. Here's Bloomberg on the difference between its number and $16 trillion, as explained by Phil Kuntz and Bob Ivry:
"If a bank borrowed $1 billion overnight for 100 nights, Bloomberg's analysis would show that the bank had a $1 billion balance at the Fed for 100 days; the GAO method that produced the $16 trillion total would sum up those transactions to $100 billion, even though the bank never owed more than 1 percent of that total."
The Fed takes it on the chin from both the Right and the Left. But I can't for the life of me see that it had any good alternatives to bailing out the banking system when it did. At the time, neither did almost anyone else. That's the Fed's raison d'etre: to act as "the lender of last resort" when the credit system seizes up. Is the moral hazard of too-big-to-fail banks, well, too big?* On his Baseline Scenario blog, Simon Johnson has been among the most eloquent and vehement of those arguing yes. I am not about to disagree with him. But the big banks were called "too-big-to-fail" for a reason: they really were.
Simon Johnson adds:
"Agreed. These banks became known as TBTF precisely because no one wanted to contemplate 'another Lehman.' Unfortunately, once the banks received unconditional government and Fed financial support, they were able to become politically powerful again. The biggest banks today are bigger, collectively, than they were in the run-up to the 2008 crisis. Looking forward, the moral hazard problems are likely to get worse, not better."
*- For teachers, we have a classroom lesson on the concept of moral hazard here.
As usual, look for a second post early this afternoon. But please don't blame us if events or technology make that impossible. Meanwhile, let it be known that this entry is cross-posted on the Making Sen$e page, where correspondent Paul Solman answers your economic and business questions.

Follow @paulsolman
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Report: Iran ships arms, troops to Syria via Iraq Top headlines
Iran flies military personnel and weapons in civilian aircraft across Iraqi airspace to Syria to aid President Bashar al-Assad, says a Western intelligence report seen by Reuters.

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Analysis: 'Manufactured' fury behind Muslim protests Top headlines
CAIRO – It's been just over a week since hundreds of offended Egyptians gathered outside the U.S. Embassy's gates in Cairo. Within 48 hours the world would witness similar scenes unfolding in more than 20 countries. But what, really, began in Cairo?CAIRO – It's been just over a week since hundreds of offended Egyptians gathered outside the U.S. Embassy's gates in Cairo. Within 48 hours the world would witness similar scenes unfolding in more than 20 countries. But what, really, began in Cairo?

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