States cannot ban the sale or rental of ultraviolent video games to children, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, rejecting such limits as a violation of young people's First Amendment rights and leaving it up to parents and the multibillion-dollar gaming industry to decide what kids can buy.
The high court, on a 7-2 vote, threw out California's 2005 law covering games sold or rented to those under 18, calling it an unconstitutional violation of free-speech rights. Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia, said, "Even where the protection of children is the object, the constitutional limits on governmental action apply."
Scalia, who pointed out the violence in a number of children's fairy tales, said that while states have legitimate power to protect children from harm, "that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed."
Justices Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas dissented from the decision, with Breyer saying it makes no sense to legally block children's access to pornography yet allow them to buy or rent brutally violent video games.
The head of a children's art organization, arrested three weeks ago on suspicion of possessing child pornography, placed "offensive" tiles in murals he created at four city schools, San Francisco police said Friday.
About 100 "inappropriate" tiles have been found in murals at Sunset Elementary School and three other unnamed schools in the city, Police Chief Greg Suhr said.
Anthony Josef Norris, founder and director of Kid Serve Youth Murals, designed and worked on all the projects. The San Francisco man surrendered June 2 to the FBI after agents investigating a website known for child pornography traced the log-on name of "Spanky" to his home computer and discovered 600 pornographic images of children, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in federal court in San Francisco
One of my earliest memories of revulsion against war came from seeing a photograph from the First World War when I was a teenager. It was nothing gory. Just a picture of a military officer, in an impressive uniform, talking to a puzzled and forlorn-looking old peasant woman with a cloth wrapped around her head.
He said simply: "Don't you understand, madam? The village is not there any more."
To many such people of that era, the village was the only world they knew. And to say that it had been destroyed in the carnage of war was to say that there was no way for them to go back home, that their whole world was gone.
Recently that image came back, in a wholly different context, while seeing pictures of American seniors carrying signs that read "Hands off my Social Security" and "Hands off my Medicare."
They want their Social Security and their Medicare to stay the way they are -- and their anger is directed against those who want to change the financial arrangements that pay for these benefits.
Their anger should be directed instead against those politicians who were irresponsible enough to set up these costly programs without putting aside enough money to pay for the promises that were made -- promises that now cannot be kept, regardless of which political party controls the government.
Someone needs to say to those who want Social Security and Medicare to continue on unchanged: "Don't you understand? The money is not there any more.
Clarence Clemons, the saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, whose jovial onstage manner, soul-rooted style and brotherly relationship with Mr. Springsteen made him one of rock’s most beloved sidemen, died on Saturday at a hospital in Palm Beach, Fla. He was 69.
The cause was complications of a stroke he suffered last Sunday at his home in Singer Island, Fla., a spokeswoman for Mr. Springsteen said.
In a statement released Saturday night, Mr. Springsteen called Mr. Clemons “my great friend, my partner.”
“With Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music,” he added. “His life, his memory and his love will live on in that story and in our band.”
From the beginnings of the E Street Band in 1972, Mr. Clemons played a central part in Mr. Springsteen’s music, complementing the group’s electric guitar and driving rhythms in songs like “Born to Run” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” with muscular, melodic saxophone hooks that echoed doo-wop, soul and early rock ’n’ roll.
But equally important to the group’s image was the sense of affection and unbreakable camaraderie between Mr. Springsteen and his sax man. Few E Street Band shows were complete without a shaggy-dog story about the stormy night the two men met at a bar in Asbury Park, N.J., or a long bear hug between them at the end of the night.
President Obama rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided that he had the legal authority to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without Congressional authorization, according to officials familiar with internal administration deliberations.
Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, had told the White House that they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to “hostilities.” Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20.
But Mr. Obama decided instead to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his legal team — including the White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh — who argued that the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities.” Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged.
Presidents have the legal authority to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice, but it is extraordinarily rare for that to happen. Under normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding on the executive branch.
With just two weeks left until the start of the fiscal year, California's budget plans stalled Thursday after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a spending proposal by Democratic legislators, saying it was inadequate, and insisted that Republicans compromise on taxes.
"California is facing a fiscal crisis, and very strong medicine must be taken," Brown said while rejecting the budget that Democratic legislators passed Wednesday as an alternative to his plan. "I don't want to see more billions of borrowing, legal maneuvers that are questionable and a budget that will not stand the test of time."
Brown blamed Republican lawmakers for "obstructing" a vote by Californians on his plan to extend and raise taxes to balance the budget and prevent deeper cuts to education and courts. But it was Democratic legislative leaders who reacted angrily to Brown's action, saying they were "deeply dismayed."
The leaders, who spent most of the year taking direction on a budget strategy from the governor, appeared blindsided by the governor's veto, which marked the first time in California history that a governor had taken such action.
"His decision is apparently part of some elaborate strategy to force a confrontation," said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, adding that Brown's continual push for his budget plan "ring(s) hollow if he is unable to deliver Republican votes."
One of the strangest aspects of the #Weinergate story is that they are three people that are fairly central to the story that nobody seems to be able to locate. Neither the prescient Weiner-obsessed whistleblower PatriotUSA76, nor the two high school girls named “Betty and Veronica” in Tommy Christopher’s original piece reporting on the two.
I’ve discussed the situation with Patriot a number of times, so the update is – still, nobody seems to have ever spoken to them on the phone. Nobody knows who they are and there are contradictions in their story.
I had reporters calling me all weekend to try and find Betty and Veronica. These are people from major press organizations with big resources behind them. No sign of Betty or Veronica. Tommy Christopher says he spoke to Betty’s Mom on the phone and did other things to confirm their identities and it would be a fatal career move to just lie about that, so it’s hard to believe that that’s what happened. On the other hand, nobody else has seen this proof as far as I know (perhaps Colby Hall, the managing editor?) and Tommy has been very belligerently defensive about his reporting. And again, reporters have put dozens of hours into searching records and knocking on door with no trace.
Significantly, Betty seems to be connected at least four people central to Weinergate – Weiner followed her, she talked on Twitter with stripper @GingerLee, Betty contacted the 17 year old girl in Delaware, and she had some interactions with PatriotUSA76. It also seems like @GennetteC knew about her.
It’s weird and it’s weird in a way that’s not normal, either. When else has this happened? I can’t remember another story with 3 (or more, really) phantom people. The fact that Weiner is guilty of doing what Patriot long suspected him of doing makes it more weird, not less weird.
Democrats at the state Capitol, unable so far to win the four Republican votes needed to pass Gov. Jerry Brown's budget, introduced an alternative plan Tuesday that would close the state's remaining $9.6 billion deficit and could be approved on a majority vote, without GOP support.
Facing today's constitutional deadline to adopt a balanced spending plan, Democrats pushed forth a plan that avoids the tax extensions and increases sought by Brown, and instead delays some payments to schools, makes further spending cuts and raises certain fees.
Democratic leaders said both houses would vote on the new plan today, barring a last-minute deal with GOP legislators. Lawmakers, who almost always miss the budget deadline, this year face the prospect of permanently losing their pay for each day the budget is late.
The Democrats' proposal would further cut the University of California and California State University systems - after the $1 billion reduction approved in March - delay billions of dollars in payments to K-12 schools, and increase vehicle registration fees by $12 a year, along with other measures.
A study shows California lawmakers are the nation's most educated.
The Washington, D.C.-based Chronicle of Higher Education says 90 percent of California's legislators have at least a bachelor's degree and 84 percent went to a public college.
Virginia is the second most-educated legislature, followed by Nebraska, New York and Florida.
The study released Monday compares education levels of all 50 state legislatures.
The Sacramento Bee says Arkansas has the least-educated statehouse: 25 percent of its members didn't attend college
6. Go to Europe and see the leftwing desired future for America: dense urban apartment living by design rather than by necessity; one smart car; no backyard or 3rd bedroom; dependence on mass transit; political graffiti everywhere demanding more union benefits or social entitlements; entourages of horn-blaring, police-escorted technocrats racing through the streets on the hour; gated inherited homes of an aristocratic technocracy on the Mediterranean coast, Rhine, Danube, etc., exempt from much socialist and environmental law; $10 a gallon gas; sky-high power bills; racial segregation coupled with elite praise of illegal immigration and diversity; and unexamined groupthink on green issues, entitlements and the culpability of the U.S. Drink it all in and you have the liberal agenda for an America to be.
If she were to take her shot, she'd run on an economic package reminiscent of Jack Kemp, the late congressman who championed supply-side economics and was the GOP vice presidential nominee in 1996. "In my perfect world," she explains, "we'd take the 35% corporate tax rate down to nine so that we're the most competitive in the industrialized world. Zero out capital gains. Zero out the alternative minimum tax. Zero out the death tax."
The 3.8 million-word U.S. tax code may be irreparable, she says, a view she's held since working as a tax attorney at the IRS 20 years ago. "I love the FAIR tax. If we were starting over from scratch, I would favor a national sales tax." But she's not a sponsor of the FAIR tax bill because she fears that enacting it won't end the income tax, and "we would end up with a dual tax, a national sales tax and an income tax."
Her main goal is to get tax rates down with a broad-based income tax that everyone pays and that "gets rid of all the deductions." A system in which 47% of Americans don't pay any tax is ruinous for a democracy, she says, "because there is no tie to the government benefits that people demand. I think everyone should have to pay something."
On the stump she emphasizes an "America-centered energy policy" based on "drilling and mining for our rich resources here." And she believes that repealing ObamaCare is a precondition to restoring a prosperous economy. "You cannot have a pro-growth economy and advise, simultaneously, socialized medicine."
Her big challenge is whether the country is ready to support deep spending cuts. On this issue, she carries a sharper blade than everyone except Ron Paul. She voted for the Paul Ryan budget—but "with an asterisk." Why? "The asterisk is that we've got a huge messaging problem [on Medicare]. It needs to be called the 55-and-Under Plan. I can't tell you the number of 78-year-old women who think we're going to pull the rug out from under them."
"I don't want Facebook to be an American company," he said. "I don't want it to be this company that just spreads American values all across the world. ...For example, we have this notion of free speech that we really love and support at Facebook, and that's one of the main things that we're trying to push with openness. But different countries have their different standards around that. ...My view on this is that you want to be really culturally sensitive and understand the way that people actually think."
Members of a Latino gang affiliated with the Mexican Mafia conspired for nearly 20 years to drive African-Americans out of the Southern California city of Azusa through violence and intimidation, federal authorities alleged Tuesday.
Fifty-one alleged members of the Azusa 13 gang were indicted on racketeering and conspiracy charges; six were accused of conspiring to violate the civil rights of African-Americans. The case marks the second time federal civil-rights laws have been used against a gang, authorities said.
"The Azusa 13 gang waged a campaign of hate during a two-decade crime spree in which African-Americans were harassed and attacked," U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. said in a written statement Tuesday. "We hope that this federal case will signal the end of this racist behavior and will help vindicate all of the victims who have suffered over the years."
Thirty-nine of the defendants were in custody Tuesday. Authorities were still searching for 12 other suspects. Lawyers for some of the defendants couldn't immediately be reached.
While racial tensions among gangs have long been a part of turf wars in Southern California, none of the victims of the Azusa gang's alleged racial harassment were part of any rival gangs or criminal enterprise, authorities said. They were targeted simply because they were black, authorities said.
East Palo Alto police have arrested a 17-year-old boy in the fatal shooting of a 3-month-old baby, a killing that investigators said stemmed from a case of mistaken identity.
The teenager was out for revenge after being beaten up May 31 by Sureño gang members in Redwood City, police said at a news conference today. At about 1 a.m. Sunday, he thought he saw one of the gang members getting into a car on the 400 block of Wisteria Drive in East Palo Alto, said acting police Capt. Jeff Liu.
In the car, however, was a family of four leaving a baby shower, not the gang members who had fought with the teenager. The suspect opened fire, killing 3-month-old Izak Jesus Garcia-Lopez and wounding the boy's parents.
Izak's mother, Ivonne Garcia-Lopez, was shot in the leg as she threw her body in front of her 4-year-old son, Isaiah. When the shooting stopped, she saw that her baby had been shot in the head.
"He was such a precious angel," Garcia-Lopez, 28, said at the news conference, sobbing. "He is my everything. I was making my own little family and we were happy, and this person came into my life and destroyed it. They killed my baby and they destroyed my soul, too."
Mrs. Mellon, a Democrat in a world of Republicans, first met Mr. Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, through Mr. Huffman five years ago. She expressed an interest in Mr. Edwards because he reminded her of President John F. Kennedy, she told the decorator. And he arranged a first meeting, over tea, at her estate, Oak Spring Farms, in Upperville, Va.
Mr. Edwards ingratiated himself with Mrs. Mellon to the point where she gave him millions of dollars as well as a gold necklace as a good-luck charm for the campaign trail, according to a tell-all memoir by Andrew Young, Mr. Edwards’s former aide, who is also an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
In May 2007, when Mr. Edwards’s mistress, Rielle Hunter, told Mr. Edwards she was pregnant, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Young began looking for people who could give them money to help conceal the affair, the indictment said.
About the same time, it said, Mrs. Mellon wrote a note to Mr. Young, saying: “I was sitting alone in a grim mood — furious that the press attacked Senator Edwards on the price of a haircut. But it inspired me — from now on, all haircuts, etc. that are necessary and important for his campaign — please send the bills to me. ... It is a way to help our friend without government restrictions.”
At that point, the indictment said, Mrs. Mellon had already contributed the maximum permitted by law — $2,300 — to Mr. Edwards’s campaign.
Over the next eight months, the indictment said, Mrs. Mellon sent checks for Mr. Edwards through Mr. Huffman totaling $725,000, “falsely” referring in memo lines to things like “chairs,” “antique Charleston table” and “bookcase.” (Mr. Huffman refused to discuss this aspect of the case.)
As you may have heard by now, San Francisco will be voting this November on whether or not to ban circumcision in the city.
Defenders of the measure say it’s all about “human rights” and “protecting babies” from unnecessary procedures.
But critics suspected there was something vaguely anti-Semitic about the whole proposal, since among Jews (and Muslims, as well) circumcising male babies is a religious duty, not just a mistaken medical procedure.
Ban proponents insisted their proposal had nothing to do with Jews — really, it’s all about the rights of children.
Well, any doubt that they were lying have now been dispelled, with the publication of new campaign literature for the upcoming circumcision ban. The campaign comic book, called “Foreskin Man,” after its baby-saving superhero, features a litany of evil Jews doing battle with blond Nordic saviors.
(Oh, and did I mention the artist’s last name is Hess? A relative of Rudolph, perhaps?)
On June 1, 2009, General Motors filed for bankruptcy, backed by $30 billion in support from the federal government. The same day, in the same New York courthouse, a judge approved Chrysler’s plan to forge an alliance with Fiat and emerge from bankruptcy as a restructured business with an uncertain future.
Two years later, all three American automakers have returned to profitability, the industry has added new shifts and 115,000 jobs, and GM and Chrysler have returned more than 50 percent of the government’s investment. The industry is mounting one of the most improbable turnarounds in recent history.