Thursday, January 9, 2014

'Fair Sentencing Act' not all that fair

Photo courtesy of Pete Souza/The White House
In Aug. 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. While its name is misleading, it does help begin to reduce the disparities created out of the “War on Drugs.”

The law was set to reduce the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine cases created by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. Before the Fair Sentencing Act, federal penalties for possessing an amount of crack 100 times smaller than the amount of cocaine would lead to the same penalty as one would receive for powder cocaine.

The Fair Sentencing Act lowered the crack-to-cocaine ratio from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1. While the Act still leaves some disparity, many defendants caught with smaller amounts of crack are no longer subject to mandatory 5 or 10-year prison sentences. Essentially, the Act raised the amount of crack necessary to impose the 10-year mandatory minimum sentence from 50 grams to 280 grams and the five-year mandatory minimum from 5 grams to 28.

Since 2010, though, the Act has faced legal hurdles in its application. Congress decides the question as to whether a law can be imposed retroactively. In this instance, Congress decided nothing.

Read the rest of the story at The Eastern Echo.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Duck Dynasty, Phil Robertson, and Homosexuality: The Bigger Picture

Image via AP
What happened to Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Roberson isn't a First Amendment issue. It is an issue between him and his employer, A&E.

As anyone would know, I am an ardent defender of the First Amendment in its most broadest of interpretations. Any speech that is stifled for whatever reason is dangerous for all of us. That's why I have no problem with Robertson saying how he feels. He has that right and I dare anyone to take that away from him, because even though I may not agree with what he says, I will defend his right to say it--as I have numerous times before.

It is clear to remember that nobody was stifling Robertson's First Amendment rights. For a refresher, it reads: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech." Robertson works for a private company. They have policies in place, like any employer, they dictate conduct.

A&E is not Congress.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Westboro Baptist Christians are America's Best Christians

Source: (Americasroof)
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; blood shall be upon them.”

This is the common passage thrown about by some within the Christian community to justify their stance against homosexuality and gay marriage in America.

One group within that community, the Westboro Baptist Church, considered more of a cult than actual church, parades the passage around to funerals around the country, blaming the plights of America on the existence homosexuals.

The Westboro Baptist Church is the crazy uncle of the Christian community – the family member you avoid making eye contact with at Thanksgiving for fear of a long lecture about things no one really cares about anymore.

Christians try to distance themselves from that church, saying that they are not true Christians. But the Westboro Baptist Church is in actuality the face of good Christians in America.

There is a misconception amongst Christians that the words of Jesus and the word of the Bible are one in the same. They are not.

Read the rest and join the conversation at The Eastern Echo.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

LED vs. LCD - What to buy?

Source: LGEPR
Choosing the TV that is right for you is hard. Staring blankly at a wall of TV acronyms as your corneas burn while you strain to see the minutest of differences between picture qualities to ensure you get the best of the best is exhausting. However, there is more to picking the right TV than just how it looks. You have to remember that how a TV looks in a store will be completely different from how it looks in your home, picture quality and all.  Even Best Buy’s cozy little TV paradise in the back of most of its stores isn’t a clear representation of what you will get when you get the TV home and set up.

Currently, there are two major contenders in the TV marketplace: LCD and LED. While marketed as two differing TVs to the consumer, in reality a LED TV is just another type of LCD unit. Going forward throughout this piece for clarity, they will be called LCD and LED respectively.

LCD, and subsequently LED TVs are unique machines. They are composed of two sheets of polarizing material with a liquid crystal solution between them. Within each pixel are three sub-pixels fitted with a blue, green, or a red color filter. To create a wide range of colors, varying voltages of electricity pass through each sub-pixel. These voltages adjust each sub-pixel intensity, and consequently the color intensity as well. This way, blue, green, and red light blend together in various intensities to produce a broad array of colors that then produce a picture.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Militarization of police costly in time, money and lives

There is an epidemic spreading across America today. It has lead to senseless killings and fear mongering in ways that would keep George Orwell up at night cowering beneath his bed sheets.

There is a proliferation of military-grade weaponry and tactics seeping throughout state and local police forces and SWAT teams – all in the name of security in the post 9/11 world. In an effort to combat “terrorism,” the police are arming themselves with weapons more at home in a war zone – bazookas, armored vehicles and even attack helicopters are finding their way into police arsenals.

These heavily militarized SWAT teams are conducting raids on simple drug offenders, minor criminals and others accused of petty offenses.

Monday, September 16, 2013

No More War

America, as a country, is exhausted by war. And not just the boots-on-the-ground type — a phrase I loathe and will explain why later – but everything about it: the rhetoric, the fear mongering, the clear ignorance to the will of the American people.

We are tired of it all.

President Obama said in his speech Tuesday night, “Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong.”

Yes, Mr. President, terrible things do happen across the globe, but terrible things happen here as well. Our country is in the middle of sequestration, a governmental tightening of the belt, and just the notion of spending untold millions to slap Syrian President Bashar al-Assad across the wrist is kicking the American people while they are already down.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Digital footprints may embarass or worse: US privacy and technology laws could land practically anyone in jail

Flickr, Casey Konstantín
We’ve all done questionably illegal things in our lives (allegedly), whether partaking in recreational drug use in college, sipping on alcohol in our parents’ basements well before reaching the legal drinking age, or other dubious acts we feel best left tucked away.

Whether in admittance or not, sometimes we leave digital footprints behind of these activities. Facebook messages, phone records, photos, tweets, texts, and immature YouTube videos can be collected, stored, mined in a database, and searched at the government’s convenience.

Though our activities may not be illegal, they most certainly can be embarrassing and, if left unchecked in the vastness of the Internet, can tarnish a reputation.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The death of religion in America

I was going to write today about the recent letters proclaiming America as a Judeo-Christian nation and the false notion the Founding Fathers Bible thumped their way to independence against a religiously oppressive monarchy with the hopes of establishing a religiously oppressive democracy.

Yeah, like that’s what they wanted.

With non-belief rising in America, and elsewhere in the developed world, religious indoctrination will have to give way to such things as secular humanism, atheists and atheism, the acceptance of homosexuals and their lifestyles, and treating women as equals, especially when pertaining to their reproductive rights.