Archive for June 20th, 2008

A Little Perspective

Friday, June 20th, 2008

A Little Perspective

Tax Our Way Out

Gas In Knots

ANWR Caribou

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Judge Blasts State Ban on Distributing Bibles to Students

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Score one for the good guys.

A federal court has declared a Florida law banning representatives of the Gideons from handing out Bibles within 500 feet of any school in the state unconstitutional because it is vague and actually “encourages arbitrary enforcement.”

The ruling in a case brought by the Alliance Defense Fund comes from U.S. District Court Judge K. Michael Moore and addresses an incident that developed Jan. 19, 2007, at Key Largo School, run by Principal Annette Martinson.

The law actually prohibits anyone without “legitimate business” from being within 500 feet of schools in the state and specifies “each principal or designee of each public or private school in this state shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency to prohibit any person from loitering in the school safety zone who does not have legitimate business in the school safety zone or any other authorization, or license to enter or remain in the school safety zone or does not otherwise have invitee status in the designated safety zone.”

The issue arose because of team of Gideons, known for paying all of their own expenses out of pocket while raising all of their own funds and giving away Bibles, had been distributing the Scriptures at Key Largo School.

The Gideons’ procedure is to notify local police departments two weeks before their distribution date, give school administrators notice and have participants stand on a public bike path or sidewalk and avoid stepping on school grounds.

But WND reported earlier when two members of the Gideons organization were charged for handing out Bibles there, and when a judge dismissed those counts.

Ernest Simpson and Anthony Mirto had been taken into custody by a sheriff’s deputy and charged with trespassing after the principal of Key Largo School, Martinson, complained they were handing out Bibles.

The initial counts were dismissed at the request of the ADF shortly after the law firm got involved, but then authorities filed a second round of counts, under a different law – this state law that prohibits anyone from being within 500 feet of any school property, including on public sidewalks and streets, without having either “legitimate business” or permission.

The lawsuit lawsuit at hand then was filed on behalf of Gideon Thomas Gray, who was not arrested with Simpson and Mirto but arrived when they called to report trouble with a particular deputy sheriff.

“Gray approached Officer [John] Perez and asked what the charges were. Officer Perez was highly agitated and said that Gray would know in 48 hours when he received the report,” the judge said.

Gray contacted another deputy through whom he’d arranged for the distribution.

“Gray then called Deputy [Ralph] Williams and asked for his assistance … Deputy Williams indicated that he would e-mail Officer Perez … Gray told Officer Perez that he had an e-mail in his car from another officer stating that the Gideons have a right to distribute Bibles from the public bike path/sidewalk, but Officer Perez indicated that he did not care,” the judge wrote.

The ADF reported the two Gideons who were arrested were “placed in a Monroe County patrol car. A police officer mocked the two men, saying they could ‘pray to Jesus all the way to jail.'”

The ADF, after seeing that the charges against Simpon and Mirto were dismissed, filed the action on behalf of Gray, who said he feared arrest if he exercised his right to distribute Bibles.

The federal judge found that the state definition of a school safety zone, in the Key Largo School location, would include a public bike path and walkway abutting U.S. Highway 1, the highway itself and businesses including a pet motel, a gas station, a restaurant and a plumbing business.

“Given the wide range of non-exempt persons and the various types of areas within the school safety zone, such as sidewalks, residential houses and streets, businesses, parking lots, etc., construing ‘legitimate purpose’ to mean any purpose which is connected with the operation of the school would result in an application so broad that it would likely infringe of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights,” the judge said.

He ordered the state never again enforce that particular law.

“Christians shouldn’t be penalized for expressing their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. “Arresting or threatening to arrest Christians simply because they choose to exercise their First Amendment rights in a public place is unconstitutional. The court was right in its assessment that the particular law used against these members of the Gideons does not pass constitutional muster.”

In a statement at the outset of the case to WND, Becky Herrin, of the public information office in the Monroe County sheriff’s office, stated as a fact that the defendants in the case did trespass. She later declined additional comment.

“A copy of our police report (see attached) … clearly states that the people in question were arrested for trespassing on school property – not on a public sidewalk… In fact, they were given the opportunity to step off school property and onto public property, and they could have continued with their activities if they had done so. They chose instead to remain, against repeated warnings, on school property so deputies were forced to arrest them,” Herrin said in a statement to WND.

But the attached report forwarded to WND revealed the two were arrested while in their vehicle parked near, but not on, school property.

Original Link.

Israelis Furious Over ‘Worthless’ Gaza Ceasefire

Friday, June 20th, 2008

I suspect the truce will last days at best.
Koran 47:36 says “Therefore do not falter or sue for peace when you have gained the upper hand.”

Jerusalem ( – Israelis across the political board expressed deep frustration as an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip went into effect early Thursday morning.

By midday the truce appeared to be holding, though few expected it to last, including Israeli military officials, who had been ordered by the government to prepare for immediate action the moment the terrorists violated the quiet.

Hamas warned of a severe response from its side if Israel was the first to disturb the tenuous peace. Just hours before the ceasefire went into effect, Gaza rocket crews pounded southern Israel with some 50 rockets and mortar shells to drive home that point. An Israeli woman was wounded in the barrage when one rocket hit a home in the battered southern Israel town of Sderot.

Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said in remarks to Israel Radio that he found it mind-boggling that the government would enter into yet another ill-advised ceasefire that everyone knew would be used by the terrorists to regroup and rearm for future aggression.

Previous informal ceasefires between Israel and Hamas have on paper lasted for months, but in reality were punctuated by regular attacks, while limitations on Israel’s military response allowed the terrorists to simultaneously keep pressure on the Jewish state and increase their strength.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon, who is a close confidante of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, also blasted the decision to deal with the terrorists instead of defeat them. Israel is effectively telling Hamas there are no consequences for remaining an extremist group, he said.

“I am against a truce because it is another triumph for radical Islam,” said Ramon during a conference at Haifa University on Tuesday. If terrorists are permitted to attack and then win respite by their use of violence, “what is the point of being moderate? Why would Hamas be interested in a resolution?” Ramon asked.

Average Israelis living in the shadow of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip were even more concerned than various government officials seemed to be.

“This calm is worthless for us,” Sderot resident Haim Koznitz told Army Radio. “The current calm will only strengthen Hamas. While we gained nothing, Hamas will solidify its hold by presenting the ceasefire as something it achieved for the benefit of the people.”

Original Link.

Dems Want You to Pay $4 or More for Gas

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Apparently the Dems don’t mind having you pay $4 or more for a gallon of gasoline. They are still resisting any type of drilling in our massive domestic oil reserves that are sitting in “protected” areas.

WASHINGTON — A House subcommittee on Wednesday rejected a Republican-led effort to open up more U.S. coastal waters to oil exploration.

Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., spearheaded the effort. His proposal would open up U.S. waters between 50 and 200 miles off shore for drilling. The first 50 miles off shore would be left alone.

But the plan failed Wednesday on a 9-6, party-line vote in a House appropriations subcommittee, which was considering the proposal as part of an Interior Department spending package.

With record oil prices and gas prices projected to hover around the $4 mark for the rest of the summer, Republicans have ratcheted up their efforts to open up oil exploration along U.S. coastline. But the long-sought change has so far been unsuccessful.

Most offshore oil production and exploration has been banned since a federal law passed in 1981.

“We are kidding ourselves if we think we can drill our way out of these problems,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., said during the bill mark-up session.

For his part, Peterson said: “There is no valid reason for Congress to keep the country from energy resources it needs.”

“I’m disappointed. I did not expect a partisan vote today. I felt we had a chance of winning this. A lot of Democrats have been talking favorably about my amendment. They know we have to do something. But today was an absolute show of Pelosi power, it was dealt from the top down,” Peterson said later, speaking with FOX News, adding he was open to other energy solutions, including wind and solar power.

According to Peterson’s office, the U.S. Minerals Management Service estimates that 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas can be found along the U.S. outer continental shelf, the area affected by the ban.

Peterson is not alone in his desire to open up the shelf. An effort to unlock the resources has been underway in Congress in recent years, and several interest groups are backing the effort, too.

“Tapping America’s huge reserve of deep ocean energy helps us fight terrorism and increases our domestic energy supply, which will help put downward pressure on gasoline prices,” Greg Schnacke, President of Americans for American Energy, said in a news release, adding: “With Americans suffering at the gas pump and with higher energy bills, it’s a no-brainer that the OCS should be developed.”

But the proposal has faced staunch opposition from environmental groups from states where the shorelines are under consideration for drilling, like Florida.

Original Link.