U.S. Jury Duty System Spinning Out of Control!
Recently, more and more pressure has been placed on jurors to serve on a jury, even though they are opposed to doing so, based on their sincere religious convictions. In some cases which came to our attention, not only the clerks and the legal departments of certain courts, but also certain judges have been acting most unreasonably when it came to dismissing jurors for their religious convictions–even though the U.S. Constitution clearly DEMANDS such dismissals.
However, a recent letter from a court in California simply stated: “California law DOES NOT INCLUDE a disqualification or an excuse/exemption from jury service due to religious convictions.” The letter concluded that therefore, Jury Services cannot excuse a juror for his or her religious conviction. Legal precedence which was quoted to the court was summarily dismissed as inapplicable! This is clearly an erroneous position, which is, unfortunately, shared by other courts outside California. THIS POSITION VIOLATES THE U.S. CONSTITUTION!
Please note the following article in the BaltimoreSun.com, dated July 28, clearly confirming the law that jurors who are opposed to jury duty based on their religious convictions, MUST be excused. It is hoped that courts and justices will look more closely into this issue, to avoid unnecessary embarrassment, a mistrial and a hung jury, as described in the following article:
“The jurors in the Baltimore murder case were deadlocked, and when they came into the courtroom to be dismissed, their body language showed the prosecutor that something was amiss with juror No. 10. So Assistant State’s Attorney Theresa Shaffer talked to the woman, as attorneys sometimes do after trials. She asked her why she hadn’t wanted to convict, what the problem was.
“The 23-year-old woman answered that ‘there wasn’t enough evidence.’ Then she added, ‘When my brother pled guilty to first-degree murder … ‘
“Every so often, a person who SHOULDN’T BE A JUROR – such as someone whose relative is a convicted felon or someone whose religious beliefs prevent him or her from passing judgment on others – slips onto the panel… several jurors have listened to entire trials, only to say during deliberations that their religion prevents them from sitting in judgment of others… Another jury deadlocked in a June 2005 murder case when a woman began quoting Scripture to other jurors. They sent a note to the bench: ‘Judge, we are still unable to reach an agreeable verdict as one of the jurors states she cannot judge the defendant because of her religious beliefs.'”
It is becoming obvious that the U.S. Jury Duty System is spinning out of control. It is to be feared that in the future, some unreasonable judge WILL hold jurors in contempt, for refusing to serve on a jury because of their constitutionally protected religious beliefs. IT IS HIGH TIME THAT AMERICA WAKES UP TO WHAT IS GOING ON!
Please take note of the following article, as published by The Associated Press on July 28:
“Madeline Byrne was making a quick trip to the grocery store to buy some cheese when a sheriff approached her car in the parking lot and slipped something through her open window. Byrne didn’t get the cheese, but she did get a jury summons.
“The 64-year-old woman was ordered to report for jury duty a little more than an hour later at the Lee County courthouse in Sanford, N.C. When Byrne protested, the sheriff told her: ‘Be there or you’ll be in contempt.’…
“Some people struggle mightily to get out of jury duty. Earlier this month, a Cape Cod, Mass., judge reprimanded a potential juror and reported him to prosecutors after he tried to get out of jury service by saying he was ‘not a fan of homosexuals and most blacks’ and was ‘frequently found to be a liar, too.'”
Bush Meets Brown–But How DID It Go?
The following serves as an interesting example of how we must be careful when reading published news articles. Both The New York Times and The Independent reported about the recent meeting between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Gordon Brown–but they differed substantially about the nature of the meeting.
The New York Times wrote on July 30:
“On his first official trip to the United States as Britain’s prime minister, Gordon Brown on Monday displayed what can best be described as a resounding — if dispassionate — show of like-minded camaraderie with President Bush. “The two leaders showed none of the warmth and coziness that Mr. Bush had shared with Mr. Brown’s predecessor, Tony Blair, a closeness that contributed to Mr. Blair’s political tumble at home. But Mr. Brown offered bullish comments on Britain’s relationship with the United States. On Iraq, Mr. Brown said any future British decision to reduce troops and cede control of a sector to the Iraqis ‘will be made on the military advice of our commanders on the ground.’
“Though it was taken by some in the British news media as a signal of Mr. Brown’s independence, it is also a common formulation that President Bush uses in arguing that he will not be driven to withdraw by domestic politics. United States officials have been watching the British presence in Iraq as a gauge of the reliability of the new British leader…
“On relations between their countries, Mr. Brown said, ‘It’s a partnership founded and driven forward by our shared values…’ Mr. Brown stuck closely to a script that included what the Americans took as words of assurance that he had no plans for radical changes in the partnership, dodging several attempts by reporters here to get him to enunciate how his approach to the United States would differ from that of Mr. Blair…
“British analysts said Monday that Mr. Brown’s comments reflected the fact that the two countries share so much at stake in Afghanistan and Iraq, on global trade and with intelligence efforts to combat terrorism that he needs a close relationship with his American counterpart, like most of the recent British prime ministers before him.”
This rather optimistic viewpoint and interpretation by The New York Times was by no means shared by British newspapers, such as The Independent. It wrote on July 30:
“Gordon Brown has paved the way for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq by telling George Bush he would not delay their exit in order to show unity with the United States.
“After four hours of one-to-one talks with the US President at his Camp David retreat, Mr Brown told a joint press conference he would make a Commons statement in October on the future of the 5,500 British troops in the Basra region.
“The Bush administration, under mounting domestic pressure to produce an exit strategy from Iraq, has been nervous that a full British withdrawal would add to the criticism. But Mr Brown made clear – and President Bush accepted – that Britain would go its own way, even if that gave the impression the two countries were diverging.
“Mr Brown’s willingness to pursue an independent British policy in Iraq will be seen as an important break with Tony Blair. Mr Brown said the two leaders had had ‘full and frank discussions – diplomatic code for some disagreements.”
German Newspapers Upset With Planned U.S. Arms Sales…
Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 31:
“On Monday, the Bush administration officially announced its plan to provide advanced weapons worth billions to friendly states in the Persian Gulf in order to curb growing Iranian influence in the region. Washington plans to sell $20 billion worth of satellite-guided bombs, and fighter and naval upgrades to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates over the next 10 years. A further $13 billion is pledged to Egypt, and Israel will remain, with $30 billion in arms aid, the greatest recipient in the Middle East of American largesse.
“On Tuesday, German editorial writers criticize the decision, pointing to Saudi links to the insurgency in Iraq and international terrorism.
“The conservative Die Welt [which is usually pro-Bush] writes:
“‘With its plans for weapons shipments worth billions to the Gulf states, Washington has now made it official: The democratization of the Middle East is no longer the focus of American foreign policy. In the name of limiting Iran’s influence and restoring stability in the region, the US is returning to a Cold War strategy: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’
“‘But doubts about whether this strategy is prudent in the case of Saudi Arabia can be heard beyond Israel and Europe. Many within the US administration are also convinced that international Islamic terrorism is something akin to the Saudis’ exported civil war. Why else would half the foreign fighters traveling to Iraq be Saudis? And of the 19 men responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks, 15 were from Saudi Arabia. From Cologne to Karachi, Saudi embassies very openly operate Wahhabite Koran schools — the most rigid, backward and dangerous form of Islam.’
“‘The strategy’s effectiveness is very doubtful. In the 1980s, people placed their bets on Osama bin Ladin, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein when it came to dealing with the Soviets and Iran. Today we are struggling with the bloody consequences of those strategies. Courting Saudi Arabia is unwise and dangerous.’
“The left-wing Die Tageszeitung writes:
“‘The only thing the Bush administration has left to offer after six and a half years in power is a mixture of fear, helplessness and panic. Out of acute desperation, the US government now wants to provide help and weapons deals over the next 10 years to the countries that are best able to launch a new arms race in the region. No one can seriously believe that the already weapons-satiated Mideast can be satisfied or held in check by yet more weapons.
“‘If Congress approves the plan, the Bush government’s already appalling foreign policy record will only get worse. The only clearly identifiable victor would be the US defense industry — which, incidentally, has considerable influence in Washington.’
“Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung uses the weapons deal to look at a broader worsening of relations between the US and Riyadh:
“‘No other country in the Middle East is further from the democratic ideals preached by the US than Saudi Arabia. Mildly put, the human rights situation doesn’t meet Western standards. And beyond political realism, the (current) king is far less pro-American than his brother, who ruled before him … The cooling of relations was most obvious when Abdallah described the US presence in Iraq at the last Arab Summit in Riyadh as an ‘illegal foreign occupation.’ Last fall, the king warned he would attack in Iraq if a civil war were to ensue after a withdrawal of US troops. But that’s not the only point of irritation. Washington is also displeased about the Saudis’ desire to create a nuclear partnership with Pakistan even if, as the Saudi’s claim, it would be limited to the exchange of information.'”
… And So Is The German Government…
AFP reported on July 31:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats are worried that reported US plans to send a major arms package to Gulf states could inflame a volatile region, a party leader was quoted as saying Monday.
“The chairman of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Ruprecht Polenz, told the daily Frankfurter Rundschau that the Middle East was already a ‘powder keg’ and that an influx of weapons could set [it] off. ‘If you add more explosives to a powder keg, you increase the risk and do not make the region more secure,’ he said. Polenz said the warning that the United States hoped to send to Iran with the weapons deal could backfire, leading Tehran to step up its own arms drive.”
Another Man-Made Disaster?
First it sounded like a terrorist attack. Upon further investigation, it appears that we did it to ourselves. Several reports claimed that the collapse of a huge bridge in Minneapolis during the peak of rush hour occurred due to governmental negligence, carelessness and incompetence.
On August 1, Der Spiegel Online published an article with the headline, “A Catastrophe of Historic Proportions.” It reported:
“At least nine are dead and 60 injured following the collapse on Wednesday evening of a major freeway bridge in the US city of Minneapolis. Officials say a structural failure likely caused the 40-year-old bridge to give way…
“Between 50 and 60 vehicles were on the bridge and dozens either plunged 18 meters (60 feet) into the Mississippi River or got crushed in a snare of concrete and metal… A number of eyewitnesses described the experience as being ‘like an earthquake.’
“CNN showed dramatic images of cars that had plunged from the bridge and autos in various states of wreckage. They included a school bus carrying 60 children returning from a day camp swimming trip that fell with the bridge but landed safely, missing the water. The children were rescued… The US Department of Homeland Security issued a statement Wednesday saying no signs had been found to indicate a terrorist attack had been involved.”
In a related article, Der Spiegel Online claimed that the catastrophe might have been prevented, if the government had acted upon evidence, showing that the bridge was “structurally instable.” The magazine quoted an article of the “Star Tribune,” showing that the government was aware of this concern, but allegedly did little or nothing to repair or replace the bridge.
Russia Is At It Again
On August 1, Reuters reported the following:
“Russian explorers dived deep below the North Pole in a submersible on Thursday and planted a national flag on the seabed to stake a symbolic claim to the energy riches of the Arctic… Russia wants to extend right up to the North Pole the territory it controls in the Arctic, believed to hold vast reserves of untapped oil and natural gas.
“But Canada mocked Russia’s ambitions and said the expedition was nothing more than a show. ‘This isn’t the 15th century. You can’t go around the world and just plant flags and say “We’re claiming this territory”,’Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay told CTV television.
“Under international law, the five states with territory inside the Arctic Circle — Canada, Norway, Russia, the United States and Denmark via its control of Greenland — have a 320 km (200 mile) economic zone around the north of their coastline. Russia is claiming a larger slice extending as far as the pole because, Moscow says, the Arctic seabed and Siberia are linked by one continental shelf.”
The article also pointed out:
“A second Russian submersible, manned by Swedish businessman Frederik Paulsen and Australian adventurer Mike McDowell, reached the seabed 27 minutes later. It reached a depth of 4,302 meters. Soviet and U.S. nuclear submarines have often traveled under the polar icecap, but no one had reached the seabed under the Pole, where depths exceed 4,000 meters (13,100 feet).”
Mikhail Gorbachev Criticizes President Bush
Reuters reported on July 27:
“Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev criticized the United States, and President Bush in particular, on Friday for sowing disorder across the world by seeking to build an empire.
“Gorbachev, who presided over the break-up of the Soviet Union, said Washington had sought to build an empire after the Cold War ended but had failed to understand the changing world… ‘What has followed are unilateral actions, what has followed are wars, what has followed is ignoring the U.N. Security Council, ignoring international law and ignoring the will of the people, even the American people,’ he said…
“Gorbachev, 76, who left politics after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, is deeply unpopular in Russia… he is blamed in Russia for sinking the Soviet empire and plunging millions into poverty…”
Nuclear Cooperation Treaty Between the USA and India?
CNN.com reported on July 27:
“The United States and India announced Friday a landmark deal on nuclear cooperation for civil purposes that they said will benefit both countries and strengthen international non-proliferation efforts.
“But the deal is drawing criticism as being too conciliatory to India and opening the way to the spread of nuclear weapons.
“For the first time in 30 years, India will have access to U.S. nuclear fuel and technology, even though New Delhi, which has tested nuclear weapons, refuses to join international non-proliferation agreements… Non-proliferation experts have said the United States’ willingness to allow India to reprocess nuclear fuel it provides to New Delhi is inconsistent with its drive in the international community to stop Iran from doing so.”
“As a Catholic, I am Ashamed of the Pope…”
The Eastern Star News Agency published the following editorial, on July 26:
“The Vatican claims that only the Catholic Church possesses the truth of the Christian faith. As a Catholic I am ashamed over having a spiritual leader that makes such statements. This shows that the Pope and people in his surroundings haven’t learnt anything from history.
“Conflicts within the church have during nearly 2000 years caused war, misery, fanaticism and the spreading of Islam…
“The Pope’s earlier statement about Islam, were he quoted medieval scripts, where Islam was described as a religion of violence, was followed by his repeated denial and apologies to the Muslim world, and his servile actions in the following visit to Turkey in November 2006. The Pope’s statement, claiming… Catholicism is the only right faith, is an attack and insult against a great part of Christianity, like Orthodox Christianity and Protestantism…
“I am myself a Catholic and pay church tax to the Catholic Church. I get very doubtful in my relation to the Catholic Church when the Vatican acts this way. I condemn this action. I demand from the Vatican and the Pope to apologize to the Orthodox, the Protestants and to… other Christian communities for this statement.”
The Power Of Soccer in Iraq
The Associated Press reported on July 29:
“Iraq won the Asian Cup for the first time Sunday, a beacon of hope for a nation divided by war.
“Iraq’s 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia on a 71st-minute header by captain Younis Mahmoud was an inspirational triumph for a team whose players straddle bitter and violent ethnic divides. After the game, Mahmoud called for the United States to withdraw its troops from his nation. ‘I want America to go out,’ he said. ‘Today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, but out. I wish the American people didn’t invade Iraq and, hopefully, it will be over soon.’
“Mahmoud also said he will not return to Iraq to celebrate. ‘I don’t want the Iraqi people to be angry with me,’ he said. ‘If I go back with the team, anybody could kill me or try to hurt me.’…
“Elation was juxtaposed against the tragedy in the players’ homeland. Coach Jorvan Vieira and Mahmoud wore black armbands during the postgame news conference to commemorate the dozens of fans killed back home during celebrations following Wednesday’s semifinal victory over South Korea… Vieira, who is Brazilian, resigned after the game…
“Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s office announced that each Iraqi player will receive $10,000.
“About 3,000 Iraqi refugees celebrated in Damascus, Syria. In Dearborn, Mich., Iraqi-Americans gathered in the streets, honking horns, sitting on car roofs and waving flags… Celebratory gunfire resounded across [Iraq] and revelers poured into the streets in defiance of orders from authorities while mosques broadcast calls for the shooting to stop. Security forces enforced a vehicle ban in an effort to prevent a repeat of car bombings that killed dozens celebrating Iraq’s progress to the final.
“‘The players have made us proud, not the greedy politicians,’ said Sabah Shaiyal, a 43-year-old police officer in Baghdad. ‘Once again, our national team has shown that there is only one, united Iraq.'”
Iraq In Turmoil–and Iraq’s Parliament Takes a Summer Break!
MSNBC wrote on July 30:
“Iraq’s parliament on Monday shrugged off U.S. criticism and adjourned for a month, as key lawmakers declared there was no point waiting any longer for the prime minister to deliver Washington-demanded benchmark legislation for their vote… Critics have questioned how Iraqi legislators could take a summer break while U.S. forces are fighting and dying to create conditions under which important laws could be passed in the service of ending sectarian political divisions and bloodshed… In Washington, the State Department was unusually silent on the matter, declining to criticize the lawmakers for the break…
“Meanwhile, [Iraqi’s prime minister] al-Maliki faces a revolt within his party by factions that want him out as Iraqi leader… Ibrahim al-Jaafari, al-Maliki’s predecessor, leads the challenge and already has approached leaders of the country’s two main Kurdish parties… The former prime minister also has approached Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, proposing a ‘national salvation’ government to replace the al-Maliki coalition. The Iranian-born al-Sistani refused to endorse the proposal, the officials said…
“Other officials… said al-Jaafari had only an outside chance of replacing or ousting al-Maliki. But they said the challenge could undermine al-Maliki and further entangle efforts at meeting important legislative benchmarks sought by Washington.”
Reuters added on August 1:
“The main Sunni Arab political bloc quit the Iraqi government on Wednesday in a blow to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s shaky coalition as suicide bombers killed more than 70 people in three attacks across Baghdad. The resignation move pushed the government into a new crisis undermining its efforts to reconcile Iraqis and end sectarian strife… Maliki’s government has already been weakened by the withdrawal of fiery Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s political bloc, one of the biggest in parliament, over his refusal to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.”
British Military Withdraws From Ireland–Ending “One of the Darkest Chapters in the Army’s History”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 31:
“The longest deployment of troops in the history of the British military ends at midnight, when the army’s operation in Northern Ireland officially comes to an end. But the 38-year-long deployment will be seen as one of the darkest chapters in the army’s history… The British military’s deployment in Northern Ireland was not a success — in fact, the military quickly became part of the problem… Today it is known that the military’s intelligence service employed agents who were involved in murders, weapons smuggling and bombings with the help of their leadership… More than 3,500 people have died… A total of 763 soldiers were killed, most of them by the IRA.”
The article continued:
“Five thousand [British soldiers] will stay in Ireland, but they will no longer be responsible for policing. The watchtowers along the border have been disassembled; the military base in Bessbrook, one of the largest on the British isles, has been closed; and the Royal Irish Regiment of the British military has been dissolved. The official reason is that the situation in Northern Ireland is sufficiently stable for such measures to be taken. The real reason is the lack of recruits. More than 12,000 soldiers are stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. The British military’s Chief of the General Staff, General Richard Dannatt, said in a secret memorandum that was leaked to the press that the military is overstretched: ‘We now have almost no capacity to react to the unexpected.'”