Daily Archives: January 12, 2012

Judge Declares Natalee Holloway Dead

Natalee Holloway

Image via Wikipedia

A probate court judge in Alabama has declared Natalee Holloway dead.

Ms. Holloway vanished in 2005 while on a graduation trip to Aruba. No one has been charged in the case.

Ms. Holloway was eighteen when she was last seen in the early hours of May 30, 2005, leaving an Oranjestad nightclub with Joran van der Sloot and two other men.

Mr. Van der Sloot was detained twice in connection with Ms. Holloway’s disappearance but never charged.

Ms. Holloway’s father, Dave Holloway, filed the petition to declare her dead in June.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Notable Passings, Sick Sad World

Judge Halts Barbour’s 200 Pardons

Mississippi Governor 's signature.

Image via Wikipedia

A Mississippi judge has halted the releasing twenty-one pardoned inmates by issuing a temporary injunction, said state Attorney General Jim Hood.

Outgoing Gov. Haley Barbour approved full pardons for nearly 200 people, including fourteen convicted murderers.

The pardons included four convicted murderers and a convicted armed robber who were released Sunday. The five now must contact prison officials as their fate is adjudicated.

Attorney General Hood said Gov. Barbour violated Mississippi’s Constitution because the pardon requests were not published thirty days before the governor granted them.

The four murderers who were released had worked at the governor’s mansion as they served their life sentences.

A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for January 23.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Cambodian School-Turned-Torture Center Finds Its Purpose Again

A room in Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum like the ones now converted into classrooms. Photo by Lindsay.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum has reclaimed part of its original status as a high school by coordinating free history lectures on the Khmer Rouge regime.

The museum holds the classes every Wednesday from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. and Friday from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Scholars Cambodian history and S-21 survivors lead the lectures.

The Documentation Centre of Cambodia, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts started the classes in November.

The lessons contrast the devaluation of education promoted by the Khmer Rouge with slogans such as, “Study is not important. What’s important is work and revolution.”

Lectures focus on the Khmer Rouge hierarchy, its domestic and foreign policies, security systems, the S-21 office, the regime’s fall, and the verdict of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

So far, the courses have attracted an average of twenty to thirty people at one time. More than half of them were tourists, the rest mostly Cambodian students.

Lecturers speak in English, which most Cambodian students can understand. There are also lectures in Khmer for Cambodians who do not speak English. At the end of each lecture, people can express their thoughts or add comments.

Australian Ben Alpers, 42, who attended a class, says the unusual environment is more conducive to study.

When you come to something like this, you can’t help but feel it. It keeps you very focused, not like a normal classroom which is very distracting. I think that’s what we lack in schools today.

We lack feeling. My problem with education systems is exactly that. They’re so out of context, you don’t actually learn anything. You can learn more in five minutes here than you could learn in three years in an Australian classroom. And you remember it.

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Filed under Education, International Justice

Romney’s Rivals Attack Him in South Carolina

Mitt Romney

Image by Dave Delay via Flickr

A day after Mr. Romney’s victory in New Hampshire left his rivals running out of time to block his path to the nomination, he was greeted by a wave of attacks on his business record, his past support for abortion rights, and his character.

With little left to lose, Newt Gingrich, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, and their allies sought to portray Mr. Romney as insufficiently conservative, threatening a scorched-earth approach to the primary to be held here on January 21.

A growing chorus of Republicans criticized the attacks on Mr. Romney’s earlier career buying and selling companies as Democratic talking points.

Mr. Gingrich said he would not back off Mr. Romney’s work at Bain.

Mr. Perry kept up his critique of what he has called Mr. Romney’s “vulture capitalism.”

It was Day One of a ten-day test of whether conservatives can slow Mr. Romney and rally around an alternative — and of whether Mr. Romney can stamp out the opposition.

Mr. Romney used his campaign machinery to create a backlash against the attacks on his record at Bain. His Boston headquarters held conference calls with his endorsers, sent talking points to supporters, and enlisted go-betweens to tell leaders of the pro-Gingrich group Winning Our Future that they were harming the party with the attacks.

Mr. Romney’s team made headway in casting his opponents as abandoning their party’s support for the free market. It received backing Wednesday from two political voices that have the respect of the Tea Party: Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina and Senator Jim DeMint.

Mr. Romney’s past positions in favor of abortion, and his Mormon religion, could tilt South Carolina evangelical voters against him. Mr. Romney seemed to try to get out ahead of the possibility that evangelical voters might spurn him based on his Mormonism, saying that he was not running for “pastor in chief” and emphasizing the economy and national security. Those comments came as national evangelical leaders prepared to meet in Texas this weekend to consider backing one of Mr. Romney’s rivals.

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Filed under Business, Politics

SCOTUS: “Ministerial Exception” Allows Religious Organizations to Discriminate


Image by Rickydavid via Flickr

In a significant religious liberty decision, the Supreme Court on Wednesday recognized a “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws, saying that religious groups must be free to choose and dismiss their leaders without government interference.

“The interest of society in the enforcement of employment discrimination statutes is undoubtedly important,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in a decision that was surprising in its sweep and its unanimity. “But so, too, is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith and carry out their mission.”

The decision gave limited guidance about how courts should decide who counts as a minister, saying the court was “reluctant to adopt a rigid formula.”

The ruling will have concrete consequences for people employed by religious groups to do religious work. In addition to ministers, priests, rabbis, and other religious leaders, the decision appears to encompass teachers in religious schools with formal religious training who instruct students about religious matters.

The case, Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 10-553, was brought by Cheryl Perich, who had been a teacher at a Michigan school that was part of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Ms. Perich was fired for pursuing an employment discrimination claim based on a disability, narcolepsy.

Ms. Perich had taught mostly secular subjects but also taught religion classes and attended chapel with her class.

“It is true that her religious duties consumed only 45 minutes of each workday,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “and that the rest of her day was devoted to teaching secular subjects.”

“The issue before us, however, is not one that can be resolved with a stopwatch,” he wrote.

Ms. Perich was a “called” teacher who had religious training. The school said it fired her for violating religious doctrine by pursuing litigation and not trying to resolve her dispute within the church.

Chief Justice Roberts devoted several pages of his opinion to a history of religious freedom, concluding that an animating principle behind the First Amendment’s religious liberty clauses was to prohibit government interference in the internal affairs of religious groups generally and in their choice of their leaders in particular.

Via The New York Times.

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Filed under Education, Law, Religion, The Supremes

On This Day…

In 1915, the United States House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote.

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Filed under On This Day, War on Women