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Brady, Brother Rice star Lodish share Super Bowl record - Detroit Free Press

Berkley Information from Google News - 43 min 38 sec ago

Brady, Brother Rice star Lodish share Super Bowl record
Detroit Free Press
After New England beat the Indianapolis Colts to earn its spot in tonight's Super Bowl, Mike Lodish needed help. Lodish needed deflate-gate to get legs. The former Birmingham Brother Rice all-stater needed Tom Brady to admit he deflated the footballs.

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Categories: Berkley Area News

Pope Francis names Shrine of the Little Flower a basilica - Detroit Free Press

Berkley Information from Google News - 1 hour 40 min ago

Detroit Free Press

Pope Francis names Shrine of the Little Flower a basilica
Detroit Free Press
Pope Francis has bestowed the title of "basilica" upon the historic National Shrine of the Little Flower Catholic Church in Royal Oak, making it only the second church in Michigan and one of 82 in the U.S. to carry the honorary designation. The honor ...
Pope Francis grants National Shrine of the Little Flower title of "Minor Basilica"WXYZ
Pope Francis makes Royal Oak shrine a Minor BasilicaWDIV Detroit

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Categories: Berkley Area News

Jeb Bush Has Become The GOP Front-runner For 2016 -- So Now What? -

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 47 min ago

Mitt Romney’s decision to forgo a third try at the White House has settled the question of whether the 2016 GOP presidential field has a front-runner — bestowing a coveted status on former Florida governor Jeb Bush that also raises new challenges and perils.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Sunday Roundup

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 4 min ago

Today, the nation finally gets to stop talking about deflated balls and finally gets around to... watching some very expensive TV commercials. Of course, the Super Bowl is much bigger than touchdowns, field goals or celebratory crotch grabs; it's about the joy of a frequently divided country sharing a common experience -- deciding whether you prefer beer ads with or without cute animals. Meanwhile, that new reality show Desperate Leaders of the Western Hemisphere took a dramatic turn with Speaker Boehner claiming he told Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer not to tell President Obama about Prime Minister Netanhayu's planned speech to Congress. It's like high school -- if the stakes were, instead of a ruined prom, nuclear war. And on Friday, Mitt Romney let some of the air out of the 2016 GOP race with his announcement that he wouldn't be assembling the old team one last time after all. It was Deflategate for the top one percent. Go Seahawks... or Patriots!

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Statement by the President on the Death of Kenji Goto

News from the White House - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 10:04pm

The United States condemns the heinous murder of Japanese citizen and journalist Kenji Goto by the terrorist group ISIL.  Through his reporting, Mr. Goto courageously sought to convey the plight of the Syrian people to the outside world.  Our thoughts are with Mr. Goto’s family and loved ones, and we stand today in solidarity with Prime Minister Abe and the Japanese people in denouncing this barbaric act.  We applaud Japan’s steadfast commitment to advancing peace and prosperity in the Middle East and globally, including its generous assistance for innocent people affected by the conflicts in the region.  Standing together with a broad coalition of allies and partners, the United States will continue taking decisive action to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.

Categories: White House News

Obama Said To Seek 19% Global Minimum Tax In Bid For Road Money

Huffington Post News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 9:54pm

President Barack Obama will propose that U.S.-based companies pay a minimum 19 percent tax on their future foreign earnings, capturing profits that are now often beyond the government’s reach.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Pope names Shrine of the Little Flower a basilica - The Detroit News

Berkley Information from Google News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 8:23pm

The Detroit News

Pope names Shrine of the Little Flower a basilica
The Detroit News
Pope Francis has granted Shrine the title of Minor Basilica — making it the second church in Michigan and one of 82 in the United States to bear the designation, the Archdiocese of Detroit announced Saturday. (Photo: Brandy Baker / The Detroit News).
Pope Francis names Shrine of the Little Flower a basilicaDetroit Free Press
Pope Francis grants National Shrine of the Little Flower title of "Minor Basilica"WXYZ
Pope Francis makes Royal Oak shrine a Minor BasilicaWDIV Detroit

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Categories: Berkley Area News

10 Worst States To Grow Old In

Huffington Post News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 7:43pm

This story was originally published on 24/7 Wall St.

The U.S. elderly population has grown exponentially in recent decades. The number of Americans 65 and older grew from 35 million in 2000 to 41.4 million in 2011 and to an estimated 44.7 million in 2013. This trend is expected to continue as members of the baby boomer generation reach retirement age.

While it can be difficult to grow old in some U.S. states, life for seniors is often far worse in many other countries. Still, the United States will face increasingly large challenges. In the coming years, state officials, families, and individuals will need to pay more attention to the needs of the elderly — to improve medical care, access to services, infrastructure, or other amenities that become more necessary late in life.

Click here to see the worst states to grow old in

HelpAge International evaluates each year the social and economic well-being of elderly country residents in its Global AgeWatch Index. Last year, the United States was among the better places to grow old in the world, at eighth place. However, domestically, each state offers a very different quality of life for its older residents. Based on an independent analysis by 24/7 Wall St., which incorporated a range of income, health, labor, and environmental indicators, Utah is the best state in which to grow old, while Mississippi is the worst.

To be considered among the worst states to grow old, senior citizens in the states had to have relatively weak income security, as measured by several indicators. The 2013 median income among families with a head of household 65 and older, for example, did not exceed the comparable national figure of $37,847 in nine of the worst states to grow old. A typical elderly household in Mississippi earned less than $30,000, the least nationwide.

Retirees often have fixed income as they begin to tap into their savings and collect social security. Kate Bunting, CEO of AgeWatch USA, explained that, “It’s really important for older people to have reliable access to a guaranteed income.” More than 90% of Americans 65 and older in the vast majority of states received social security income in 2013. Yet, the average monthly social security benefit of $1,294 was likely not enough for many seniors.

Many older Americans also had non-social security income, such as withdrawals from 401Ks and savings as a supplement. In 2013, 47.9% of Americans 65 and older had such supplemental retirement incomes. Comparable figures in a majority of the worst states to grow old actually exceeded the national figure. Even with the supplemental retirement income many elderly residents had, it was frequently not enough to offset their financial burdens. At stake, according to Bunting, is the elderly’s “ability to eat nutritious foods, which impacts their health, and their ability to access other critical services.”

Click here to see the best states to grow old in

With lower, and often fixed, incomes, elderly Americans are vulnerable financially. In addition, age often brings a host of health problems, causing greater reliance on medical and accessibility services. To determine how the states fared when it comes to health care, we examined health services and outcomes. Among the worst states, for example, life expectancy was relatively low. In all of the 10 worst states, it was less than 80 years. Life expectancy at birth in 2011 did not exceed 76 years in four of the states.

A good education, which can lead to employment opportunities and higher incomes, is also an indication of well-being. More than 24% of Americans 65 and older had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013. In seven of the 10 worst states to grow old, however, less than 20% of elderly residents had attained at least a bachelor’s degree. In Mississippi, just 14.2% did, the lowest rate nationwide.

Safety often becomes a greater concern for aging Americans, as older people are often targeted by criminals. Residents of any age in the worst states to grow old also did not feel particularly safe. On a recent survey, less than 70% of residents in nine of the 10 states told Gallup they felt safe walking home alone at night. The violent crime rate in four of the worst states was also greater than 500 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents, all among the higher violent crime rates in the nation.

In addition, policies often shape the quality of life of a state’s elderly population, particularly in terms of accessibility to services. Based on an OECD survey, all of the worst states for old people had worse accessibility to services than the majority of states. Bunting said that the aging population is growing, and it will become increasingly “important that [states] have the right kinds of policies in place that help support a quality old age.” Adapting to these demographic patterns through age-friendly policy, Bunting continued, is “important and worthwhile to do, no matter what age you are.”

These are the worst states to grow old in.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Domino's Pizza in Royal Oak preparing for busy, snowy Sunday - WDIV Detroit

Berkley Information from Google News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 7:38pm

Domino's Pizza in Royal Oak preparing for busy, snowy Sunday
WDIV Detroit

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Scott Walker Takes Lead In Iowa Poll

Huffington Post News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 7:36pm

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the top choice for president in 2016 among Republican voters in Iowa, surging past a crowded field of rivals to take the lead in a Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll of prospective Republican candidates for president.

In the poll, released on Saturday night, Walker was the first choice of 15 percent of respondents in the poll, up from 4 percent when the poll was conducted in October. Walker bested Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who was at 14 percent. Mitt Romney was in third at 13 percent; the poll was taken from Monday to Thursday, before he announced his withdrawal from the race. Ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was in fourth with ten percent of voters' support.

Walker surging as Bush struggles - @bpolitics/@DMRegister Iowa poll

— Bloomberg Politics (@bpolitics) January 31, 2015

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee received ten percent, and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson got nine percent.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is viewed as the GOP's establishment choice, was only preferred by eight percent of voters. The results held even more bad news for Bush, receiving a favorability rating of 46 percent, not far from the 43 percent who view him unfavorably.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) received five and four percent, respectively. Those falling lower in the poll were Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Donald Trump.

Walker, who made his name fighting unions, raised his national profile last weekend with a forceful speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit, a high-profile conservative gathering. The Iowa poll showed Walker's favorability rating has increased 11 percentage points since the October poll, up to 60 percent.

His appeal as a potential candidate has been increasing, as he has sought to win members of both the GOP establishment and its more conservative ranks. Though the evangelical Christian's touts conservative agendas and and rhetoric, his record and temperament could win the Republican establishment, the New York Times' Nate Cohn argued. He recently formed a president exploratory committee, a major sign that he is preparing to run.

Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton was the top choice for president among Democratic respondents by far, receiving 56 percent. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) came in second with 16 percent, despite her insistence she isn't running. Vice President Joe Biden was the first choice for president for 9 percent of respondents.

Iowa polls are of special interest to those following the lead up to 2016, as the state's caucuses are the first contest in the presidential nominating process. While the caucuses are still a year off, Walker's good showing in the Iowa poll was enough to get the political world buzzing on a Saturday.

The poll was conducted by Selzer & Co. of West Des Moines, over a time period of Monday to Thursday. The margin of error was 4.9 percentage points.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Dogs strut their stuff at Palmer Park - Detroit Free Press

Berkley Information from Google News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 7:04pm

Dogs strut their stuff at Palmer Park
Detroit Free Press
The skull on Winnie's blue and pink outfit might have been smiling. But as the beagle-Chihuahua mix danced around as she waited for the Doggie Fashion Parade to begin, it was not clear. Her owner, 34-year-old Monica Chopra of Saline, said she tried to ...

Categories: Berkley Area News

We Asked 25 Psychics Across The Country To Predict Who Will Win The Super Bowl

Huffington Post News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 6:59pm

If you believe our country's psychics, the New England Patriots are about to win Super Bowl XLIX.

The Huffington Post reached out to psychics across the nation with an "odd Super Bowl request" -- we wanted to know who they thought would win Sunday's game. Although it must be stressed that this is outside the normal purview of their job, 25 psychics got back to us to give a prediction for fun. As Beth Bennet of Georgia aptly put it: "Psychic abilities just don't work like this, but that's not what you want to know..."

Many of the psychics who wrote back with predictions expressed that they like to have a sense of humor about the job -- so even though it's not what they usually use their abilities for, they were willing to try to figure out who will win the game. Marcel Cairo of Ohio wrote in an email, "I'll ask the ghost of Walter Peyton to tell me the outcome (joke). :-)"

Of course some psychics may end up predicting the wrong score, a fact that a few pointed out. "If I'm wrong, please try to make my name as small as possible. 3 point font. Har har," wrote Jessica McKay form New Jersey.

Some of the psychics circumnavigated the question a bit by bringing in outside teams. When psychic Tristan Rimbaud of Kentucky tuned in, he said he saw the New England Patriots beating the Minnesota Vikings, a team that didn't even make the playoffs this year. Others expressed how they know borderline nothing about sports and had to look up who was playing and how points are scored.

In any case, all these psychic predictions mean the information below should probably be considered a definitive source of knowledge for how the upcoming game will turn out. Gathering all the psychic data, here are a few main things to note...

Key Takeaways:

  • 16 out of 25 psychics chose the New England Patriots to win.

  • The rough mean score from all the answers was New England Patriots 23, Seattle Seahawks 21.

  • The most common score predicted for the New England Patriots was a tie between 21 and 23, which were each predicted three times.

  • The most common score predicted for the Seattle Seahawks was a tie between 17 and 24, which were each predicted four times.

Note: Two of the psychics gave multiple score possibilities. We used the first score they listed for the map below.

The map of predictions:

Here are the psychics we interviewed:

Alabama: Judi Lynch, Arkansas: Gabbie Chase, California: Anthony Teresi, Connecticut: Jeff McBride, Delaware: Deanna Fitzpatrick, Florida: Joseph LoBrutto, Georgia: Beth Bennett, Idaho: Kerry Ryan, Indiana: Jeffrey Poe, Iowa: Jessica Climer, Kentucky: Tristan Rimbaud, Maryland: Tanisia Smith, Minnesota: Alison James, Missouri: LA Martin, Nebraska: Kelli Miller, Nevada: Terri Jay, New Hampshire: Gwen Houghton, New Jersey: Jessica McKay, New Mexico: Karen Tallkat Conley, Ohio: Marcel Cairo, Oklahoma: Terry L. Blackshire, Pennsylvania: Bob Kenney, Washington: Marc Lainhart, West Virginia: Aeson Knight, Wyoming: Amy Woods

Categories: Political News and Opinion

FBI Ups Reward To $20K For Info On Armored Van Theft Outside Troy High School - CBS Local

Berkley Information from Google News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 6:41pm

FBI Ups Reward To $20K For Info On Armored Van Theft Outside Troy High School
CBS Local
TROY (WWJ) - Officials are hoping a $20,000 cash reward will help lead to the arrest of the brazen crook who stole an armored van that was parked outside of an Oakland County high school. The incident happened last October at Troy Athens High School on ...

Categories: Berkley Area News

Homeless 19-Year-Old Charged In Royal Oak Graffiti Case - CBS Local

Berkley Information from Google News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 6:33pm

CBS Local

Homeless 19-Year-Old Charged In Royal Oak Graffiti Case
CBS Local
ROYAL OAK (WWJ) - A 19-year-old homeless man who is on probation for drawing graffiti in Ferndale is now facing charges in Royal Oak for similar crimes. Carson Matlock was arraigned Friday in 44th District Court on two counts of malicious destruction ...
Royal Oak Police arrest homeless man for drawing

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Categories: Berkley Area News

Rep. John Conyers Calls For Police Reforms After Cop Who Killed 7-Year-Old Walks

Huffington Post News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 6:08pm

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) has pledged to introduce legislation on police accountability following the dismissal of charges against a Detroit police officer who fatally shot a 7-year-old girl.

On Friday, the case was dropped against Officer Joseph Weekley in the 2010 death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who was killed during a botched police raid while she was sleeping in the couch. Conyers released a statement Saturday saying the decision was unlikely to end the controversy over the incident.

“However, our community must not lose sight of the greatest tragedy of all in this situation -- the loss of a 7-year-old innocent child, Aiyana Stanley-Jones,” the congressman said. “I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Aiyana Stanley-Jones during this very difficult time.”

Conyers went on to add that the tragedy should lead toward “cultivating community-focused, smart policing," starting with basic reforms like police retraining and minimizing use of deadly force.

“The troubling circumstances of this case further exemplify the urgency of enacting legislative reforms to address the legal hurdles often faced in creating a system for better police accountability and illustrate the need for major reform in our criminal justice system,” he said. “I plan to take two steps. First, I plan to review the matter very closely. Second, I plan to continue my work on police accountability and follow through by introducing legislation.”

Weekley was first through the door shortly after midnight during the 2010 raid in search of a murder suspect, and shot Aiyana shortly after a flash-bang grenade was thrown. A television crew was filming the incident for a reality show about murder investigations, raising questions about police procedure for the raid.

The circumstances of the shooting were disputed at two trials -- Weekley maintained Aiyana’s grandmother had touched his gun, which she denied -- that both ended in a mistrial. At the second trial in October, the judge granted a motion to dismiss the involuntary manslaughter charge, leaving just the charge of careless discharge of a firearm causing death or injury, a misdemeanor that carries a 2-year maximum sentence.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said Wednesday they would not seek a third trial for Weekley and called the judge’s decision to drop the manslaughter charge “unfortunate.”

In December, Conyers and two other congressmen sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder inquiring about the role the Department of Justice plays in the monitoring and training of SWAT teams and local police forces’ use of military-style equipment.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Pope Francis makes Royal Oak shrine a Minor Basilica - WDIV Detroit

Berkley Information from Google News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 5:23pm


Pope Francis makes Royal Oak shrine a Minor Basilica
WDIV Detroit
Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron announced Saturday that Pope Francis has named the National Shrine of the Little Flower Church in Royal Oak a Minor Basilica. The title is given to churches around the world and shows that they have a particular ...
Pope Francis grants National Shrine of the Little Flower title of "Minor Basilica"WXYZ

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Categories: Berkley Area News

Pope Francis grants National Shrine of the Little Flower title of "Minor Basilica" - WXYZ

Berkley Information from Google News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 4:42pm


Pope Francis grants National Shrine of the Little Flower title of "Minor Basilica"
Copyright 2015 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Copyright 2015 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or ...

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Campus Sexual Assault

Huffington Post News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 4:18pm

The issue of campus sexual assault has received a great deal of attention in the media in recent months. This is warranted. There is a real problem on college and university campuses, and it is a problem that must be taken seriously. Rape and other forms of sexual violence and sexual assault are intolerable whenever and wherever they occur.

Some people say that, because such actions are crimes, colleges and universities should not attempt to adjudicate the issues, but should simply turn these cases over to the criminal justice system. I do not agree. Colleges and universities have an independent responsibility to keep their students safe and to ensure that they can live and learn in an environment free from sexual violence.

But the concern with campus sexual assault has begun to take on the characteristics of a panic in which government officials and school administrators have increasingly lost sight of other fundamental values that must shape the culture of institutions of higher learning.

In this post, I will address two issues that have caused me particular concern and about which I want to sound a bit of an alarm. The first concerns issues of substance, the second concerns issues of process.
The federal Department of Education has put serious pressure on colleges and universities to take aggressive action to deal more effectively with the issue of campus sexual assault. In principle, this is a sound and important step in the right direction. But the Department of Education has declined to define precisely what it means by sexual assault. Clearly, it includes the crime of rape. But the meaning of sexual assault, at least as used in this context, can be extremely, and dangerously, vague.

Fundamentally, it is bound up with such concepts as "consent" and "unwanted" sex. The problem is in defining how those concepts apply in this context. In many instances, especially where alcohol is involved, as it often is, extremely difficult questions arise about the meaning of "consent" and "unwanted." Is it measured by the subjective state of mind of the "complainant" or by the reasonable understanding of the "accused"? How are the participants, and the institutions, to know whether in any given interaction the accused crossed the line?

At the moment, academic institutions are at sea on this question. Some institutions now declare that in any sexual encounter there is a presumption of lack of consent, and thus coercion, unless the complainant affirmatively expressed consent at every step in the interaction. Others hold that sexual assault exists only if the accused disregarded a clearly-expressed lack of consent. These definitions, and the many other variations that different institutions now employ, are inconsistent with one another, difficult to apply in practice, and confused still further when both individuals were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident.

The Department of Education has not clarified what it thinks the appropriate standard should be. It has sent strong signals, however, that colleges and universities must be tough on those who commit "sexual assault," however defined. The result is that academic institutions feel compelled to adopt very broad definitions of sexual assault for fear that if they get it "wrong" the Department will find them in violation of federal law and strip them of federal funds - a penalty that strikes at the very heart of many colleges and universities.

To eliminate such overreaction on the part of academic institutions, the Department should set a clear - and sensible - standard for what counts as sexual assault. This standard should focus on the reasonable understanding of the accused rather than on the subjective understanding of the complainant. To impose serious discipline on students for committing sexual assault when they could not reasonably have understood in the circumstances that the sexual interaction was unwanted sets a standard of culpability that is both unfair to the accused and demeaning to the complainant.

The latter point is worth some elaboration. In these situations, the complainant is almost always (though not always) a woman. In the absence of either a reasonable fear of danger or serious incapacitation from drugs or alcohol, the woman in this situation who does not want the sexual encounter should reasonably be expected to make her feelings known at the time. Women students need to be protected from coercion, but they should not be treated as if they are inherently incapable of expressing their feelings, their wants, and their desires.

Women students fought long and hard to be treated by colleges and universities as individuals capable of making responsible decisions for themselves. The days of parietal hours are happily behind us. For the federal government - or for colleges and universities - to suggest that women students are incapable of making appropriate decisions or of expressing their minds clearly denies them equal dignity and reinforces all the wrong messages about the integrity, independence, and maturity of women. Colleges and universities should not treat their women students as if they are frail, helpless, and weak.

The second issue concerns process. Assume that a female student accuses a male student of sexual assault. She alleges that they had some drinks at a party, they went to his room, they made out naked for a while, he took a condom out of his wallet, she said "no," and he nonetheless entered her. He says that she never said "no" or that, if she did, he didn't hear it, and that she acted as if she desired sex. He says that he thought it was consensual.

If the male student is found to have engaged in sexual assault, he may be suspended or expelled. If female student in fact said "no" and he clearly disregarded her lack of consent, expulsion would surely be appropriate. The critical question, though, is what actually happened at that moment, and in sorting that out the burden of proof is central. By what standard should the fact finder have to decide whether her story or his story is true, before expelling him?

According the Department of Education, in all such proceedings "the evidentiary standard that must be used" is "preponderance of the evidence," that is, whether it is "more likely than not" that he committed a sexual assault. In my judgment, that is the wrong standard. Indeed, many if not most colleges and universities have traditionally applied the "clear and convincing evidence" standard in such circumstances. The difference between these two standards is roughly the difference between being 51% confident that the student committed the sexual assault before expelling him and being 75% confident that the student committed the sexual assault before expelling him.

To justify its insistence on the preponderance of the evidence standard, the Department of Education draws an analogy to civil actions in court. In the typical civil law suit for damages, whether the issue is a car accident, a breach of contract, or an assault, the standard is preponderance of the evidence. But this is a bad analogy.

For a college or university to expel a student for sexual assault is a matter of grave consequence both for the institution and for the student. Such an expulsion will haunt the students for the rest of his days, especially in the world of the Internet. Indeed, it may well destroy his chosen career prospects. This is especially likely, for example, for law students.

Moreover, the procedures used in these disciplinary hearings do not come close to those employed in civil actions, which involve judges, juries, rules of evidence, lawyers, discovery, and a host of other procedural protections designed to enhance the reliability of the proceedings. Even at their best, college and university disciplinary proceedings are a far cry from civil actions in terms of fairness to the accused.

Thus, although the Department of Education may well be right that "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" is unnecessary in these circumstances because there is no risk of imprisonment or a formal criminal record, it is completely unfair, in my judgment, for a college or university to suspend or expel a student on the ground that he committed a sexual assault if the institution is only 51% confident that he did so.
The Department of Education should either mandate the "clear and convincing evidence" standard in these situations, or it should at least leave the institutions free to choose which of those standards best fits their own sense of due process and justice.

One might, of course, object that it is just as bad to "acquit" a guilty student as to "convict" an innocent one. Indeed, we cannot underestimate the emotional and psychological harm to the complainant if her charges are not acted upon. But this is true even in criminal prosecutions. Our core sense of fairness and justice always errs on the side of not erroneously punishing an innocent person. We do not sacrifice that principle even when the accusation is terrorism, murder, rape, or child molestation. We should not sacrifice that principle here.

Of course, colleges and universities can and must take many other steps both to reduce the incidence of sexual assault on campus and to protect and care for those individuals who have been victimized by such behavior. But suspending or expelling innocent students is not an acceptable "solution."

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Anti-Gay, Anti-Mormon Hate Group Sponsors Reince Priebus' RNC Israel Trip

Huffington Post News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 4:17pm

If the National Republican Party had embraced the Ku Klux Klan or the American Nazi Party, would mainstream media pick up the story? Probably.

The American Family Association, sponsor of the Republican National Committee's upcoming Israel trip (organized and led by pastor David Lane), is no less extreme and has been venting its virulently hateful anti-LGBT, nativist, religious supremacist, and arguably racist rhetoric across America's airwaves for years. Hate speech from the AFA's nationally syndicated radio show targets a wide range of minorities: LGBT citizens, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Native-Americans, Muslim-Americans, Muslims (generally), Mormons, Jews, and more.

And this is not a new issue: Time magazine broke the news of the RNC Israel trip (and, more to the point, who was sponsoring it) over six weeks ago, on December 8, 2014. So mainstream media has had ample advance notice.

But so far the main American non-LGBT media venue covering the scandal [see 1, 2] has been MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show.

"They were making an overt argument that Mitt Romney should not be elected to public office in this country specifically because of his religion... the Republican Party is now explicitly embracing these guys. Not just people who are related to people who are related to these guys. I mean, the 'I won't vote for Mitt Romney because of his religion' guy [pastor David Lane] is the same guy, the exact person who is taking Reince Priebus and the Republican Party leadership on this trip [to Israel] the day after tomorrow." - MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, January 29, 2015, characterizing statements from Bryan Fischer, David Lane, and the American Family Association, made during the 2012 presidential election, concerning the candidacy of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

The "serious" heavyweights - the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, not to mention broadcast media (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and so on) - have thus far opted to not cover the story, which has also been covered by two major Israeli media outlets (by Haaretz and the Times of Israel), by several American Jewish outlets including the Daily Jewish Forward, and extensively in LGBT media.

The scandal

On Saturday, 60-odd Republicans from the Republican National Committee (about 1/3 of the RNC), headed by Reince Priebus, will fly to Israel for a nine day all-expenses paid trip. Financially sponsoring the trip is the American Family Association and leading it is activist pastor David Lane, whose "Renewal Project" that seeks to bring pastors into politics is bankrolled by the AFA.

Among all U.S. media sectors, LGBT media has covered this story most heavily, and for good reason; it would not be a stretch to characterize the American Family Association as leading the vanguard of anti-gay hate speech in American today:

How anti-gay is the American Family Association ? Longtime AFA Director of Issue Analysis Bryan Fischer, star of the AFA's national radio show, is notorious for his recycling of Scott Lively's claims that Adolf Hitler and most of the top leadership of Hitler's Nazi movement were gay and so, by implication, homosexuality caused World War Two and the Holocaust.

While the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the AFA as a hate group, for years People For the American Way's Right Wing Watch has been documenting a wide range of hate speech from Bryan Fischer and the AFA. Not just anti-LGBT hate speech.

Fischer has claimed that believers of non-Christian faiths (e.g. Muslims and Jews) do not have a First Amendment right to freely practice their faiths, stated that young African-American women "rut like rabbits", and cited the Bible as justification for the violent ethnic cleansing of Native Americans from their lands. Hispanics, claims Fischer, are "socialist by nature".

This month, arguing that homosexuals should not be allowed to run for political office, Bryan Fischer declared, "It's a form of sex­ual per­ver­sion and remem­ber, we're going to have to choose between the gay agenda and Chris­tian­ity." It's not just LGBT citizens who should be excluded from office, per the AFA, but also Mormons, Mitt Romney included.

The AFA "fires" Bryan Fischer

Media attention on the RNC/AFA scandal turned first to the hate speech of Bryan Fischer; and after Rachel Maddow's first MSNBC treatment of the scandal, on January 28 , 2015, the American Family Association released a statement that Bryan Fischer was no longer the AFA's "Director of Issues Analysis."

AFA president Tim Wildmon suggested Fischer had been fired because of "the soundbite quotes, you know, the Hitler and homosexuality one..." But meanwhile, Fischer himself observed that the alleged firing or demotion was meaningless because his show on AFA radio, Bryan Fischer's main national media platform for spreading his hate speech, would go on regardless.

Underscoring Fischer's point was the AFA's showcasing, simultaneous with its alleged "firing" of Fischer, of a Bryan Fischer op-ed on the front page of the American Family Association website. If Bryan Fischer was indeed no longer the AFA's official spokesperson, evidence for the demotion was scarce to nonexistent.

And another figure was even more central to the story than Fischer who, after all, was not himself personally organizing and leading the RNC's Israel junket. That honor falls to pastor David Lane, who helped organize Rick Perry's 2011 The Response prayer rally and it's recent clone, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal's The Response prayer rally in early 2015.

Pastor David Lane

On Thursday night, in the January 29, 2015 segment of the MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show, Maddow pivoted to Lane. As exhaustively documented by Bryan Tashman, with People For The American Way's Right Wing Watch project, pastor Lane's hateful and religious supremacist rhetoric has been no less extreme than Bryan Fischer's.

Among Lane's rhetorical firebombs showcased by Maddow was Lane's endorsement of a 2012 statement from Texas Baptist megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress identifying Mitt Romney's Mormon religion as a "cult." In an email from pastor Lane obtained by the Daily Beast, Lane emphasized, "Getting out Dr. Jeffress [sic] message, juxtaposing traditional Christianity to the false god of Mormonism, is very important in the larger scheme of things." Lane continued, "Let me go on the record, I won't vote for Mitt Romney as Republican nominee in 2012." Asked Maddow,

Why is the National Republican Party sending its chairman, and all its national leadership, on a trip, led by that guy [Maddow gestured at a photo of pastor David Lane] who said he wanted to be on the record about the fact that he wouldn't vote for Mitt Romney on religious grounds, because of Mitt Romney's religion?

Citing another quote from pastor Lane, claiming that the United States was founded explicitly as a "Christian nation" and "for the advancement of the Christian faith", Rachel Maddow posed the question,

What will it mean to the Republican Party, going forward, if they go on a trip, to Israel, with a group that advocates that America is by Christians and for Christians only, Christians exclusively?

The ramifications of such an embrace, between the RNC, the AFA, and pastor David Lane, are many.

What it means

The trip will likely strengthen already strong ties between Republicans, Israel's Likud Party and, specifically, current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That could, in turn, strengthen Netanyahu's hand in his perennial drive for heavier sanctions and/or military action against Iran. Coming shortly before a planned Netanyahu speech before the U.S. Congress, it is easy to see how the RNC's Israel trip could further Netanyahu's chances in the upcoming election in Israel.

On the domestic U.S. front, the implications are profound. Some in the Republican Party seek to rebrand and reshape the GOP, as more multi-racial and multi-ethnic, and tamp down the party's historic anti-gay stance.

But Priebus' trip stands to present to the party a grotesque fait accompli, by placing his authority as head of the RNC behind Lane and the AFA. In 2012, Reince Priebus himself was blessed and anointed, with the laying on of hands, by fellow "believers" in the radical stream of dominionist Christianity David Lane, Bryan Fischer, and the AFA represent. Since 2008 the ranks of national Republican figures "anointed" in similar ceremonies have included Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and others.

By embracing the American Family Association, and by extension its de facto spokesperson Bryan Fischer, Reince Priebus gives the GOP a veritable Father Coughlin reincarnate for our age, as well as a new de facto Republican prayer leader, a pastor whose naked assertions of Christian supremacy have included calls for believers to "Wage War To Restore a Christian America" through acts of Christian martyrdom that would force all Americans to either bow to Jesus or else "begin drinking holy blood".

The Party of God

In a 2013 World Net Daily op-ed "Wage War To Restore a Christian America", Lane, who has described himself as a "political operative and a mechanic" working "under the radar" to pull pastors into politics, called upon believers to sacrifice their lives in order to force Americans to either acknowledge Jesus as their supreme ruler or else "begin drinking holy blood." Wrote pastor Lane,

"American Christianity has not done a good job of producing martyrs... Christians must risk martyrdom and force Babel to the crux where it has to decide either to acknowledge Jesus an imperator and the church as God's imperium or to begin drinking holy blood."

The same year, in 2013, Lane also predicted car bombings in major U.S. cities because of "homosexuals praying at the Inauguration [of Barack Obama]".

Lane's pastors rallies have regularly featured figures such as Wallbuilders head David Barton, who appears to endorse "biblical slavery" and has claimed the U.S. Constitution is based on the Bible.

In 2013 at an Iowa pastors rally, Lane and Barton helped lead public blessings of U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Also publicly blessed at that event, according to a special report from Christian Broadcasting Network reporter David Brody, was RNC head Reince Priebus: a photo posted by Brody shows Reince Priebus amidst a tight knot of men laying hands on Priebus, to bless and anoint the RNC head as one of God's elect.

Other indications that RNC head Priebus holds a similar form of Christian supremacy as pastor David Lane include an October 2013 interview with CBN's David Brody in which Priebus lashed out at a USA Today story which claimed the RNC head had urged "tolerance for views of gay marriage." "[T]here's only one sovereign God", Priebus assured Brody.

Lane's close ties to Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee were also on display in a January 19, 2014 story from CBN reporter Brody. According to Brody, Renewal Project head David Lane had sent out an email, to 10,000 pastors, which featured a ringing endorsement of Priebus as a GOP leader who "the masses will follow" and who could lead the American evangelical right to political triumph :

"Reince Priebus is making a stand this coming Wednesday in Washington, DC...but let's see this for what it is -- Reince Preibus is moving the ball down the field.

30 years ago Ronald Reagan branded the Republican Party as the leader of limited government, lower taxes, deregulation of business, the attitude of 'the-one-thing-government-can-do-for-me-is-leave-me-alone' -- which brought in the Reagan Democrats and Independents; Reagan then won reelection in 1984 with 49 States.

He then handed the ball to Bush 41', who quickly lost, and then Bush 43' needed the Supreme Court in 2000, and OH in 2004 to win the presidency."

The Evangelical/Pro-Life Catholic constituency didn't show in 2008 or 2012.

We need someone with principle, the masses will follow.

Will you -- right now -- stop and whisper a prayer for Reince Priebus please. He's making a stand, which is what we are all commanded to do...

Reince Priebus -- Salute. "

This strong mutual endorsement, of Lane by Priebus and Priebus by Lane, is striking. As I have documented, Lane works closely with the most radical faction of the religious right, the New Apostolic Reformation which, per the testimony of leaders who have helped create the contemporary American religious right, represents the American answer to Al Qaeda or the Taliban (or, some might suppose, ISIS).

Rachel Maddow's rhetorical question can be answered, in short: while some are working to build a bigger, more inclusive GOP tent with room for LGBT people and other minorities, both ethnic and religious, Reince Priebus, David Lane, and the AFA are hard at work pulling the Republican Party in a radically different direction, towards a future as the party of Christian religious supremacy, and religious war: the Party of God.

What would it mean for such people to gain top-level control of a political party that controls the U.S. Congress and Senate, and over 2/3 of governorships and state legislatures in America today?

We may soon find out.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Bill Maher Says Socialism Created America's Successful Middle Class

Huffington Post News - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 3:57pm

In the latest "Real Time with Bill Maher," the host sounded off on politicians for repeatedly talking about middle-class economics, saying, "No one is telling the truth."

"The large, thriving middle class that America used to have didn't just appear out of the blue. It was created using an economic tool called socialism," said Maher. The talk show host went on to explain that heavy taxation and redistribution of wealth after WWII led to America's middle-class success. "Yes, for a brief, shining moment, we were Finland," he joked.

As demonstrated by his comments on Islam and "American Sniper," Maher is not known to shy away from controversy. On socialism, he added, "We can debate whether that's a good thing or a bad thing to go back to, but what is beyond debate is that, that is what happened."

"Real Time with Bill Maher" airs Friday at 10:00 p.m. ET on HBO.

Categories: Political News and Opinion