Friday, March 30, 2012

Television Leads Less Informed Citizens to Vote Based on Candidates’ Appearance

The first televised U.S. presidential debates in 1960 changed the face of American political campaigns. During that initial debate, television viewers listened to each candidate and also saw Nixon’s wrinkled shirt and five o’clock shadow, and Kennedy’s youthful demeanor and classic good looks. It has become a commonplace trope that radio listeners deemed Nixon the winner, but television viewers thought Kennedy won. In any case, candidates have increasingly focused on “looking the part” of the vigorous and attractive candidate ever since.
A 2011 study by political scientists at MIT published in the American Journal of Political Science, “Looking the Part: Television Leads Less Informed Citizens to Vote Based on Candidates’ Appearance” , examines the extent to which a candidate’s appearance impacts his popularity with less informed voters. The study uses data from 35 gubernatorial and 29 Senate races in 2006 correlated with the results of a survey measuring voter intent, general levels of political knowledge, and hours of television exposure.
In gubernatorial races, a voter who watches more television places slightly more importance (7%) on a candidate’s appearance than the typical voter.  Among these higher-intensity viewers, those identified as “low-knowledge” voters are11% more likely to judge a gubernatorial candidate by his or her appearance.  A similar effect was seen in Senate races during the same period, with 16% of “low-knowledge,” higher-intensity TV viewing voters more likely to judge a candidate based on appearance.
Put simply, “Candidate appearance matters more … when less informed individuals watch a good deal of television.”  Low-information voters are 10% more likely than their high-information counterparts to judge a candidate’s abilities on his or her looks; low-information, higher-intensity TV viewing voters are 32% more likely to judge a candidate by appearance.
In summary, “Among low-knowledge individuals (bottom quartile), a 10 percentage point increase in their appearance advantage leads to only a .8 percentage point increase in vote share among those who watch little or no television, a 2 percentage point increase among those with average TV viewing, and a 4.8 percentage point increase among those who watch the most TV. Since 10 percentage point differences in appearance advantage are common, as one standard deviation is 20, the effect is considerable.”
There is no appreciable difference between high-information voters who don’t watch much TV and those who do. “Television fails to exacerbate the appearance effect among more knowledgeable individuals.”
Researchers conclude, “Since the advent of television, political observers have fretted about the degree to which it privileges image over substance … The results we report appear to confirm some of these long-standing fears. Politicians who merely look the part benefit from TV, especially among less informed citizens.”

Hospital Incident Reporting Systems Do Not Capture Most Patient Harm

To comply with Medicare’s accreditation process, hospitals must track incidents of patients’ adverse reactions to medicines, complications from infections or surgical procedures, or episodes of injurious care. In a 2010 report, “Adverse Events in Hospitals: National Incidence Among Medicare Beneficiaries” , the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) estimated that more than 25% of Medicare beneficiaries experienced at least one incident of adverse care during a recent hospital stay.
A 2012 follow-up report from the DHHS Inspector General, “Hospital Incident Reporting Systems Do Not Capture Most Patient Harm” sampled 189 of the 195 hospitals implicated in the 2010 study on incident reporting practices and Medicare patients. The report’s findings are based on hospital surveys, reporting paperwork and interviews with hospital administrators, and hospital accreditation personnel. Unreported cases were identified by a panel of independent investigators combing through hospital records. Among all the hospitals studied, 40 reporting incidents involving patient harm were officially recorded; 28 were formally investigated; and five led to hospital policy changes.
Key study findings include:
•Hospital staff formally reported only an estimated 14% of harmful incidents during the study period; that means an estimated 86% of incidents involving hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries that should have triggered formal reporting did not. Of the 40 events reported, nursing staff initiated 31 and assorted hospital staff initiated the remaining 9. Although some hospitals allow patients and the families of patients to report incidents of harm, no reports came from these sources during the study period.
•Whether an event was reported or not varied widely according to episode type. Examples of better-reported incidents included falls (100%), allergic reactions (50%) and miscellaneous patient care events (40%); only 9% of cases of excessive bleeding and 11% of events that resulted in permanent disability or death were reported.
•Hospital administrators reported that they strongly encourage staff to report incidents of patient harm; however, they conceded that “staff may often be confused about what constitutes harm and is, therefore, reportable.” Of the 86% of unreported incidents, 62% were dismissed by staff for a variety of reasons, including: they did not perceive an error; they thought the outcome was expected; or they believed such incidents occurred frequently and did not justify reporting.
•About 25% of unreported events could be placed in commonly reported categories, such as problems removing a catheter. “It is difficult to determine why staff did not report these events, but administrators suspected both limited staff time and misperceptions that other staff would report the event.”
The study concludes with recommendations to help increase incident reporting by hospitals: “Hospital administrators reported that the most common reason hospital staff do not report patient harm is that they do not perceive the harm as a reportable event. As such, hospital efforts to improve patient safety may be limited by focusing on only a small subset of events that get more attention because they are more often reported by staff.”

House Votes to Support Parental Rights

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 30, 2012) – The Oklahoma House of Representatives has approved a resolution calling on Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution with a Parental Rights Amendment.
“It is clear that children are best served when parents have the freedom to make child-rearing decisions about education, religion, and other areas of a child’s life without state interference,” said state Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee. “The primary role of parents is to raise their children and they should have the ability to do so without their right being dictated by the United Nations.”
House Concurrent Resolution 1028, by Faught, addresses the impending threat of the U.N.’s Rights of the Child Treaty, which many human rights groups are pressuring the U.S. Senate to ratify by Nov. 20 of this year.
House Concurrent Resolution 1028 calls on Congress to act immediately to prevent the treaty from being passed by adding a Parental Rights Amendment to the Constitution. The United Nation’s Rights of the Child Treaty only needs the Senate and the President’s approval for ratification. Congress and the states individually have no say in the matter.
The proposed constitutional amendment would declare, “The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right.” It would also state, “No treaty may be adopted nor shall any source of international law be employed to supersede, modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article.”
Oklahoma is one of several states urging support for a Parental Rights Amendment at the federal level. HCR1028 now heads to the state Senate for approval.

Attorney General Plans Appeal in Defense of Ultrasound Law

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Scott Pruitt said Friday he has recommended an appeal of this week’s decision by an Oklahoma County judge that a new law requiring clinics to provide more information, including an ultrasound, to mothers considering an abortion was unconstitutional.
“The law is about presenting abortion accurately with full information about the outcome,” Attorney General Pruitt said. “We have an obligation to protect our citizens and make sure abortion is held to the same standard as any medically informed decision.”
On Wednesday Oklahoma County District Judge Bryan Dixon ruled that a 2010 law requiring women to have ultrasounds before having abortions is unconstitutional.
Oklahoma is one of several states that have passed laws requiring doctors to both perform an ultrasound and provide a verbal description of the fetus before an abortion, while others are considering similar measures. The laws have been on hold in Oklahoma and North Carolina as legal challenges proceed, while Texas' recently was upheld.

Proposed Changes to Employment Security Act of 1980

HB 2204 stipulates that an unemployed individual must register for work within seven days of filing an initial claim for unemployment benefits. The measure also provides that an unemployed individual will be eligible for benefits if, during his or her base period, the individual was paid taxable wages of any amount and if total wages equaled or exceeded the annual taxable wages in the calendar year in which the unemployment claim was filed.
Provisions are also made in HB 2204 for electronic notifications. The measure also provides for a penalty for fraud overpayment, equal to 25% of the amount of the original overpayment, and outlines where these additional monies are to be deposited.
HB 2204 also outlines procedures should an employer wish to appeal the contribution rate and provides that the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission is not to relieve an employer of a charge of benefit wages under certain conditions.
HB 2204 also directs the Veterans Services Division of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission to establish a recognition program and award funds from grants provided by the United States Department of Labor.
The measure also allows the release of certain information to the Office of Juvenile Affairs for use in assessing results and outcomes of clients served as well as the effectiveness of state and local juvenile and justice programs. The information obtained must be kept confidential by the Office of Juvenile Affairs, although aggregated data may be released for programs or larger units, provided that this meets disclosure requirements of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
The bill passed the house by a 76 to 1 vote and has been reported Do Pass as amended by the Senate Business and Commerce committee.

Applications Now Accepted for Free Summer Academies on College Campuses

This summer, middle and high school students can experience life on a college campus while exploring the exciting and varied fields of math and science at the free 2012 Summer Academies in Math, Science and Technology.
The free academies, sponsored by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, are open to upcoming eighth through 12th graders. Each academy explores the latest trends in math, science and technology by using fun, hands-on activities and innovative software as students experiment both in the classroom and outdoors. Many academies also include field trips to some of the state’s top companies, science facilities and museums.
The academies are being offered at 18 of Oklahoma’s college and university campuses in May, June and July. Twenty-nine different academies will be offered statewide and last from four days to two weeks. Some academies require students to live in the campus residence halls, while others require that students travel to and from campus each day
"Since 1990, Summer Academies have provided thousands of Oklahoma middle and high school students the opportunity to experience the college campus environment while exploring new and exciting career options,” Chancellor Glen D. Johnson said. “This program offers young people the chance to study with top professors and explore hands-on learning that exceeds anything they’ve encountered in a traditional classroom. After attending our Summer Academies, students are more likely to attend college and hopefully have a broader perspective about the value of a college education."
More than 17,000 Oklahoma students have attended Summer Academies since 1990. Seventy-three percent of Summer Academies students go to college immediately after high school, compared to 56 percent of all students. While in college, Summer Academies students are more academically prepared than their peers, requiring one-third fewer remedial courses than all other students. More than 80 percent of Summer Academies students earn at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 22 percent of all Oklahomans.
Applications are now being accepted for the academies, and many have deadlines. Because the academies are free and enrollment is limited, students are encouraged to apply early. To qualify, students need to be entering eighth through 12th grade this fall. Officials emphasize the academies are not exclusive to top students but instead are designed to give all students an opportunity to increase their interest and confidence in math, science and technology and, ultimately, expand their career and educational aspirations.
Academy descriptions and contact information are available at Students can also get information from their school counselors or by calling (800) 858-1840.

Criminal Alien Statistics: Information on Incarcerations, Arrests and Costs

Polls on Immigration Reform
Government estimates put the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States at more than 10 million. Debates over immigration reform commonly involve disputes over the costs and benefits of these immigrants to the society at large.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 60% of Likely Voters think when it comes to immigration reform, gaining control of the border is more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers who are already in the United States.
Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 56% of Likely Voters say the policies and practices of the federal government encourage people to enter the United States illegally.
The CBO Report
A 2011 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Criminal Alien Statistics: Information on Incarcerations, Arrests and Costs” (PDF), analyzed the scope of criminal activity by undocumented immigrants, their nationality and the estimated costs of such criminality to the United States.
The number of criminal aliens in U.S. federal prisons in 2010 was estimated to be 55,000, a 7 percent increase since 2005. In the 2005 criminal alien population in federal prisons was around 27 percent. The total inmate population, and from fiscal years 2006 through 2010 remained consistently around 25 percent.
Key findings of the report include:
·         The number of criminal aliens in U.S. federal prisons in 2010 was estimated to be 55,000, a 7% increase since 2005.
·         The total number of criminal aliens estimated to be in state and local prisons in 2009 was 296,000.
·         The number of criminal alien incarcerations in state prison systems increased by about 25 percent and the number in local jails increased by about 40 percent.
·         Between 2005 and 2009, the total annual cost of housing this population at all levels was between $1.5 and $1.6 billion.
·         The average criminal alien has been arrested seven times. Approximately 50% have been arrested for a drug-related offense, 65% for an immigration-related offense, 35% for assault, 19% for weapons violations and 8% for homicide.
·         Mexico is the country of origin for 68% of criminal aliens. Columbia and the Dominican Republic are the next most likely countries of origin, representing 5% each of the alien incarcerated population.
·         States with more than 10,000 criminal alien incarcerations are California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New York. 74% of total incarcerations took place in California, Arizona and Texas.
The number of criminal alien apprehensions by ICE, removal proceedings, and removals ordered increased significantly from calendar years 2007 through 2010. The number of criminal alien apprehensions increased by about 85 percent, removal proceedings increased by 71 percent, and removals ordered increased more than seven fold from about 9,000 in 2007 to about 79,000 in 2010.
The number of criminal alien removals from the United States in which ICE later recorded an individual was apprehended for reentering the country illegally increased about 42 percent (to 27,337) from calendar years 2007 through 2009, but declined 35 percent (to 17,797) from 2009 to 2010.
This article is not an attack on the people who come to this country to make a life for themselves or their families. There are many people who come to the United States each year following the legal procedures. Most of our families immigrated to the US at some point.
This does highlight the need, as the government’s own report shows here, to shore our borders and increase security on those borders. This report and article do not even cover the human costs of trafficking, (which will be covered later), for those seeking to enter the USA.  This report only includes the criminal acts of some that is not representative of all people from any other country. It also is not meant to include social costs (such as Medicare, Medicaid, or other welfare programs) spent by US taxpayers on folks here illegally.
The purpose of this article with the information taken from the CBO report suggests that the need to secure our borders is a national security concern.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Oklahoma City Leads Large Cities in Job Creation

Oklahoma City, Okla., had the highest score on Gallup's Job Creation Index among the 50 largest U.S. metro areas in 2011, followed by Pittsburgh, Pa., and several Southern metros. More than one in three workers in each of the top-performing metro areas said their employer was hiring or expanding the size of its workforce, but Oklahoma City led because of the relatively low percentage of workers (12%) who said their employer was letting workers go or decreasing the size of its workforce.

The results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with U.S. workers conducted from January-December 2011. Gallup interviewed at least 698 respondents in each of the 50 largest metro areas in 2011, including 1,000 or more in 38 metro areas. Nationwide in 2011, an average of 31% of U.S. workers said their employer was hiring, while 18% said their employer was letting workers go, for a U.S. Job Creation Index score of +13.
The top-performing large metro areas have above-average hiring levels combined with below-average levels of letting go, resulting in high Job Creation Index scores. On the other side of the spectrum, some metro areas have relatively low hiring combined with high levels of letting go, resulting in low Job Creation Index scores.
The top five large metros in Gallup's Job Creation Index for 2011 had an average unemployment rate of 7.4% in January 2012, according to not-seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Because Gallup's Job Creation Index is based on employees' perceptions about their own place of work, the data do not necessarily reflect the magnitude of hiring or firing that is taking place and, further, employees living in these areas may be reporting workforce expansion and contraction that is happening outside their own location. This may also indicate that Oklahoma City has some of the most secure and confident workers in the nation.
Statewide, Oklahoma was tied at number three with Iowa in the index.  This may reflect the growth trends we have seen in the state over the past two years.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

House Committee Approves Heartbeat Informed Consent Act

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 27, 2012) – The House Public Health Committee voted today to expand Oklahoma informed-consent laws regarding abortion.
Senate Bill 1274, by state Sen. Dan Newberry and state Rep. Pam Peterson, creates the Heartbeat Informed Consent Act. The legislation would require an abortion provider to provide a woman the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat prior to the procedure.
“Informed consent laws put the state on the side of the patient and ensure a woman is provided as much relevant information as possible before making a life-altering decision,” said Peterson, R-Tulsa. “With changes in technology, a much greater array of medical information is now available to women and we should not allow them to be denied access to that knowledge.”
Senate Bill 1274 would apply to situations where the unborn baby is eight weeks or older, and the woman would have the choice on whether or not to hear the heartbeat during a standard pre-procedure exam.
The bill’s provisions do not apply when the mother’s life is in danger.
“This legislation simply gives a woman the opportunity to hear the heartbeat of her unborn child through the use of the fetal heart monitor,” Peterson said. “A pregnant woman who enters an abortion clinic is faced with a decision that will forever change two lives.  It is for that reason the woman needs to be fully informed.
“Whether you're pro-life or pro-choice you should be for this bill if you do not want women misled.”
Senate Bill 1274 passed the House Public Health Committee on a bipartisan 10-1 vote. It now proceeds to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

House Committee Approves Personhood Bill

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 27, 2012) – Legislation declaring that life begins at conception gained approval today from a state House committee.
“This legislation is about as simple as it gets. Under this bill, Oklahoma law will acknowledge that life begin at conception,” said state Rep. Lisa Billy, R-Purcell. “The measure provides a clear policy statement and puts the state of Oklahoma on the side of protecting human life to the fullest extent possible under existing court rulings.”
Senate Bill 1433, by state Sen. Brian Crain and Billy, declares that the “life of each human being begins at conception” and that the “laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state.”
The measure is based on a Missouri law that has been in place for more than two decades that was upheld by a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Critics of the measure have claimed the bill would outlaw in-vitro fertilization and birth control, but the Missouri case proves otherwise, Billy said.
“Opponents have resorted to wild claims to try and defeat this bill, but they can’t provide a single example of this law preventing anyone from receiving fertility treatments or purchasing birth control anywhere, anytime in the two decades this law has been on the books in Missouri,” said Billy, who was recently named the 2012 Kate Barnard Award winner by the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women.
The legislation expressly declares, “Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit contraception or in vitro fertilization.”
Senate Bill 1433 has been endorsed by medical professionals, including those in the field of obstetrics and family practice.
In a statement of support, Oklahomans for Life Chairman Anthony J. Lauinger wrote, “There is great educational value in a law such as the Personhood Act. Most citizens instinctively respect our laws. Many equate what is legal with what is right. Our laws serve an essential purpose in teaching, in guiding our actions. Ultimately, the pro-life effort is a struggle for the hearts and minds of our citizens.”
Billy said the legislation is in line with the values of most Oklahomans and the broader national population, including women.
She noted that a 2011 national survey by Gallup found that 60 percent of women believe abortion should either be illegal or allowed only in limited circumstances.
“A vote for this measure simply declares that the state of Oklahoma values life and believes every child is a gift and deserving of protection,” Billy said. “That is not a controversial viewpoint.”
Senate Bill 1433 passed the House Public Health Committee today and now advances to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

OK Court Rules Against Disability Act for Students

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 27, 2012) – State Rep. Jason Nelson said a Tulsa judge’s ruling against a law providing scholarships to special-needs students is just “one battle in the overall fight to help special-needs children” and vowed to continue advocating for families in need. Judge Rebecca Nightingale made the ruling today.
“I will keep fighting for the families and fighting to uphold this very necessary law,” said Nelson, R-Oklahoma City. “I support an appeal to the Supreme Court and a motion for a stay of the judge’s ruling pending an appeal. The strong reason we needed this law in the first place still stands – to help families of special-needs students who are not being served by public schools.”
Nelson noted the judge’s ruling could have far-reaching consequences for Oklahomans.
“The judge’s ruling is baffling and will likely impact many state programs affecting everything from preschool to Medicaid,” Nelson said. “The judge ruled on the merits without comment, perhaps because her decision is indefensible.”
The Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Act allows students with a disability on an individualized education program (IEP) to receive state-funded scholarships to attend private school. The scholarships are funded with money already designated for the child’s education.
In response, the Jenks and Union school districts sued some of the parents of children with special needs who obtained the scholarships provided by the law.
Under the judge’s ruling, Nelson noted that it is now possible for Medicaid patients to be sued for being treated at a Catholic hospital.
“This is a horrible precedent,” Nelson said. “It’s like suing grandma for using Medicare. I will keep fighting to defend parents’ rights to do what is best for their children. This is the standard everywhere else in state government. This ruling now calls into question other critical programs in health care, foster care, prison ministries, preschool and higher education tuition grants.”
Nelson praised the parents of special-needs students for staying strong.
“These parents have displayed great courage while going through an unprecedented legal assault by two government school districts,” Nelson said. “They have not backed down, and neither will I.”
Nelson thanked the Becket Fund for coming to the aid of the parents of special-needs children, as well as Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who defended the law, and Bob Latham, local council for the School Choice Coalition. He also thanked state Sen. Patrick Anderson (R-Enid), who co-authored the law, and all legislative colleagues “who supported these parents.”
“Most of all, I want to thank former Governor Brad Henry and his family for supporting the program and allowing the law to be named for Lindsey,” Nelson said.

Obama’s 2008 Promise to “bankrupt” the Coal Industry

The Obama administration proposed on Tuesday the first ever standards to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants, a move likely to be hotly contested by Republicans and industry in an election year,  reports Reuters.
The Environmental Protection Agency's proposal would effectively stop the building of most new coal-fired plants in an industry that is moving rapidly to more natural gas.
Republicans say a slew of EPA clean air measures will drive up power costs but have had little success in trying to stop them in Congress. Industries have turned to the courts to slow down the EPA's program.
Some Democrats from energy-intensive states also complained. "The overreaching that EPA continues to do is going to create a tremendous burden and hardship on the families and people of America," said Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia.
The enforcement of the new measures, which will force new plants to cut CO2 emissions by 50 per cent and also mandate investment in unaffordable technologies to bury carbon emissions underground, marks the realization of Obama’s 2008 promise to “bankrupt” the coal industry.
During an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2008 when he was still a Senator, Obama stated, “If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them.”
Since Congress successfully defeated Obama’s disastrous climate bill in 2010, which would have imposed similar measures, the EPA has simply declared CO2, the life-giving gas that plants breathe, to be a deadly poison, and will impose the limits by dictatorial fiat.
Groups like the Edison Electric Institute have previously warned that the new rules eventually “cost utilities up to $129 billion and force them to retire one-fifth of coal capacity,” prompting a wave of coal plant shutdowns. Americans will be hit with more energy rate hikes even as they struggle to pay the bills now.

FBI explanation of missing Oklahoma City bombing tapes not credible, judge says

A federal judge on Wednesday continued to question the FBI's explanation for not producing videotapes associated with the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that a Salt Lake lawyer has sought for nearly six years.
"It's quite astounding that documents as important as these went missing and the FBI says, 'Well, they're gone,'" U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups said during a motion hearing.
At issue is whether the FBI adequately responded to Jesse Trentadue's Freedom of Information Act request for footage of Timothy McVeigh parking a truckload of explosives at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. Specifically, the Salt Lake attorney is after a building surveillance tape and dashcam video from the Oklahoma state trooper who stopped McVeigh 90 minutes after the explosion that killed 168 people.
The FBI has submitted several declarations from its top records manager to show the agency has searched electronic databases and evidence warehouses without success. But Waddoups said the declarations lack credibility because they do not include firsthand knowledge or details about who, when, where or how the searches were conducted.
"That's not good evidence," he said.
Waddoups delayed ruling on the FBI's motion to dismiss the case and allowed the agency until June 15 to provide a more complete explanation of the searches.
"This is a matter of significant public interest," the judge said, adding it's time for it to be resolved.
U.S. Department of Justice attorney Kathryn Wyer argued the FBI has conducted a search in this case using procedures other courts have recently upheld as reasonable.  Trentadue essentially wants to use his FOIA request as a search warrant, which goes beyond the scope of the law, she said.
Trentadue contends the FBI has acted in bad faith by not providing the videotapes he has sought since December 2006."Their response has been, 'We looked for it. We can't find it,'" he said.
Wyer said Trentadue has not produced any evidence that the tapes exist. Trentadue counters that the FBI hasn't shown that they don't exist.
Trentadue began looking into the bombing after his brother, Kenneth Trentadue, died at the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center in August 1995. Kenneth Trentadue was a convicted bank robber who was taken to the federal prison after violating probation in San Diego in June 1995.
Jesse Trentadue alleges guards mistook his brother for a bombing suspect and beat him to death during an interrogation.
He said after all these years he thought public interest in the case would wane. "But that doesn't appear to be the case. It grows and grows."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Getting Involved- Contact Those Who Represent You

"You should not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harm it would cause if improperly administered." Lyndon Johnson
One of the reasons the stories are posted here is to inform you. Once you have been informed and make a decision on the articles presented you may wish to contact your state or federal representative to encourage the passage of legislation, discourage the passage or share other views. You can find Your Federal and State Legislators here, by entering address and click Search. You will get the names, phone numbers, contact addresses, email addresses and website links to appropriate person.
How can we expect our public servants to serve us if we do not express our wishes from time to time? It is important to express the manner in which you are to be represented to your representative during the debate of legislation rather than after it has failed or succeeded.  As Thomas Jefferson said, "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action, according to our will, within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others."
Liberty is the consequence of action. Tyranny is the consequence of apathy. A bully will not retreat until you resist. If a person goes to work and no one tells them what is expected the outcome should not be disappointment in the worker. It is important to let your representatives know what the expectations of the people are.
"It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known and less fixed?"James Madison, Federalist Papers 62

Christian Persecution Not Newsworthy

Saudi fatwa against Gulf churches
In an article published by the Middle East Forum, Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum, cites several Arabic language web publications that quoted Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, declaring it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.”
Ibrahim reported the Muslim leader’s comment was in response to a question by a delegation from Kuwait, where a member of parliament recently also called for churches to be removed.
“Accordingly, the grand mufti ‘stressed that Kuwait was a part of the Arabian Peninsula, and therefore it is necessary to destroy all churches in it,’” Ibrahim reported.
“As with many grand muftis before him, the sheik based his proclamation on the famous tradition, or hadith, wherein the prophet of Islam declared on his deathbed that, ‘There are not to be two religions in the [Arabian] Peninsula,’ which has always been interpreted to mean that only Islam can be practiced in the region,” Ibrahim wrote.
In the Middle East, Christians already are facing increased persecution, including death, in countries where militant Islamic factions have stepped into the vacuum of power created by “Arab Spring” revolutions.
For example, Coptic Christians who have worshiped in Egypt for millennia are reporting higher levels of persecution from Muslims. In North Africa, Muslims have promised to eradicate Christianity in some parts of the region. In Iraq, where Christians did not flourish but were given some accommodation under strongman Saddam Hussein, entire Christian populations have fled.
Wrote Ibrahim, “Considering the hysteria that besets the West whenever non-authoritative individuals offend Islam – for instance, a fringe, unknown pastor – imagine what would happen if a Christian counterpart to the grand mufti, say the pope, were to declare that all mosques in Italy must be destroyed; imagine the nonstop Western media frenzy that would erupt, all the shrill screams of ‘intolerance’ and ‘bigot,’ demands for apologies if not resignation, nonstop handwringing by sensitive politicians, and worse.”
As noted by Ibrahim, there were outcries of hatred and bigotry when Terry Jones burned a Quran at his church in Florida last year. There have been no denouncements of the Muslim Leader saying that churches in the Arabian Peninsula be destroyed.
"The desecration of any holy text, including the Quran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry," President Obama said of Terry Jones burning the Quran. He has made no statements on the destruction of churches in the gulf or on the Christian persecutions in the area.
David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in the Afghanistan war, issued a similar statement."We condemn, in particular, the action of an individual in the United States who recently burned the Holy Quran. We also offer condolences to the families of all those injured and killed in violence which occurred in the wake of the burning of the Holy Quran."
Christian bishops in Germany, Austria and Russia have sharply criticized Saudi Arabia's top religious official after reports that he issued a fatwa saying all churches on the Arabian Peninsula should be destroyed.
Attacks on Christians
In Iran authorities have begun sweeping through towns arresting Christians suspected of holding worship meetings in an effort to stamp out the house church movement.
In Kerala state, India, a pastor and his children were attacked on Feb. 21. Pastor Titus Ignatius Kapan and his family were eating dinner at the house of a Hindu convert when Hindu extremists entered the house. They abused the pastor and his children before dropping huge boulders on the pastor’s car.
In Nigeria terrorist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for suicide bombers who set off a car bomb at a church in Jos, Nigeria, killing a church member and a baby.
The execute branch of our government have consistently shown a lack of interest in the plight of Christians being persecuted domestically and in the eastern hemisphere. While U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Daniel Baer was hailing the U.N. passage of a resolution endorsing the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people, nothing was said of the nearly 900 dead or wounded Christians in attacks on 40 Churches where the victims were hacked and burned to death in Nigeria just two months earlier.
A few weeks later the Arab Spring kicked of unleashing a slew of attacks resulting in the murder of hundreds of Christians in Africa and throughout Europe and the Middle East. While our government was touting the Arab spring as a “victory” for the Islamic people, Christians were losing their lives for simply “not being Muslims.” Still with all of these blatant human rights violations taking place and the media’s refusal to report these attacks, we have heard virtually nothing from our government on this extermination of Christians.
Half of Iraq's indigenous Christians are gone due to the unleashed forces of jihad, many of them fleeing to nearby Syria; yet, as the Assad regime comes under attack by al-Qaeda and others, the jihad now seeps into Syria, where Christians are experiencing a level of persecution unprecedented in the nation's modern history. Likewise, some 100,000 Christian Copts have fled their native Egypt since the overthrow of the Mubarak regime; and in northern regions of Nigeria, where the jihadi group Boko Haram has been slaughtering Christians; up to 95 % of the Christian population has fled.
Meanwhile, the "big news" concerning the Muslim world in the month of February—the news that flooded the mainstream media and had U.S. politicians, beginning with President Obama, flustered, angry, and full of regret—was that copies of the Koran in Afghanistan were burned by U.S. soldiers because imprisoned Muslim inmates were using them "to facilitate extremist communications."
President Obama thanked the Muslim community for their help in dealing with the September 11 tragedy, which caused nearly 3,000 deaths.
The president honored the Muslims for their help on home soil a decade ago, and also thanked them for their contributions to the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama noted that American Muslims serve as firefighters, police officers and counterterrorism specialists. “Make no mistake,” Obama said. “Muslim Americans help to keep us safe.”
Obama said "I think that the United States and the West generally, we have to educate ourselves more effectively on Islam.
"And one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.  And so there's got to be a better dialogue and a better understanding between the two peoples."
Don Surber crunches the numbers and points out that Obama's claim is highly dubious. According to Surber, the US has an estimated three to eight million Muslims, less than one per cent of the world's total and less than at least 23 other countries.
What does he have to say about Christianity?
The president did say  'It's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations.'
The media and many in our government clearly have antipathy towards Christians. It is no wonder there is no mention, no outcry for the assaults on Christians around the world other than from other Christians. Will there be silence as the assaults continue to grow here in the US?
Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are they who have been persecuted for righteousness sake! For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for your reward in Heaven is great. For so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Panetta Claims International Permission Needed for Military Action, Not Congress

It is no surprise that the Obama administration believes that they do not need congressional approval to use the military. We seen and discussed this when the Libyan attacks commenced. This time under questioning from Sen. Sessions at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing March 7, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated that “international permission,” rather than Congressional approval, provides a ‘legal basis’ for military action by the United States.
Sen. Jeff Sessions:  Do you think that you can act without Congress to initiate a no-fly zone in Syria, without Congressional approval?
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta : Again, our goal would be to seek international permission and we would come to the Congress and inform you and determine how best to approach this.  Whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress, I think those are issues we would have to discuss as we decide what to do here.
Sen. Jeff Sessions:  Well, I’m almost breathless about that.  Because what I heard you say is, “we are going to seek international approval, and then we will come and tell the Congress what we might do, and we ‘might’ seek Congressional approval.”
Panetta then goes on to explicitly state that the President has the authority to “act in the defense of the nation” without Congressional approval and that a NATO resolution would be all the legal justification the administration needs in order to wage yet another foreign war.
The War Powers Act prohibits the US President from engaging in war unless the Congress authorizes:
1. A declaration of war,
2. Specific statutory authorization, or
3. A national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.
This makes it illegal for the US President to wage a foreign war of aggression without Congressional authorization.
Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution remands the power to declare war specifically to the Congress.  This power is distinct from raising and funding an army, which is also a separate declared power of Congress.  The US Constitution and the War Powers Act make it clear that President may not initiate an undeclared war without the consent of Congress.
Republican Congressman Walter Jones has introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives which reads:
Expressing the sense of Congress that the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution.
Whereas the cornerstone of the Republic is honoring Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that, except in response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the United States, the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress violates Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution.
Remember a year ago we reported that in a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate dated March 21, 2011, President Obama cited the authority of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 and his "constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive."
However, as a candidate the president held a different view. The Boston Globe interviewed then-Senator Obama in 2007 on the use of unilateral military action:
Question: In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)
Obama: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
“As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.”
Rep. Burton of Indiana said regarding the calls for strikes in Syria and Panetta’s admission that congress and the constitution are subservient to the UN, “I would respectfully remind Senator McCain and the President that they do not have the power to unilaterally start a war. The authority to initiate war is vested by the Constitution exclusively in Congress. The War Powers Act was enacted into law over a Presidential veto--not an easy thing to accomplish--to fulfill the intent of the Framers of the Constitution of the United States in requiring that the President has to seek the consent of Congress before the introduction of the United States Armed Forces into hostile action.
“Section 2(c) of the War Powers Act provides that no attempt by the President to introduce the United States Armed Forces into hostile action may be made under the War Powers Act unless, number one, there is a declaration of war; number two, a specific authorization; or, number three, a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possession, or its Armed Forces.
“The Constitution and the War Powers Act are not a list of suggestions; they are the law of the land, the law the President of the United States and every Member of Congress swears to protect and defend. Contrary to Defense Secretary Panetta's assertion before the Senate Armed Services Committee the other day, international permission does not trump congressional permission”

OK House Disapproves of HHS Contraception Mandate

Oklahoma democrat Rebecca Hamilton and republican Paul Wesselhoft authored House Resolution 1041 which reads:
WHEREAS, on January 20, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), under the direction and influence of the Obama administration, issued a final rule that requires that health insurance plans, including those of religious institutions, “cover preventive services for women including recommended contraceptive services without charging a co pay, coinsurance or a deductible”; and
WHEREAS, HHS’s rule further states that plans must cover the “full range of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended preventive services, including all FDA-approved forms of contraception”; and
WHEREAS, the FDA’s list of approved methods of contraception includes abortifacients, which are abortion drugs prescribed to kill life in the womb after conception; and
WHEREAS, this new mandate sets a dangerous precedent for American democracy and undermines the U.S. Constitution; and
WHEREAS, this mandate is a wholesale assault on the specific protections of religious liberties afforded to all Americans by the First Amendment, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
THAT the Oklahoma House of Representatives disapproves of the final rule issued by HHS on January 20, 2012, that requires that health insurance plans, including those of religious institutions, cover preventive services for women including recommended contraceptive services without charging a copay, coinsurance or a deductible.
THAT the Oklahoma House of Representatives urges Congress to adopt laws which would nullify the effect of such rule.
THAT a copy of this resolution be distributed to President Barack Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and each member of the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation.

No Motto for Oklahoma

It has long been believed that “Labor Omnia Vincit”, or “Labor Conquers All Things”, is the state motto.  However, the framers of the Oklahoma Constitution did not establish an official state motto.  Although it is described in the Constitution as part of the description of the Great Seal of Oklahoma, there is no indication that it was meant to indicate a state motto.
Oklahoma Motto, Inc., a nonprofit, bipartisan patriotic group, has researched the issue and determined that our state has never declared an official state motto.  Their research of the Oklahoma State Constitution discovered that the word “motto” does not appear.  They also researched the Oklahoma Statutes from the beginning of statehood and could find no mention of establishing a state motto for Oklahoma.
The origin of our national motto comes from the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” by Francis Scott Key, containing the phrase, “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust!’” Set to the tune of “Anacreon in Heaven”, this became our national anthem, the “Star Spangled Banner”.
While the words “In God We Trust” were added to United States coins in 1864, it was not until 1956 that this phrase replaced “E Pluribus Unum” as the United States national motto.
Although the State of Florida adopted the phrase “In God We Trust” as the official motto of their state in 2006, Oklahoma Motto, Inc., believes that “Oklahoma — In God We Trust!” would be both different and legal.
Therefore the House of Representatives of Oklahoma with concurrence of the Senate move to designate the official motto of the State of Oklahoma is hereby declared to be: “Oklahoma-In God We Trust!”.

Oklahoma Criminal Justice Reform

House Bill 3052 proposes sweeping reforms to Oklahoma's Criminal Justice system. The bill is the work of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative and addresses supervision for felony offenders released from prison, provides for grants to local law enforcement, requires mental health and substance abuse assessments for those arrested of a felony offense and outlines intermediate sanctions for those committing technical parole and probation violations, among other things.
House Speaker Kris Steele said “House Bill 3052 would require future felons to serve nine months of supervised release after leaving prison, mandate substance abuse and mental health screenings for everyone arrested in felony cases, and provide funding for enhanced local law enforcement.”
This new bill aims to cut violent crimes by 10% over five years creating safer communities.  "This is a crime-fighting piece of legislation," said Speaker Steele.
Representatives from Oklahoma’s public safety community, including Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty and Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones, expressed their support Monday for House Speaker Kris Steele’s corrections reform proposal. “The whole proposal benefits law enforcement,” Citty said of the bill.
HB 3052 makes numerous modifications to address criminal justice reform in Oklahoma.  The measure requires the Department of Corrections to maintain an accounting of the earned credits of those inmates sentenced to an eighty-five percent crime and allows the Director of the Department of Corrections to apply the credits only after the offender has served eighty-five percent of the sentence. 
Section 2 requires all persons arrested for a felony offense to submit to a risk, mental health and substance abuse assessment and evaluation. 
Section 3 allows a drug court participant to be sanctioned to serve six months in an intermediate revocation facility for failure to comply with the terms of the drug court agreement.  The offender may not serve more than two separate terms of confinement in an intermediate sanction facility. 
Section 4 extends the opportunity for judicial review of sentence to twenty-four months.  The district attorney must approve the review if it occurs beyond twelve months of the initial sentence. 
Section 5 requires the court to include in every felony sentence of every person sentenced to confinement a term of post-imprisonment supervision of not less than nine months or more than one year following confinement.  Post-imprisonment supervision not applicable to persons sentenced to life, life without parole or persons sentenced to the maximum sentence allowed for conviction of the offense. 
Section 6 authorizes a one-time referral to a six month term of confinement in an intermediate revocation facility for probationers who incur technical violations of their terms of supervision.  A person may be sanctioned to serve additional terms of confinement in an intermediate revocation facility upon the approval of the district attorney. 
Section 7 states that a person serving a term of confinement in an intermediate revocation facility is not eligible for earned credits. 
Section 8 provides definition of intermediate revocation facility as a corrections center operated by the Department of Corrections or a private facility or public trust operating pursuant to contract with the Department of Corrections which provides housing and intensive programmatic services for offenders who have violated the terms or conditions of probation as determined by a supervising probation officer.  “Intensive programmatic services” offered by the Department of Corrections includes, but shall not be limited to, alcohol and substance abuse counseling and treatment, mental health counseling and treatment and domestic violence courses and treatment programs. 
Section 9 establishes that a Probation and Parole Officer shall notify the Department of Corrections when a probationer has been charged with committing a felony offense, has been charged with a misdemeanor which reflects a propensity for violence, has been convicted of a misdemeanor, or has escaped from custody and the Department shall issue a warrant for arrest of the probationer and initiate revocation proceedings.  This section establishes the procedure for the issuance of an arrest warrant for a probationer who has technical violations of the conditions of supervision.  Repeated technical violations of the terms of probation may result in a revocation proceeding.  This section provides that a district attorney can file a petition to revoke a suspended sentence and may refer a probationer to an intermediate revocation facility without a recommendation from the Department of Corrections.
 Section 10 directs the Department of Corrections to establish intermediate revocation facilities. 
Section 11 provides graduated punishments for drug penalties in a similar manner as DUI penalties. 
Section 12 establishes the Justice Reinvestment Grant Program within the Office of the Attorney General to be used to provide funding for initiatives and strategies to combat violent crime.
 Section 13 requires data analysis to be conducted to issue a report to the Governor, Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate. 
Section 14 provides effective date of November 1, 2012.
HB3052 is expected to control the increase in prison growth by increasing substance abuse treatment, reducing violent crime, strengthening supervision, and reducing recidivism.  Prison costs will be reduced over time as these reforms are implemented. The utilization of intermediate revocation facilities will provide significant cost savings, which will offset the additional costs associated with treatment, screening, and supervision.
The reform bill has passed the house by a 66 to 27 vote and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee then to Appropriations Committee.

Oklahoma Hospital Residency Training Program Act

Oklahoma Hospital Residency Training Program Act, HB 3058 creates the Oklahoma Hospital Residency Training Program to establish new residency programs affiliated with the state’s two medical schools in eligible hospitals. The program will be administered by the Physician Manpower Training Commission (PMTC) and is subject to the availability of funding. The PMTC is authorized to designate, contract with and provide funding to hospitals for the creation of the new programs. It is directed to monitor the progress of the programs, provide assistance to ensure the programs become funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and report to the Governor and Legislature annually on its progress.
The PMTC also is directed to establish a residency training advisory board to advise the commission, assist in the program development process, and ensure priority of rural and underserved areas of the state. The board will consist of the deans of the two medical schools, the director of the OSU Center for Rural Health and representatives of statewide associations of community-based health care providers and hospitals. The measure creates the Oklahoma Hospital Residency Training Program Revolving Fund for monies received by the PMTC from state funds, federal funds, grants, contracts, and private gifts for the program.
Though the measure specifies that implementation of new residency training programs is to be subject to the availability of funding, the Governor and the Physician Manpower Training Commission would like to fund 8 residents at each of 5 rural hospitals (for a total of 40), at $75,000 each, for a total of $3,000,000.  The Commission anticipates the need for funding for a minimum of two years, after which federal funding will be available for program maintenance.
This bill has passed the house 91 to 2 and has been reported Do Pass by Health and Human Services committee.