Story Submitted: Bob Bezick The annual James Madison Constitution Dinner, hosted by the Madison County Republican Executive Committee , was held on Tuesday, May 15 at Divine Events in Madison.
Ashton Kutcher may have stepped back from the Hollywood spotlight for a bit, but he’s making a huge comeback… as a humanitarian, among other things. Some famous folks use their celebrity status and visibility to bring light to issues that need attention and, in this case, Ashton has really done something amazing. Ashton has a successful acting career, as well as being an investor in successful companies, like Airbnb, Spotify and Uber.
It’s his involvement in the anti-human trafficking effort that should get all of the attention, however.
In this 2016 interview, Ashton talked to the Today show about his Netflix series The Ranch, but there was also discussion of the organization he founded with his ex-wife Demi Moore in 2008.
The organization, called Thorn, has the following goal: “to build technology to defend children from sexual abuse.” In 2015, Thorn reported that 75 percent of child sex trafficking survivors surveyed noted they were eventually “sold” online.
Asia, a survivor who talked to Thorn during a 2015 study, explained: “People are posted and sold online multiple times a day. As far as the ad that was posted up [for me], there was a girl who eerily looked like me… just [like] you can go find a car, there was a picture, and a description, and a price.”
Ashton explained: “Basically, the purchase and commerce for human trafficking is happening online, just like everything else now, and so we’re building digital tools to fight back against it.”
Armed with this information, Ashton noted that Thorn “built a tool to help law enforcement prioritize their caseload and recover victims and find traffickers.” He added: “And we’ve found and identified and recovered over 6,000 trafficking victims this year. And we’ve found, identified, and recovered 2,000 traffickers.”
The organization’s website explains:
“We partner across the tech industry, government and NGOs and leverage technology to combat predatory behavior, rescue victims, and protect vulnerable children.
The site also lists 20 members of what it calls The Thorn Technology Task Force, comprised of technology companies that lend their knowledge, time and resources to the work that we do.
Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Adobe are listed among the names who are helping Thorn’s cause.”
The organization’s work doesn’t end, however, as Ashton noted: “Our next battle, my next commitment… I’m going to make a pledge that I’m going to eliminate child pornography from the internet.”
Kutcher testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February 2017, where he gave a speech about modern day slavery, saying, in part:
“I’m here today to defend the right to pursue happiness. It’s a simple notion: ‘the right to pursue happiness.’ It’s bestowed upon all of us by our constitution. Every citizen of this country has the right to pursue it. And I believe that it is incumbent on us as citizens of this nation, as Americans, to bestow that right upon others, upon each other, and upon the rest of the world. But the right to pursue happiness for so many is stripped away — it’s raped, it’s abused, it’s taken by force, fraud, or coercion. It is sold for the momentary happiness of another.”
A Response to the Idea of Removing the Natural Born Citizen Clause From Our Constitution Thursday, May 17, 2018 University of Richmond School of Law Professor Kevin C. Walsh proposes ridding our Constitution of its natural born Citizen clause. See his article, The Irish Born One American Citizenship Amendment, here https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3165238 . Professor Walsh writes that the original Constitution is not perfect and it is time to change its actual text. In that connection, he advocates that naturalized American citizens should be eligible to be President. He states: There are not two classes of American citizenship, just one. It is…
Who Are the Racist? I noodled this question based on a belief that racism not acted upon is relatively benign. With that notion in mind which political party appears to be more racist than another? A belief that races and cultures are not equal need not assign inferiority. However, when that belief does assign and act upon inferiority that belief it is no longer benign. Political positions appear to divide into two points of view. The Conservative view is that representation and consideration must include all people. Their reason is that the Constitution does not empower legislation that does not…
Memorial Day weekend observances include the annual concert on the Capitol’s West Lawn on Sunday and the Arlington National Cemetery wreath-laying, followed by the National Memorial Day parade down Constitution Avenue, on Monday. Worth catching: an all-female “Rite of Spring,” a play about a Chicago rock club, “Giselle” at Wolf Trap and – appropriate for the holiday – a one-man show based on a World War I veteran’s diary.
ALRANZ congratulates the Republic of Ireland on the repeal of the 8th amendment. The Irish Times has reported exit polls predict a landslide in favour of changing the constitution to permit the government to introduce legislation allowing pregnant people to access abortion care in Ireland.
Mexico is a violent hellhole these days. The drug cartels have such a hold on parts of the country that the entire nation is descending into failed state status at an alarming rate. The violence down there is sobering and staggering.
And, to hear the left tell it, it’s all our fault.
People forget that the Obama administration did their part to arm Mexican drug cartels through Operation Fast & Furious.
Now, though, the American people–in particular, our refusal to give up our Second Amendment rights–is once again being blamed for violence in Mexico.
The army-run store on the outskirts of Mexico City embodies the country’s cautious approach to firearms, and a visit here illustrates the dramatically different ways two neighboring countries view guns, legally and culturally.
Like the 2nd Amendment in the United States, Mexico’s Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, but it also stipulates that federal law “will determine the cases, conditions, requirements and places” of gun ownership. For many Mexicans, even those who love guns, the thought of an unfettered right to owning one is perplexing.
Yet on this issue, like so many aspects of life in Mexico, the influence of its powerful neighbor to the north is keenly felt: Each day the army gun store sells on average just 38 firearms to civilians, while an estimated 580 weapons are smuggled into Mexico from the United States.
That paradox is increasingly relevant given Mexico’s unprecedented levels of gun violence, which have claimed more than 100,000 lives over the last decade. Last year was Mexico’s deadliest since the government began releasing homicide statistics in 1997. This year, it is on track to surpass that record.
American firearms are directly driving the violence, although U.S. appetites for drugs and rampant corruption among Mexican officials also play a role. About 70% of guns recovered by Mexican law enforcement officials from 2011 to 2016 were originally purchased from legal gun dealers in the United States, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Once again, we see that our refusal to give up our rights is to blame for Mexico being a third world craphole.
No, Mexico is having problems for a lot of reasons, and yes, part of that is the American demand for illegal drugs. That’s a huge factor, one I won’t remotely disagree with.
However, there’s another part of the equation that the L.A. Times missed completely, despite being so close. You see, Mexico has exactly one legal gun store. One. As they noted, just 38 guns are sold per day in that one store. No other legal firearms are sold throughout the country.
Which means the cartels can act with impunity because they know there’s almost no one to stand up to them. They have the police bought throughout the country. Those who aren’t bought are too afraid to do anything.
Meanwhile, the people have no choice. They have to sit there and live like that because there’s no other option. They have to either play along with the cartels or else they die. They can’t even die while defending themselves. They just get murdered. Brutally.
Why don’t we have cartels pulling this stuff in our country? There are corrupt police departments here, unfortunately. There are large areas of land that could be used to grow drugs. So why isn’t this happening here?
Maybe because trying that crap here will get you shot, and not necessarily by the police.
The proliferation of guns in America isn’t the problem. It’s the lack of proliferation of guns in Mexico that’s at least partly to blame.
The post L.A. Times Still Trying To Blame U.S. For Mexico’s Violence appeared first on Bearing Arms.
Most people foresaw a loss for the pro-life movement in Ireland, but not in a landslide. The official count of today’s vote to repeal the constitutional amendment banning abortion will not start until tomorrow, but an exit poll conducted by the Irish Times leaves little doubt about the outcome:
Ireland has voted by a landslide margin to change the constitution so that abortion can be legalised, according to an exit poll conducted for The Irish Times by Ipsos/MRBI.
The poll suggests that the margin of victory for the Yes side in the referendum will be 68 per cent to 32 per cent – a stunning victory for the Yes side after a long and often divisive campaign.
And believe it or not, that’s the more modest margin. Another exit poll from broadcaster Raidio Teilifís Éireann puts the win at 69.4%/30.6%.
These are exit polls and not a vote count, but the sample size and the Irish Times track record gives it a pretty high level of reliability. Besides, with this kind of a split, precision isn’t really the point, even though the newspaper claims a ± 1.5% margin of error. Even at twice that, the result would be 65/35.
The first clue that it could get bad was the turnout numbers, which started off heavy and continued picking up steam all day. Various media reports suggested that younger voters in particular were casting ballots in large numbers, and turnout in larger cities was heavy. However, support for the repeal turned out to be strong even in rural areas, a surprising outcome. In the Connacht-Ulster region, where tradition and religious values are considered the strongest, the measure will pass easily by a 59/41 margin, the exit poll suggests. The only demographic to oppose the measure was voters over 65 years of age.
The breadth of the win will matter significantly. Even with a repeal of the amendment, abortion remains illegal until the Dáil (the Irish parliament) specifically passes legislation to legalize it. The current government has a bill ready for introduction that will allow abortion on demand until the 12th week of pregnancy after a three-day waiting period following a consultation, and will be induced with oral medication. No abortions at all will be allowed after the 24th week, considered the viability threshold, and only those abortions considered necessary to prevent the death or serious harm of the mother between 12 and 24 weeks will be legal.
Had the referendum vote been close, the bill might still have had a tough time getting through the Dáil. With this result, though, it should sail through — and one has to wonder whether the restrictions might get loosened after this demonstration of public sentiment. If not now, expect pro-choice advocates to erode these restrictions in the next few years.
It’s a tough blow for unborn children and the pushback against the utilitarian view of human life. The outcome seems shocking for Ireland, which has held out against that for so long, but it comes from a combination of factors — greater cultural integration with the rest of Europe, perhaps, and the Irish tendency toward progressive politics in other areas. But perhaps the greatest contributing factor was a series of decades-long scandals in the Catholic Church in Ireland that devastated their credibility and standing in matters of morality and justice. The crimes and cover-ups put on public display in the 2009 Ryan Report has had Catholicism and Catholic values in retreat, and secular values have understandably flooded into the vacuum left behind. This in particular is the wages of many sins.
In the end, the Irish have chosen their path. We should pray for them and hope their path of abortion on demand does not get as dark as it has in the US, where that policy was imposed by judicial fiat. The pro-life community there — and here — should unite to help make abortion irrelevant by finding ways to bring hope and joy to women in despair over pregnancy, and to ensure that abortion is as unnecessary as possible.
The post Exit polls: Ireland votes for abortion — and it’s not close appeared first on Hot Air.
It’s a rule of thumb. One should always expect the opposite result of whatever any government agency promises. The War on Poverty created a permanent underclass that perpetuated poverty throughout generations. The War on Drugs did much to erode our civil liberties, but mainly has emboldened the drug cartel. The examples go on and on.
That brings us to California’s taxing authorities. After scandals at the Board of Equalization—the Orwellian-named agency that had collected sales, use and special taxes—the Legislature gutted it and largely replaced its functions with two new bureaucracies. The 2017 legislation was called the Taxpayer Transparency and Fairness Act. As you might have guessed, since its implementation a few months ago, the state’s tax proceedings have become less transparent and less fair to taxpayers.
The BOE, which dates back to the second California Constitution in 1879, is the only tax-collection agency in the nation that’s administered by elected officials. It is run by four elected board members plus the state controller. After last year’s law, the four elected officials no longer have much to do even though the board still has a few functions.
As with any elected body, it has for decades been plagued by scandals ranging from allegations of nepotism to accusations of misspending. Governors from both parties have for years tried to gut the agency. Expressing a common sentiment, columnist Dan Walters complained that the “agency has become steadily more politicized, with the board’s four directly elected seats treated as either well-paid sinecures or stepping stones to higher office.” Controversies including elected officials “interfering with pending tax cases” have been going on for decades, he wrote.
Those criticisms have some validity. But isn’t it a good thing that politicians get involved given that they typically intervene to help the taxpayer? There’s no reason that the state couldn’t have audited the agency and implemented reforms. Every agency (even the Legislature itself) has controversies. Instead, the Legislature gutted the board and the results are discouraging.
Let’s look at taxpayer “fairness.” Since the new process has gone into effect, not one of the more than 20 income-tax-appeal cases has gotten a single vote in the taxpayers’ favor. The BOE used to hear 10 to 20 sales- and use- and special-tax appeals at each board meeting, but the new Office of Tax Appeals has yet to hear any of those tax cases. The Legislature hammered the BOE for its backlog, but now it’s worse. The BOE would make a decision the same day by vote. Now it can take up to 100 days while interest and penalties add up.
How about transparency? The old Board of Equalization would televise its hearings and archive them so anyone can view the proceedings. That way everyone, including reporters, can see whether a business is being treated fairly or getting the bureaucratic back of the hand. Those proceedings can also be used if the case ends up in court. The new tax-appeal agency posts transcripts, but has yet to televise or archive the hearings, so it’s no longer fully transparent.
There are many stories of business owners who felt like they were getting a raw deal or being treated in a heavy-handed manner by the board, yet who were able to get help from their elected representative on the BOE. That was a reasonable way to level the playing field.
The Board of Equalization also had the incentive to solve vexing tax-policy problems. For instance, legal marijuana dispensaries are required to pay taxes, but because of federal laws they are not allowed to have bank accounts. But they weren’t typically allowed to haul sacks of cash into BOE offices, either. BOE’s officials worked with the dispensaries to help them safely pay their bills in cash. These practical solutions are more likely to be driven by an elected board with constituents than a bureaucracy with subjects.
The main reason the BOE had been a target is obvious. State officials are tasked with maximizing revenue to assure that tax collections match state spending. Anything that reduces that tax flow is a bad thing, from their perspective. Because elected officials need votes and often have their eyes on higher office, they have an incentive to help taxpayers, which means that sometimes the board would reduce the size of the tax payments.
By the way, the new tax authorities have significantly increased their own administrative budgets from the old BOE days. The Department of Finance gives reasonable explanations for some of the growth (standard increases in pay and benefits, new IT and other start-up costs, artificially deflated final year spending for the BOE as its powers were reduced), but we see the spending trajectory. It’s going up, now that the administrators are in charge.
Bottom line: A reform designed to boost transparency and taxpayer fairness has reduced both of those things. No one should be surprised.
Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. He was a Register editorial writer from 1998-2009. Write to him at [email protected]. This column was first published in the Orange County Register.
This Past Friday morning, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis opened fire at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas murdering ten people, physically wounding 13 others, traumatizing the school full of children, and scaring the moral fabric of America.
The cruel and unusual style this man used to execute his victims was breath taking and barbaric. Before writing this column I had to once again overcome the anguish and grief I feel as these type of tragedies become more prevalent in a culture that I raise my children in. Not even animals commit these kinds of atrocities’ on non-aggressive defenseless victims.
There is nothing that can make up for this tragedy or perfectly reconcile victims with crimes on this earth. The only thing that can bring closure to a victim is swift and unequivocal justice for the deplorable criminal. This, is both biblical and constitutional.
Founding Father James Wilson implored his fellow countrymen to understand this timeless principle stating, “To prevent crimes, is the noblest end and aim of criminal jurisprudence. To punish them, is one of the means necessary for the accomplishment of this noble end and aim.”
Extracting their wisdom from biblical Law: “Thou shalt not murder” and “he that murders any man shall surely be put to death for in the image of God made he man,” the founders believed in and practiced capital punishment for capital crimes against humanity.
However, the tragedy for the victims and families of this recent crime is the state of Texas may acquiesce to the supreme court who ruled in Roper v. Simmons that imposing the death penalty on persons younger than 18 years old is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which outlaws “cruel and unusual punishment.”
In 2012 the court also determined it is unconstitutional to sentence juvenile offenders to life in prison without the possibility of parole no matter how serious the crime, Justice Elena Kagan writing the majority opinion.
This means the suspected Santa Fe killer could be eligible for parole in 40 years when he is 57 years old!
But not according to the Constitution which is the highest authority of law in the land.
The eighth amendment to the US Constitution states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
This term cruel and unusual punishment was used by our Framers to prohibit unreasonable torture; disemboweling, mutilation, and things prevalent in Europe and England where kings and governments would use these tactics to make examples of political enemies or coerce men and women into confessions that often times were not true.
The Framers would not have considered capital punishment cruel and unusual based on the subsequent Fifth Amendment that states a person’s life may be deprived them if due process finds them guilty of a capital crime.
So, in this case Dimitrios Pagourtzis has been charged with capital murder and upon conviction he should speedily lose his right to life in this world.
Schedule an event or learn more about your Constitution with Jake MacAulay and the Institute on the Constitution and receive your free gift.
© 2018 Jake MacAulay – All Rights Reserved
E-Mail Jake MacAulay: [email protected]