After 24 years of litigation, a federal court revealed in an emotional hearing that it has ordered the famous Mount Soledad Cross removed from a veterans memorial, holding it is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Since 1913, a cross has stood as the centerpiece of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego, surrounded by nearly 3,000 granite plaques, individually honoring war heroes from every American war, from the Revolutionary War to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The structure is a 29-foot Latin cross, which was erected in 1954. For much of this time, it was in a city park in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego. Then, in 1989, the ACLU filed a lawsuit, arguing that allowing a cross on government land violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. This memorial has been embroiled in litigation ever since.
In 2004, Congress passed a law making this city-owned display a “national memorial honoring veterans of the United States Armed Forces,” dedicated as a tribute to those service members “who sacrificed their lives in the defense of the United States.” Congress officially found that the “patriotic and inspirational symbolism of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial provides solace to the families and comrades of the veterans it memorializes.” Although the Latin cross is identifiably a Christian symbol, Congress noted that the memorial is also “replete with secular symbols” and symbols of other faiths, such as 18 Stars of David. In this pluralistic context, the cross plays the role of commemorating veterans’ service and death.
That law sparked the latest round of litigation in federal court. In 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reaffirmed its prior decision on this display, holding that because of the cross, the memorial “primarily conveys a message of endorsement of religion.” Specifically, it “projects a government endorsement of Christianity.”
The United States Supreme Court denied review in 2012 but sent a written message noting that the lower courts were still considering whether the memorial could be modified in a way that preserves its character. In a statement by Justice Samuel Alito, the Court signaled that it would seriously consider taking the case if these additional efforts did not produce a positive outcome.
After almost two years of additional proceedings, on Dec. 12 the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California reluctantly held that under controlling precedent from the Ninth Circuit, the district judge still had no choice but to declare the cross an endorsement of Christianity. He has ordered it removed within 90 days.
Judge Larry Alan Burns read the order from the bench in court and appeared to choke up as he ordered the memorial’s destruction, observers told Breitbart News. Burns then issued a stay of his decision to give the memorial cross’s lawyers time to appeal back to the Ninth Circuit and, if necessary, the U.S. Supreme Court.
Originally, the U.S. Justice Department defended the cross memorial. However, when President Barack Obama was elected, the government’s defense of the memorial under Attorney General Eric Holder seemed to become lackluster, and the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial Association stepped in to bolster the defense. They are represented by Allyson Ho, a partner at the powerhouse firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius (Ted Cruz was a partner at that firm prior to his Senate election, and in fact Cruz and Ho were the co-chairs of the firm’s Supreme Court practice group), and Jeff Mateer and Hiram Sasser from Liberty Institute, one of America’s foremost religious-liberty law firms.
Hiram Sasser tells Breitbart News, “We will continue to fight for this memorial and the selfless sacrifice and service of all the millions of veterans it represents; it is the least we can do for those who gave so much to us all.”
The U.S. government lobotomized roughly 2,000 mentally ill veterans — and likely hundreds more — during and after World War II, according to a cache of forgotten memos, letters and government reports unearthed by The Wall Street Journal.
“They got the notion they were going to come to give me a lobotomy,” Roman Tritz, a World War II bomber pilot, told the newspaper in a report published Wednesday. “To hell with them.”
Tritz said the orderlies at the veterans hospital pinned him to the floor, and he initially fought them off. A few weeks later, just before his 30th birthday, he was lobotomized.
Besieged by psychologically damaged troops returning from the battlefields of North Africa, Europe and the Pacific, the Veterans Administration performed the brain-altering operation on former servicemen it diagnosed as depressives, psychotics and schizophrenics, and occasionally on people identified as homosexuals, according to the report.
The VA’s use of lobotomy, in which doctors severed connections between parts of the brain then thought to control emotions, was known in medical circles in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and is occasionally cited in medical texts. But the VA’s practice, never widely publicized, long ago slipped from public view. Even the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says it possesses no records detailing the creation and breadth of its lobotomy program.
The Journal quoted the VA’s response to its inquiry: “In the late 1940s and into the 1950s, VA and other physicians throughout the United States and the world debated the utility of lobotomies. The procedure became available to severely ill patients who had not improved with other treatments. Within a few years, the procedure disappeared within VA, and across the United States, as safer and more effective treatments were developed.”
The newspaper reported that musty files warehoused in the National Archives show VA doctors resorting to brain surgery as they struggled with a vexing question that absorbs America to this day: How best to treat the psychological crises that afflict soldiers returning from combat.
Between April 1, 1947, and Sept. 30, 1950, VA doctors lobotomized 1,464 veterans at 50 hospitals authorized to perform the surgery, according to agency documents rediscovered by the Journal. Scores of records from 22 of those hospitals list another 466 lobotomies performed outside that time period, bringing the total documented operations to 1,930.
Gaps in the records suggest that hundreds of additional operations likely took place at other VA facilities. The vast majority of the patients were men, although some female veterans underwent VA lobotomies as well.
Lobotomies faded from use after the first major antipsychotic drug, Thorazine, hit the market in the mid-1950s, revolutionizing mental health care.
The forgotten lobotomy files, military records and interviews with veterans’ relatives reveal the details of lives gone terribly wrong, according to the Journal.
The veterans included:
- Joe Brzoza, who was lobotomized four years after surviving artillery barrages on the beaches at Anzio, Italy, and spent his remaining days chain-smoking in VA psychiatric wards.
- Eugene Kainulainen, whose breakdown during the North African campaign the military attributed partly to a childhood tendency toward “temper tantrums and [being] fussy about food.”
- Melbert Peters, a bomber crewman given two lobotomies — one most likely performed with a pick-like instrument inserted through his eye sockets.
- And Tritz, the son of a Wisconsin dairy farmer who flew a B-17 Flying Fortress on 34 combat missions over Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe. “They just wanted to ruin my head, it seemed to me,” Tritz said. “Somebody wanted to.”
To stimulate patients’ nerves, hospital staff also commonly sprayed veterans with powerful jets of alternating hot and cold water, the archives show. Tritz received 66 treatments of high-pressure water sprays called the Scotch Douche and Needle Shower, his medical records say.
“You couldn’t help but have the feeling that the medical community was impotent at that point,” Elliot Valenstein, 89, a World War II veteran and psychiatrist who worked at the Topeka, Kan., VA hospital in the early 1950s, told the Journal. He recalled wards full of soldiers haunted by nightmares and flashbacks. The doctors, he says, “were prone to try anything.”
A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) provided to Breitbart News exclusively ahead of its public release shows that President Barack Obama’s new amnesty for illegal aliens related to members of the U.S. military is a system full of loopholes.
On Nov. 15, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a new memo detailing a new policy through which the Obama administration planned to exempt a new category of illegal aliens from deportation and other forms of enforcement of immigration law.
CIS’s John Feere, in his report on the topic, detailed what the administration tried to make it appear as though it was doing. Feere wrote that the Obama administration argued it would be “granting legal status to illegal alien children, spouses, and parents of servicemembers because ‘there is concern within the DoD’ that some servicemembers ‘face stress and anxiety because of the immigration status of their family members in the United States.’ USCIS explains that ‘military preparedness can potentially be adversely affected’ if servicemembers “worry about the immigration status of their spouses, parents and children.”
Feere wrote that on its face, a policy like this “seems at least somewhat reasonable considering the sacrifice our service members are making for the country,” but that “upon closer inspection, it is clear that the Obama administration’s policy is not only about the arguably justifiable effort of reducing the stress of men and women serving on the battlefield.”
First off, Feere noted, the policy would apply to illegal aliens who are family members of retired servicemembers as well. “First, while reducing the stress of active duty servicemembers may be reasonable, this policy will also benefit illegal aliens related to retired servicemembers who are no longer serving,” Feere wrote. “It is difficult to see how this fits into the narrative about stress, anxiety, and military preparedness.”
In communications he had with USCIS about the agency’s new policy, Feere noted that it confirmed illegal aliens who were family members of now-deceased members of the U.S. military. “Again, the arguments about stress, anxiety, and military preparedness are difficult to apply in this situation,” he wrote about that admission from the agency.
Similarly, the policy would apply to illegal alien family members of former members of the military who have been dishonorably discharged. “Finally, USCIS also is not prepared to deny an illegal alien amnesty even if the servicemember was discharged from the military under problematic circumstances,” Feere wrote. “It does not appear that a servicemember’s dishonorable discharge for security reasons, violence, sexual assaults, or imprisonment, for example, would prevent USCIS from granting legal status to illegal aliens related to the servicemember. This is particularly odd in that the government generally denies all veteran benefits to servicemembers who are discharged for problematic reasons.”
Feere noted that the nine-page memo from USCIS does not address the issues of dishonorable discharges, and quoted a USCIS Field Operations Directorate staffer as telling him that “we really don’t know if it matters or not” whether a military member to be honorably discharged for their illegal alien family members to qualify for Obama’s new administrative amnesty.
Feere argues that given these loose conditions for legal status, which differ from the administration’s stated goal of making it appear as though it is helping members of the military, are a sign the Obama administration is simply politically motivated and looking for as many ways as possible to keep illegal aliens in the country by granting them legal status.
“The Obama administration has yet to explain its justification for amnestying illegal aliens under these conditions,” Feere wrote. “There are likely many service members who have stressful family situations that are not on the president’s radar. It is difficult not to conclude that the administration’s real motive behind the new policy is to expand the president’s amnesty agenda.”
South Carolina is on the verge of passing a bill that would end ObamaCare in the state. But is it legal for South Carolina not to follow a federal law? Judge Napolitano discussed the case today on America’s News Headquarters.
The judge explained that South Carolina is planning to “instruct employees of the state of South Carolina not to participate in facilitating the law and to prohibit the expenditure of public funds on the law.” In layman’s terms, the judge said that the state is essentially saying that if President Obama wants the Affordable Care Act in South Carolina, the feds will have to pay for it and establish it.
Napolitano said that if enough states follow suit, “it will gut ObamaCare because the federal government does not have the resources or the wherewithal […] to go into each of the individual states.”
Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) President Grover Norquist commended Congress’s recent budget agreement, saying it is a “good deal.”
According to Norquist, Wisconsin congressman “Paul Ryan is a hero. He made all the difference. He went up against the Democrats and came out with something good.” Norquist further said about the deal released on Tuesday: “The federal government will spend less than it did before. That’s pretty good.”
Conservatives have highly criticized the budget deal, saying that the budget cuts were “Mickey Mouse” in view of the nation’s 2013 deficit approaching $1 trillion and the overall national debt of over $17 trillion. Also, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) reportedly has undermined the deal. He believes the budget still increases spending while only promising to reduce debt in the future. Cruz has not reviewed the entire deal due to traveling from Nelson Mandela’s services in South Africa. A spokesman for Cruz told The Hill on Wednesday, “We shouldn’t sacrifice the modest 2.4 percent spending cuts already in law in exchange for a mere possibility of future reductions”.
Moreover, in an exclusive op-ed to Breitbart News, Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio expressed his dismay with the budget deal, saying that it threatens the American Dream. “This budget continues Washington’s irresponsible budgeting decisions by spending more money than the government takes in and placing additional financial burdens on everyday Americans,” Rubio declared.
Norquist has consistently undermined the tea party and Cruz for their efforts to squash Obamacare, claiming that fighting against the Affordable Care Act has hurt the Republican Party.
Norquist confessed in an interview on the The Steve Malzberg Show on Newsmax TV that Americans will have to pay an additional $11 billion dollars in Transportation Security Administration (TSA) fees over the next decade. When host Steve Malzberg asked Norquist if this was indeed a tax, Norquist replied that in Washington, that which “smells like a tax and acts like a tax,” according to the CBO, doesn’t always score like a tax. But when pressed by Malzberg, Norquist agreed that the fees were “not voluntary and it looks a lot like an excise tax.” Norquist went on to say that he finds the TSA fees troublesome and said, “I really want to see an effort to replace those with straight spending cuts.”
The ATR president did give credit to the Tea Party for bringing the sequester to the Republican party, which he referred to as “one huge crown jewel.” “The spending limits that the president was forced to agree to in August of 2011, not only with how much you spend one year, but 10 years,” was beneficial, according to Norquist.
At a time when Wall Street is absolutely swimming in wealth, New York City is experiencing an epidemic of homelessness. According to the New York Times, the last time there was this many homeless children in New York City was during the days of the Great Depression. And the number of homeless children in the United States overall recently set a new all-time record. As I mentioned yesterday, there are now 1.2 million public school kids in America that are homeless, and that number has gone up by about 72 percent since the start of the last recession. As Americans, we like to think of ourselves as “the wealthiest nation on the planet”, and yet the number of young kids that don’t even have a roof over their heads at night just keeps skyrocketing. There truly are “two Americas” today, and unfortunately most Americans that live in “good America” don’t seem to really care too much about the extreme suffering that is going on in “bad America”. In the end, what kind of price will we all pay for neglecting the most vulnerable members of our society?
If you live in “good America”, I very much encourage you to read an excellent piece about homelessness in New York City that was just published in the New York Times. What some young kids have to go through on a nightly basis should break all of our hearts…
She wakes to the sound of breathing. The smaller children lie tangled beside her, their chests rising and falling under winter coats and wool blankets. A few feet away, their mother and father sleep near the mop bucket they use as a toilet. Two other children share a mattress by the rotting wall where the mice live, opposite the baby, whose crib is warmed by a hair dryer perched on a milk crate.
Could you imagine having your own family live like that? The name of the little girl in the story is Dasani, and every night her family sleeps in a city-run homeless shelter that sounds like it is straight out of a horror movie…
Her family lives in the Auburn Family Residence, a decrepit city-run shelter for the homeless. It is a place where mold creeps up walls and roaches swarm, where feces and vomit plug communal toilets, where sexual predators have roamed and small children stand guard for their single mothers outside filthy showers.
It is no place for children. Yet Dasani is among 280 children at the shelter. Beyond its walls, she belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America.
You can read the rest of that excellent article right here. Sadly, there are countless other children just like Dasani that live like this day after day, month after month, year after year.
Shouldn’t we be able to do better than this as a society? After all, the stock market has been hovering near record highs lately, and Wall Street is absolutely drenched with wealth for the moment.
With so much wealth floating around, why are New York City subways being “overrun with homeless” right now?
Something has gone horribly wrong.
I think that a recent editorial by David Simon, the creator of the Wire, summarized things pretty well. We are not “one America” anymore, and most of the people that live in “good America” don’t really care much about those living in “bad America”…
America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It’s astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity.
There’s no barbed wire around West Baltimore or around East Baltimore, around Pimlico, the areas in my city that have been utterly divorced from the American experience that I know. But there might as well be.
Once upon a time, things were different in America. Nobody resented businessmen for building strong businesses and making lots of money. And successful businessmen such as Henry Ford hired large numbers of American workers and paid them very well. He felt that his workers should make enough money to buy the cars that they were building. In those days, businessmen were loyal to their workers and workers were loyal to those that employed them.
Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Today, in business schools all over America students are taught that the sole purpose of a corporation is to make as much money as possible for the stockholders. Not that there is anything wrong with making money. But at this point we have elevated greed above all other economic goals. Taking care of one another isn’t even a consideration anymore.
In the old days, big businesses actually needed our labor. But that is now no longer the case. Today, corporations are shipping millions of our jobs overseas and they are replacing as many of us with technology as they possibly can. The value of the labor of the working man is declining with each passing day.
As a result, the fortunes of big business and American workers are increasingly diverging. For example, the disconnect between employment levels and stock prices has never been greater in this country. If you doubt this, just check out this chart.
And instead of fixing things, Barack Obama is negotiating a secret treaty which will result in millions more American jobs being shipped overseas. The following is a brief excerpt about this secret treaty from an Australian news source…
The government has refused the Senate access to the secret text of the trade deal it is negotiating in Singapore, saying it will only be made public after it has been signed.
As the final round of ministerial talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership resumed on Sunday, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote to each of the 12 participating nations warning that the deal and the secrecy surrounding it presented ”grave risks”.
So why aren’t we hearing much about this secret treaty from U.S. news sources?
If this is going to affect millions of American jobs, shouldn’t the mainstream media be making a big deal out of this?
And even if we weren’t losing millions of jobs to the other side of the planet, we would still be losing millions of jobs to advancements in technology. In fact, a CNBC article that was posted earlier this week seems to look forward to the day when nobody will have to worry about the low pay that fast food workers get anymore because they will all be replaced by droids…
Maybe so, but as fast food workers protest low wages and the president of the United States equates hard work with the right to decent pay, the rise of technology once again proves to be no stunt, or laughing matter. McDonald’s, where food production is already about as mechanized as food science allows, stopped updating the famous number “served” figure at its restaurants back in 1994—just short of 100 billion—but how long will it be before trillions are served their burgers and fries by a drone, after being cooked by a droid? Those machines work for cheap, and the best thing is, they have no concept of hard work, or dignity, or the foresight to consider whether or not the “cool” things they can do ultimately contribute, or detract, from a strong, consumer-dependent economy.
So what is the solution to all of this?
Where will the millions of desperately needed jobs for “bad America” come from?
Well, it appears that good ideas are in short supply these days. In fact, some of the ideas being promoted by our “leaders” are absolutely insane. For example, one prominent entrepreneur recently suggested that the solution to our employment crisis is for Congress to pass an immigration bill which would bring in 30 million more low-skilled workers over the next ten years…
Middle class Americans face a tough future because robots and machinery are eliminating their jobs, according to Steve Case, an entrepreneur who earned roughly $1 billion by creating the first successful internet firm, America Online.
But Congress could help the situation by passing an immigration bill that would import some foreign entrepreneurs and almost 30 million low-skilled workers over the next decade, Case told an audience of D.C. lobbyists and lawyers gathered on Tuesday by the business-backed Bipartisan Policy Center.
Exactly how would this improve the employment situation in this country?
I still cannot figure that one out.
But there are people out there that actually believe this stuff.
Meanwhile, many parts of Europe are suffering through similar things.
Over 124 million people in the European Union – or almost a quarter of its entire population – live under the threat of poverty or social exclusion, a report by EU’s statistical office has revealed.
Last year, 124.5 million people, or 24.8 percent of Europe’s population were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared to 24.3 percent in 2011 and 23.7 percent in 2008, the Eurostat said in a document published earlier in the week.
So what is going to fix this?
Where are the good jobs for workers in North America and Europe going to come from in the years ahead?
A high school student suffered a brain injury and remains in a medically-induced coma after a Texas sheriff’s deputy tasered him without cause following a skirmish in a school hallway, the boy’s mother claims in court.
Maria Acosta has sued Bastrop County, its school district and Randy McMillan, a Bastrop County sheriff’s officer and school resource officer, according to Courthouse News.
Noe Nino de Rivera, Acosta’s son, suffered a “severe brain hemorrhage” when McMillan Tasered him after the boy, known as N.N., had intervened to halt a fight between two females at Cedar Creek High School on Wednesday, November 20, Acosta claims in a federal lawsuit.
“I’m called to the school and they say you have to get to the hospital,” Acosta told KXAN last week. “(They said) your son is alive. I say, ‘what do you mean he’s alive?’”
Her son “stepped in to break up the fight” before police could arrive, Acosta says in the suit.
McMillan and another security officer arrived to break up the fight upon being called by school officials. Acosta says her son “diffused the situation” by the time they arrived on the scene.
McMillan told N.N. to step away, and he did so with his hands raised, but McMillan tasered him nevertheless, Acosta alleges.
Immobilized by the Taser, N.N. fell and struck his head on the floor, at which point McMillan handcuffed the unconscious boy, 17.
Acosta says school officials initially “delayed in calling for medical assistance even though N.N. was in an obvious emergency medical situation.
“Eventually, school officials called for EMS and N.N. was airlifted to St. David’s Medical Center, where he immediately underwent surgery to repair a severe brain hemorrhage and was placed in a medically induced coma.“
The lawsuit claims that “N.N. remains in a coma, and has not been able to communicate with his family since his hospitalization.”
The Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office says N.N. made aggressive moves, leading to the tasering.
Acosta is alleging overreaction and abuse. One student echoed that sentiment to KXAN.
“There was a crowd watching and the kid was just trying to get the officers to listen to him,” said the student. “When he shot the Taser, there was a crowd, and others could have been hit.” .
Acosta says the deputy officer was never in harm, and that the defendants allowed him to work at Cedar Creek High School even after he Tasered another student a year ago. That history created a “foreseeable danger” that led to N.N.’s injuries, she says.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, McMillan has never received complaints for using excessive force, and he’s never been disciplined for using excessive force.
Acosta is seeking medical expenses and damages for use of excessive force, failure to train and discipline and civil rights and education code violations.
KXAN reports an investigation is underway, and that McMillan has been placed on patrol as it progresses.
Acosta said N.N. had expressed interested in joining the Marines. He may still face charges once the investigation is final.