Tag Archives: judges

DOGS AND CATS AND SUPER-POWERS

Dog food, cleverly disguised as human food!

Today, I ate a can of dog food.

Not by informed choice, you understand.

As the house is now dog free, I did not expect to find a can of dog meat and certainly was not looking for one.   I was not wearing my glasses when I pulled it off the shelf at Kroger.   It looked like a promising can of soup, with the word “Organic” prominently displayed on the label.   The words “dog food” were in small print and not noticed until my daughter pulled it out of the trash.

It’s my own fault, really.

Our local Kroger grocery store has a “Reduced for quick sale” section, which I often check out for bargains.   That’s where I bought this half-price can.

Now, I may be barking up the wrong tree (sorry!), but I do feel that stores have a responsibility to separate human food from pet food, if only to discourage people from switching to the healthier, cheaper canine options.

This could lead to a serious shortage of dog food, forcing dog owners to feed their pets human food.   While this would be a boon to vets and would encourage entrepreneurs to open doggie weight loss centers on every block, it’s probably best not to blur the thin line that separates animals from humans.

I will continue to write, even though that dog food has made me a little queasy.   My youngest made the observation that my body is in shock from eating healthy food!!!

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Enough of dogs.  Cats have been a big part of my life recently.

After living in an animal free home for almost a year, our youngest daughter brought a cat into the house, thinking that our grandchildren would benefit from the new arrival.   A few weeks later, a second cat suddenly appeared.

The two do not get along.  Cat fights have been a nightly occurrence. So, in a couple of days, we will be taking the “new” cat to our eldest daughter’s home. This will cost over $100 in gas. I suggested it might be cheaper to send the cat by UPS or FedEx, but was over-ruled.

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To more serious matters, the Chinese Communist Party just held its “once-every-five-years” big congress.   Foreign observers would notice that, whenever the delegates had to vote, the vote was always unanimous, with nobody voting against Mr. Xi, the President of the People’s Republic.

I’m surprised that any foreign delegates were there.   Mr. Xi’s speech was 3 and a half hours long, “short” by Chinese standards.   Come to think of it, I would have voted “for” just to get the speech over with.

As few westerners were likely to have listened, it should be noted that President Xi wants to offer the world an alternative to American leadership.   The first Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party was Chairman Mao.   He is credited with unifying the country. His successor, Chairman Deng, turned the country’s back on socialism and made it the second biggest economy in the world, after the United States.  Now, President Xi vows to build on his predecessor’s accomplishments and make the country “stronger.”   History shows he’s likely to succeed – economic success leads to military success.

China isn’t the only power center that wants to offer the world an alternative to the US.   The EU is promising the same.   The EU is the world’s biggest single market. It is effectively the world’s biggest economy, but with 27 member countries it’s not ranked at the top, with each country listed separately.   That will change if Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk have their way. Immediately after Brexit takes place, they want to move full steam ahead with their plans to turn Europe into the world’s number one superpower.

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Russia was in the news today.

Exactly a century after the Russian Revolution overthrew the country’s monarchy, the last Czar, Nicholas II, was in the news again.

A new movie on “Niki’s” relationship with a popular ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet, is proving so controversial the lead actor decided not to attend the premiere of “Matilda” in St. Petersburg.   Cinemas have been attacked and at least one was burned to the ground.

The contention is due to the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church canonized Nicholas and his wife Alexandra after the end of the communist dictatorship.   Russian nationalists consider the movie “blasphemous.”

Clearly, only 26 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the church and the monarchy both have a substantial following in post-communist Russia.

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Perhaps one reason for a revival of both Russian and Chinese nationalism is American democracy.   US divisions make democracy look really bad. Mass shootings like the recent one in Las Vegas don’t help, either.   Street interviews with the Chinese public during the Communist Party Congress showed that most people do not want to be like the West.   They feel that the US and other western democracies have too much freedom.

We seem to be living through a time that’s reminiscent of ancient Israel.   “There was no king in Israel in those days.   Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

 

 

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SERIOUS THREATS TO OUR ANCIENT LEGAL SYSTEM

Ted Stevens

The 12-man jury system goes back to the twelfth century under King Henry II and was confirmed in the Magna Carta (1215).   It’s even possible it goes back further to Anglo-Saxon England, prior to the Norman invasion of 1066.

Nobody has ever suggested that it is a perfect system but it beats every alternative known to man. It must have been quite reassuring to hundreds of thousands of people down through the centuries to know that, when falsely accused, they had to be judged by “twelve of their peers.”

So we should all be concerned that the jury system is seriously threatened.

I first noticed this forty years ago in a former British colony in Africa.   The English Common Law was exported to British colonies, including the thirteen American colonies that eventually became the United States.

But the system, like democracy itself, may not be culturally exportable. The problem I noticed in Africa was that juries were greatly influenced by ethnicity. Put another way, if a member of a certain tribe was on trial, members of other tribes would automatically find him guilty without due consideration of the evidence.

This obvious prejudice kept us out of court in 1982 following a serious collision between our Land Rover and a bus. Passengers on the bus testified that the driver was drunk and dancing at the wheel at the time of the crash. But, we were advised that going to trial would be pointless as he was from the area where the accident took place. No jury from that area would convict him.

I don’t remember when it was but I do remember the time in England when it was decided that a jury could convict a murderer with a 10-2 vote, instead of the former 12. My immediate thought was why change a system that has served the country well for over eight centuries?

Grand juries go back to 1166. Again, Henry II was the monarch behind the idea.   A Grand Jury was not limited to 12 men. It could be as many as 23 men, hence the term “grand” as against a regular trial jury. Today, the US is one of the few countries that retain the grand jury system. It is used to determine whether or not a person should be sent for a trial, in effect to determine if anything criminal has taken place.

The grand jury that sat in Ferguson, Missouri, was composed of twelve people, three of them black. They sat for months hearing testimony from a number of people, including the accused police officer, Darren Wilson. Their determination was that there was no case to send Wilson to trial. Rioting erupted immediately and has continued sporadically since.   As in Africa, ethnicity could make it impossible to hold a trial.

Different people reading this will have differing views on the decision of the grand jury.   The concern I want to express is about the system itself.

If a grand jury or a trial jury cannot meet without taking into account the mob outside, then the jury system will fall apart. For centuries, respect for the jury system was such that when a decision was made, the public supported that decision, even if they did not agree with it. The system itself was highly respected.

If mob rule threatens the jury system, what will replace it?   Juries are composed of regular people selected at random.   Those countries that do not have a jury system use judges appointed by government with no jury. Is that what we want?

The prophet Isaiah wrote of a time in ancient Judah when there was no justice and seemingly no concept of it. We are in a similar time today. “No one calls for justice, Nor does any plead for truth.” (Isa 59:4) “The way of peace they have not known, And there is no justice in their ways. (v.8)”

I should add that Ferguson is not the only threat to our legal system.

Bill Cosby illustrates another problem. He has been accused of sexual assault by a number of different women. Without a trial, the media and the population at large seem to have found the man guilty, thereby effectively ending his career.

Both situations threaten our legal system. Is this really what we want?