Archive for February, 2012

After win Mitt Romney looks ahead to March 6, Super Tuesday

Mitt Romney

Newscast Media DETROIT, Michigan — Mitt Romney had a big night on February 28, winning both Arizona and Michigan in a highly-contested GOP primary. On his Facebook wall, in regard to the Arizona win Romney posted: “Thank you Arizona! Overwhelmed by all the support. We’re watching closely as votes continue to be counted in Michigan.”

After the Michigan win he posted again: “I take great pride in my Michigan roots and am humbled to have received so much support here these past few weeks. On to the March contests.”

Romney garnered 41 percent of the Michigan votes, while Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich picked up 38 percent, 12 percent and 7 percent respectively.

Arizona was a big win for Romney who won it by double digits, 47 percent, while the follow-up, Rick Santorum had 27 percent of the votes. Gingrich picked up 16 percent while Ron Paul had 8 percent of the vote.

One of the biggest contests in this primary will be “Super Tuesday” next week on March 6, in which 10 states will vote in the GOP with a total of 437 delegates. The states with their delegates are: Alaska (27), Georgia (76), Idaho (32), Massachusetts (41), North Dakota (28), Ohio (66), Oklahoma (43), Tennessee (58), Vermont (17), and Virginia (49).

Markets favor whoever wins the majority of delegates on Super Tuesday to become the GOP nominee.
http://newscastmedia.com/arizona-michigan.html

          

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - February 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm

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White House and State Department stand behind pastor Youcef

(Photo: American Center for Law and Justice) Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani with his wife, Fatema Pasindedih, and his two sons, Daniel, age 9, and Yoel, age 7.

by Katherine Weber

Newscast Media TEHRAN, Iran — Middle East experts and international affairs organizations agree that Nadarkhani’s case has caused the global community to transcend politics in unified support for the Iranian evangelical, and proves that there is concern for religious freedom around the world.

“We still believe that his execution has been ordered, but it is clear that renewed international pressure on Iran for Pastor Youcef’s release is having an impact,” Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ, wrote on the organization’s website.

Nadarkhani has been imprisoned in Iran since October 2009, awaiting his verdict on charges of apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims. Although he faces possible execution, Nadarkhani continues to hold true to his Christian faith. The ACLJ announced that Iranian courts may have issued an execution order for Nadarkhani’s death.

Follow-up statements from the White House issued a statement saying: “This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran’s international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious values. The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution—a fundamental and universal human right.”

This was followed by U.S. Department of State to prove the execution order to be in fact true.

Critics argue that in the past, Iranian courts have played games in an attempt to convince Nadarkhani to recant his Christian faith. On June 18, 2010, the courts arrested Nadarkhani’s wife, Fatema Pasindedih, on charges of apostasy. She was tried and found guilty, and sentenced to life in prison. She appealed her case, and was released two weeks later.

According to Present Truth Ministries, this was a ploy on behalf of the Iranian courts to convince Nadarkhani to recant.

“Because Youcef’s faith remained strong, they decided to arrest his wife in order to place more pressure on him,” according to Present Truth Ministries.The Christian Post spoke with Sekulow on Feb. 24 to gain further insight on Nadarkhani’s current condition. Sekulow believes that the Iranian courts are not bluffing, and that a request from Nadarkhani’s lawyers to have the ACLJ notify the Western press of their client’s current situation proves the execution threat is very much a reality.

“[Nadarkhani's legal teams] know how this operates. That’s why I think everyone is so concerned right now as we go into this period. There’s no way they would come to us, and the statements here coming out from world leaders and governments around the world if they weren’t as certain as they can be,” he said. Sekulow said that the fact that so many countries, including the United States, have come together to support Nadarkhani proves that the world is still concerned about religious freedom.

“Conservatives and liberals all coming together and it’s not a partisan issue,” he pointed out.
“That is how you do something. It has to be the world, it just can’t be the United States, it just can’t be the ACLJ. And as we’ve seen, it’s not. Christians, and Jews, and atheists and everyone comes together,” Sekulow commented.

Several countries and international organizations have condemned Iran’s detention of Nadarkhani, including the U.S., the Europe Union, France, Great Britain, Mexico, and Germany.

“The world being so focused on this, it probably leaves [Nadarkhani] with some kind of veil of protection. But I say veil because it’s still Iran,” Sekulow said, adding that the outcome of the trial is dependent on the reactions of the Iranian regime. Previously, Iran has released religious leaders only to gun them down a year later. Others were executed in private, and their bodies dropped on their family’s doorstep, according to Sekulow.

Even American mogul Donald Trump has voiced his support for the Iranian pastor, posting a tweet on Friday.
“Pastor #Nadarkhani must be released by Iran immediately. I applaud the @WhiteHouse & @StateDept for issuing statements. This issue transcends politics,” Trump tweeted.

International Christian Concern, which focuses on Christian persecution cases, issued a statement Friday pleading for Nadarkhani’s release. Aidan Clay, ICC’s regional manager for the Middle East, said that international pressure plays an integral role in Nadarkhani’s fate.

“Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s execution may occur any day now. While execution orders are occasionally drawn out, more often than not prisoners are killed in secret without the world knowing until the body is dropped at the family’s doorstep,” Clay said in a statement emailed to Christian Post.

http://newscastmedia.com/youcef.html

          

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - February 28, 2012 at 4:33 am

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Across the globe: Syria, Quran burning and Iranian Pastor

Around the world



by Tom Anthony

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas — As fighting churned on in major cities, Syria held a referendum on a new constitution, an offer of reform that critics dismissed as too little too late and Western leaders labeled a farce. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who joined delegates from sixty countries to call for Assad’s ouster, dismissed the vote as an empty gesture. She said, “It’s a phony referendum that is going to be used by Assad to justify what he is doing to other Syrians.”

The hunt goes on for an infiltrator who shot and killed two U.S. officers inside Afghanistan’s heavily guarded interior ministry in Kabul. The Taliban claimed its people were behind the shooting aimed at avenging the burning of Qurans by NATO personnel last week. The victims were among several officers who are in Afghanistan to train and equip that country’s security forces. Meanwhile a suicide car bomber has killed nine Afghans, most of them civilians, in an attack on a military base in eastern Afghanistan that, once again, the Taliban have claimed as revenge for the burning of Qur’ans by foreign troops.

The White House and the U.S. State Department have issued statements demanding the immediate release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been imprisoned in Iran. Last week, the American Center for Law and Justice announced that Iranian courts may have already quietly issued an execution order for Nadarkhani, who is currently imprisoned on charges of apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims.

The stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program is showing more signs of straining the global economy. The price of Brent crude oil has climbed more than five percent in the past week. And gasoline’s prices keep rising. Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to international sanctions. U.N. nuclear officials visited Iran but failed to resolve the crisis.

The Vatican has made an official request to gain access to a 1500-year-old Bible worth $28 million being held by the Turkish government. There is speculation that the Bible may be a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas – a part of Jesus’ ministry Muslims believe is part of the original Gospels. The Bible is handwritten in gold lettering on loosely strung together animal hide and written in Syriac– a dialect of Aramaic – Jesus’ native language.

http://newscastmedia.com/around-the-world.html

          

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 2:38 am

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Honoring the troops-the full video with Bush 41 and Bush 43

Bush 41 and Bush 43 honoring our troops

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas —Soldiers and school teacher are perhaps some of the most important people in society but are rarely recognized or acknowledged for their services. In a time of endless wars where soldiers are put in life-or-death situations, Newscast Media wants to take time to honor our brave men and women serving on the front lines.

The video below is the full rendition of Houstonians annually honoring the U.S. Military including the Navy, Airforce, Marines, National Guard and War Veterans we honored for their service to this country. Among the special guests who regularly honor our soldiers were George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush who mingled with the soldiers and took photographs in Houston’s Reliant Stadium.


Videography and Photography by Joseph Earnest

http://newscastmedia.com/marines-the-brave.html

          

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - February 27, 2012 at 1:54 am

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Gunmen training by the thousands for possible invasion of Syria

Ammunition

Newscast Media DAMASCUS, Syria — According to the Islam Times, thousands of gunmen are training in Jordan to fight alongside the Syrain rebels who want to topple Assad’s regime. Over 10,000 Libyans are reportedly being trained in a closed-off zone in Jordan, before being snuck into Syria to fight for the opposition. These men are allegedly paid around US$1,000 a month, funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Islam Times reports.

Jordan-based AlBawaba news website says most of the gunmen who are being trained are actually part of the Libyan armed opposition, who have not had the chance to lay down arms following the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. The allegations of funding from Riyadh and Doha were not attributed to anyone, but AlBawaba did draw attention to the fact that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar actively support the Syrian opposition.

Foreign conspiracy

At the same time, several Iranian news sources report that some 50 Turkish officers arrested in Syria last week have confirmed that they were trained by the Israeli Special Forces to carry out insurgent acts against the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad.The arrested officers also, according to Iran’s Fars news agency, admitted to initiating contact with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, inadvertently lending support to the countries’ involvement in the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, post-war Libya, Turkey, Israel – this list of countries drawn into conspiracy media speculation would be incomplete without recent remarks from the Russian Foreign Ministry. British MI6 agents entered the Syrian ground, the Ministry said on Friday.

What’s the capital of free Libya?

Just like Syria, Libya experienced the same influx of foreign fighters who joined the rebels to oust Muammar Gaddafi. According to REUTERS, the Libyans have accused Qatar of interfering with their country’s affairs. In some of the bluntest public comments from liberals yet, Libya’s U.N. envoy, Mohammed Abdel Rahman Shalgam, told reporters: “They (Qatar) give money to some parties, the Islamist parties. They give money and weapons and they try to meddle in issues that do not concern them and we reject that.”

“We are very grateful to Qatar but they have no right to interfere in our internal affairs,” Abdullah Naker, a rival militia commander in the capital told reporters, warning he could turn his guns on a puppet NTC government just as he had against Gaddafi. “We will not accept domination by Qatar or by anyone.”

Retelling a local joke – “What’s the capital of free Libya? Doha” – another said of the Qataris: “Libya is their project. What is the end game? I don’t know, but they are omnipresent,” as reported by REUTERS in this article.

The United Nations and Arab League have appointed former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as special envoy to help resolve the Syrian crisis. Annan will seek to “facilitate a peaceful Syrian-led and inclusive political solution that meets the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people through a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition,” a released statement read. http://newscastmedia.com/rebels-in-syria.html

          

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - February 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm

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Analysis of Egypt in the aftermath of Hosni Mubarak’s downfall

Africa Today

Newscast Media CAIRO, Egypt —As the Egyptians celebrated the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak, political analysts discuss whether Egypt will eventually become a failed state in the months ahead. The discussion focuses on the power vacuum in terms of representing the interests of all the protesters, who were so inspired and hopeful during the revolution, about some kind of change.

The show also highlights messages from viewers, for example, Emmanuel from Nigeria writes: “It hurts me that Africans blame the West for all their shortcomings. It is clear that we Africans are not kind to ourselves.” Idris sends a text-message to the show that reads: “Egypt is going down the way of destruction and the country will never be the same.”

The entire discussion is part of PressTV’s Africa Today program and can be viewed in
the video below:

Video – Courtesy PressTV

          

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - February 23, 2012 at 8:07 pm

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Asian education surpasses Western standards study shows

Asian graduates

by Miriam Wong

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas —An Australian study shows Asian schoolchildren lead their western counterparts by up to three years. Some attribute the “success in Asian education” to rote learning and social pressure. The education systems in Hong Kong, South Korea, Shanghai and Singapore are among the best in the world, according to a study by the Grattan Institute, an independent think-tank.

Based on the data of PISA, a standard tool for assessing international standards in education, students in South Korea are one year ahead of those in the US and the European Union in reading. Grattan’s school education program director Ben Jensen said that the mathematics level of a 15-year-old student in Shanghai is two to three years more advanced than his or her counterpart in Australia, the US and Europe.

Candy Mak moved to the US when she was 16. “What we learn in Hong Kong high school (16-17 years old) is almost the same as a US college freshman or sophomore, especially in mathematics and the natural sciences. But there is more time for extracurricular activities in a US high school than in Hong Kong,” she said.

Compared to Hong Kong, Mak does not think that the US education system is examination-oriented: “Besides examinations, class participation, group projects and homework also count for the final grades. Therefore, if you fail the exam, you still have a chance to pass the course.”

Despite better academic performance in East Asia than in the West, it does not mean that the education system is more advanced, argues Sammy Hui, associate head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction with the Hong Kong Institute of Education.

“Tutorial centers are flourishing in Hong Kong. After an 8-hour school day, students attend private tutorial classes at night or weekends in order to achieve high scores in examinations,” said Hui. “Sadly, they are just trained how to excel in examinations but not how to be creative, logical or critical in their thinking, which is more important for all-round development.”

Although Asian young people may acquire more complex knowledge at a younger age, “life-long learning is indispensable in a knowledge-based fast-changing world,” said Hui. Here is a sample study in the area of Mathematics.

          

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - February 21, 2012 at 11:40 pm

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Part IV – Social evolution and its role in shaping our lives

David

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas — In this final article of my Social Evolution series, I would like to mention a little bit about the importance of surrounding ourselves with genuine friendships. We need these people because they look over our shoulder when no one else is. While some people accept us and feel a bond with us because of a weakness we may have in common, a genuine friend will help remove that weakness or infirmity that plagues us.

Everybody has three types of selves: The real self; the ideal self; and the possible self. The real self is the self one actually is. The ideal self is the self one would like to be. The possible self is the image of what we dream of becoming or dread in the future. King Solomon, the wisest man who has ever lived said, “If you are weak in a crisis, you are weak indeed.”

Often times when someone passes away, multitudes come from nowhere, great and small, claiming the friendship of such a person. Where were these people when they were needed most? There seems to be a diffusion of responsibility when people are unwilling to reach out to others going through crises. People don’t feel like they are responsible for reaching out. Such friendships have no foundation and tend to be superficial. In reality the most enjoyable friendships have no strings attached to them. People love you not for what you do or how they can benefit from you — they love you genuinely for who you are.

It never ceases to amaze me when I see how the media pretends to care about human beings, yet it is nothing but a machine. The spotlight effect is the belief that others are paying more attention to one’s appearance and behavior than they really are. The result of which is that people become attuned to the way they present themselves in social situations and adjust their performances to create the desired impression. Instead of evolving socially and making a difference in other people’s lives, we become pretentious fakes incapable of relating to others who live in a different reality than we do. We become image-conscious, which in turn erodes our authenticity as humans and also strips us of our sense of innocence.

When soldiers return from battle zones, they are rarely acknowledged for protecting the freedoms we enjoy. More often than not they find it hard to adjust to their new reality and struggle to integrate into the job market. The media only mentions soldiers during Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas. I’m yet to see a media practitioner walk up to a soldier at an airport and shake his or her hand out of gratefulness for serving this country.

When we greet people and ask how they are doing, we hope they don’t tell us how they are really doing, because we might be inconvenienced by listening to their sad stories. We offer help but it is not out of sincerity and we thereafter resent those who seek our assistance. We tell people how we wish them success, yet when we see them achieving successes we burn with envy and secretly hope for, or even orchestrate their downfall. We falsely believe that success is measured by how many material things we acquire, yet true success is measured by where we are right now in our lives, as compared to where we could be.

People have been lied to that success is comparing our achievements and possessions with others. Whoever has the most is more successful, we are told. We now have a civilization in which everybody competes with each other, instead of creating new opportunities for each other.

In Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks he tells this story about three trees: “The laurel and the myrtle, on seeing the pear-tree being cut down, cried out with a loud voice: —’O pear-tree, where are you going? Where is the pride that you had when you were laden with ripe fruit? Now you will no longer make shade for us with your thick foliage.’ Then the pear-tree replied:—’I am going with the husbandman who is cutting me down and who will take me to the workshop of a good sculptor, who by his art will cause me to assume the form of the
god Jove, and I shall be dedicated in a temple and worshipped by men in the place of Jove. While you are obliged to remain always maimed and stripped of your branches, which men shall set around me in order to do me honor.’” (The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, page 1,061).

Today, someone reading this might be going through a crisis with no one to turn to. People you thought you could count on have deserted you. Others who are able to reach out to you today, tell you to wait until tomorrow, even though your need may be urgent. Another group might even be mocking you, saying it is your fault that you find yourself in whatever predicament you are. King Solomon said, “Everybody claims how loyal and faithful they are, but just try to find someone who really is.” In prospect, (looking forward) your crisis may not make sense; but in retrospect, (looking back) it will all make sense, just like it did to the pear-tree in the story above.

Rudyard Kipling the famous poet who wrote the poem If wrote these verses that are part of the poem: “…If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with kings nor lose the common touch; if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you…yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it…and, what’s more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Related stories:
PART I – Social evolution and the role it plays in shaping our lives
PART II – Social evolution and the role it plays in shaping our lives
PART III – Social evolution and the role it plays in shaping our lives

          

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 6:00 am

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Part III – Social evolution and its role in shaping our lives

Washington DC

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas — In the West, especially, we live in an individualistic culture, meaning, we give priority to our own goals over group goals, and define our identities in terms of personal attributes rather than group identifications. In places like Asia, the culture is based on collectivism whereby priority is given to the goals on one’s group or extended family.

In America, Conservatives tend to be economic individualists and moral collectivists. Liberals on the other hand, tend to be economic collectivists and moral individualists. The evidence can be seen between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements. In 2008 when Obama bumped into Joe the Plumber and talked about “spreading the wealth around,” conservatives were outraged. When Conservatives talk about returning prayer into schools or banning gay marriage, Liberals become enraged.

All this is part of social influence that entails everything in our past and present that affects us — conscious and unconscious, for example culture, pressures to conform and various groups of people. The central themes in social psychology include how we construe our social worlds and how our social intuitions guide and sometimes deceive us. People tend to gravitate toward others with like minds, because they enable each other to make sense of their worlds or realities. With all the political correctness that has permeated society, it’s no wonder our civilization has the tendency to underestimate the value of cultivating true and meaningful relationships out of genuine and pure intentions.

People find it a lot more convenient to develop virtual friendships and relationships because they can easily be ended them with a click of a button. In real life, everybody knows someone who ended a friendship or even a marriage using a text message, without having to face the other party in person.

Forbes has an article called Can We Reinvigorate The Lost Spirit of Community? The author writes: “Even in close proximity, people simply don’t speak to each other, any more than passengers sitting together on an airplane have spirited conversations: the lack of explicitly shared values inhibits any tendency to share.” A prior paragraph reads: “Today, people go to restaurants to hang out with their friends, not to strike up conversations with the nearby table. Leaning over to say hello to a stranger indeed runs the danger of being thought predatory or insane.” The entire Forbes article can be read here.

It is one thing to be able to make friends, it is another to able to keep those friends. By the time the average person reaches the age of 30, he or she can count his or her true friends on one hand. Friendliness is not an acquired attribute. Some people are naturally friendly, while others are indifferent. In a famous trial that happened in Los Angeles in the 90s it was suggested by some legal advisors that one of the lead female prosecutors be sent to “charm school” to appear more friendly to the jurors.

I mentioned in PART II that older people in their late 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond cherish younger friends, because some of my most fruitful and solid friendships are in that age bracket. I found out that in order to be a true friend, friendship has to be demonstrated to a person, and it is usually older people who have been tested by life, who have the ability to make such a demonstration. I also noticed two remarkable desires of people living in poverty. Just like older people, those living in poverty simply want a friend, and secondly they desire an education.

Since I received a thorough training in Classical Antiquity as a youth, I cannot help but turn to Cicero’s book On The Good Life, in which he shares with us the view of Scipio Africanus in relation to friendships. Scipio maintained that it was the most difficult thing in the world for a friendship to last into old age. Either it ceases to be mutually advantageous, or people’s political views change and affect their relations with one another. Another thing that changes, he added, is a person’s character; it gets altered by the blows of misfortune or the increasing burdens of age.

Scipio illustrated this point by comparing what happens to people in the early years of their lives. When boys discard the dress of childhood, they also often throw off their friendships, however strong these may have been before. Or else, even if they manage to maintain these associations into early manhood, they often frequently break them off at that point, because the two youths often find themselves competing for a wife, or some other acquisition, which can only go to one or the other partner, but cannot go to both at the same time. Even if their friendship does succeed in lasting longer, Scipio noted that it is likely to be ruined as soon as rivalry for public office begins.

Among the majority of the population, friendship’s worst destroyer is greed for money. For men at the top of their professions, the deadliest enmity is caused by competitive ambition for jobs and distinctions. Such, said Scipio, are the various fates which hang over the relations between friends. To avoid everyone of them requires the greatest wisdom and a good deal of luck as well.

Scipio’s greatest gripe about friendships was in the example he gave. Everybody has an idea of how many sheep and goats he owns, but nobody can say how many friends he possesses. More disturbing is that an immense amount of care is devoted in acquiring cattle and wealth, yet none of the care and devotion is put into choosing friends, Scipio believed. The friends we choose ought to be sound, stable and reliable, but such people are distinctively scarce, yet it is difficult to pick them except by practical experience. The problem is that this experience can only be acquired after the friendship has actually begun. That is to say, the friendship comes first and the material for estimating its desirability only becomes accessible later on. It is impossible to try one’s friend out in advance.

People involved in politics or the business of the State can attest to the this truth that true friendships are extremely difficult to find in the political arena. There is a saying in Washington D.C. that: “If you are looking for a friend in Washington, find a dog.” Continue to Part IV to conclude this series on social evolution>>

Related stories:
PART I – Social evolution and the role it plays in shaping our lives
PART II – Social evolution and the role it plays in shaping our lives
PART IV – Social evolution and the role it plays in shaping our lives

          

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 5:45 am

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Part II – Social evolution and its role in shaping our lives

Narcissus flower

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas — Everyone has a story to tell. I personally discovered that older people, more than anything else, cherish having a friend who is young. There are some people who have nobody to talk to, or believe they have lost their relevance in life and are carrying with them fears, painful memories, unfulfilled expectations and unspoken frustrations. All they need is someone to embrace them for who they are, without judging them.

Voltaire describes friendship this way: “Friendship is the marriage of souls, and this marriage is subject to divorce. It is a tacit contract between two sensitive and virtuous persons. I say sensitive, because a monk and a recluse can be innocent of evil and still live without knowing friendship. I say virtuous because the wicked only have accomplices; self-seekers have partners; politicians attract partisans; princes have courtiers; while only virtuous men alone have friends. (The Portable Voltaire, page 128).

Even in my profession of journalism, friendships seem to be based on political affiliations. It is the reason I have always maintained that only an independent media practitioner is capable of practicing true objective journalism. The reason is because if one is not independent of a political affiliation, one can become ensnared into a personal fable. A personal fable is the conviction that one is special and unique, and is not subject to the rules that govern the rest of the world or society.

I often hear this civilization being described as narcissistic and self-absorbed. To a certain extent, the statement is true. If you look at the how social media became popular, all you have to do is look back to the once-popular social network called MySpace, (the emphasis is on me, or a space that belongs to me). If you look at YouTube, the emphasis is on a tube (TV) that belongs to me or You. Now even electronic gadgets like phones and computers emphasize on me. Take for example the most popular phone, it is called an iPhone, once again we are conditioned to believe the phone is all about me, myself and I. The most popular mobile computer is the iPad, again focusing on first person singular (I or me), therefore it begins to make sense and critics are justified in describing us as narcissistic, a flaw that marketers and advertisers are taking advantage of to generate profits for themselves.

We only have to travel back to Classical Antiquity to trace the origin of the word narcissism from the epic work, Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The story of Narcissus and Echo will be used for illustrative purposes. According to the story, Jupiter was married to the goddess Juno, but was having an extramarital affair with some nymph. The ever-crafty Echo would distract Juno by keeping her engaged in long conversations at the mountainside, to give the nymph time to escape after meeting Jupiter. When Juno, who was the daughter of Saturn discovered that Echo had tricked her, she said, “I’ve been cheated enough by your prattling tongue, from now on, the words you say will be short and sweet!” Her curse became effective instantly and Echo could only repeat the last words of a sentence.

Meanwhile, Narcissus was known for his beauty, but refused to share his body with anyone. Echo caught a glimpse of Narcissus and was filled with passion for him, but could not start sentences. Upon hearing movements in the country fields, Narcissus yelled, “Is anyone there?” Echo repeated, “Anyone there?” Narcissus was curious and yelled, “This way, we must come together!” Echo repeated, “We must come together,” and ran to embrace Narcissus. Upon seeing Echo, Narcissus said, “Hands off! May I die before you enjoy my body!” Scorned and rejected, she fled into the forest and hid her shame in lonely caves. Seen no more on the mountains, heard all over the world, she survives in the sound of the echo.

Finally, one of Narcissus’ rejected admirers, with hands raised towards the heavens, said the following prayer: “I pray that Narcissus may fall in love and never obtain his desire.” The prayer was heard, and answered by none other than Nemesis.

On a hot day in the mountains, exhausted from hunting, Narcissus became thirsty and saw an unmuddied clear pool of water. As he started to drink the water, he became thirsty for something else. His entire being was suddenly overwhelmed by a vision of beauty — a shadow mistaken for substance. He gazed upon his reflection and saw a beautiful figure staring back at him. His eyes were deceived, but this strange illusion excited his senses, so he reached out to hug and kiss this reflection, yet when he drew closer to it, the pool betrayed him.

Nobody had ever rejected Narcissus. He thought if he turned and walked away, his newly-found love would vanish. Nothing could drag him away from the place not even hunger. He was in love with his own image of perfect beauty, which would prove his demise.

In sorrow, he looked up to the trees around him and exclaimed, “Wise old trees, has anyone loved more cruelly? Lovers have kissed in secret under your branches. Has anyone suffered for love like me? Whom can you remember? Death will be easy to bear, since dying will cure my heartache. If I am not able to touch you my love, I must be allowed to see you, to feed my unhappy passion.”

Echo watched his decline as his beauty faded due to hunger and lack of sleep, but was moved to pity as Narcissus lay his weary head in the grass till Death’s hand gently closed his eyes. His body was not to be found though — only a flower with a trumpet of gold and pale white petals. The flower today is called a Narcissus, as shown in the picture above.

Behavioral Scientist George Herbert Mead said that what matters of our self-concepts is not how others actually see us, but the way we imagine they see us. Continue to Part III – Social evolution and its role in life>>

Related stories:
PART I – Social evolution and the role it plays in shaping our lives
PART III – Social evolution and the role it plays in shaping our lives
PART IV – Social evolution and the role it plays in shaping our lives

          

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 5:24 am

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Part I – Social evolution and its role in shaping our lives

Social Evolution

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas — During the past week, I have been asked why I made no comment on the recent passing of Whitney Houston, to which I responded by saying, there were thousands of Web sites and articles written on that topic so it wasn’t necessary for me to add anything since I’m only one person. However, an persistent reader argued that I should at least do an article about her in a philosophical perspective. I agreed, but said I would do it after she’d been laid to rest, so here is the four-part series I am presenting on social evolution.

When I was a student, as part of my Psychology major, I was required to take a class in Social Psychology. It dealt with how people develop socially and the social dynamics we face in our daily lives. Development is bidirectional, meaning, people change their world and it changes them. We live in the information age and most of our communication is done electronically. Our socialization is mostly conducted through social networks that weed out the need to develop social skills since we may never meet the people we communicate with socially.

We now have a generation that has excelled in communicating electronically at the expense of learning how to interact in a physical setting that requires building friendships and relationships that have depth. As we witness the evolution of information technology, we cannot overlook the necessity to simultaneously evolve socially, in this information age.

Today the younger generation has grown up on the Internet, which those who lived in the 80s and early 90s know was not around, and a crude version of it was only restricted to the military. The benefit of having grown up without Internet forced us to socialize and create friends and relationships in the real world. At the time we still had corded phones and only the affluent could afford cell phones. I once told my dad in the 90s that a cell phone that could take pictures and video would be developed and he laughed at me. Now, you can even watch TV on your cell phone.

There seems to be less need to actually build relationships and friendships that have depth because we are now consumed and bombarded with multiple channels of information that is a result of the interconnectedness of social media. Our social skills are slowly eroding because even grown men and women have become heavily dependant on the electronic media to socialize. Children who were once raised by parents are now raised on TV and Internet and are deprived of cultivating the skills needed to effectively communicate in the real world.

This is contradictory to the Social Cognitive Theory that states, children learn their roles through socialization. The social reality is that we construct our own realities based on previous experiences and group norms. This includes attitudes and beliefs that lead to behavior. Because social interactions, more often than not, occur electronically, we are creating a generation, or civilization rather, whose social skills are underdeveloped, the result of which may lead to false sense of security. We begin to believe that we have no need to build the communities that our parents and grandparents enjoyed where people looked out for each other. There once was a time when neighbors used to borrow sugar and other ingredients from each other.

When I was growing up, my mother baked a lot and it was not unusual for her to run out of sugar or flour and send me to the neighbor’s home to borrow some sugar. Today that is unheard of. People’s lives are very predictable. We go to work, return home, lock ourselves inside our homes and may never speak to a neighbor for two years.

One might argue that people often keep to themselves because being human predisposes us to act in ways to protect and preserve ourselves and those we care about. The problem with that line of thought is, isolation eventually leads to an individualistic culture that I describe in this article ahead. Continue to Part II

Related stories:
PART II – Social evolution and the role it plays in shaping our lives
PART III – Social evolution and the role it plays in shaping our lives
PART IV – Social evolution and the role it plays in shaping our lives

          

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New World Bank President To Be Selected By April 20

Hillary Clinton

Newscast Media NEW YORK — The World Bank announced on Friday that by April 20, a new president to succeed Robert Zoellick would be selected. Nominations will be accepted through March 23, from the Bank’s 187 member countries.

“The executive directors expressed their deep appreciation to President Zoellick for his leadership of the World Bank Group and its very significant accomplishments during his tenure,” the Bank said in a statement.

Since the United States is the biggest stakeholder, it is more than likely that an American will be selected for the job, because Congress would be needed to disburse the funds.

“It is very important that we continue to have strong, effective leadership in this important institution, the experience and requisite qualities to take this institution forward,” Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner wrote in an e-mail.

The top choices for the position are US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former White House economic advisor Lawrence Summers. Clinton has said she’s not seeking the position, even though there is no doubt that she would not be resisted if she decided she was game for the position.

The Asian and Arab nations have said that the US has a firm grip on the World Bank since its presidents have been American. What the Asians and Arabs do not realize is that both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank get their sustenance from the Federal Reserve, which in turn is sustained by the hardworking American taxpayers. The US is thus justified in choosing an American for the position of president.

In fact the Federal Reserve is considered a Lender of Last Resort (LOLR) and can prevent the collapse in international money or liquidity, help stabilize or anchor the value of international money, and thereby prevent various (e.g., credit) disturbances from developing into world monetary crises. Since the dollar is the dominant reserve currency and the Federal Reserve is the principal institution that can create world dollar reserves, this responsibility falls largely on the US central bank.

Robert Mundell, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, has long recognized this Federal Reserve responsibility: “The Federal Reserve… has the power to determine… the size of foreign exchange reserves abroad… In a practical sense, the Federal Reserve System is the lender of last resort to the international banking system, and the determinant of the dollar value of world reserves,” he said.

Since the World Bank is part of the international banking system that is controlled by the US Federal Reserve, whoever ascends to the position of president will have considerable leverage in dealing with rogue governments that apply for loans from the World Bank. Because of her political acumen, and being a legal scholar, it is no wonder that Hillary Clinton’s name is on the top of the list, since the dynamics of her life and career are conducive to achieving the economic growth that she often says she wishes to see happen in developing countries. http://newscastmedia.com/world-bank.html

          

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - February 19, 2012 at 9:53 pm

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Underwear bomber gets mandatory life in prison sentence without parole

Underwear bomber

Newscast Media DETROIT, Michigan — The underwear bomber who attempted to detonate a bomb on Northwest Airlines Airbus A330 jet after a long flight from Amsterdam, to Detroit in 2009, has been sentenced to life without parole. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, plead guilty and said the bomb was a “blessed weapon” to avenge poorly treated Muslims worldwide.

Adulmutallab spoke before the judge and said the Quran instructs Muslims to kill people in the name of God. He also says Jews must be driven out of Palestine.

“The Quran obliges every able Muslim to participate in jihad and fight in the way of Allah those who fight you, and kill them wherever you find them … an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” Abdulmutallab said.

In September 2010 after suspecting that his attorneys did not have his best interest at heart, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab asked the same US District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds to let him represent himself.

Abdulmutallab asked Judge Edmunds: “If I want to plead guilty to some counts, how would that work?”

The judge told him that a standby lawyer would be available to answer that type of question. Abdulmutallab however, plead guilty to all charges. Right before sentencing, Abdulmutallab called it a day of victory.

http://newscastmedia.com/bomb-in-underwear.html

          

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - February 16, 2012 at 9:49 pm

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French court finds Monsanto guilty of poisoning farmer

Organic and GMO foods

Newscast Media LYON, France — French farmer Paul François, has won a case against biotech giant Monsanto, in which a judge in France ruled that the companybcould be held liable for poisoning the farmer. François inhaled the vapor of Monsanto’s Lasso weedkiller while cleaning out the tank of a crop sprayer, in 2004, and lost consciousness, then later suffered from headaches and memory loss.

Monsanto was accused by the prosecution of failing to furnish sufficient warnings on the product label and continuing to carry Lasso in the French market until it was banned in France in 2007, despite earlier bans in Canada, Belgium and the U.K.

After facing worldwide criticism, Monsanto developed the weed killer RoundUp to replace Agent Orange, and has since become the world’s largest producer of herbicides. With the success of RoundUp and after facing a series of lawsuits in the 80s, Monsanto transformed itself into a biotechnology company that pushed genetic
engineering as ground-breaking technology that could not feed the world’s hungry populations.

A report by the American Academy Of Environmental Medicine has called for a moratorium of GM foods based on multiple animal studies that show significant immune dysregulation, including upregulation of cytokines associated with asthma, allergy, and inflammation. Animal studies also show altered structure and function of
the liver, including altered lipid and carbohydrate metabolism as well as cellular changes that could lead to accelerated aging and possibly lead to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Monsanto said it was disappointed by the ruling in France and would examine whether to appeal against the judgment.

“Monsanto always considered that there were not sufficient elements to establish a causal relationship between Paul Francois’s symptoms and a potential poisoning,” the company’s lawyer, Jean-Philippe Delsart, said.

The ruling was given by a court in Lyon, south-east France, which ordered an expert opinion of Francois’s losses to establish the amount of damages.

Related article: Monsanto food wars Part I and II

          

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 4:41 am

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Social issues magnified by Obama for the 2012 presidential race

Barack Obama

Newscast Media DALLAS, Texas — Don’t count on it. Social issues will also figure prominently in the coming months. President Obama has made sure of that.

The most obvious example involves the recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rule mandating that religious organizations provide health insurance that covers sterilization, contraception and drugs that induce abortion. Only the most zealous pro-choicers think people should be forced to fund abortions, even when they have moral objections to them. Not surprisingly, the mandate has sparked uproar.

In response, the president has now offered a “compromise.” Instead of employers paying directly for services to which they are morally opposed, HHS will mandate that their insurance carriers provide them “free of charge.”

Birth control pills, IUDS, and abortion-inducing drugs aren’t free, however, so the insurance companies will offset these costs with higher premiums (even though the mandate will supposedly prohibit this). This accounting gimmick does nothing to resolve the moral problem. The New York Times admitted as much in its headline, “Rule Shift is Concession to Obama Allies,” not, in other words, to opponents.

The President may have provided cover for a few allies on the religious left, such as Sister Carol Keehan, but the US Bishops aren’t buying it. In fact, rather than divide Christians over contraception, Mr. Obama has helped unify orthodox Catholics, evangelicals, and even many civil libertarians. They rightly see the HHS mandate as an attack on religious freedom. ObamaCare was already an affront to freedom itself. Now it has a sharp anti-religious edge to boot.

Forced coverage for abortion drugs? Check. Attack on religious freedom? Check. For the culture war trifecta, all we need is an attack on marriage. In 1996, President Clinton signed the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It protects states from being forced to recognize same sex “marriages” performed in other states.

President Obama claimed before he was elected that, as a Christian, he believed marriage was between a man and a woman. As soon as he took office, though, we learned that his view is “constantly evolving.” It evolved fast, since the Justice Department has refused to defend DOMA in court, and Attorney General Eric Holder has denounced DOMA as unconstitutional and irrational.

Since most Americans think marriage means what it has always meant, the President doesn’t want this to become a major campaign issue. But events may force his hand. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just upheld District Judge Vaughn Walker’s controversial decision to strike down the Prop. 8 referendum in California, which had defined marriage as between one man and one woman. The case is undoubtedly headed to the US Supreme Court, where it will become a national controversy.

While most of the media claim that this is a matter of “marriage equality,” most Americans know it is about something different: whether the state will respect a universal, pre-political institution based on human nature, or will arrogate to itself the authority to redefine that institution according to left wing, secularist sensibilities.

By the time November rolls around, President Obama will be wishing voters were only focusing on job creation and the economy. http://newscastmedia.com/social-dynamics.html

          

————————————————————————
James Robison is the co-author of Indivisible, the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, and the co-host of the daily syndicated television program LIFE Today. He is also the author of Living in Love, True Prosperity, My Father’s Face, and many others.

Jay W. Richards is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Wealth, Poverty, and Morality at the
Discovery Institute, and the co-author of Indivisible. He is also the author of Money, Greed, and God, The
Privileged Planet, and God and Evolution.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - February 15, 2012 at 8:01 pm

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Iran: Israel attacked its own embassies in India and Georgia

Car bomb targeting Israeli embassy

Newscast Media NEW DELHI, India — The Times of India reported yesterday that there had been an attack on the Israeli embassy in India, targeting an embassy car in New Delhi, leaving an Israeli female diplomat critically injured. The same day authorities in Tbilisi, Georgia, said that a car bomb was planted on an Israeli embassy car, but the bomb was diffused in time.

The attacks were blamed on Iran with Netanyahu vowing to act “with a firm hand” to eradicate “international terror coming from Iran.”

On Tuesday, police in Israel also raised the state of alert across the country, spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

“Israeli police have increased the general state of alert in Israel, with emphasis on security in public places and areas, including foreign embassies and places of foreign interest, such as the airport,” he told AFP.

However, Iran has denied any such attacks and has an interesting take on the incidents. According to the Tehran Times, an Iranian lawmaker says that the terrorist acts are being carried out by Tel Aviv itself with the aim of diverting attention from the assassination of Iranian scientists by the Mossad.

He believes Israel has is blaming the Islamic Republic “to acquit itself from the assassination of our country’s scientists and divert the world public opinion in this regard,” Esmaeil Kowsari told the Mehr News Agency on Tuesday. Kowsari who sits on the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee also said it is not unprecedented that Israelis take such actions against themselves in order to achieve their “mischievous” political purposes.

Israel said they feel very secure in India, and have the full cooperation of the Indian authorities.

“It is very clear to me that no one in India is going to tolerate such a vicious attack on diplomats on its soil,” Israeli ambassador Alon Ushpiz told TimesNow television.

The ambassador, however, declined to discuss security issues related to the Israeli embassy and its staff in India. http://newscastmedia.com/embassy-attacks.html

          

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - February 14, 2012 at 9:47 pm

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Video Highlights of the Annual Wiener Dog and Thoroughbred Horse Races

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas — With all the news cycles bombarding viewers and readers with cold hard news, Newscast Media is featuring a fun-filled and family-friendly event from the Sam Houston Race Park in Houston, Texas. A evening of live racing with the 5th Annual Wiener Dog Races and thoroughbred horse races is a Houston tradition at Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, and is sure to thrill the crowds.

The Thoroughbred Meet features 15 stakes races totaling more than $1.1 million in purses, while the pet owners entered more than 60 wiener dogs to participate in the race. With record-breaking crowds converging upon the venue, Newscast Media was on hand to capture the highlights of the festivities:


Videography by Joseph Earnest – Sam Houston Race Track

http://newscastmedia.com/horse-races.html

          

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 8:24 pm

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Putin condemns violence in Syria but is against outside intervention

Assad and Putin

Newscast Media MOSCOW— Russia condemns the ongoing violence in Syria but is against outside interference, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

“We certainly condemn all violence wherever it comes from. However, you cannot act like a bull in a china shop,” he said.

At least 5,400 people have been killed in the Syrian government’s 11-month crackdown on protesters, according to the UN. Syrian authorities blame the violence on armed gangs affiliated with al-Qaeda and say more than 2,000 soldiers and police have been killed.

Other countries may help and advise Syria “but not interfere under any circumstances,” he said. “The [Syrian] people must decide their future themselves.”

Russia is concerned by “a cult of violence” that has been taking center stage in international affairs over the past decade.

“We should not let anything like this happen in this country,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier in the day called on the Arab world, the United States and Europe to refrain from passing judgment on the national dialogue in Syria that Moscow had pledged to assist.

Meanwhile, White House Spokesman Jay Carney said Russia “must realize that betting everything on Assad is a recipe for failure – not just for Russia’s interests in Syria, but for the stability of the region and for Syria’s future.”

Russia and China on Saturday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria that calls on President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Thirteen of the council’s 15 members voted in favor of the resolution aimed to stop the violence in Syria. The West has been trying to persuade Moscow to support a resolution effectively
authorizing a military operation but Russia has repeatedly insisted that the Western drive for a stronger crackdown on Syria is preparation for a “Libyan scenario.”

Russia, one of President al-Assad’s firm supporters during the uprising against his regime, indicated earlier this week that it would veto the draft resolution calling on Assad to step down. Moscow has proposed its own draft, which the West criticized as being too soft. http://newscastmedia.com/syria3.html

          

Source: RIA Novosti

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - February 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm

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Part II – Defendant ordered by judge to decrypt laptop-she forgets password

Justice

Newscast Media DENVER, Colo. — The judge in this case has ordered the defendant Ms. Fricosu, as follows: “…That on or before February 21, 2012, defendant, SHALL PROVIDE counsel for the government in this case with an unencrypted copy of the hard drive…” The problem faced by the defendant is that if she does not comply with the judge’s order, she could be charged with contempt, which in turn guarantees a jail sentence and/or a fine.

If on the other hand she complies and reveals the contents on the harddrive, there could be incriminating evidence that she obviously would not want the government to discover. However, she still has an opening. The judge has guaranteed her immunity in writing, and assured her that any of the information extracted from her laptop will not be used against her.

Yet the question that arises is, if she has guaranteed immunity, why doesn’t she give the feds what they want and free herself from this legal battle? Is there information on the laptop that might incriminate someone close to her? Is she protecting someone? Personally, I cannot answer those questions. Only Ms. Fricosu can do so. The truth dwells within her.

As I mentioned earlier, the government too could be challenged by an attorney who is knowledgeable. According to the judge’s order, two warrants were issued: One was for the search of her home, the second was to search her laptop. However, the government introduced a recorded telephone conversation into evidence, upon which the judge relied to order the defendant to provide a decrypted harrdrive. The manner in which the evidence was obtained could be challenged.

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-9-303(1) allows the recording of a conversation in Colorado, by either a “sender or intended receiver” of a telephone communication. In this instant case, the government was neither the sender, nor the intended receiver of the phone conversation, therefore an attorney could argue that it appears, they obtained this crucial piece of evidence through trickery and introduced it into evidence. One might say in defense of the plaintiff, that the government could use the powers of the “Warrantless Surveillance Program” to listen to their conversations.

The problem with that argument is that Ms. Fricosu is not a suspected terrorist. Secondly, it would be in violation of the Constitution’s First and Fourth Amendments to introduce such evidence, since no warrant was issued to the FBI to seize those conversations on disc or tape, and introduce them into evidence.

Under the “Exclusionary Rule”, such evidence obtained through searches and seizures (unreasonable searches and seizures) in violation of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, has been deemed inadmissible by the United States Supreme Court. See: “The burden of proving any evidence was untainted is on the government.” (Nardone v. United States, 308 U.S. 338, 341, 60 S. Ct. 266, 84 L. Ed. 307 (1939)).
“The evidence obtained here in violation of appellant’s Fourth Amendment rights, as well as any evidence derived therefrom, should have been suppressed.” (Alderman v. United States, 394 U.S. 165, 171, 89 S. Ct. 961, 22 L. Ed. 2d 176 (1969)).

In Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436, 491 (1966) the United States Supreme Court ruled: “Where rights secured by the U.S. Constitution are involved, there can be no rule-making or legislation which would abrogate them.”

As such, the court order that was issued with a February 21, deadline could be challenged, if the defendant’s rights were violated, because by law, such a court order would be void as stipulated below. 16 Am Jur 2d, Sections 157, 256 states: “Court orders which abrogate fundamental rights are null and void on their face ab initio (from inception).”

As a journalist, I have presented the potential dilemma that both parties will have to overcome. Failure for the defendant (Fricosu) to obey or challenge the court order could result in being charged with criminal contempt. As for the plaintiff (United States govt), it is elementary that allegations must be supported by facts. Failure to prove facts is fatal to the maintenance of this case. Click here to download or read the judge’s court order and legal arguments.

http://newscastmedia.com/contempt.html

          

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Part I – Defendant ordered by judge to decrypt laptop-she forgets password

Encrypted laptop

Newscast Media DENVER, Colorado — Federal Judge Blackburn of Denver, Colorado has ordered a woman to decrypt her laptop, and allow the government to access its contents. The defendant, Ms. Fricosu, invoked the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, in order not to reveal the password to the computer, as a safety measure to keep her from self-incrimination. She further said she has forgotten the password, therefore there was no way she can access the harddrive and retrieve the contents. If she does not comply, she could be held in contempt for refusing to obey the judge’s order.

Ms. Fricosu’s home was raided by the FBI with a search warrant, who proceeded to seize her computers including a laptop, but could not decrypt it. The government believes Fricosu has material on her computer that may be illegal, but have no way of proving their case unless she reveals the password, which she doesn’t seem to remember.

Unfortunately for Ms. Fricosu, when she was in jail talking to a co-defendant on the prison telephone, she neglected the fact that such conversations between suspected criminals are often recorded, since the government owns the prison system. In a conversation, she admitted that she knew the password, but was not going to reveal it to the feds, because she wanted be a wise-guy and make them sweat for it. A fragment of the conversation presented in court can be read below:

Ramona: Ookay (pause) uhm in a way I want them to find it.

Scott: Mm-hmm.

Ramona: And uhm because they will have to ask for my help uhm and in another way I don’t want them to find it, let them let them work for it.

Scott: Right.

Ramona: You know what I mean.

Scott: Right (pause) yeah, if it’s there, they, they will find it.

Ramona: Uhm, can they get past what they need to get past to get to it.

Scott:OK.

Ramona: And my lawyer said I’m not obligated by law to give them any passwords or anything they need to figure things out for themselves.

Known Unknowns:

Donald Rumsfeld, Former Secretary of Defense for George W. Bush is famous for coining this phrase in a speech on February 12, 2002: “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—there are things we do not know, we do not know”

With this new information obtained from the conversation, the government ran back to the judge and introduced it as evidence, that the defendant was intentionally concealing the password to prevent them from accessing the “known unknowns” on Ms. Fricosu’s laptop. The judge then issued them a warrant to search the laptop.

In his ruling, Judge Blackburn said: “The Fifth Amendment provides that “[n]o person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. . . The small universe of decisions dealing with the Fifth Amendment issues implicated by compelling a witness or defendant to provide a password to an encrypted computer or otherwise permit access to its unencrypted contents are instructive here.”

The judge realizes he has a problem, noting that under prevailing Supreme Court precedent, a defendant cannot be compelled to reveal the contents of his mind, the magistrate judge found that the act of producing the password was testimonial and, therefore, privileged. (Accord United States v. Kirschner, 2010 WL 1257355 at *3-4 (E.D. Mich. March 30, 2010)). On appeal of that decision, the grand jury revised its request to require the defendant to produce, not the password itself, but rather an unencrypted version of the Z drive.

In this case, because Ms. Fricosu invoked the Fifth Amendment, the judge could not compel her to produce the password, and just like the case above, in order to bypass this legal impediment, the very clever judge, orders her to provide the government with access to the laptop’s encrypted contents. Of course she would have to retrieve the password to access the harddrive.

The judge further opines: “Accordingly, I find and conclude that the Fifth Amendment is not implicated by requiring production of the unencrypted contents of the Toshiba Satellite M305 laptop computer. Moreover, the government has offered Ms. Fricosu immunity, precluding it from using her act of producing the unencrypted contents of the laptop computer against her.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED as follows:…That on or before February 21, 2012, defendant, SHALL PROVIDE counsel for the government in this case with an unencrypted copy of the hard drive of the Toshiba Satellite M305 laptop computer…That the government SHALL BE precluded from using Ms. Fricosu’s act of production of the unencrypted contents of the computer’s hard drive against her in any prosecution.”

Yet there are several holes that can be poked in the government’s case, by the defendant, if she has an attorney with a sharp eye. Before I proceed with this article, I wish to remind the readers that I am not an attorney, and simply have used my research background and investigative journalism skills to deconstruct this legal dilemma, therefore my analysis should not be misconstrued for legal advice.

Both the United States government and Ms. Fricosu have several legal hurdles to overcome, and upon my review of the facts that have so far been disclosed, it seems the government has a bigger problem than the defendant, and I will lay it out in great detail. Find out in Part II the legal dilemma that plagues this case>>

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