Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Oklahoma’

Death Penalty Decision Imminent in Boston Bombing.


As attorney general, Eric Holder has approved pursuing the death penalty in at least 34 criminal cases, upholding a long-ago pledge to Congress that he would vigorously enforce federal law even though he’s not a proponent of capital punishment.

 

In the next day or two, Holder will make the most high-profile death penalty decision of his career in law enforcement: whether to seek capital punishment in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the defendant in the Boston Marathon bombings last April that killed three people and injured 260.

As the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. in 1993, Holder recommended to Attorney General Janet Reno that she not seek the death penalty in the case of a slain police officer because of legal obstacles that made conviction unlikely. Reno overruled him but in the end, the government cut a deal that put the killer away for life imprisonment, a frequent outcome in capital punishment prosecutions.

“The case had problems … and when we had the ability to get a plea from the defendant that put him in jail without any chance of parole for the rest of his life, we decided to accept the plea,” Holder explained later to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

At the same hearing, Holder assured the Senate panel that “I will enforce the law that has been passed, and any statute that contains a death penalty provision will be looked at as any other statute. I will enforce the law as this Congress gives it to us.”

In recent death penalty cases brought by Holder’s Justice Department, one defendant was sentenced to death and six received life sentences, either through a plea or a trial.

Even when there’s a conviction, the odds against death sentences being imposed are such that “from the Justice Department’s point of view the question about the death penalty often comes down to ‘If we seek it, how likely are we to get it?'” said David Schertler, who was chief of the homicide section when Holder ran the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C.

Holder has had “a lot of experience with the death penalty and he has always been extremely thoughtful, deliberate and concerned about being consistent on the subject,” Schertler said.

As recently as last week, Holder emphasized that his opposition to the death penalty is due in part to practical concerns — what he sees as failures in the legal system.

“The problem is that in too many places, lawyers who are defending poor people don’t have adequate resources to do a good job,” Holder said in an appearance at the University of Virginia last Thursday. “You end up with these miscarriages of justice.”

“It’s really one of the reasons why I am personally opposed to the death penalty,” Holder added. “As good as our system is, it’s ultimately a system that is filled with men and women who are well intentioned but who make mistakes. And as horrible as it is for somebody to be put in jail for crimes that they did not commit, it is obviously not as bad as a situation where somebody is executed for a crime that he or she did not commit.”

But Holder’s description of a flawed legal system with inadequate resources doesn’t apply to the Boston case.

One of the finest death penalty attorneys in the country, Judy Clarke, is leading the legal team defending Tsarnaev. That legal team may be able to mount a strong defense by arguing that the defendant, just 19 at the time of the bombings, was under the influence of his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police four days after the blasts.

Another factor could complicate the government’s case if it seeks the death penalty. Massachusetts hasn’t had a state death penalty law since 1984. History suggests that it can be extremely difficult for federal prosecutors to win capital punishment cases in states that don’t have a capital punishment law of their own.

On the other hand, a jury of Massachusetts residents handed up a death sentence in the only federal capital case now pending in the state. A judge tossed out the jury’s death sentence against Gary Lee Sampson, a drifter who pleaded guilty in the July 2001 slayings of two men who had picked Sampson up hitchhiking. The U.S. Attorney in Boston, Carmen Ortiz, says prosecutors will again seek the death penalty instead of allowing Sampson to serve a life sentence.

The numbers seem to suggest an uphill battle for a death penalty prosecution.

From 1993 to 2012, the Justice Department brought 88 capital punishment cases in states that didn’t have a death penalty. Just seven of the defendants wound up on death row, according to data compiled by the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project.

Larry Mackey, a former Justice Department prosecutor, said that if Tsarnaev goes to trial, jury selection will delve into whether the jurors really hold the same view as Massachusetts law. In the end, he said, any risk that the prosecution can seat 12 jurors prepared to vote for death — even in Massachusetts — will propel negotiations for a guilty plea with life imprisonment. In this case, both parties have a reason to be at the negotiating table, he said.

There have been just three federal executions since the death penalty was reinstituted in 1976, and Mackey prosecuted one of them — Timothy McVeigh, in the Oklahoma City bombing case. The other defendant in the Oklahoma City bombing case, Terry Nichols, is serving a term of life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Virginia Attorney General Won’t Defend Gay Marriage Ban.


 

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring
Virginia will no longer defend its ban on same-sex marriage, the state’s new attorney general, Mark Herring, said Thursday.

Virginia will no longer defend its ban on same-sex marriage, the state’s new attorney general said on Thursday, making it the latest U.S. state to challenge a prohibition on gay marriage.

Attorney General Mark Herring said the southern state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman was part of a long history of opposing landmark Supreme Courtrulings on civil rights.

“This will not be another instance. It is time for the commonwealth to be on the right side of history and the right side of the law,” said Herring, who took office in January along with newly elected Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, after four years of Republican state rule.

Herring told a news conference the same-sex marriage ban violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which provides for equal protection of the laws, and infringed on the rights of families.

Herring’s move underscores the state’s political battles and shifting demographics as Democrats try to cement their hold on the once solidly Republican state, highlighted by the divided reaction to his decision.

Virginia’s legal turnabout is the latest in a series of state-based challenges on the issue. Federal judges recently overturned such bans in Oklahoma and Utah. Indiana is pushing ahead with its own ban.

Herring filed a brief on Thursday in federal court in Norfolk, noting the state’s change of stance in Bostic v. Rainey, a case that challenged Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Herring said the constitutional ban would remain in place and the Norfolk case would go forward, but neither he nor State Registrar of Vital Records Janet Rainey would defend it as constitutional.

The attorney general said his decision was aimed at changing Virginia’s history of opposing landmark civil rights rulings by the Supreme Court. They included those on school desegregation in 1954, interracial marriage in 1967 and allowing women to enter Virginia Military Institute in 1996, he said.

Supreme Court
Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia recognize gay marriage, including eight states where same-sex marriage became legal in 2013. Thirty-three ban gay couples from marrying by state constitutional amendment, statute or both.

Virginia’s reversal follows two major Supreme Court rulings on the issue last year.

One struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. The other paved the way for gay marriage to resume in California. But those rulings did not address whether state bans on same-sex marriage were constitutional.

In 2006, 57 percent of Virginians voted in favor of the constitutional ban. But reflecting the swing in public opinion, a poll released in October by Virginia’s Christopher Newport University showed that 56 percent of likely voters opposed the ban, with 36 percent favoring it.

Mixed reaction to Virginia’s announcement echoed the political division in the state.

Herring’s predecessor, Republican Ken Cuccinelli, was a vocal opponent of gay marriage. While Herring, a Democrat, also opposed gay and lesbian marriage while a state senator, he said his views had changed once he saw how his vote had harmed many people.

Herring’s stance was also applauded by the Human Rights Campaign, which campaigns against discrimination against gays.

But others said Herring was failing to do his job upholding state law.

“Mark Herring’s decision today not only abandons his first duty, it hobbles this vital legal process. It turns what could have been landmark jurisprudence into a political farce,” said Pat Mullins, head of the Republican Party of Virginia. He called on Herring to resign.

In another Virginia case in federal court, two lesbian couples are suing the state in an attempt to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage. They asked a federal judge in October to certify it as a class-action lawsuit.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.


Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Ian Simpson in Washington and Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Scott Malone, Rosalind Russell, Chizu Nomiyama and Gunna Dickson

© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Coburn: 2013 Marked ‘Unwinding of Country’s Founding Principles´.


Image: Coburn: 2013 Marked 'Unwinding of Country's Founding Principles'

By Courtney Coren

Sen. Tom Coburn says the power grab by Democratic leaders in Congress, not to mention the Obama administration’s apparent disdain for the rule of law, made 2013 one of the nation’s worst years.

“In both the executive branch and Congress, Americans witnessed an unwinding of the country’s founding principles and of their government’s most basic responsibilities,”Coburn wrote Monday in an op-ed piece carried in The Wall Street Journal.

“The rule of law gave way to the rule of rulers. And the rule of reality . . . gave way to some politicians’ belief that they were entitled to both their own opinions and their own facts.”

“It’s no wonder the institutions of government barely function,” the Oklahoma Republican added.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

Coburn described the launching of Obamacare as one of the most devastating blows to the rule of law and he accused President Barack Obama of changing his signature achievement “according to whim” without regard to any legal or constitutional constraints that might be involved. He also wrote that the most troubling aspect of the president’s behavior in pushing the law on the American public was his promise that people would be able to keep their current insurance plans and doctors.

“We now know that the administration was aware that these claims were false, yet Mr. Obama continued to make them, repeatedly,” Coburn said.

Even though the president “apologized in part for his statements,” it sent a message to politicians that “message discipline” is the name-of-the-game if it helps “to win an election or achieve a short-term political goal.”

“When a misleading message ultimately clashes with reality, the result is dissonance and conflict,” the Oklahoma senator argued. “In a republic, deception is destructive.”

Coburn took a hard swipe at Democrats in Congress as well, calling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid‘s successful effort to do away with the 60-vote threshold for moving most presidential nominations an outright power grab “to undo 200 years of precedent that requires a supermajority to change Senate rules.”

“To speed the approval of executive appointments and judicial nominations, Sen. Reid resorted to raw political power, forcing a vote (52-48) that allows the Senate majority to change the rules whenever it wants,” Coburn complained. “In a republic, if majorities can change laws or rules however they please, you’re on the road to life with no rules and no laws.”

Coburn concluded by noting that if Americans are truly fed up, as he is, with the way Washington works these days, then they should make use of the elections this year to make some changes.

“If you don’t like the rulers you have, you don’t have to keep them,” he wrote.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

Related Stories:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Obama Might Avoid Keystone Pipeline Decision.


Image: Obama Might Avoid Keystone Pipeline DecisionPresident Barack Obama speaks at the southern site of the Keystone XL pipeline on March 22, 2012 in Cushing, Oklahoma.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

The State Department may have to restart its analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline, which could delay a decision on the controversial project until after President Barack Obama leaves office.

According to The Washington Times, some House Democrats are complaining about a suspected conflict of interest involving a contractor hired to work on the environmental study of the project being done under the State Department. If the current analysis has to be scrapped and a new one started it could delay the pipeline project, which would carry crude oil from the tar sands of Canada to Gulf Coast refineries, for perhaps another five years.

“I’ve been of the mind that there’s no way it makes any kind of sense [for the president to avoid a decision on Keystone]. But it’s been well over five years and yet he keeps proving me wrong,” Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the conservative Institute for Energy Research, told the Times. “In my experience, a lot of times what happens is the way that the environmental community works, and the political community aligned with them, they will put all kinds of speed bumps in the way [of a project] and when the car falls apart because it takes one more speed bump they say, ‘Look at that. The car couldn’t make it.'”

State contracted a top consulting firm, Environmental Resources Management (ERM), to conduct an analysis of the $7 billion pipeline. The job of reviewing the project was put under state because the pipeline crosses an international border.

The firm’s preliminary review apparently concluded that the pipeline would not contribute to any increase in greenhouse gas emissions, but would create tens of thousands of jobs, a claim the Obama administration questions as overblown.

Critics of ERM, including environmentalists and House Democrats, say that the firm joined with other companies and groups, including the American Petroleum Institute, to lobby for the pipeline, an action they say taints its supportive review of the project.

According to the Times, the State Department Office of the Inspector General is now to conducting a review to determine whether there was conflict involved on the part of ERM. Until a decision on that question is made, Arizona Rep. Raul M. Grijalva and other Democrats are urging that a final decision on whether to approve the project be delayed while another analysis is conducted.

“It would be unwise and premature for State to release a study prepared by Environmental Resources Management while it remains under investigation for lying to federal officials about its business connections and practices,” Grijalva wrote in a letter, co-signed by two dozen other House Democrats, to President Obama.

TransCanada, the primary company behind the Keystone project, has not commented on the potential of a further delay. The project has already been on hold for five years, and the Canadian government has begun considering other ways to export its crude, including building a pipeline west to the Pacific Coast so oil can be sent to markets in Asia.

If that happens, Kish told the Times, that would also give Obama an out from having to make a decision on the pipeline before he leaves office.

“I’ve seen this over several decades with these environmental battles. First they say you need to study it, to do this and to do that. It delays it, delays it, delays it,” Kish said. “And all of a sudden the project becomes uneconomic or they have sent a political signal to the market that they ought to back out.”

Related stories:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Sen. Coburn: Government Wasted $30 Billion in 2013.


Image: Sen. Coburn: Government Wasted $30 Billion in 2013

By Drew MacKenzie

Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has released his annual Wastebook, detailing the 100 leading examples of government waste — amounting to $30 billion this year.

The congressional watchdog said that one of the primary offenders for trashing federal money was the disastrous launch of the Affordable Care Act website HealthCare.gov, which cost at least $319 million.

Millions more were wasted on ads in various states for President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, including a campaign featuring an Elvis impersonator in Colorado, where Wastebook 2013 says only 4,000 people enrolled, one of whom turned out to be a dog named Baxter.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

Another big expense went to a football field-sized blimp, called an “unblinking eye,” that was supposed to provide nonstop surveillance over an Afghanistan battlefield. But the Army pulled the plug on the project this year after one test flight over New Jersey. The total waste: $297 million.

The Army National Guard was also lambasted for throwing away $10 million on a Superman movie tie-in while plans were being made to cut the strength of the Guard by 8,000 soldiers.

“When it comes to spending your money, those in Washington tend to see no waste, speak no waste, and cut no waste,” wrote Coburn, a Republican, in his 167-page report.

He pointed out that although the Department of Defense grounded the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels, it frittered away $634 million “to construct aircraft they never intended to fly.”

The Defense Department also destroyed $7 billion worth of usable military equipment rather than selling it or having it shipped home.

Additional Pentagon dollars squandered included $9 million for a reality TV series for the Army and $34 million for a military headquarters in Afghanistan that will never be used.

When it comes to doing nothing and getting paid for it, Coburn says there’s no beating the 20 NASA employees who spent 70 days lying in bed with their bodies slightly angled downward, as part of a study to replicate what could happen to astronauts during weightlessness in space. NASA has no plans to send anyone up in space in the near future, so that’s another $360,000 down the drain.

The government spent $384,989 on a study of duck penises, $237,205 on research of red crabs, and $390,000 to create a cartoon superhero called “Green Ninja” to teach children about global warming, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

And while the Smithsonian was closing exhibits in Washington, the government was funding the creation of “play zones” at the National Museum of Play, an inventory of toys at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, as well as producing a $150,000 zombie game to help teach kids math.

“Washington has reversed the wisdom of the old cliché that less is needed when less is wasted,” Coburn said. “Every branch of government bickered this year over the need to spend more, while continuing to misspend, with an attitude of ‘waste more, want more.'”

“These are only a few of the 100 examples of government mismanagement and stupidity included in Wastebook 2013. Collectively these cost more than $30 billion in a year when Washington would have you believe everything that could be done has been done to control unnecessary spending.”

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

Related Stories:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Satanists Demand Equal Time With Jesus as Antichrist Spirits Rise.


Jesus statue
(Stock.xchng)

It’s hardly the abomination of desolation that Jesuswarned about when He taught about signs of the end times (Matt. 24:15). But it’s nevertheless a disturbing sign of how hard antichrist spirits are pushing to push Jesus out of our minds.

Oklahoma recently decided to allow a Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol’s lawn. This is the type of thing that typically puts radical atheist activists up in arms, with billboards and lawsuits aimed at removing any reminder of God and His Son from the public square.

But the atheists haven’t launched an attack—at least not yet. Instead, other antichrist spirits are rising up, demanding equal time to celebrate their religions. Indeed, Satanists and Hindus want Oklahoma to erect statues for their false gods.

“A Satanist group has petitioned to have its monument, with an interactive display for children, put up alongside the Ten Commandments. And this week, the Hindu organization applied to have a monkey god statue placed on the Capitol grounds,” Reuters reports. “Socially conservative Christian groups fought for years to have the Ten Commandments displayed at the statehouse, and the monument went up in 2012.”

Oklahoma City lawyer David Slane put it rightly when he told Reuters the legislature essentially opened a Pandora’s box. As it turns out, if the state refuses to allow Satanists, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists—and God knows who else—to erect monuments on the property, they are violating the Equal Protection Clause.

I’d say it’s ironic how Satan is using legalism to push his antichrist agenda in Oklahoma’s government, but it’s more strategic than ironic. Oklahoma’s governing officials argue that they live in a largely Christian state with values and ideals that differ from Satanists. And that’s just why the antichrist spirits are circling. You won’t find antichrist spirits where Christ isn’t being preached, as the goal of the antichrist spirit is to replace Jesus, not merely have a statue next to His.

The antichrist spirit is rapidly rising in this hour, and you can expect to see more manifestations in the months and years ahead. The apostle John warned of this in his first epistle, noting, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18).

And again, “Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 John 4:3). And again, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (2 John 1:7).

Before the Antichrist, Satan, comes on the scene, we will see more and more antichrist spirits rising to push Jesus out of the mainstream. Like John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ first coming, these demonic forerunners have been voices crying in the wilderness for years, preparing the way for Satan himself with deceiving agendas that target the confused, hurt and lost.

Indeed, the antichrist agenda will become bolder, and it will grow darker in the days again. But like I said last week, despite the doom and gloom, Jesus is still Lord. Our job is to let our light shine, speak the truth of the gospel in love, and keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, so that we can rescue people from the kingdom of darkness and escape the prophesied great falling awayamong the saints.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including The Spiritual Warrior’s Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can email Jennifer at jennifer.leclaire@charismamedia.com or visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Tom Price: GOP Has Solution Ready After Obamacare’s Collapse.


Republicans need to be ready with a positive alternative following the inevitable “collapse” of Obamacare, GOP Rep. Tom Price tells Newsmax.

And support is growing for healthcare legislation that empowers consumers, the five-term congressman from Georgia adds.

“The Affordable Care Act is going to collapse soon and real people are going to be hurt,” Price, a past chairman of the House Study Committee and himself a physician, said. “So we have to be ready with a positive solution. We have one in the Empowering Patients First Act.”

Editor’s Note: New ‘Obamacare Survival Guide’ Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare

Following up on an in-depth article he wrote for National Review earlier this month, Price spelled out the details of the legislation in meetings of conservatives on Capitol Hill last week.

Price said that a new analysis by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, concluded the act will produce $2.34 trillion in savings over a ten-year period and will reduce premium increases compared to Obamacare.

Emphasizing that the measure, formally H.R. 2300, is not the official Republican alternative to Obamacare, Price nonetheless pointed out that the legislation has so far been co-sponsored by more than 50 of his fellow House Republicans.

Price said the measure contains several of the concepts that Republicans tried to make to Obamacare during the debate leading up to its passage on a party line vote in 2010.

For example, Empowering Patients permits the purchase of insurance across state lines — a practice that is currently illegal and which Democrats successfully kept out of the Affordable Care Act.

As Price noted, “when companies compete across state lines, consumers have more choices for coverage and competition will drive down costs.”

Tort reform was another Republican-crafted concept that was repeatedly struck down during the committee process before House members voted on Obamacare three years ago. Price and other physicians in Congress warned at the time that the growth of a litigious society has resulted in one-in-14 physicians facing at least one malpractice suit a year.

Lawsuit abuse reforms are included in H.R. 2300 and, as Price said, “the need for defensive medicine, which squanders hundreds of billions of dollars every year and is passed on to the patients, is reduced. That means lower medical bills.”

Editor’s Note: ObamaCare Is Here. Are You Prepared?

The Republican measure permits individuals to keep their health insurance policy regardless of whether they move or change their jobs.

While Obamacare increases the number of Americans in government programs such as Medicaid, Empowering Patients in sharp contrast extends deductibility and different forms of tax credits to make private-sector plans more affordable.

“So, under this plan, Americans will have the financial wherewithal to purchase the kind of coverage they need, not what the government forces them to buy,” Price said.

Price also referred to the case before the Supreme Court launched by the Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby, challenging Obamacare’s requirement that private healthcare plans provide contraceptives for employees, even if it is contrary to their religious beliefs.

Under the Empowering Patients Act, “religious liberty is protected and conscientious objection is safeguarded,” said Price.

Support for H.R. 2300 is growing among House Republicans, Price told Newsmax. However, he added, “many Democratic colleagues have expressed strong support for different parts of the bill, but no Democratic House member has yet signed on as a co-sponsor. We hope this will change in the weeks ahead.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

Related stories:

 

 

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Tag Cloud