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national news

Supreme Court Explores High School Searches, Personal Drama

Sam Guzik

Posted:  Apr 24th 2009 10:06AM

Filed Under: National News, Washington University, News



Sam Guzik is now a contributor for The Cram, a student news arm of the newly launched PoliticsDaily.com. To follow his future work, click here.

The Supreme Court is one of the United States's most venerable institutions, packed with nine of the nation's best legal minds, so it makes sense that they might be a little too busy to keep up with popular culture. Comments during the oral arguments in a case earlier this week, though, take out of touch to a new level.

Safford Unified School District v. Redding, heard by the court on Tuesday, asks the justices to weigh in on the constitutionality of strip searching students in schools when administrators have received a tip about hidden contraband but no location-specific information. While sorting through the complex fourth amendment issues, Justices found themselves transported back to their own time in school.

Take Justice Breyer, who wondered how the strip search was any different than what he had to endure while being forced to change for gym class and, less relevantly, while being teased by fellow students.

"In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day, we changed for gym, OK? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear," said Breyer while trying to point out that it might not be unusual for children to hide things from teachers in their underwear. As the court broke out into laughter, Breyer quickly added, "Or not my underwear. Whatever. Whatever."

Full Article »

Magazine Capitalizes on Obama's Pecs

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 22nd 2009 4:30PM

Filed Under: News, Media, Notre Dame

The torture debate is getting exhausting, and it's only just begun. Did the United States torture? Was it wrong? Should people be prosecuted? Will Dick Cheney ever stop appearing on Fox News and just enjoy his retirement already?

Let's instead turn to a much lighter story. Washingtonian Magazine, which typically has such attention-grabbing cover stories as "Top 100 Dentists in the Washington Area" or "Top 30 Places to Visit on the Weekend," has put out a May cover that is getting way more attention than their April edition, "Inside 10 Great Homes."

The topic of this month's cover issue is "26 Reasons to Love Living Here." Reason No. 2 is: "Our new neighbor is hot."

To prove the point, the magazine put a picture of President Obama, clad only in a bathing suit and sunglasses, on the cover.

I know the print media industry is suffering right now, but really, Washingtonian Magazine? I didn't realize your editorial board consisted of the women from Desperate Housewives.

Full Article »

politics

Debate over Interrogation Tactics Continues

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 21st 2009 8:43AM

Filed Under: Politics, News, Notre Dame



President Obama is making a mistake by not pursuing any prosecutions for those responsible for the harsh interrogation techniques that were used during the Bush administration.

Last week, I posted a blog piece about the legal memos released by the Justice Department that detailed the interrogation techniques used by the United States on people suspected of involvement in terrorist acts or planning. Obama reportedly agonized over the release of the memos, weighing whether their release was necessary for transparency of government or whether releasing the memos would compromise the security of the United States.

When he did release them, he announced that those who had carried out the torture, believing their actions were lawful, would not be subject to prosecution.

George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC's "This Week," asked White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on Sunday whether the president also ruled out prosecution for the officials who devised the torture polices.

Emanuel responded: "He believes that people in good faith were operating with the guidance they were provided."

Full Article »

politics

Miss California & The Gay Rights Thought Police

Joshua Sharp

Posted:  Apr 20th 2009 8:22PM

Filed Under: Politics, USC, News

OMG! Miss California is a social conservative!

Last night, the Miss USA pageant was held -- unbeknownst to me, since all I know about pageants is what I've seen in Little Miss Sunshine. Near the end of the pageant, celebrity judge Perez Hilton was tasked with asking one question of then-frontrunner Miss California Carrie Prejean. He decided to lob a question about one of the most politically controversial issues of our time; Prejean's response may have cost her the title:

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U.S. Realizes Cuba Policy Has Been a Failure

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 17th 2009 10:28PM

Filed Under: News, Notre Dame



I guess you could call it the new "oops, our bad, guys" approach to foreign relations.

The same week that President Barack Obama decided to allow Cuban-Americans with relatives on the island nation to visit and send money without restrictions, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to talk about America's relations with other countries in the Americas, including Cuba.

At a digital town hall, she took a question from "Juan" of Cuba, who asked her about the embargo with Cuba, which has been in place for nearly 50 years. Clinton said Obama views engagement as a useful way to achieve the United States' objectives with other countries.

"We are continuing to look for more productive ways forward in dealing with Cuba, because President Obama and I and the Administration view the present policy toward Cuba as having failed," Clinton said.

Good, it only took us half a century to realize that. Maybe in another 50 years we'll be able to figure a way to get out of Iraq without leaving it a mess.

Full Article »

Interrogation Memos Reveal Rough Treatment of Detainees

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 16th 2009 9:00PM

Filed Under: News, Media, Notre Dame



The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday released four Office of Legal Counsel opinions that describe interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Bush administration.

Politico reported that White House senior adviser David Axelrod said President Barack Obama spent a month trying to decide whether to release the memos about the techniques.

In a letter to the officers of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), posted on the agency's Web site, Obama thanked them for their service to the country. He said he made the decision the night before to allow the Justice Department to release the memos.

"I did not make this decision lightly," he wrote in the letter. "As you may know, the release is part of an ongoing court case. I have fought for the principle that the United States must carry out covert activities and hold information that is classified for the purpose of national security and will do so again in the future. But the release of these memos is required by our commitment to the rule of law."

Obama said that while he has prohibited use of the interrogation techniques described in the memo since he took office, he and Attorney General Eric Holder would "protect all who acted reasonably and relied upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that their actions were lawful." Holder affirmed this in a Thursday news release from the Department of Justice.

The individuals in the CIA who carried out the harsh interrogation actions will not be prosecuted, or so Obama says. Will anyone?

Full Article »

culture

Tea Parties Planned for Tax Day

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 15th 2009 8:25AM

Filed Under: Culture, Breaking News, News, Media, Notre Dame


The Internet has been buzzing lately all about parties happening on Tax Day. Tea Parties, to be exact.

I never got an invitation, but I'm more of a coffee drinker. It'd be a bit of a pain to purchase tea bags just to dump them in a body of water.

Like the great pre-Revolutionary War colonists who came before them, American taxpayers are up in arms and want to protest "higher taxes and out-of-control government spending," according to a column in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday. It's hard to tell who exactly started this movement, but the columnist asserted that this is not the work of a "right-wing conspiracy," but rather, average Americans who are using the expanding power of the Internet to organize an imitation of an event that took place in 1773.

According to the Wall Street Journal column, the protests began in mid-February with bloggers in Seattle, Wash., then grew when CNBC commentator Rick Santelli delivered his now famous rant against President Obama's policies, advocating that people organize a tea party in Chicago on July 4.

From that rant, a movement was born. Now these flash mob protests are apparently planned across the country on Tax Day. The Tea Party movement is one of the top trending topics on Twitter, and on Facebook a group called Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party has more than 35,000 members.

I'm always up for a party. And those are big numbers. I'd love to fly home to watch protesters dump a million tea bags in Lafayette Square in Washington D.C, as the protest organizers say they will, according to a Washington Post story.

Imagine if we took that tea and, provided it was caffeinated, gave it to American workers. Think of the productivity we'd see on Tax Day!

Full Article »

culture

Brown University Faculty Votes To Hijack History

An obsession with political correctness at American universities has rapidly become a national phenomenon in recent years. A few colleges have really taken it too far.

Brown University's faculty voted last week to rename Columbus Day "Fall Weekend" on the University's calendar, a move that apparently was in step with the wishes of students according to a poll by the college newspaper The Brown Daily Herald. The poll revealed a majority of students disapproved of continuing to call the holiday Columbus Day.



The decision came after weeks of pressure from student groups proposing change.

American University's Undergraduate Senate passed a similar resolution a few years ago declaring the holiday "Indigenous People's Day" instead.

Columbus Day is named of course after Christopher Columbus, the man incorrectly attributed with discovering North America. As we know today, Columbus was tied to the enslavement and abuse of native inhabitants of the West Indies. Columbus Day has been celebrated since 1971.

Full Article »

Supreme Court Justice Opines on Rights and Dishwashers

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 14th 2009 2:30AM

Filed Under: News, Notre Dame


I'm not sure what's more unsettling, that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas thinks there is a "proliferation of rights" or that he is fascinated by dishwashers.

It's a close call.

Justice Thomas revealed these insights and more March 31 when he spoke to winners of a high school essay contest in Washington, D.C. at a dinner sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute. The New York Times published some great quotes Monday from the talk, which was supposed to address the topic of the Bill of Rights.

Thomas has served on the Supreme Court since 1991, when he was nominated by President George H. W. Bush. In his article, New York Times writer Adam Liptak pointed out that Justice Clarence Thomas has not asked a question from the bench since Feb. 22, 2006.

Thomas spoke at an event in 2007 at Hillsdale College in Michigan, and according to an article in U.S. News and World Report, he criticized those judges that asked questions and debated cases out loud during oral arguments.

"My colleagues should shut up," he said then. Thomas, the article reported, has often been criticized for his silent approach to Supreme Court cases.

Judging from some of his bizarre statements recently, maybe silence is a good policy.

Full Article »

Pirate Jokes Becoming Less Funny

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 11th 2009 5:08PM

Filed Under: News, Notre Dame



Remember when pirates were entertaining? When Johnny Depp was Captain Jack Sparrow? When the only hint of danger at Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride was when they told you to keep your hands inside the boat at all times?

There's even an International Talk Like a Pirate Day, on Sept. 19 each year. If you visit the event organizers' Web site, you can collect some pick-up lines for your next night out. The No. 1 pick-up line, according to the site: Prepare to be boarded.

But "prepare to be boarded" is not a joke, nor is it a cheesy attempt at seduction, for people on ships sailing near the coast of Somalia in Africa. On Wednesday, pirates took control of the Maersk Alabama, a ship flying the U.S. flag, and took 20 American sailors hostage, the New York Times reported. The crew retook the ship in a matter of hours, but the pirates are still holding the ship's captain in an enclosed lifeboat, and they are demanding a ransom.

Full Article »

U.S. Tackles Diplomacy 101 with Iran

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 9th 2009 1:18AM

Filed Under: News, Notre Dame

After eight years of President Bush's "You're either with us or you're against us" foreign policy, I'd almost forgotten the United States did diplomacy.

Diplomacy was so United Nations, so Neville Chamberlain, but now the United States is flexing its diplomatic muscles (or are we putting on our diplomatic beret?) Some members of Congress are urging the United States to improve its relations with Cuba, with which it has had a trade embargo for nearly 50 years.

The United States is even trying to talk to (gasp!) Iran, a country Bush labeled in 2002 as a member of the axis of evil. The State Department announced Wednesday that the United States will join the talks between the United Nations and European countries with Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.

In a statement Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would be a full participant along with Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China in future negotiations with Iran. This is a departure from Bush policy, save for the one exception last July, when the former president allowed a senior U.S. diplomat to attend a meeting at which an Iranian representative was present. But The Washington Post reported that the Bush administration believed Iran was not serious in that meeting and said the effort would not be repeated.

The Post quoted a senior administration official who said "it was kind of silly that we had to walk out of the room" when the Iranians were present.

That does sound a bit silly. Talking to countries with whom you have a disagreement seems like a crazy idea, but it's so crazy it just might work...

Full Article »

politics

Aaron Schock Adds Sex Appeal to Republican Party

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 7th 2009 10:19PM

Filed Under: Politics, Featured Stories, News, Media, Notre Dame

The Republican Party keeps getting sexier.

They've had an uphill battle. In the fall, John McCain had to compete with the sex appeal of Barack Obama (those abs!) and Joe Biden (those teeth!), but McCain proved he had more sexy in reserve than America has oil in reserve offshore when he introduced Sarah Palin (those legs!) as his running mate.

But Americans voted "Yes, we can" instead of "Drill, baby, drill," and Palin retreated back to Alaska, so the Republicans were left with a sexy deficit (except for when Palin family scandals pop up in the news once a week).

That deficit has been filled. Aaron Schock is in the House.


Of Representatives, that is. Schock represents Illinois' 18th District, and at 27, he is the youngest Member of Congress and the first to be born in the 1980s. He's not just a pretty face, hair and body. Not surprisingly, Schock is your typical over-achiever. He graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. with a B.S. in Finance, a four-year degree, in two years.

In his early teens, he began working after-school jobs and invested the money he made, making his first real estate purchase at age 18, according to his official House Web site. He entered public service by serving on the Peoria School board starting when he was 18 years old.

When he was 23, he was elected to the Illinois House, where he shared the 2007 award with then-Senator Barack Obama from the Illinois Committee for Honest Government for his "Outstanding Legislative and Constituent Service." He spoke at the 2008 National Republican Convention, and now that he is in Congress, he is sitting on three committees: the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Small Business Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He's also been named Deputy Republican Whip.

And, perhaps most notably, he's been named "hottest freshman in Congress" by the readers of the liberal blog site Huffington Post.

Full Article »

politics

Mapping the Gay Marriage Debate

Tony Romm

Posted:  Apr 7th 2009 9:20PM

Filed Under: Politics, News, American University

First Iowa, then Vermont -- two states, in less than two weeks, have conferred marriage rights to same-sex couples. In the nation's capitol, meanwhile, the D.C. Council has approved a measure that would recognize gay marriages performed out of state -- a decision that, while unanimous, is still subject to a final vote and Congressional approval.

In 29 other states, however, constitutional bans still prohibit in-state gay marriage, fail to recognize out-of-state gay marriage contracts, or bestow no domestic partnership benefits upon same-sex couples.

The following map outlines those states in which gay marriage-related laws have been passed:


View Larger Map (Please note that due to the size of the window, Alaska and Hawaii were omitted. Both states have banned gay marriage)

How to use: Click on each state to read any applicable information, or click on the map to open a larger window.

Legend:
Green - State performs gay marriages
Yellow - State performs civil unions
Blue - State endows same-sex couples with domestic partnership rights
Red - State bans gay marriage
Pink - State recognizes out-of-state gay marriages and/or civil unions

INFORMATION COURTESY OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Full Article »

politics

North Korea Launches Rocket, Prompts Famous 3 a.m. Phone Call

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 6th 2009 12:06AM

Filed Under: Politics, Breaking News, News, Media, Notre Dame

Hillary Clinton saw this coming.

President Barack Obama got his 3 a.m. phone call, albeit at 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning in Prague, Czech Republic, when North Korea launched a long-range rocket. That's a sudden way to remind someone that being president isn't all about the economy.

Last year, when Obama and Clinton were still vying for the Democratic nomination, Clinton put out an ad saying she was the best one to answer the theoretical 3 a.m. phone call because she had the experience. Obama replied to her political advertisement with a nearly identical one that said he should answer the theoretical 3 a.m. phone call because he had better judgment.



The scenario became reality Sunday when North Korea launched the rocket they'd been threatening to launch for several weeks. The North Korean government said they had conducted a successful, peaceful launch of a satellite into orbit, CNN reported. But the United States and South Korea characterized the launch as a "provocative act" and said the rocket's payload failed to enter orbit, instead falling into the Pacific Ocean near Japan.

CNN quoted a State Department spokesman as saying the launch was in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution on North Korea's weapons program, which prohibits the country from conducting ballistic missile-related activities.

Full Article »

politics

Congress Begins Talk of Ending Cuba Embargo

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 3rd 2009 1:41AM

Filed Under: US Elections, Politics, News, Notre Dame

Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, is trying to urge changes to the nearly 50-year-old economic embargo against Cuba.

Lugar, in a March 30 letter to President Obama, said the embargo against Cuba, which has been in place since 1962 to protest the government set up by Fidel Castro, "undermines our broader security and political interests in the Western Hemisphere."

Lugar asked Obama to appoint a special envoy to start direct talks with Cuba's communist government and end opposition to Cuba's membership in the Organization of American States, The Washington Post reported. Lugar pointed to the April 17-19 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago as a good place to make changes in U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba.



Lugar is also the co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill that would end restrictions on travel to Cuba except for in cases of war or direct threats to health and safety. As it stands now, Cuban Americans with relatives on the island are allowed to visit once a year. Travel to Cuba by all U.S. citizens has been prohibited in varying degrees since 1963, the Post said. The State Department lists who exactly is allowed to travel there. It's a hard list to make, which is a shame, because the forecast for the next week is in the 80s.

Full Article »

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