Government should have role in marriage, says law professor

Government should have role in marriage, says law professor A University of Iowa law professor has written about whether or not government should be involved in regulating marriage.

Ann Estin responded to those who argue for separating the two sides of marriage in the U.S. saying civil marriage is unnecessary because government can regulate family issues with existing contract and property laws.

Proponents of this approach call for granting civil unions to all couples and leaving marriage to religious faiths.

However, according to Estin, who is a family law expert and author of Unofficial Family Law, such ideas are attractive theoretically, but fail to recognize the deeply rooted importance of marriage in American culture and the complex interaction between civil and religious marriage.

"Concluding marriages with a single ceremony prevents the ambiguity and potential complications of different status in civil and religious law," she writes, adding, "In our society, as in many others, the definition of marriage . . . has been central to our self-definition as a community."

State regulation of marriage is also a subject in the debate over gay marriage rights.

Last week, the California Supreme Court upheld a ban on same-gender marriages based on the passage last November of Proposition 8 which sought to restrict the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples.

However, supporters of gay marriage, who called the decision a sad day for freedom and fairness, have vowed to continue what they see as a civil rights struggle.

Study suggests meditation may help control bladder

Study suggests meditation may help control bladderCognitive therapy such as meditation may be effective in the management of urinary incontinence in women, new research has found.

Scientists from Loyola University Health System in Chicago set out to investigate the impact of deep-breathing and guided-imagery exercises on female participants’ ability to control their bladder without medication or surgery.

The results of the study, which were published in the latest issue of the Journal of Urology, showed cognitive therapy is an effective management strategy for incontinence.

Dr. Aaron Michelfelder, associate professor at the department of family medicine at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, says, "The mind-body connection has proven to be particularly valuable for women suffering from incontinence."

"Cognitive therapy is effective with these women, because they are motivated to make a change and regain control over their body," he adds.

The Loyola researchers say nearly 25 percent of women suffer from a pelvic floor disorder, which includes incontinence, and cognitive therapy may play an important role in a comprehensive approach to treating the condition.

Republicans tread fine line on Sotomayor

Republicans tread fine line on Sotomayor The nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court has provoked a barrage of criticism from President Obama’s opponents, but some have cautioned the GOP against taking a tough line.

Conservatives have primarily focused on what they see as Sotomayor’s activist record, in particular in a recent case in which the New Haven Police Department scrapped the results of a firefighter promotion exam because almost no minorities qualified for promotions, a decision she supported as a judge.

However, some have also brought up charges of racism against the Hispanic judge currently sitting on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Right-wing pundits from Rush Limbaugh to Newt Gingrich have denounced Sotomayor after a passage was quoted from a speech she delivered eight years ago in which she seemed to suggest that a Latina female judge "would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life."

"White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw," Gingrich tweeted, quoted by "Latina woman racist should also withdraw."

However, commentators have pointed to the danger of alienating the Latinos at a time when the GOP has record low popularity among the ethnic group, partially as a result of the failure of the Bush administration to ensure the passage of a broad legalization bill in 2006.

In last year’s presidential election, 67 percent of Latinos voted for Obama.


Controversial abortion doctor slain

Controversial abortion doctor slain An abortion doctor has been shot and killed Sunday at a Kansas church where he served as an usher.

Dr. George Tiller was a particularly divisive figure given his persistence in conducting late-term abortions which put him in a small minority of practitioners across the country.

In response to the shooting, progressive nonprofit groups and women’s rights organizations have gathered in several towns and cities to protest Tiller’s killing.

"I think we can all stand up and say it’s not okay to murder people because of their beliefs," said Joel Swanson, who works at the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, quoted by the Washington Post.

"I can’t believe that someone who considers himself pro-life would do this," he added.

However, Dave Leach, an anti-abortion activist from Des Moines has offered a different view.

"To call this a crime is too simplistic," he said, quoted by the New York Times. "There is Christian scripture that would support this."

Police have arrested 51-year-old Scott Roeder of Kansas for the murder and the New York Times has reported his acquaintances mentioned his anti-government and anti-abortion philosophy.

However, the suspect’s brother has said Roeder has had a history of mental illness throughout his life.

Tiller’s abortion clinic has been a target of attacks and pickets for many years, and Tiller himself survived an assassination attempt in 1993.

Can white tea prevent obesity?

Can white tea prevent obesity? White tea is being hailed as a possible solution to the obesity problem after experiments have shown its extract helps regulate fat tissue metabolism.

Scientists from Germany have been studying the effects white tea – the least processed version of the tea plant Camellia sinensis – and found that after treating human fat cells with the tea extract in laboratory conditions, fat incorporation in new cells was reduced.

Marc Winnefeld, who led the team of researchers from Beiersdorf AG, has said the extract induced a decrease in the expression of genes associated with the growth of new fat cells and also prompted existing cells to break down the fat they already contained.

The researchers say that, being less processed, white tea contains more of the ingredients thought to be active on human cells, such as methylxanthines (similar to caffeine) and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is believed to be responsible for many of the beneficial effects demonstrated in the study.

The study may be seen as a breakthrough, pointing to a natural and inexpensive way to treat an epidemic that is becoming widespread in the industrialized countries, raising the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes and putting a growing pressure on healthcare resources.

The USA Patriot Act and persecution of Ashton Lundeby

What would you do if a police officer knocked on your door at 10 p.m. and asked to see your son, who was already in bed? And the pretense used by the officer to see your son was a lie?

Then a dozen government agents barged into your home and began searching it without first showing you a search warrant? And while this was going on, an armed federal agent dragged your pre-teen daughter out of her bed and into the living room?

What would you do if government agents then handcuffed your son, ransacked your house—taking a computer, cell phone, computer gaming equipment and personal papers—and took your son to jail? And, while this was going on, those same government agents refused to allow you to call an attorney?

Then a hearing was held early the next morning, before you were able to find an attorney to represent your son? And if, three months later, your son had not been charged with a crime but had been denied bail and was still being held in prison in another state?

When you hear of something like this, is your first thought that this is some third world or communist country? It’s surely somewhere other than the United States.

Well welcome to today’s America, my friends, courtesy of the USA Patriot Act.

Annette and Ashton Lundeby’s nightmare began March 5, when a North Carolina State Trooper knocked on the door of their Oxford, N.C., home at 10 p.m. and asked Mrs. Lundeby if she knew her son had hit another car and left the scene.

It was not true, and as she spoke to the officer a dozen FBI agents stormed past her into her house and began searching and demanding she get her 16-year-old son out of bed. When she asked about a search warrant the agents showed her one, but would not let her read it until later in the evening.

Her son was interrogated by FBI agents and her daughter was dragged from her bed and the family terrorized.

“I was terrified,” Mrs. Lundeby, a widow, told a WRAL television reporter. “There were guns, and I don’t allow guns around my children. I don’t believe in guns.”

As the evening progressed Mrs. Lundeby learned that her son, who had never been in any trouble with the law, was being accused of making bomb threats. The only evidence agents had was an email with the IP address of her son’s computer.

No bomb-making materials, wires or bomb-making literature was found in the home. What’s more, at the time Ashton was supposedly sending the threatening email he was attending a meeting at his church. After the meeting he and his mother cleaned the church building and then went to a grocery story on the way home. When he got home he went straight to bed.

Mrs. Lundeby believes her son is the victim of a computer hacker. She said the hacker has been at work for a couple months because she had received several strange calls prior to March 5. On one occasion the police called saying someone had called 911 saying there were drugs in her home.

All of these facts should be easy to confirm if an investigator cared to confirm them. But it seems authorities are more interested in persecuting Ashton than in finding the truth.

Under normal circumstances a habeas corpus hearing would be held that would force the government to present a case for holding Ashton. But the Patriot Act supersedes that. So Ashton remains in detention without being charged.

We wrote a few weeks ago about the liberty-infringing effects laws passed by Congress to fight terrorism and championed by a supposedly conservative president have had on Americans. Many of those commenting about that article disagreed with us on the deleterious nature of such laws.

Some of those comments called us “too right wing” for them and said they didn’t want to be a part of such a website as Personal Liberty Digest. But Ashton Lundeby’s case shows how, when given the power to deny rights, the government will do so every time.

It’s happened before in our country. In 1789 Congress passed and President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts which authorized the deportation of “dangerous” aliens and also made a crime the publication of “any false, scandalous and malicious writing.” Twenty-five men, many of them newspaper editors, were arrested. Included among them was the grandson of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin Bache.

President Abraham Lincoln did it too, locking up state legislators and newspaper editors who were against the U.S. waging war on the Confederacy. Most of them were held without trial and charges for the war’s duration.

And President George Bush did it, pushing through Congress the Military Commissions Act and USA Patriot Act, which deny due process to enemy combatants and, as evidenced in the cases of Jose Padilla and Ashton Lundeby, Americans as well.

Our Constitution has been shredded and it seems there are few willing to acknowledge it, and fewer still trying to do something about.

For those willing to study our country’s history, the oppressive nature of government is no surprise. We were warned by the founders, who broke away from an oppressive government and formed one that guaranteed certain rights.

As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “The system of justice will either protect citizens from tyranny or be one means by which tyranny is exercised over them. A just society rests upon an equal application of the law to each and every citizen; it protects the rights of individuals regardless of the inconveniences caused thereby. It is of inestimable importance to the happiness and security of the people that justice be administered strictly, according to the established forms of the law.”

Unfortunately, those elected to represent us seem to either have no knowledge of history and our Constitution or are blatantly disregarding it to consolidate their power. Concerned citizens need to hold accountable those they elected, for tyranny rests at your doorstep.