A Harvey man who purports to be a “sovereign citizen” immune from local, state and federal law has been arrested on federal terrorism charges. Melvin Lewis II, 51, is accused of scheming to defraud his former employer and several officials in Jefferson Parish of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Lewis was booked Thursday with mail fraud and mailing threatening communications, the FBI announced. The charges stem from his employment with Dynamic Industries of Harvey, and from a traffic ticket he received last year in Westwego.
The FBI describes sovereign citizens as “anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or ‘sovereign’ from the United States. As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement.”
Two staunch pro-life Republicans, Mark Waller and Bob Gardner, both from Colorado Springs, joined seven Democrats on the committee to oppose the bill. They applauded Humphrey for staking out high ground with his bill, but said they unfortunately would vote against it, given that federal law as it stands today made the bill unconstitutional.
“It may be the right moral position, and yet I have to live within the holdings we have and what can be done,” said Gardner. “That’s why I have to respectfully vote no on the bill.”
It’s another intense election year in swing-state Colorado, made more intense by the fact that it’s a midterm election year, where lower voter turnout will give the state’s minority Republican Party a better shot at winning back control of at least one of the legislative chambers.
But Colorado is a pro-choice state. Voters here have defeated proposed personhood amendments in landslides twice at the polls since 2008. In key swing-districts, where registered women outnumber registered men and the number of independent voters essentially matches the numbers of Republican and Democratic voters, a bill like Humphrey’s is a political liability. The bill, HB 1133, would have granted legal status to fertilized human eggs, outlawed abortion in almost all cases — including cases of rape and incest — ended much fertility research and treatment in the state and put doctors at risk of felony convictions for treating myriad complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
Yellowstone National Park officials are investigating after an Idaho woman reported her 3-year-old daughter shot herself with a handgun in a campground.
Park rangers responded Saturday morning to Grant Village Campground, but resuscitation efforts failed, resulting in what officials said was the first shooting death in the park since 1978.
Park spokesman Al Nash said Sunday that part of the campground remained cordoned off while park rangers and special park agents conduct the investigation. He said he didn’t know where the girl’s body was taken.
“We don’t have all of the information, and we haven’t drawn any conclusions,” Nash said.
He said he didn’t know how many family members were camping or where they are from in Idaho. Names haven’t been released.
A federal law went into effect Feb. 22, 2010, allowing visitors to possess firearms in the park. Nash said records show two shooting deaths occurred in the park in 1978, but he didn’t have details.
By JESSE J. HOLLAND
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states cannot require would-be voters to prove they are U.S. citizens before using a federal registration system designed to make signing up easier.
The justices voted 7-2 to throw out Arizona’s voter-approved requirement that prospective voters document their U.S. citizenship in order to use a registration form produced under the federal “Motor Voter” voter registration law.
Federal law “precludes Arizona from requiring a federal form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself,” Justice Antonia Scalia wrote for the court’s majority.
The court was considering the legality of Arizona’s requirement that prospective voters document their U.S. citizenship in order to use a registration form produced under the federal “motor voter” registration law. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which doesn’t require such documentation, trumps Arizona’s Proposition 200 passed in 2004.
Scalia’s majority opinion (PDF) found that the Arizona law conflicts with a federal “motor voter” law. The federal law allows would-be voters to mail in a registration form, without supplying proof of citizenship. Instead, the federal law says, those signing the form need only swear that they are citizens.
Scalia said states weren’t entirely hamstrung, however. They may still reject would-be voters based on information establishing they are ineligible. Also, they may ask the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to alter the federal form to include information they need to determine eligibility. If the commission rejects a request, the states may appeal. In the case before the court, Arizona wasn’t able to persuade the commission to change the form, but it may still appeal, Scalia said.
Scalia had appeared to side with Arizona in March oral arguments. At that time, he had suggested that it would be fine for a state to ensure the integrity of its voting system when the federal form is lacking. “When the commission fails to do what enables the state to assess qualifications, the state will do it,” he said. “No problemo.”
The 7-2 opinion in opinion in Arizona v. Inter-Tribal Council is based on the elections clause, which allows Congress to pre-empt state regulations governing the “times, places and manner” of holding congressional elections.
States aiming to restrict abortion access were dealt a setback Tuesday when the US Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal of a lower court decision blocking an Indiana measure that would have prohibited Medicaid funding for health providers that perform abortion services.
The decision is likely to affect a similar proposed ban making its way through the legislature in Arizona. Both states argue that taxpayers are inadvertently funding abortions when health-care clinics like Planned Parenthood receive Medicaid funding for services other than abortion. Federal law prevents the direct funding of abortion services, but the measures in Indiana and Arizona are seen as going a step further in stripping Medicaid dollars from any organization that offers abortion.
Opponents of the measures say the strategy denies low-income patients the right to obtain health care from their provider of choice. The Indiana chapter of Planned Parenthood, which operates 28 clinics in the state, says that it serves more than 9,300 Medicaid patients annually for preventive-care services that include cancer screenings, routine medical exams, and birth control.
Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of the Indiana chapter, released a statement Tuesday, characterizing legislators’ strategy as “trying to score political points and wasting taxpayer dollars.” Medicaid funding represents about 20 percent of the group’s annual budget of $15 million.
The federal government is accusing a Miami business of having forced employees to practice Scientology.
Dynamic Medical Services, which provides medical and chiropractic treatment, is accused by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of having compelled at least four of its employees to participate in Scientology religious practices, and of having fired two for their refusal.
The company, in a statement faxed to ABC News, says it prides itself on the diversity of its staff and that it denies that it engaged in any improper or unlawful actions with regard to its employees. It intends, it says, to vigorously defend itself against the government’s “baseless allegations” and expects to be vindicated.
The Church of Scientology did not respond to requests for comment by ABC News.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, filed May 8, Dynamic Medical, owned by Dr. Dennis Nobbe, violated federal law by requiring employees named in the suit to spend at least half their work days in courses that involved “Scientology religious practices, such as screaming at ashtrays or staring at someone for eight hours without moving.”
This is from last December and is only one woman’s story, but it contains important information everyone should be aware of when it comes to dealing with cyberstalking and/or harassment (especially if you’re dealing with a local police department that doesn’t take it seriously or is trying to discourage you from filing a report).
Carla Franklin was cyberstalked and bullied for years by a man she briefly dated. She has now become an advocate and expert for online harassment. Host Michel Martin talks with Franklin about her experience and cyberstalking laws. *Advisory: This conversation may not be comfortable for all listeners.
More on Carla’s story at The Daily Beast - Busting a Cyberstalker: How Carla Franklin Fought Back—and Triumphed
- The Haunting of Erin Andrews - Two years after that infamous video, the ESPN reporter still can't escape it — even though she put her stalker behind bars. As she gears up for college football season, she opens up about the public and private battles she's still waging. Marie Claire 13 July 2011
- Cyberstalking 'now more common' than face-to-face stalking - First study of its kind shows complete strangers target victims, of whom nearly 40% are men. The Guardian 8 April 2011
- A Sinister Web Entraps Victims of Cyberstalkers - The problem of cyberstalking can be devastating, and it is not easily legislated away. The New York Times 17 April 2006
- How to Report Internet Harassment - eHow
- Cyberbullying / Stalking & Harassment - Wired Safety, an online safety, education, and help group
- Stalking Resource Center - National Center for Victims of Crime in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women
- Stalking - U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women
- State Cyberstalking and Cyberharassment Laws - National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
- Online Harassment/Cyberstalking Statistics - Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHOA)
Who to follow on Twitter:
- @parryaftab - Parry Aftab: privacy and security lawyer, founder of wiredsafety.org & stopcyberbullying.org, Managing Director of WiredTrust
- @SRC_NCVC - Stalking Resource Center (SRC): works to enhance the ability of professionals, organizations, and systems to effectively respond to stalking through training and technical assistance.
- @TheJusticeDept - Official U.S. Department of Justice account
- @OJPgov - Official Office of Justice Programs account
- @NCSLorg - National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL): a bipartisan organization serving the legislators and staff of states, commonwealths and territories
Notice this local news headline that comes from the San Francisco area, where the bulk of the population is supportive of Gay Marriage. This should read “Gay Spouses” or “Gay Families” don’t you think? You also have to ask if it’s a “windfall” if everyone else is entitled to these tax benefits and you are barred from them by religious prejudices?
These types of gay marriage slights and diminutions come naturally even to people who are pro gay marriage because anti-gay bigotry is so deeply embedded in our culture from over one and a half millenniums of Christian repression that runs all the way back to the Holy Roman Emperors in 342 AD.
Accountants and tax lawyers are encouraging married same-sex couples to apply now for tax refunds, Social Security benefits and other financial perks of marriage they may have been denied under the federal law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing gay and lesbian unions.
The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments later this month to a provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. If the court strikes it down, some married couples and gays whose spouses have died may be eligible for retroactive payments.
The Obama administration on Friday urged the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense Of Marriage Act in a brief that calls the law unconstitutional because it violates “the fundamental guarantee of equal protection.”
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argues in the brief that Section 3 of the 1996 federal law prohibits the marriage of same-sex couples and should get the court’s close scrutiny.
“The law denies to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married under state law an array of important federal benefits that are available to legally married opposite-sex couples. Because this discrimination cannot be justified as substantially furthering any important governmental interest, Section 3 is unconstitutional.”
DOMA, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, has been found unconstitutional by lower courts. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal in one of those cases, U.S. v. Windsor. Oral arguments are scheduled for March 27.
Verrilli argues in his brief that gays and lesbians have been historically discriminated against. He describes how DOMA should proceed if the Supreme Court does not apply the increased scrutiny:
“The government has previously defended Section 3 under rational-basis review, and does not challenge the constitutionality of Section 3 under that highly deferential standard.”
But less than 24 hours after arriving at the retreat, she and her spouse were told to leave. The military chaplains who organized the program last month said that the couple was making others uncomfortable. They said they had determined that under federal law the program could serve only heterosexual married couples.
Lieutenant Hardy is a lesbian in a same-sex marriage who had hoped that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2011 would allow her to fully participate in military life. But she and many other gay and bisexual service members say they continue to encounter a raft of rules and regulations barring them from receiving benefits and privileges routinely accorded to heterosexual service members.
Lieutenant Hardy had been assured by the chaplain’s office in the weeks before the retreat that she and her wife were welcome to attend. The chaplains said in hindsight that those assurances were given in error.
“I felt hurt, humiliated,” said Lieutenant Hardy, 28. “These were people I had been deployed with. And they were telling me I can go to fight the war on terrorism with them, but I can’t attend a seminar with them to keep my marriage healthy.”
Gay marriage is now legal in nine states and in Washington, D.C. But because same-sex marriages are not recognized under federal law, the spouses of gay service members are barred from receiving medical and dental insurance and surviving spouse benefits and are not allowed to receive treatment in military medical facilities. Spouses are also barred from receiving military identification cards, which provide access to many community activities and services on base, including movie theaters, day care centers, gyms and commissaries.