Saturday, May 5, 2007

Post Freaky Friday


Friday just came and went yesterday. Maybe it was the shock that the Golden Gate Warriors actually beat the Mavs post-season. It has been 16 years, and 13 years of it one of our friends would call us for his annual, "This year the Warriors will make the playoffs!" prediction. We would think, "Oh, that poor, pitiful man...why does he keep doing this to himself? What a masochist!" This should teach us a lesson -- if you keep saying something will happen, year after year, chances are, eventually it may happen.


My Cinco de Mayo

While I am always a big fan commemorating revolutions, Cinco de Mayo is a sad day for me. Five years ago, my mom passed away. Naturally, this was the saddest days of my life -- just days before Mother's Day. She had suffered for years with Osteoporosis and had developed emphysema after smoking for 57 years (much of that was 2 packs a day).

It started getting bad when she was pulling files out at work and cracked a vertibre. Her mother and my grandmother had broken both of her hips and probably had osteoporosis as well.

It got to the point where she could barely take one puff before having to put out the cigarette and going back on oxygen.

The pain she endured was simply awful and there was no pain medication that didn't make her terribly sick. She had always been skinny, but she looked like an Auschwitz survivor the last couple of years of her life.

She was such a wonderful soul with a great big heart and had this really cute sense of humor. She loved kids and was a wonderful and warm mother. My mother would have adored my son and it breaks my heart that she died before she could meet him. I love her still and miss her terribly. If I am lucky she appears in my dreams -- but it makes me deeply sorrowful when I realize that its only a dream. Be resting in peace, my little sparrow.

Spring Fashion Police

If only it could be Queer Eye for the Straight Guy cast or Mr. Blackwell walking the streets stopping fashion crisis after fashion crisis, but in Tehran it is a crack down on "immodest dress" and western fashion.

Over 300 women were arrested the first day of the crackdown for too tight overcoats or having too much hair showing from their veil. Authorities have already issued warnings to 1,347 women for being inappropriately dressed. Another 59 deemed provocatively attired were briefly detained. 11 European tourists were issued warnings.

I checked out and found an interesting debate forming in the article comments -- some quite scary to me -- a modern American woman. This is straight out of the book, "Reading Lolita in Tehran." What gets me that the rationale for this dresscode is because it seems Iranian men don't have the sense to discipline themselves in the face of a stray hair, a sight of an ankle, a shoulder, or calf. I would think they would have more restraint and maturity to be able to mind their own business. If they cannot control themselves, shouldn't it be the men who are cracked down on, not the women?

"Men see models in the streets and ignore their own wives at home. This weakens the pillars of family." - Mohammad Taqi Rahbar, Iranian lawmaker

Some are speculating that the crackdown is a mere distraction to overshadow other government problems and an upcoming rise in gas prices.

Foxes Get Free Reign In The Hen-house by SCOTUS

In a recent Supreme Court decision in Watters v. Wacovia, the Supreme Court upheld that state regulators cannot regulate Banks that they charter, specifically mortgage subsidiary
of banks like Wacovia which are national banks. The decision was 5-3 (Ginsberg writing, Alito, Souter, Breyer, and Kennedy with Justice Thomas taking no part in review) .

"The NBA is thus properly read by OCC to protect from state hindrance a national bank’s engagement in the “business of banking” whether conducted by the bank itself or by an operating subsidiary, empowered to do only what the bank itself could do. See supra, at11–12. The authority to engage in the business of mortgage lending comes from the NBA, §371, as does the authority to conduct business through an operating subsidiary. See §§24 Seventh, 24a(g)(3)(A). That Act vests visitorial oversight in OCC, not state regulators. §484(a). State law (in this case, North Carolina law), all agree, governs incorporation-related issues, such as the formation, dissolution, and internal governance of operating subsidiaries.14 And the laws of the States in which national banks or their affiliates are located govern matters the NBA does not address. See supra, at 6. But state regulators cannot interfere with the “business of banking” by subjecting national banks or their OCC-licensed operating subsidiaries to multiple audits and surveillance under rival oversight regimes."

"Watters’ alternative argument, that 12 CFR §7.4006 violates the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, is unavailing. As we have previously explained, “[i]f a power is delegated to Congress in the Constitution, the Tenth Amendment expressly disclaims any reservation of that power to the States.” New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144, 156 (1992) . Regulation of national bank operations is a prerogative of Congress under the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses. See Citizens Bank v. Alafabco, Inc., 539 U. S. 52, 58 (2003) (per curiam). The Tenth Amendment , therefore, is not implicated here."

What Ginsberg is arguing that regulation of the business of banking (conducting transactions, setting up accounts, making loans and mortgages, etc.) is the business of the federal government even if the business is being done by an affiliate or subsidiary of a national bank that is incorporated by a state. The only thing a state can do

That means that your state cannot do anything to protect consumers against predatory or other exotic loans that have lead to increasing cases of defaults. Federal charters of banks are enormously permissive.

"This decision undermines effective state laws and regulatory enforcement mechanisms in place to protect consumers. We are disappointed because states have been extremely active in defending borrowers against abusive lenders, especially in attorney generals' offices. It's possible that the ruling has left some wiggle room on enforcement, based on our first
read. This decision, though, strengthens our resolve for meaningful national anti-predatory lending legislation that covers all lenders throughout the country
." - David Berenbaum, Vice President, National Community Reinvestment Coalition

I am finding myself in this really bizarre position agreeing with Scalia and Roberts in their dissension with Justice Stevens.

"Congress has enacted no legislation immunizing national bank subsidiaries from compliance with nondiscriminatory state laws regulating the business activities of mortgage brokers and lenders. Nor has it authorized an executive agency to preempt such state laws whenever it concludes that they interfere with national bank activities. Notwithstanding the absence of relevant statutory authority, today the Court endorses an agency’s incorrect determination that the laws of a sovereign State must yield to federal power. "

Jesus Not Only Saves, But He Delivers?

I didn't know it, but there are parts of this country where post offices are run by churches that are subcontractors to the USPS with non-Postal Service employees. There are about 5200 such places. These contractors are used in places were official facilities are not possible or appropriate like colleges, grocery stores, pharmacies, and some private residences.

There is one such facility in Manchester, New Hampshire called, The Sincerely Yours Inc. Post Office run by the Full Gospel Interdenominational Church. This facility is at the heart of a recent ruling by a Federal Court that privatized post offices cannot promote religion. A WWII and Korean veteran, Bertram Cooper, who is Jewish, went into The Sincerely Yours in 2003 to find Christian posters, Christian videos playing, and Christian prayer cards were prominent where postal-like activities were taking place. This was the only post office in the downtown area.

Cooper contacted the ACLU because he believed that his First Amendment rights were being violated. Under the First Amendment, there is a right to religion and from religion. The establishment clause prevents the State from establishing or favoring one religion over another.

The religious displays "put the church's beliefs front and center, out for the public to see, endorsing the church's form of Christianity and seeking outsiders to join the church in its mission," wrote U.S. District Court Judge Dominic J. Squatrito. The judge found while the contract between the Church and the Post Office didn't violate the First Amendment, the displays themselves did and the U.S. Postal Service must notify their contractors that they cannot promote religion or display religious materials in their stores.

The church that runs Sincerely Yours may appeal and the U.S. Attorney is reviewing the decision and deciding whether they will appeal. Certain sections of the Department of Justice is also reviewing the ruling.

Quote of the Day

A Humanist Code of Ethics:
Do no harm to the earth, she is your mother.
Being is more important than having.
Never promote yourself at another's expense.
Hold life sacred; treat it with reverence.
Allow each person the digity of his or her labor.
Open your home to the wayfarer.
Be ready to receive your deepest dreams;
sometimes they are the speech of unblighted conscience.
Always make restitutions to the ones you have harmed.
Never think less of yourself than you are.
Never think that you are more than another.
- Arthur Dobrin

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