Friday, September 30, 2011

The Northwest Georgia Conference on How to Commit Perjury (and get away with it)

Despite the fact that Northwest Georgia is one of the most heavily-churched areas in the nation (and it even features a Christian college, Covenant College), it also is a place where the police and judicial systems are so utterly corrupt that they are beyond any repair. And when dishonest people get together for a conference, well, things happen that fall into the category of "You Can't Make Up This Stuff."

On October 3 and 4, the Northwest Georgia Child Abuse Conference will be held at The Colonnade in Ringgold. Not surprisingly, the Usual Suspects will be there and three men who are experienced in suborning perjury and lying to juries will be featured speakers. If you love perjury, then you don't want to miss this conference that will tell you how to lie in court, make up outlandish stories, and pretend you are "saving children."

In fact, this conference is aptly named, for people who coach children to lie under oath and to give false testimony against their mothers and fathers and teachers indeed are child abusers. So, if you want a career in legal child abuse, then this is the place to start.

Because this conference is one big howler, featuring child abusers from all over the State of Georgia, I will concentrate upon just one session, and it is self-explanatory: Overcoming Defenses in Child Molestation Cases. The presenters? Chris Arnt, Len Gregor, and Alan Norton. (I guess Buzz Franklin could not make it, as he must be engaged in something else, like writing stupid press releases.)

I will include the conference blurb on this session, which you don't want to miss:
Child molestation cases are outside the norm for the average citizen. Defense attorneys often will take advantage of the general public’s misperceptions concerning such cases. The presentation will to teach those who investigate child molestations cases to be cognizant of such defenses and properly prepare with such defenses in mind.
In case one does not understand the language of these "professionals," here is an interpretation:
Prosecutors are desperate to keep exculpatory evidence out of child molestation trials, and they also are desperate to keep the defense from exposing prosecution lies. Given that fact, this session will teach budding prosecutors how to lie to jurors, how to get judges to make outrageous rulings in order to deny the defendant a fair trial, and it will give demonstrations on how to bully witnesses. Of extreme importance in this session will be a segment on how to employ the non sequitur when the defense starts blasting holes in your case, in hopes that jurors will buy into your diversion tactics.

This session also will include interview techniques if you lose so that when you are interviewed by the media, you can continue to lie, blame jurors, and try to push your view that no accused ever should be allowed any kind of defense. The prosecutors also will show you how to lie about the credentials, testimony, and qualifications of the defense expert witnesses, and of special importance is the segment on trying to convince jurors that your own "experts," most of whom have no credentials or field of relevant study (except for taking a five-day course), really are more qualified than the other experts who have spent their entire careers studying this material, and who have doctorates and often have engaged in extensive post-graduate study.

The final part of the session will involve how to make false comments to jurors, how to lie about the testimony of expert witnesses, and how to disrupt the work of the defense, all with help from friendly judges. The sum total of this session will be teaching attendees how to make sure that truth never enters the courtroom so that you can get wrongful convictions and boost your careers. Len Gregor also will give conferees a demonstration on how to run to one's car following a verdict of "not guilty" and hide one's face from the media by using a notebook.
Lest anyone think I am exaggerating, do the following comparison:

On the prosecution side, we had Suzi Thorne, who at the time was studying for an on-line college degree with Kaplan University, a for-profit diploma mill. According to Arnt, Gregor, and Norton, Thorne (who did attend a five-day training class) was eminently qualified to testify as an "expert" in child sexual abuse. Furthermore, despite the fact that Thorne never has written about child sexual abuse in any publication, and despite the fact that she never has read any publications in any reputable journal, professional or academic, on this subject, Arnt, Gregor, and Norton believe she is eminently qualified to testify.

Furthermore, despite the fact that Thorne clearly committed perjury during the Tonya Craft trial (and there is no doubt about this), Arnt, Gregor, and Norton want people to believe that her testimony ALWAYS is true and perfect. Compare Thorne to a witness that Arnt, Gregor, and Norton claim is a "liar" and a "whore of the court," Dr. William Bernet of Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Bernet has his medical doctorate from Harvard University Medical School (which tends to have higher academic standards than Kaplan University's undergraduate program) and is widely published and widely respected in his profession. This is a man who has published in top journals and is asked to speak at conferences and sessions all over the world. (Yeah, he is not good enough to speak at the Northwest Georgia conference, but everyone knows that the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit is a world-class example of honest police, prosecutors, and judges.)

Lest one think I am exaggerating, let me remind readers of what Arnt and Gregor did during the Tonya Craft trial:
  • Arnt lied to jurors about the testimony of Dr. Nancy Fajman of Emory University, telling jurors that Fajman said she saw evidence of sexual abuse when, in fact, Fajman said she saw NO physical evidence of sexual abuse. All of the jurors caught this lie, and maybe Arnt will tell conferees how to do a better job of covering up lies;
  • Arnt and Gregor desperately tried to keep Dr. Fajman, Dr. Ann Hazard, Dr. Nancy Aldridge, and Dr. Bernet from testifying, and after their testimony, they told jurors that these were unqualified witnesses and that they were nothing but "liars" and "whores of the court" who lied for money. I am not kidding. They actually said that;
  • They regularly had ex parte meetings with "judge" brian house before and during the trial, and reported none of them to the defense, despite the requirement by the Code of Ethics of the Georgia State Bar, which means that these are people who believe they are not bound either by law or ethics.
When Tonya Craft came into the courtroom for the verdict, Arnt and Gregor stood to the side snickering at her and making snide remarks. (No doubt, their presentation also will include how act professionally during a trial while at the same time trying to emulate the members of Delta House from the movie "Animal House.") There is a reason that "judge" brian house turned ashen when he read the verdict and Arnt and Gregor ran from the courthouse instead of acting like mature adults and talking to the media.

No doubt, these men will share with conferees why it is important for prosecutors to act like spoiled children, and why it is so important that the courts of the LMJC perform like the courts of bastions of freedom and liberty like North Korea. They also will stress the importance of teaming with the judge in order to have a rigged trial, although they might claim afterward that the judge was a "pointy-headed liberal" who was too lax toward the defense. They will give techniques in making improper and prejudicial pre-trial statements to the media and maybe they might REALLY go to the Dark Side and give tips on how to contact jurors during the trial in order to intimidate them into voting guilty. (I'm just imagining the last point, but given that these men already have demonstrated that they have no problem in suborning perjury and openly violating the Rules of Ethics that supposedly govern their behavior, I doubt seriously that Chris Arnt and Len Gregor would frown upon anyone on the prosecution side illegally contacting jurors. Prosecutors elsewhere have done it and, if anything, these men have demonstrated that they are willing to engage in extreme prosecutorial misconduct.

Will they answer questions about the Tonya Craft trial? If they do, I'm sure they will spout the line that they have been giving everyone:
  • Craft was guilty and got away with it;
  •  Defense objections were frivolous, as all defense attorneys really should expect prosecutors to scream in the face of witnesses, yell about someone's "boobs," throw books down on the table while the defense is making its case;
  • The jurors were fooled by the idiot expert witnesses like Dr. Bernet and should have been impressed by experts like Holly "Roll Your Eyes and Make Noises" Kittle and Suzy "Perjury" Thorne;
  •  The jurors were too stupid to recognize that Arnt and Gregor are brilliant prosecutors and that when jurors all caught Arnt lying about Dr. Fajman's testimony (and all of the caught it), well, they were so stupid that they could not recognize that Dr. Fajman was speaking in code that only a brilliant guy like Arnt could understand;
  • The defense shamelessly carried on a campaign in the media and the blogosphere that prejudiced the case and "deprived the state of a 'fair trial'." This despite the fact that the defense operated under a gag order and the defense had NO contact with the "blogosphere," and that Tonya Craft was on trial, not the state, which is under the legal obligation to present a fair trial. (So much for the State of Georgia performing its obligations.)
What Arnt and Gregor and Norton won't tell the conferees is that some of the prosecution witnesses have admitted privately that they were lying, and that in the case of Sarah and Joal Henke, their testimony in trial conflicted 180 degrees from what they had testified under oath in depositions a year before. In other words, these men will tell conferees everything -- but the truth.

As an added attraction, Chris Arnt will give pointers on how to have fun on a cruise! Enjoy the conference!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Who is this guy kidding?

In a recent op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal, James Kirchick, a contributor to The New Republic, deals with the recent statements of Shane Bauer after being released from an Iranian prison.

Now, I must admit that Bauer made statements following his release (Iran accused Bauer and two other American hikers in that region of being spies) that most Americans would not find agreeable, and Kirchick jumps on them heavily -- and with some justification:
On July 31, 2009, you're traversing a mountain trail in Iraqi Kurdistan, near the Iranian border. You're with one of your best friends and your girlfriend. Suddenly a group of Iranian border guards capture you, and the next thing you know you're in Tehran's infamous Evin prison accused of "illegal entry" and "espionage."

Your girlfriend is kept in solitary confinement and you can see her only for an hour each day. The Iranian government prevents you from contacting your family for almost a year, at which point they decide to let your mother visit you for two days at a Tehran hotel.

While your captors treat you humanely and provide three square meals a day, your Iranian co-prisoners aren't so lucky. Every night you hear their screams. Evin is the world's most notorious torture dungeon, where political dissidents (men and women) are routinely raped, beaten and subjected to all manner of physical and psychological abuse.

Ahmad Batebi, a student activist who spent 17 months in solitary confinement there, reports that guards kicked him in the teeth, dunked his head into a toilet "stopped up with feces," and whipped his back and testicles with a cable. When he tried to sleep, they slashed his arms with a knife and rubbed salt in the wounds.

As you sit in this hellhole, no less than the president of the United States takes up your cause, insisting that you "never worked for the United States government," that you're "simply open-minded and adventurous" and "represent the best of America and of the human spirit."

Following two years of strenuous work on the part of committed American diplomats, you are freed on $500,000 bail, paid by the billionaire Sultan of Oman. And what is the first thing you say upon your release?

"Two years in prison is too long and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in America and Iran."
But, it is the next paragraph that I do find objectionable and, frankly, untrue: "Mr. Bauer didn't name any of the "political prisoners" allegedly held in America's jails—because there aren't any." He goes on:
The American justice system is far from perfect. But it is transparent, offers the right of appeal, and is routinely challenged by a free press and active civil society. Moreover, it doesn't imprison people for their political beliefs.
I wish that were true. I wish that there were real transparency, and I wish that the appeals courts actually took more time to examine convictions that have occurred in kangaroo courts.

For example, I suspect that Brad Wade and Brad Cooper would laugh at the notion that American courts were "transparent." Because prosecutors are immune from serious punishment for acts of blatant misconduct, hiding exculpatory evidence, lying, and suborning perjury (sorry, but disbarment is not serious compared to innocent people going to prison) we have seen U.S. courts -- state and federal -- turn into charnal houses for the innocent.

A recent article in the New York Times spelled out what has been happening:
After decades of new laws to toughen sentencing for criminals, prosecutors have gained greater leverage to extract guilty pleas from defendants and reduce the number of cases that go to trial, often by using the threat of more serious charges with mandatory sentences or other harsher penalties.

Some experts say the process has become coercive in many state and federal jurisdictions, forcing defendants to weigh their options based on the relative risks of facing a judge and jury rather than simple matters of guilt or innocence. In effect, prosecutors are giving defendants more reasons to avoid having their day in court.

“We now have an incredible concentration of power in the hands of prosecutors,” said Richard E. Myers II, a former assistant United States attorney who is now an associate professor of law at the University of North Carolina. He said that so much influence now resides with prosecutors that “in the wrong hands, the criminal justice system can be held hostage.”
Furthermore, it is clear that many prosecutions in the USA are done for political purposes or to appeal to a political constituency. A couple of examples include the federal trials of the police officers in the Rodney King beating case in Los Angeles and of Limerick Nelson, who was acquitted in state court of stabbing a rabbinical student to death in Brooklyn.

In both cases, the defendants had been acquitted at the state level, and while the verdicts were unpopular, constitutional prohibitions against double jeopardy should have been honored. Instead -- with approval of the courts -- the defendants were charged in federal court with different "crimes" for the same acts.

Not surprisingly, jurors got political message in both cases and the defendants were found guilty. The second time around, the system "got it right." It does not matter that in the process of "getting it right," courts and prosecutors destroyed one of the most important legal protections that anyone could have.

At the founding of this country, the law followed the natural rights views of the great English jurist William Blackstone, and the bedrock of criminal law was "mens rea, or Latin for "a guilty mind." Intent was a big portion of the law, and prosecutors were not to pursue criminal charges unless they also could prove that an individual intended to commit a crime, and did not just ignorantly run afoul of some arbitrary rules.

That situation no longer exists, as the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out in a stunning article:
For centuries, a bedrock principle of criminal law has held that people must know they are doing something wrong before they can be found guilty. The concept is known as mens rea, Latin for a "guilty mind."

This legal protection is now being eroded as the U.S. federal criminal code dramatically swells. In recent decades, Congress has repeatedly crafted laws that weaken or disregard the notion of criminal intent. Today not only are there thousands more criminal laws than before, but it is easier to fall afoul of them.

As a result, what once might have been considered simply a mistake is now sometimes punishable by jail time.
The paper then takes the case of Wade Martin in Alaska:
When the police came to Wade Martin's home in Sitka, Alaska, in 2003, he says he had no idea why. Under an exemption to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, coastal Native Alaskans such as Mr. Martin are allowed to trap and hunt species that others can't. That included the 10 sea otters he had recently sold for $50 apiece.

Mr. Martin, 50 years old, readily admitted making the sale. "Then, they told me the buyer wasn't a native," he recalls.

The law requires that animals sold to non-Native Alaskans be converted into handicrafts. He knew the law, Mr. Martin said, and he had thought the buyer was Native Alaskan.

He pleaded guilty in 2008. The government didn't have to prove he knew his conduct was illegal, his lawyer told him. They merely had to show he had made the sale.
The article gives a number of other cases in which conduct by individuals that they never even thought might violate the law led either to prison time or criminal convictions and probation. Why does this happen? It happens because American prosecutors have become all-powerful. Lew Rockwell writes:
Those raised on a steady diet of courtroom television shows believe that they are true to the way justice is meted out. This is completely naive. Trials in federal criminal cases are rare. Nine in ten cases are settled in pleas like the above case. Only 3 percent of the cases go to trial. Among those that go to trial, the defendant wins once in every 212 times.

What this means is that there is no way out for the accused. The prosecutors have all the power. Not even the judge has discretion because lawmakers have mostly taken that liberality away in the name of cracking down on crime. This happened all through the 1980s and 1990s, and the prosecutorial dictatorship has entrenched itself to become the norm since 2001. For the last ten years, the police state has had free rein.

It was not "liberals" or "conservatives" who did this. It was both parties acting with massive support of the American public, as tyrants in the public sector licked their chops. This was a result of security-minded madness, and even now hardly anyone cares.
He continues:
Today, every single citizen, no matter how free he or she may feel in daily life, is in reality a sitting duck. You can be made to disappear. There is essentially no way you can escape once the feds sweep you into their net. There is no justice. The total states of the past used to pretend to have trial-based convictions. The total state of the present doesn’t even bother. It just puts a sack over your head and takes you away.
When Rockwell writes that we now are in a police state, he is not using hyperbole. The USA IS a police state. It has by far the highest number of people incarcerated (more than two million) of any country in the world and a fourth of the entire world's prison population.

People are expected not only to know all of the laws that are passed (the courts have ruled that "ignorance of the law is no excuse") and the ONLY people who are not punished for ignorance of the law are police, prosecutors, and judges. I am not kidding.

Thus, we often see prosecutions made for political -- yes, political -- reasons. Why did Michael Nifong pursue rape charges against the three Duke students he knew were innocent of any crimes? Because he wanted to win an election, and he knew that his actions, no matter how outrageous, were popular with a number of political constituencies, including the "Progressive" crowd at the New York Times, which supported him until his case utterly fell apart.

And Rockwell is correct that all of this is a prescription for tyranny, the very kind of tyranny that Kirchick claims does not exist in the USA, only in rogue countries like Iran. How did this come about? It is very simple: Progressives, including people like Herbert Croly, who founded The New Republic, believed that individuals should not have protections against State power because a society could "progress" only if the State could advance the agendas of the intelligentsia without interference from "obsolete" documents like the U.S. Constitution.

Thus, most of the rights that were guaranteed (not granted, as Progressives like to claim) by the Constitution now either have been breached or have disappeared altogether. We literally are at the mercy of police, prosecutors, and judges, who are free to frame whom they like and unless one can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars quickly, people who are targeted pretty much disappear.

None of this excuses what Iran did to the three hikers, nor does it explain or justify everything that Bauer told the media. For that matter, many of the same leftist groups with whom Bauer is associated have been front-and-center in the destruction of rights in this country.

Iran is governed by a rogue and cruel regime and I have no use for people who engage in torture, beatings, and imprisonment of people simply for their political or religious beliefs. However, we really should not kid ourselves that Americans are above acting like the Iranians. From the CIA renditions to Guantanamo to the daily abuses of the law and outright decency that prosecutors commit while they are "just doing their jobs," people in this country who legally operate without boundaries also are capable of cruelty and outright murder.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lynn Blanchard outlines the police misconduct in the Brad Cooper case

The wrongful conviction of Brad Cooper for the murder of his wife -- and I have no doubt that it was wrongful -- is testament to the corruption of police and prosecutors in North Carolina. When someone trots out the "they disbarred Mike Nifong" line, keep in mind that Nifong not only acted unethically, but he also acted criminally, yet there was no investigation of this erstwhile felon.

It always has been my contention that when it comes to police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct, the authorities will toss out a bone in order to make it look as though they are "doing something" about the lies and corruption. That is what was done in the Duke Lacrosse Case, and now that the State Bar has Nifong's trophy on their wall, the members are free to look the other way when it comes to outright criminal behavior on behalf of prosecutors.

Lynn Blanchard had done a heroic job in pointing out the massive misconduct and outright lying that was part and parcel to the Cooper case. From the police to the judge (who is a former cop and prosecutor, so he knows all of the tricks and is anxious to remain in the club). Her latest post outlines the police misconduct in the case, and I would urge you to read it.

I list two sections below:
Fabricated evidence/shoes: The police and prosecutors put a great deal of focus on shoes in this case. In all three cases the facts were misrepresented. First, Detective Young claimed to have found two right shoes, implying that while hastily cleaning up the crime scene, Brad grabbed two left shoes by mistake and disposed of them. During the trial there was a LOT of discussion about the “missing” two left shoes and honestly, it does sound good if you believe someone is guilty. However, the truth is that the two right shoes were different sizes, different styles, were not even Nancy’s current size and they were not even found in the house! There were a ton of shoes scattered all throughout the Cooper’s home and Young “found” the mismatched shoes on a shelf in the garage. Clearly this was fabricated evidence and the prosecutors had no problem using it at the trial. They made sure they highlighted this in closing.

Then throughout the trial they referred to Brad’s missing shoes, the pair he was wearing in the Harris Teeter video. It was their theory that he disposed of the body right before that trip and that is the significance of the “missing” shoes. The site where the body was found was extremely muddy and if Brad had been there in those shoes, mud would have been in the car, on his shoes and on the floor in the HT video. It was not. Detective Young testified that he never asked Brad for the shoes, it’s not in any of his notes that he ever searched for the shoes and the shoes were not even included in the initial search warrant. They were included in a search warrant right after his arrest, over three months later. Yet, the prosecutors went on and on about Brad’s “missing” shoes. I can’t think of any reason why they neglected to find and examine those shoes in those first days of the investigation. They had the HT video on July 12th.

Finally, there’s Nancy’s missing Sauconys. Brad told Young on 7/13 that Nancy had 3 pairs of running shoes. One pair was never found and that is obviously the pair she wore that morning when she left to go running. Police found the receipt for those shoes at the Athlete’s Foot store. Brad told police that Nancy purchased her running shoes there. They tried to determine if Nancy possibly returned that pair of shoes. Young testified that the store was unable to determine whether or not the shoes had been returned. That was a lie that was revealed in further testimony when he read his signed statement about the store verifying that the shoes had never been returned at that store. Why would the police detective feel compelled to lie on the stand if the investigation was honest? Again, the prosecutors ran with this and stated to the jury that Nancy’s only running shoes were in the home.

“The bed did not appear to have been slept in” - Detective Daniels had this written in his notes on 7/12, referring to Nancy’s bed. But the bed did look slept in. Photos displayed during the trial confirmed this. When asked, officer Hayes testified that it looked as if someone sat in it. When the defense attorney asked Daniels about the bed, he testified that he first wrote the note that the bed didn’t look slept in, sat in the bed, did not document that he sat in it, then took a photo of the bed. It is simply unbelievable. The bedding would later be sent to SBI for bodily fluid and fiber analysis and Daniels didn’t bother to inform SBI that he had contaminated it by sitting on it. Please watch trial summary part 2 for testimony on this.
So, Brad Cooper is in prison while a murderer runs free. THAT is justice in North Carolina. I have come to believe that cops and prosecutors pretty much don't care if they get the "right" person, just as long as they get SOMEONE.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Some music from Ilgi

While in Latvia, I thoroughly enjoyed the music scene and there was no group I enjoyed more than Ilgi, which played three times at Egle's, which was right below our apartment window. I am including a couple of songs they did that I really like. (The words are in Latvian; don't even try to repeat them unless you understand the language, believe me.) The first is "acis veras, aizveras" ("Eye opening, closing").

The photos in "Aiz upītes meitas dzied" ("Behind the river, daughters sing") bring back many, many memories!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thomas and Aubuchon should have been investigated years ago

While I welcome the investigation that the Arizona State Bar has made against former Maricopa County DA Andrew Thomas and his partners-in-crime Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander, nonetheless, I cannot help but note that the bar and the media in Arizona (and especially in Phoenix) were all-too-happy to paint these people as heroes as long as they were abusing people who did not have political connections. In other words, I am saying that as long as the DA's office went after people like Courtney Bisbee who were not politically wired into the establishment, the media (other than the Phoenix New Times) simply went along with whatever the authorities wanted them to believe and ignored the abuse.

Like Michael Nifong, who went to the North Carolina Bar Woodshed four years ago for his role in the Duke Lacrosse Case, Thomas and Aubuchon don't have a chance to keep their law licenses. (I believe that Alexander, who played a minor role, might get off with a reprimand.) Yet, I also believe that these people should have been in the dock long ago before Thomas made the strategic error of becoming Sheriff Joe Arpaio's errand boy.

For example, when Supervisors Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox were indicted on multiple felonies, and Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe was charged with bribery and other crimes, there also was Susan Schuerman. She had the bad fortune of being Stapley's secretary, and Thomas and Arpaio wanted her to give the DA more ammunition, and what followed was utterly shameful. As reporter Laurie Roberts writes:
Schuerman, 57, has worked for the county for 25 years – 17 as Supervisor Don Stapley's secretary.

She came under the steely gaze of the Sheriff's Office in December 2008, when she returned from a dentist appointment to find detectives waiting for her. Stapley had just been served with a 118-count indictment charging him with failing to publicly disclose loans, real-estate dealings and other assets.

“They take me into this conference room and hand me a grand jury subpoena and say we want to talk to you about the Stapley matter,” she tells me. “I didn't even know what the Stapley matter was.”

Over the next few weeks, Schuerman says Sheriff Joe Arpaio's right-hand man, Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott, hounded her for information, trying to scare her into turning on Stapley. She refused. One, because she says she didn't have any dirt on her boss and two, because she saw this for what it was -- an orchestrated campaign to bring down Stapley and anyone else who dared cross the sheriff.

“Hendershott told me I would be sorry,” she says, “and I was.”

Deputies followed her to lunch. Undercover cops watched her east Phoenix home, leaving her daughter in tears and her neighbors wondering what she'd done.

Then in February 2009, word suddenly “leaked” out to the media that Schuerman was under investigation for using county resources to conduct Stapley's private business and later, bribery. Her office was searched and she was told to leave the building, to go outside where the media pack was waiting.

Declaring her a suspect was an ingenious way to turn up the heat. Thomas blocked the county from giving her an attorney, noting that taxpayers don't provide lawyers to government employees suspected of crimes.

And so Schuerman was on her own.

She had no money for an attorney. She'd raised three kids on a secretary's salary. She'd lived on the financial edge since 2005 when her daughter suffered a stroke on her 21st birthday, one that left her paralyzed and dependent on her mother.

Schuerman, too, was paralyzed -- with fear. That she'd lose her job and her health benefits – all the more precious because she has Crohn's Disease. That she'd be taken to jail and then what would happen to her daughter, Jenifer?

“I wanted to die,” she says. “I didn't know what to do.
This simply is sick. Sick. For all of his identity with the Evangelical Right, other people are nothing but pawns for Thomas, people that he uses to help his own political career, and if innocent people are destroyed in the meantime, well, that is "collateral damage" that comes when someone is "rooting out corruption."

What do the Republicans have to say? Their own words expose their perfidy:
Just this week, the chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party decried the ethics hearing that begins Monday.

“Andy was trying to do the right thing by rooting out corruption,” Rob Haney said.
Right. Unfortunately, the real corruption is found in the DA's office (which STILL is trying to destroy the Jacobson family) and with Joe "Pink Underwear" Arpaio. When there is no accountability with people who have the power to arrest and prosecute, there always will abuse. Always. No exceptions.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Home from Latvia

We arrived home last night, and today, I finally am starting to feel a bit normal again. Sintija is with us, and we now await the word from the Orphan Court in Latvia to come back for the final Latvian side of the adoption. (After that, we have to return to Latvia for a third time in order to receive the permanent visa for Sintija from the U.S. Embassy.)

Again, I thank all of you for your prayers and support.

I do intend to start blogging soon on things that have established this blog in the first place. However, I have been swamped with a lot of things, and also I have been posting often on my other blog, Krugman-in-Wonderland. Thanks you for your patience and understanding.

I have posted a number of pictures of our trip on my Facebook page. (It is under the name Bill Anderson.)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Riga Update

I want to give everyone an update on our adoption and our stay in Riga, Latvia. We arrived on August 15 and will leave Thursday, September 8. Sintija will accompany us to the USA, and we will have to return this fall to complete the Latvian side of the adoption.

This has been very challenging, as Sintija has been in a children's home most of her life and for a good part of that, pretty much had no good supervision. (The last home in Smiltene was much better, but when she arrived, she had a lot of behavior problems that still are issues.)

Sintija will be 13 in October, but clearly is not at her age in maturity. That being said, she does have a good heart and I believe God has wonderful things planned for this young lady, and I am thankful to be a part of that whole endeavor. I believe that she will develop in time, and I have to remember that her challenging us is part of growing up (and I don't take it personally).

The trip itself has been wonderful. Old Riga, where we are living, is a beautiful place, full of very old buildings, churches, narrow, winding cobblestone streets, good restaurants and shops, and a vibrant music scene. I could not have asked for a better place to stay, and am glad we have been able to take in all of this.

We also have been out of the city on several occasions and have been to the Jurmala region three times, including two trips to the beach. (Yes, the Gulf of Riga is cold, but it is invigorating, and the beach there is fine.) This Tuesday, we went to Sigulda, which is a "tourist" town and a lovely place. Although Latvia mostly is quite flat, the Sigulda area has a number of ridges and the Gauga River, and is quite scenic.

Latvia was a "republic" in the old Soviet Union for about 50 years. The country was invaded by the Soviets in 1940, and then was a back-and-forth battleground during World War II as German and Soviet troops did what they could to destroy the country. Afterward, the victorious Soviets gobbled up the country, decimated its economy (and especially the farm economy via collectivization), and shipped hundreds of thousands of Latvians to Siberia, along with bringing in hundreds of thousands ethnic Russians.

Like the rest of the U.S.S.R., Latvia was a grim place during that era. (I remember my own trip to East Berlin in 1982, and it was not a pleasant place by any means.) The Soviets build numerous concrete-and-brick apartment buildings, using pretty much the same floorplan, and these eyesores dot the region. (Yeah, they are pretty darned ugly, really ugly.)

However, the economy has done some growing since it became independent in 1991, and while it was hurt badly during this past recession, nonetheless I still is a better place to live than when it was under communist rule. For one, it actually has nice grocery stores -- and they even sell Jack Daniels in them! I had lunch recently with a friend who lived here before independence, and the changes in shopping alone have been astounding.

Prices are comparable, at least for food, to what we pay in the USA, but incomes are well below what we make. Taxes are pretty high, and gas is about $8 a gallon. Nonetheless, the country's currency, the Lat, is doing well against the dollar. When we first arrived, we were told that the apartment owner wanted to be paid in dollars, but then we found out that the last thing they wanted was the greenback. I made a trip to the bank and switched money.

Latvia is not cheap, but it is less expensive than are most areas in Europe, and especially Scandinavia. An overnight cruise ferry arrives each morning from Stockholm, and Swedish and Norwegian tourists spill off to take advantage of the lower prices.

One thing they take in is the local music scene, which is quite good, even world class, I believe. Bands have played every night in the square next to our apartment, and almost all of them have been good to excellent. (I remarked to one person that I had to cross the Atlantic to hear good American rock 'n roll.) We also went to a concert by the Riga Dom Boy's Choir (which is world famous), and also went to a concert at the Riga Dom itself.

I have included some pictures of the trip.

This young lady is playing the Kokle, which is a Latvian string instrument.

Majori Beach in Jurmala on the Gulf of Riga

Royal Square in Old Riga from our apartment window

 Young violinist playing in Jurmala

Concert in Dom Square for Riga's 810th anniversary celebration