Month: October 2020

Church and state should be separate

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion Mr. Hughes also asserted that the Johnson Amendment empowers the federal government to “punish the clergy and their churches if they choose to speak out and guide their members in regard to choosing government representatives or to comment on legislation” and he urges churches “to permanently regain their guidance role in government affairs.”Thomas Jefferson stated: “History, I believe, furnishes no example of … a people maintaining a free civil government” in a society where clergy dominate and further stated that the clergyman, “In every country and in every age … has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”I believe it’s reasonable to conclude that the Founding Fathers attempted to build a “wall of separation between church and state,” with each institution functioning fully independently of one another, as part of their efforts to ensure the establishment of a sustainable democracy, rather than a theocracy.A February 2017 poll conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals — 89 percent of Evangelical leaders said they don’t think pastors should endorse politicians from the pulpit.Paul DeierleinSchenectadyMore from The Daily Gazette:Troopers: Schenectady pair possessed heroin, crack cocaine in Orange County Thruway stopSchenectady’s Lucas Rodriguez forging his own path in dance, theater, musicSchenectady man dies following Cutler Street dirt bike crashEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesSchenectady NAACP calls for school layoff freeze, reinstatement of positions Re Jan. 2 letter, “Let churches have freedom of speech”: Mr. Wallace Hughes begins by stating “The churches’ influence on our Constitution is obvious. U.S. Law is based on Judeo-Christian principles. Our democracy, Constitution, and Christian heritage eroded due to church muzzling legislation.”John Adams stated “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” The Constitution doesn’t include a single reference to “God,” “the Almighty,” nor any other moniker for a deity. Furthermore, the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In Thomas Jefferson’s words, adoption of this amendment “was meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammedan, the Hindu and Infidel of every denomination.”last_img read more

Age limits no answer to mass shootings

first_imgAge and guns aren’t the problem, and more horror shows like Parkland will occur if this country doesn’t get a grip on mental health issues.For one, HIPAA privacy laws and others must be changed.Can anyone possibly think that a mentally-ill person won’t get a hold of a gun, whether it’s legal or not?After watching above program, I sent a check to the NRA and am happily back to watching fair and balanced news.Ray WeidmanLathamMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?Albany County warns of COVID increaseEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidation I tried the advice of a Gazette reader and changed the channel recently. I watched Fake News CNN (never again).On this program, I watched loudmouth buffoon Broward County Florida Sheriff Scott Israel try to bully and demean NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch.One of his many moronic rants was that 18-year-olds can go fight and die for this country.Many 18-year-olds who I’ve met have more common sense than many liberals I’ve heard.  Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinionlast_img read more

Stats show we do need more gun laws

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion How many of the firearms in these categories are semi-automatic rifles, if any, isn’t clear.Based on the complete statistics that Mr. Kingsley chose to cherry pick, one thing is crystal clear: 9,616 murders, or 71 percent of the murders committed in this country in 2015, were committed by people with guns, and that percentage has been slowly but steadily increasing, up from 67 percent in 2011.These are the statistics that are used by someone trying to prove that we don’t have a gun problem and “more gun laws are not a solution we need.”Really?George FerroSchenectady  More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationSchenectady’s Lucas Rodriguez forging his own path in dance, theater, musicSchenectady man dies following Cutler Street dirt bike crashFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen? After reading Don Kingsley’s March 19 letter, “More gun laws are not a solution we need,” I feel compelled to respond to his total misrepresentation of facts.Mr. Kingsley uses the FBI-published statistics on murder in the United States to make his point that guns, specifically semi-automatic weapons, are not a problem.The only statistic he gives regarding firearms is that 252 murders were committed by rifles. Here are the complete statistics as listed on the FBI site: Total murders committed in 2015 — 13,455. Of those murders, 9,616 (more than 71 percent) were committed by firearms.The breakdown of firearms used is as follows: handguns, 6,447; rifles, 252; shotguns, 269; other guns, 171; firearms type not stated, 2,477.  Mr. Kingsley assumes that “rifles” used are semi-automatic, but makes no mention of the “other guns” used and “firearms type not stated,” or more than 27 percent of firearm murders.In fact, he makes no mention of any murders committed by firearms other than rifles.last_img read more

The land that timetables forgot

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Temple Quay chance

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New chief List axes 90 at Chesterton

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Bluer skies, cleaner hands: What has coronavirus done for us?

first_imgThe message from health professionals has been clear from the start of the outbreak: wash your hands.Everyone from celebrities to politicians has had a go at demonstrating correct technique — including singing “Happy Birthday” twice through to make sure you scrub long enough, and hand sanitizer has flown off the shelves.A lot of celebrities are showing their true colors during this pandemic and it hasn’t been pretty. Thank God Sebastian Stan just posts an aggressive hand washing video while adorably singing Happy Birthday. pic.twitter.com/GlHHrkR85r— Britt (@britth174) March 20, 2020All that extra hygiene appears to be paying off, at least in some countries, including Japan, where the number of flu cases appears to be sharply down.Japan recorded 7.21 million cases by early March — usually around the peak of the flu season that runs until May.  Topics : That was far below figures for previous years, including the 21.04 million infections seen during the 2017/18 season.”We estimate that one of the reasons behind it is that people are now much more aware about the need to wash hands… given the spread of the new coronavirus,” Japanese health ministry official Daisha Inoue told AFP.Carbon curbs Factory shutdowns, travel bans and a squeeze on demand spell economic disaster, but it isn’t all bad news for the environment.In the four weeks to March 1, China’s CO2 emissions fell 200 million tonnes, or 25 percent, compared to the same period last year, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.That’s a decline equivalent to annual CO2 emissions from Argentina, Egypt or Vietnam.The slowdown in China also saw coal consumption at power plants there down 36 percent, and the use of oil at refineries drop by nearly as much.Air travel is also grinding to a virtual halt, achieving at least a short-term drop-off in emissions from a highly polluting industry.A view shows clearer waters in a Venice canal on March 17, 2020 as a result of the stoppage of motorboat traffic, following the country’s lockdown within the new coronavirus crisis.(AFP/Andrea Pattaro)And there have been other environmental benefits, including crystal-clear waters in Venice canals usually choked with tourist-laden boats.Unfortunately, experts say the cleaner air may be short-lived. Once the health crisis is over, experts expect countries will double down to try to make up for lost time, with climate change concerns likely to be sidelined in a race to recover economic growth.Save the pangolins The source of the coronavirus remains in question, but early tracking focused on a market in China’s Wuhan where a variety of live wildlife was on sale for consumption.A number of animals, including bats and the highly endangered pangolin, have been identified as possible culprits for the virus.A Malaysian customs official poses with seized pangolin scales following a press conference at the Customs Complex in Sepang on May 8, 2017. Malaysian customs officers have seized more than 700 kilogrammes of pangolin scales worth 2.12 million USD, the country’s largest haul of these scales, considered by some to have medicinal properties, officials said May 8. (AFP/Manan Vatsyayana)As a result, China in February declared an immediate and “comprehensive” ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals that was welcomed by environmentalists.Beijing implemented similar measures following the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s, but the trade and consumption of wild animals, including bats and snakes, made a comeback.This time the ban is permanent, raising hopes that it could end the local trade in wildlife.”I do think the government has seen the toll it takes on national economy and society is much bigger than the benefit that wild-eating business brings,” said Jeff He, China director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare.Reports linking the virus to the pangolin have also scared off would-be consumers of the scaly mammals elsewhere, with bushmeat vendors in Gabon reporting a plunge in sales.Apart, together One of the most difficult aspects of the stringent lockdowns imposed to slow the spread of the virus has been loneliness, with families and friends forced to endure weeks or even months apart.But some people have found the measures are creating a sense of community spirit, and prompting them to make more of an effort to check in with family and reconnect with friends.In Colombia, where a nearly three-week period of self-isolation is now in place, 43-year-old Andrea Uribe has organised everything from group exercise classes to family talent shows using video messaging programmes including Zoom.”I have called my parents more often, I have talked to friends that I usually don’t talk to… I have organised Zoom meetings with friends in multiple countries,” Uribe, who works in development, told AFP.”It is wonderful to be forced to be there for one another. It has made me more creative. It just shows that we need to be present in people’s lives.”center_img Deaths, economic meltdown and a planet on lockdown: the coronavirus pandemic has brought us waves of bad news, but squint and you might just see a few bright spots.From better hygiene that has reduced other infectious diseases to people reaching out as they self-isolate, here are some slivers of silver linings during a bleak moment.Wash your hands! last_img read more

Kupang Court sends man to jail for consuming marijuana for medical use

first_imgThe Kupang District Court in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) sentenced Reyndhart Rossy Siahaan, who used marijuana as an alternative medication, to 10 months’ imprisonment on Monday, despite an urge to decriminalize marijuana for medical treatment.The Advocacy Coalition for Narcotics Usage for Medication condemned the court’s decision, saying that Reyndhart, who consumed marijuana to relieve pain caused by spinal cord compression, could be excluded from punishment as set out in Article 48 of the Criminal Code. The particular article stipulates a restriction on charging people who commit a criminal offense in an emergency. The 37-year-old man was arrested in November last year at his rooming house in West Manggarai regency in NTT as he consumed boiled cannabis water that he found could help ease the pain. He was then charged under Article 127 of the 2009 Narcotics Law, which carries a maximum sentence of one year’s imprisonment.”Learning from Reyndhart’s case, he’s supposed to be released from any criminal charge,” the advocacy group said in a statement on Monday, adding that the case would only show the world that someone could be criminalized in Indonesia just because the country failed to provide the medical treatment he needed.Read also: Advocacy groups file amicus in support of marijuana for medical useThe group also highlighted that Reyndhart was a “victim” of the country’s anti-drug war, which is not supported by sufficient scientific research. It further called on the government to start studying the use of cannabis for medical purposes and subsequently stop criminalizing people like Reyndhart.”How many more people would be sacrificed under similar circumstances? We definitely need drug policy reform,” the group, which consists of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), Indonesian Judicial Research Society (IJRS) and the Community Legal Aid Institute (LBH Masyarakat) among other organizations, said in a statement on Monday.The group previously said that at least 50 countries had approved marijuana as alternative medication, with the substance commonly used to ease neurogenic pain.Topics :last_img read more

Prostitution in post-lockdown Greece is ‘Russian roulette’

first_img“I tried to sleep as much as possible in order to forget my hunger during these three months,” said Bella, who has a child, as another woman cleaned and ventilated her room for the next client.A list of strict hygiene and safety rules were announced by the Greek authorities to protect clients and the workers, who are more exposed to the risk of infection than those in almost any other profession.But the measures are unrealistic, the women told AFP.”They are ridiculous,” said Dimitra Kanellopoulou, president of Greece’s sex workers’ association. A central Athens brothel was buzzing with clients on a recent hot July afternoon, and its Venezuelan workers were relieved to have the business.Sex workers there have had a steady stream of customers since mid-June, when they were allowed to reopen their doors after a three-month ban to control the spread of coronavirus.While most Greeks are social distancing and keeping their contacts to a minimum, many prostitutes have little choice but to return to work. “They tell you not to have a handshake in the waiting room, and then you go inside the room and everything happens,” she said. “What is the point?”Sex workers are advised to “ensure distance” and avoid “face-to-face contact”, while wearing a face mask “could be introduced as part of a game”, the rules suggest.”It’s a joke. How is a girl going to please a customer with a mask on? Should she put a zipper in the mask?” wondered Katerina, who runs another brothel in downtown Athens.She laid a new paper sheet on one bed, which she said would be destroyed immediately once the client entered the room.The list of measures also includes an obligation to keep all clients’ contact details in a sealed envelope for four weeks for tracking and tracing.Sheets of blank white paper are taped on the sofas in the waiting room to remind clients to keep their distance.One client entered the building wearing a mask around his neck, a reminder that the pandemic is not over.”Our job is basically Russian roulette. You put yourself and your family in danger, but either way you would starve,” said Anna Kouroupou, a transgender woman who heads Red Umbrella Athens, an initiative supporting sex workers.”This is probably the worst time ever for the profession,” she said.”Things were really bad when AIDS broke out, but back then after a few months we knew that wearing a condom would keep us safe. Now there is no way to protect ourselves,” she added.The pandemic has laid bare the legal limbo in which brothels operate in Greece, where the majority of them have been left without state aid.Under Greek law, in order for a brothel to operate legally it should be at least 200 meters from public spaces such as hospitals, parks, churches, schools and stadiums.In a dense city, that restriction makes virtually any existing brothel illegal. According to Red Umbrella Athens more than 600 brothels operate illegally in Greece.”There is basically no building that meets the requirements of the law throughout Athens,” said Dimitrios Moraitis, a lawyer for the sex workers’ association. “There are more than 100,000 people working in the sector and only those with an active cash register and a licence to operate were able to get financial aid from the state, and this is less than 10 percent of total,” he said.Making matters worse, as part of the protection measures Greek authorities suggest that clients use credit cards to pay for services — an impossible request for establishments operating illegally.In what could be seen as a silver lining from the pandemic, officials at the Ministry of Civil Protection and the municipalities have said that they are beginning to register illegal brothels with the aim of making them legal through legislative amendments.In the meantime, many women have been forced to break the rules in order to feed their families, working illegally in the streets without any protection.To support prostitutes working in the open, Red Umbrella Athens has raised around 7,000 euros ($7,900) in supermarket coupons, and distributes hydroalcoholic gel and tissues to the women.”I’m not afraid of the pandemic, I’m more afraid of the possibility of a new lockdown,” said Linda as she prepared to start her shift.Topics :last_img read more

Iran says misaligned radar led to Ukrainian jet downing

first_imgBlack box The aircraft tragedy sparked fierce reprobation in Iran, especially after it took three days for the armed forces to admit having shot down the plane “by accident” after a missile operator mistook it for an enemy projectile.  Ottowa and Kiev have demanded for months that Iran, which does not have the technical means to decode the black boxes, send them abroad so their contents can be analyzed. Canada’s Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne on Sunday urged Iran to ensure “a comprehensive and transparent investigation in accordance with international standards, so that all those responsible are held accountable”.In late June, France’s Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA) said Iran had “officially requested technical assistance” to retrieve the black box data and said work should begin on July 20.Champagne said Canada would continue to push “to ensure Iran follows through on its commitments” including transferring the data to the BEA.In early July, Canada announced that it had reached an agreement in principle with Iran to launch negotiations on compensation for the families of foreign victims of the accident. Flight 752, a Ukraine International Airlines jetliner, was struck by two missiles and crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran’s main airport on January 8, at a time of heightened US-Iranian tensions.The Islamic republic admitted several days later that its forces accidentally shot down the Kiev-bound plane, killing all 176 people on board.The majority of the passengers on the Boeing 737 were Iranians, with Canadians, Ukrainians, Afghans, Britons and Swedes also aboard.  Topics : ‘Wrong identification’The CAO said that, despite the erroneous information available to the radar system operator on the aircraft’s trajectory, he could have identified it as an airliner, but instead there was a “wrong identification”. The report also noted that the first of the two missiles launched at the aircraft was fired by a defense unit operator who had acted “without receiving any response from the Coordination Centre” on which he depended.The second missile was fired 30 seconds later, “by observing the continuity of [the] trajectory of the detected target,” the report added. The CAO said there was a defect in the transmission to the defense units coordination center of the data identified by the radar. An Iranian general had said in January that many communications had been jammed that night. Tehran’s air defenses had been on high alert at the time the jet was shot down in case the US retaliated against Iranian strikes hours earlier on American troops stationed in Iraq.Those strikes were carried out in response to the killing of a top Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, in a US drone attack near Baghdad airport. Iran said that the misalignment of an air defense unit’s radar system was the key “human error” that led to the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January.”A failure occurred due to a human error in following the procedure” for aligning the radar, causing a “107-degree error” in the system, the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) said in a report late Saturday.This error “initiated a hazard chain” that saw further mistakes committed in the minutes before the plane was shot down, said the CAO document, presented as a “factual report” and not as the final report on the accident investigation. last_img read more