Archive for April, 2007

“Attorney at Large” receives fellowship on terrorism

Posted in blogging, history, internet, Law, Law and Justice, Politics, Uncategorized on April 25, 2007 by castagnera

      James Ottavio Castagnera, associate provost and associate legal counsel at Rider University and “Attorney at Large,”  has been awarded one of 45 Academic Fellowships on Terrorism from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.  Entitled “Defending Democracy, Defeating Terrorism,” FDD’s Fifth Annual Academic Fellowship features an intensive 10-day course on terrorism and the threat it poses to democratic societies.  The program is taught in conjunction with Tel Aviv University and takes place in
Israel in late May-early June.

      The course of study takes place in the classroom and in the field with lectures by academics, diplomats, military and intelligence officials, and politicians from Israel, Jordan, India, Turkey and the United States. It also features visits to military bases, border zones and other security installations to learn the practical side of deterring terrorist attacks.  
     The goal of the program is to offer information to teaching professionals about the latest trends in terrorists’ ideologies, motives, and operations.

      The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies is the only nonpartisan policy institute dedicated exclusively to promoting pluralism, defending democratic values, and fighting the ideologies that drive terrorism.   FDD was founded shortly after 9/11 by a group of philanthropists and policymakers to engage in the worldwide war of ideas and to support the defense of democratic societies under assault by terrorism and Militant Islamism.  The Board of Directors includes Steve Forbes, CEO of Forbes Magazine, former Secretary of HUD Jack Kemp, and former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.


Are More Guns the Solution?

Posted in gun control, history, Law, Law and Justice, media, Politics, second amendment on April 22, 2007 by castagnera

In the red wake of the horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech in which more than 30 students died at the hands of a single crazed shooter, weirdness rules. On a number of college campuses across the country last week, sick hoaxes emptied dorms and classrooms. The weirdest sequel of all, however, was a call by the Virginia Citizens Defense League to permit students over 21 to carry concealed weapons.
VCDL’s President Phillip Van Cleave was quoted by the media as contending, “Imagine what would happen if the gunman was lining people up and somebody had pulled a gun and shot him in the head — this would be over,” Never mind that the Virginia Tech killer reportedly entered classrooms randomly and just started spraying bullets. Would the result, if other students had been packing, more likely have been a sort of gunfight at the OK Corral?
More significant are these statistics for 2004, the most recent year for which comprehensive data is available on the web:
• Of 29,569 gun deaths in the U.S., 16,750 (56%) were suicides.
• Among 26 industrial countries, 86% of all gun deaths involving children occurred in the U.S.
• A gun kept in a home was 22 times more likely to be used in a domestic homicide, an accidental shooting, or a suicide than to be used in self-defense.
These stats from the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence [] suggest that arming all adults, as the VCDL proposal implies, will result in more shootings, not fewer.
Compared to America’s 29,000+ gun deaths in 2004, the United Kingdom reported 163 gun deaths in 2003. Most West European countries, as well as Japan, recorded similarly low incidents of gun-related injury and death. Why? In my humble opinion, it’s mainly because people in those countries don’t have easy access to guns.
Similar to VCDL’s crackpot notion that students over 21 should be authorized to carry concealed firearms is the notion, floated every time a students dies of alcohol poisoning, that the solution is to lower the drinking age to 18. Here it’s the proponents who have the advantage where our European cousins are concerned.
Yes, most European nations have lower drinking ages than the U.S. To my way of thinking, several crucial differences argue against going down the European path of low (or non-existent) drinking ages. First, the U.S. lacks the centuries’ old Continental tradition of treating wine and beer as common items on the lunch and dinner table. Our kids simply aren’t reared to consider alcoholic beverages as commonplace components of every meal.
Second, most Continental kids, like most European adults, especially in urban areas, rely on public transportation. Drunk driving isn’t the threat across the pond that it is in America, where even 16-year-olds have easy access to wheels.
Last but not least, our Euro cousins aren’t armed the way we are. Even the most avid firearm proponent would agree, I think, that booze and bullets don’t mix.
We’d all love a simple solution to the mindless carnage that occurs annually due to firearms and alcohol abuse. Living uncomfortably close to a city which averages in excess of one homicide per day, I would welcome a quick, painless remedy as much as the next guy.
Unfortunately, making firearms and alcohol more easily accessible to young adults is no silver bullet.

Battle of Sweeteners Turns Sour in Federal Court

Posted in diets, history, Law, Law and Justice, media, medicine, Politics, technology, Uncategorized on April 21, 2007 by castagnera

The litigants are in the business of making our lives sweeter. But they sure aren’t sweet on one another.

To the contrary, the makers of Equal and NutraSweet, Merisant Company, have hauled the manufacturers of Splenda, McNeil Nutritionals, into federal court in Philadelphia. The Equal/NutraSweet folks claim they’ve lost $25 million in sales since 2003, when the Splenda team started making what the plaintiffs contend is a false claim. Continue reading

Of Cats and Kidneys

Posted in cats, Law, Law and Justice, medicine, pets, Politics, technology, Uncategorized on April 15, 2007 by castagnera

A news photo caught my eye last week. Four Pakistani men are holding up their shirts, displaying long surgical scars. The caption explained they had each sold a kidney to a “transplant tourist.” Transplant tourists are patients who journey abroad in search of affordable bodily organs. Kidneys are among the most popular human commodities. Payments to impoverished donors reportedly range from a high of around $10,000 in Brazil to a low of $1300 paid by the Iranian government. Continue reading

Remembering Reagan

Posted in history, Law, Law and Justice, media, Politics, Uncategorized on April 7, 2007 by castagnera

Don’t you always wonder how tough the he-men of the silver screen really are? I’ve always wondered about that. John Wayne, for instance… his real name was Marion Morrison. Was he the real-life equivalent of “A Boy Named Sue,” or was he a wimp? From “Flying Tigers” (1942) to “Sands of Iwo Jima” (1949), the Duke fought World War II on movie sets, not on battlefields. Continue reading