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Member since: Wed Jun 20, 2018, 06:01 PM
Number of posts: 2,455

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Judge Branick writes letter to citizens explaining mask order


I recognized when I entered the mandatory mask order that there would be people who would not like it. What I didn’t expect was the level of pure hatred and profanity laden messages that would make a sailor blush. That’s okay, it comes with the territory. What has been most disappointing to me has been the level of insistence by many that my orders are a direct affront to their constitutional rights. The U.S. Supreme Court, since 1794, after the Whiskey Rebellion, and times since has repeatedly held that these types of orders are allowed in certain circumstances and are, in fact, constitutional. Those who say otherwise are misinformed or are depending on Natural law, not Constitutional law. I have not asked people to lay down their arms, surrender their right to free speech or to be subject to having soldiers quartered in their homes, I’ve asked them to suffer the inconvenience of placing a 4x6” piece of material over their mouth and nose when in a business to protect their friends and neighbors. Individuals who seem to have no problem with a restaurant requiring shoes and a shirt go ballistic over a business asking them to wear a mask.

Eighty years ago, the greatest generation planted victory gardens, collected tin, rubber and steel, had food ration books and endured black outs, all to support the war effort. Their sacrifices were significantly more weighty than the inconvenience the present order requires. I want to thank a fellow county judge for reminding me of this. Today, a small minority is screaming that this is some kind of communist plot to overthrow the nation. When did it happen that we all became so focused on our rights and not our obligations to our fellow man and woman? Jesus said “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. I’m not directing anyone to lay down their life. Galatians 6:2 says “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ”. I love you, because that is what Christ teaches us to do.

I wear a mask not because I am afraid but because it is one way of showing that I care about my neighbors. There is a lot we don’t know about COVID-19 but all the evidence suggests that wearing a mask helps to prevent the spread of the virus. If wearing a mask prevents one person from dying, then isn’t it worth the minor inconvenience? If wearing a mask helps us get our country and economy back to normal, then isn’t it our patriotic duty to do so?” I received this in an email from an Orange County resident. It is a note he keeps in his pocket which he gives to people who make snide remarks about his wearing a mask in stores.

Based on my conversations with numerous physicians, directives from the president of the Texas Medical Association, the thoughts of the head of the Department of state health services, and many others in the medical field, masks can prevent the spread of the virus. Might we find out next year after peer reviewed studies that such is not the case? Can I find a YouTube video from an OSHA inspector that supports the opposite view? Yes to both questions. But we are in the midst of the largest spread that we have seen thus far, and to prevent another shutdown of “nonessential” businesses and to keep our hospital system from becoming overwhelmed I am acting on the best available information. Those “nonessential” businesses have families to feed and mortgages to pay and I want them to be able to do that without having to worry if they are at some point going to have to depend on unemployment benefits, if they are even available to them. I will lift the order as soon as I possibly can, but in the meantime I pray for your cooperation.

Jeff Branick

County Judge

Jefferson County Courthouse

Great letter. Excellent points. I don't think it will reach the people attacking him and his order.

'State-sanctioned violence': US police fail to meet basic human rights standards

Article at:

Police in America’s biggest cities are failing to meet even the most basic international human rights standards governing the use of lethal force, a new study from the University of Chicago has found.

Researchers in the university’s law school put the lethal use-of-force policies of police in the 20 largest US cities under the microscope. They found not a single police department was operating under guidelines that are compliant with the minimum standards laid out under international human rights laws.

Among the failings identified by the law scholars, some police forces violate the requirement that lethal force should only be wielded when facing an immediate threat and as a last resort. Some departments allow deadly responses in cases of “escaping suspects”, “fugitives”, or “prevention of crime” – all scenarios that would be deemed to fall well outside the boundaries set by international law.


Remarkably, the researchers from the law school’s international human rights clinic discovered that none of the 20 police departments were operating under state laws that were in accord with human rights standards.

There is a lot more detail in the study along with recommendations. I'll be reading it for a while longer, but wanted to share before I forget.


I'll paste the first four recommended legislative changes:

1. The federal government should ensure federal, state and local policing complies with international human rights standards and commitments of the United States. U.S. Congress should deploy its legislative and spending powers to ensure police use force in a human rights-compliant manner, including requiring that police use of force policies meet the standards of necessity, proportionality and accountability, and that law enforcement officers protect and enable individual human rights.

2. State legislatures should enact legal limits on police use of force that comply with international human rights and standards of necessity, proportionality and accountability and protect and enable individual human rights.

3. In light of extensive evidence of excessive use of force by federal, state and local law enforcement during lawful demonstrations, government at all levels should re-evaluate the presence of armed police during lawful public gatherings. Alternatives to law enforcement and unarmed and specialized community engagement police units have been shown to be more effective in providing assistance in organized events and public gatherings than armed units in other countries, as documented in Defending Dissent: Towards State Practices that Protect and Promote the Rights to Protest (IHRC/INCLO 2018).

4. U.S. Congress should revise the standard under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 permitting police officers to use force from a “reasonableness” standard to “only as a last resort and when absolutely necessary to prevent death or serious bodily harm.”

TGS Stringing our Community Together - Duo Chinoiserie (05/24/20)

The Guzheng is and incredible instrument. Jing Xia (Guzheng) and Bin Hu (Guitar).


What Happens When You Try to File a Complaint Against a Police Officer

It's a little old (2017?) but pertinent now. About halfway through it and it is infuriating.


Customs and Border Protection used money meant for food and medicine on dirt bikes and ATVs, says GA

Their budget should be cut by twice what they misappropriated and senior management should be fired at a minimum.

Customs and Border Protection spent parts of a $112 million emergency fund meant to buy food, medicine and other items for migrants on all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes and boats, according to a Government Accountability Office report published Thursday.

"Congress provided this additional funding for the primary purpose of improving conditions for migrants at the border and ensuring migrants were receiving adequate healthcare after the deaths of multiple children in custody," Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement. "Instead of helping migrants and improving conditions on the ground, CBP then broke the law by spending this taxpayer money on things that were not authorized — such as ATVs, dirt bikes, and computer systems."

At the request of Congress, the GAO had examined CBP's books for how the agency spent its emergency allocations for "consumables and medical care" in 2019 and issued a legal opinion finding that CBP had used the funds for items that were not food, hygiene products or medicine. The GAO recommended that CBP fix its books to put expenses in the proper categories and pay for the items out of the right parts of its budget, or else it would be required to report its failure to do so.

"If CBP lacks sufficient budget authority to make the adjustments, then it should report a violation of the Antideficiency Act as required by law," the GAO report said.


Researchers on Atrocity Prevention Warn: US on Path to Widespread Political Violence

Article at:

As scholars of armed conflict and human rights with a combined five decades of experience, we are deeply troubled by recent developments. Our motivation for writing this article is to voice our concern that recent events in the United States, such as Trump’s repeated endorsements and approval of violence against peaceful demonstrators, are strikingly similar to those that preceded eruptions of large-scale political violence elsewhere. This is not a theoretical exercise – it is happening in real time before our eyes. We are by no means alone in holding this view. In its June 3 “Atrocity Alert” which “highlight[s] situations where populations are at risk of, or are enduring, mass atrocity crimes,” the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect included the United States, alongside Iraq, Syria, and Sudan as places of serious concern.

Last week, the U.S. government deployed active-duty military units in Washington. Soldiers in combat uniforms, without identifying insignia, fired smoke canisters and rubber bullets at protestors in front of the White House – all so President Trump could walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church and pose for photographs while using religion as a political prop. Earlier that same day, Trump threatened to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act and assume federal control of the National Guard to “dominate” protestors, against the will of many state governors. The day after, the White House announced that 1,600 additional active-duty quick-reaction troops were being deployed from Fort Bragg and Fort Drum to the capital region.

The constitutionality of Trump’s response to the protests, following the murder of George Floyd, an African-American man, by a white police officer, have been hotly debated by legal scholars. Whatever their legal status, conventional norms about the proper role of the military in securing domestic public order have been shredded. Few would disagree that the images of military professionals being mobilized against fellow citizens is an unsettling one – even for a country that is by now well acquainted with the increasing militarization of our police forces, especially in African-American communities. Nonetheless, recent developments represent only one among many troubling telltale signs of a growing atrocity risk in the United States.

We do not suggest that the commission of mass atrocities within the United States is imminent or inevitable, and we hope that our concern is misplaced. The United States possesses robust civil and political institutions, and since the Civil War at least, instances of large-scale violence, such as the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, did not engulf the country. However, it is clear to us that recent events on domestic soil have moved us down a well-trodden path that has led other countries to widespread and systematic violence. The risk of this outcome will be heightened in the coming months under certain circumstances – for instance, if Trump declares a federal state of emergency; if the general election is cancelled or postponed; or if Trump’s encouragement of far-right militias, whether tacit or otherwise, leads to actual armed confrontation.

Interesting article.
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