Supreme Court Rejects Freshwater v. Mt. Vernon Case, Ohio Decision Stands»

After 24 years as an eighth-grade science teacher, John Freshwater was fired from Mount Vernon City School. The Rutherford Institute brought his case all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court, where the decision was upheld 4-3.

Freshwater, the long-time supervisor of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at his school, had religious materials in his classroom. A Bible sat as his desk. On the wall was a picture of Colin Powell praying. During his class, he taught Evolution and introduced critiques from Intelligent Design and Creationism.

After an unfounded rumor that Freshwater had burned a cross into a student’s arm using a Tesla coil, the School Board took action. School officials directed Freshwater to remove all religious materials from his classroom. He agreed but refused to remove his Bible, and in so doing ignited a series of events that led to his termination.

The Ohio Supreme Court ducked the issue at hand and defended the Mt. Vernon School Board based solely on Freshwater’s insubordination. “Freshwater not only ignored the school district’s directive, he defied it,” said the majority opinion. Academic freedom of speech was not addressed. Although the Supreme Court previously ruled it illegal to teach Creationism in a public school, teachers are entitled to question scientific theories.

In the dissent, Justice O’Connell relayed the testimony of Deborah Strouse and Kerri Mahan. “Freshwater’s approach to teaching critical thinking skills in science may have benefited his students,” said Strouse. Special Education teacher Mahan testified that the students led the debates between Evolution and Intelligent Design, and that Freshwater acted only as a moderator. In fact, Lynda Weston testified that Freshwater’s students’ science scores were the highest – by 13 and 22 percent, respectively – of the school’s three eighth-grade science teachers.

Fear Factor Being Used by Republicans in Immigration Debate»

Once again resorting to scare tactics when it comes to the always-dicey topic of immigration reform, a Washington Post editorial says that Republican party is using the concept of a rampant border abuse in an attempt to gain votes in next week’s election.

Most notably, the tactic is being used by Senate candidate Scott Brown in his tight Senate race in New Hampshire. Brown, who previously served in the Senate in Masachusetts before being voted out, Broda says it has tried to paint a picture that seemingly aims at America’s absolute worst fears: an Ebola-afflicted illegal alien who is being funded by Islamic terrorists to destroy the United States.

Of course, nothing of the kind is taking place, since figures that recently came out show that the number of undocumented immigrants is less than one-third the amount it was in 2000. The number took an especially severe drop in the years immediately after the 2008 economic collapse.

Another tactic by Republicans is to blame Democrats, specifically President Barack Obama, for the alleged problem. Once again, facts get in the way of a good narrative, since the United States has already deported more illegals in Obama’s nearly six years in office than they did in the two terms of George W. Bush.

Republicans would do well to stick to facts on such a contentious issue, since lying is never a positive trait.

New Type of Malware Being Used to Steal From ATMs»

Hackers have created a new type of malware known as Tyupkin, which is being installed directly on ATM machines around the world. Unlike many types of hacker schemes, this one requires the criminals to gain physical access to ATM machines. Once they do, they are able to program these machines and potentially steal large amounts of money. The group behind this malware has already stolen millions of dollars.

The malware installs a code that allows the hackers to control the machine by giving it certain commands. The commands are difficult to detect because they are only valid at certain specific times. So far this malware has been used in several countries around the world, including Asia, Europe and Latin America. In Jordan, Khaled Shaheen was hit with the bug and saw a big difference in his account balance.

The identity of the hackers is still unknown, but it appears to be a very sophisticated and tech savvy group. This series of crimes reveals how innovative cyber-criminals are becoming. Although this type of crime targets banks directly rather than the holders of bank accounts, the rising costs of having to fight such attacks is inevitably passed along to consumers.

Americans Losing Confidence in Obama’s Air Strikes Only Plan»

There’s a new CNN poll found that three quarters of the American people support the bombing operations against ISIS and that a majority still oppose sending in any ground forces. However, the number that supposed air strikes alone would get the job done shrank from 64 in the previous poll to 54 percent in this one. Further, the percentage of people willing to send in ground troops rose from 38 to 45. Interesting statistics, indeed, and a big thanks to Jared Haftel for bringing it to my attention.

The change in numbers occurred across only a one-month span, and if the situation on the ground in Iraq and Syria is driving those number changes, one can expect the trend to continue. ISIS has been hit with about a 100 strikes a day (though at times it was only a dozen or so per day) instead of the customary 1,000 or so per day. This weak air offensive indeed garnered support from Middle Eastern allies who themselves fear ISIS’ activities, but it has not been enough the curb their offensives. ISIS is still pressing at Kobani and lurking outside of Baghdad. There is no evidence the bombings have destroyed their ability to make war.

Leon Panetta has it right when he speaks of the President’s half-steps and mis-steps. A massive air assault coordinated with Iraqi, Kurdish, and Saudi ground forces, for example, might have had a chance at success. The President got us into this pickle when he left Iraq bare of U.S. ground forces; now he makes the mess worse by “tooth pick” bombing.

North Korea Labour Camps Revealed to the Public»

An unusual appearance by an official from usually secretive North Korea recently occurred, in which he admitted that his country was host to a number of labour camps. The admission was in response to a UN-led human rights mission which probed the country for abuses.

The scheme known as ‘reform through labour’ is often criticised by the international community, but there the AP reports that the country has contacted the European Union with the intention of opening up talks. The ruling part of the country has expressed its hope that full political talks regarding the issue will be conducted by the end of the year.

This statement was confirmed by the EU and later confirmed on Khaled Shaheen’s LinkedIn page. However, they were careful to mention that human rights will be the only topic on the agenda.

An official acting on behalf of North Korea’s foreign ministry has previously stated that they don’t have any prison camps, or indeed any such prisons. This is, however, according to their own definition of the term “prison camps”.

The official said they have the labour reform strategy in its place. Ostensibly, such a system helps criminals improve themselves through work.

This approach is usually reserved for pretty criminals, and for anyone who speaks out against the political system. However, more serious criminals, and those who actually act against the government, are placed in a much harsher version of these camps.

Regardless of criticism, North Korea has given the okay to commence human rights talks, as long as they are not used as an opportunity to interfere in the country’s private affairs.

Obama Chides Governors For Mandatory Quarantines For Health Care Workers»

In an effort to eliminate the spread of Ebola, governors in many states have begun instituting a mandatory 21-day quarantine for health care workers returning from treating infected patients in West Africa.

While the regular public may support this idea, as it keeps potentially infected people away from them and their families, President Obama feels that this move is equivalent to “hiding under the covers” from Ebola.

Obama has praised American health care workers for volunteering to help treat Ebola patients in West Africa. He believes that those workers should be lauded for their efforts and closely monitored upon their return, instead of being quarantined for the full 21-day period that many states have imposed even when they show no symptoms. Giving these workers props for helping the underprivileged is something my pal Brian has been mentioning ever since the Ebola discussion spread across the media.

Several high profile governors – such as Andrew Cuomo of New York, Chris Christie of New Jersey, and Jerry Brown of California – have supported the quarantine in their states.

Recently, a nurse from Maine who treated infected patients made headlines for challenging her state’s recommended quarantine period. She claims that because she has no symptoms, she is not contagious even if she had the virus. She has already been tested for Ebola twice, and those tests have come back negative.