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It seems people have lost the ability to think. This is especially true here in the USA, where you will find signs like this everywhere. Even as a lawyer they annoy me, although I understand the purpose is to protect businesses from liability in the event of accidents. In most cases, the signs simply state dangers that should be obvious to someone with even a modicum of common sense. Like - "HAZARD: DO NOT STAND AT THE EDGE OF THE CLIFF." I saw such a warning in San Diego, California.

Recently, I went to a lovely sunflower farm by my house and before I even entered the serene landscape, I was greeted with all these rules and regulations. I rarely notice such signs during my travels in other countries, but a reader from Moscow recently sent me this photo...Read more... )
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During my school years, I was constantly indoctrinated with pro-life agendas. Abortion - one of the greatest mortal sins a woman can commit, and an overall stain on society that females have the right to legally terminate pregnancies without the consent of the "father." I once even wore a t-shirt in support of this movement and went to the annual March for Life rallies that occur each year in Washington, DC.

Then, I grew up, and realized shit happens. There are many complications and difficult decisions humans must face throughout their lifetimes, often tied to love, sex and family relationships. Any commuter in the Washington, DC area has seen this truck numerous times. It sits parked on various city streets with all kinds of extreme right-winged and religious rhetoric plastered all over it, but the owner's main platform and objective in life is to reverse Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortions in America. The decision was rendered in 1973 - the year I was born.

To advocate this platform, the truck is decorated with images of aborted fetuses, human tissue, and photos of women plagued with guilt and regret over their decision to abort. And each time I pass this truck, as this morning, I anxiously hope the driver will be sitting in it. Because I would pull over in a heartbeat and engage this man in conversation to understand more about the foundation for his positions and beliefs. I think it would certainly be the debate of my lifetime. :) But, alas, now I simply must look at these graphic images each morning at 6 a.m. when I'm pulling into my office garage, and think about his other favorite slogans - "Jesus Wept" and "Jesus Saves."
Read more... )
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A Utah Senator recently declared a crisis in the State by introducing a new bill that describes porn as a public health risk that must be curbed to "protect our families and young people." The core essence of the bill is that porn is bad - very bad. You can read the full text of the bill here. In the Senator's view, porn "perpetuates a sexually toxic environment" and "is contributing to the hyper-sexualization of teens in our society." Basically, porn treats women as objects and commodities for the viewer's use, teaches young girls they are to be used, and condones men as the "users." In the Senator's mind, all of this porn culminates into an epic disaster because it lessens the desire of young Mormon men to marry, leads to dissatisfaction in marriage, and promotes infedility.

So what should Utah do about it? The Senator isn't trying to ban porn, but advocates for Utah to take steps to conduct more research to measure the detrimental impact all these sex videos and images cause to the mostly religious State, where over 60% of residents identify as Mormon. He pushes for education to curb and prevent addiction, and better policy making, but of course doesn't offer any concrete means to achieve these policy changes. What do I think?Read more... )
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At times, I feel totally removed from my readers and the pressing news issues on which many of them are focused. For instance, yesterday I saw dozens of posts about the demolition of the trade pavilions in Moscow. Very long and detailed discussions of the topic in Facebook posts from Russian friends, yet I can't understand anything about the situation. Some people say the vendors had legal permits for the stalls, others say no. Many don't even care. They are glad the eye sores are removed, and the legality of the action is irrelevant. If the owners had proper permits for construction, how can the government just run a bulldozer over a business that is legally operating, destroy everything, and leave a person's life and income in ruins?

I remember seeing these vendors selling fruits, bread, vegetables and cheap clothing during my stays in the suburbs of Moscow near Mytishchi, where I frequently took the train. It appeared most of these people were immigrants, whether they are legal or illegal I have no idea and typically don't care. Because illegals, even in my own country, don't pose a problem for me provided they are working and contributing to the economy and society. Yes, I would rather have a Mexican or Central American immigrant who is working hard in my community than a white loser who sits on his or her ass all day collecting a welfare check...Please explain this situation to me. Do you support the destruction of these businesses? As a lawyer, I'm most interested in the legality of the government's action. Of course, in the U.S. there is no news about this story because our media is focused on domestic issues, spending hours and hours discussing and analyzing the upcoming presidential elections, which also is a circus show, but a different kind...:) 
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Accusations of the crime can destroy a man's life, career or future, but in cases where rape is proven there still exists some horrible dichotomy in U.S. laws when it comes to parental rights. I'm not a criminal defense lawyer, and have never handled a rape case in my legal career, though I've worked in the family courts on child custody, support and visitation cases. All I can say about the family court system in the U.S. is that it's a complete clusterfuck. There are no other words. Here you see the most vile aspects of human behavior - jealousy, greed and hate, with an innocent child being batted around as a ball and strategic object in the process. It's depressing to say the least, and I could never do this work full time because it's too emotionally draining. Last night, I read an interesting article that discussed the parental rights of rapists. Should they have custody and visitation rights? It was then that I learned about the status of U.S. laws on this issue, which vary by State.let's discuss )
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American citizens have a long history of civil protest and disobedience, and one of the most prolific times was at the height of racial segregation. Yes, Americans once lynched blacks and it is a shameful part of our history which few forget, including me. It was shortly over 56 years ago, on 1 February 1960, that four black university students staged a sit-in at a local diner in Greensboro, North Carolina, by taking their seats at a whites-only lunch counter. This sit-in is often regarded as the spark that fueled the civil rights movement in the early 1960's, when ordinary black citizens began to protest unequal treatment and demand change.

The four men were all students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. They planned the protest from their dorm room, simply because "we'd had was time to wake up and change the situation." Tired of being treated like second class citizens, they walked down the street, sat down and demanded to be served. They promised each other they would repeat the behavior daily until a plate of food was placed in front of them, no matter how long it took. There were reports that a black waitress admonished them, and two old white ladies stood and clapped, encouraging them along. The sit-in grew quickly, and other black students from local universities joined, as well as sympathetic white students who supported their cause. The men encountered resistance from KKK members who showed up and threw burning piles of newspapers under a counter seat. Yet the men were not deterred and the protest remained peaceful for the most part. Because of the swelling crowds and coverage by local media, Woolworth's was forced to close the lunch counter only a week after the four young men first arrived.Read more... )
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"In the end only kindness matters." It's not merely a phrase or tag line for my blog. I care about humanity, and hope to leave a positive legacy and impact on the world during my lifetime, no matter how small. Almost everywhere I travel, I try to understand the humans I encounter, their place in the world, and how they got there. This was the case during my trip to Israel last year, where so many of my travel companions visited only holy sites. While in East Jerusalem, I left the group to visit a refugee camp. It wasn't filled with Syrians, of course, but Palestinians who basically live in dire circumstances, and garbage filled plots. This experience changed my life, and the emotions that overcame me during the visit will never be accurately conveyed in words. It was there I met the young girl pictured in this photo, and many others like her, who are basically born into chaos and instability. Perhaps I'll tell you their story later this week, but I just want to say a few words about the current refugee crisis.Read more... )
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In the past few months, an invasion has occurred in the heart of Times Square. No, it's not terrorists or depressed stock brokers worried about the recent collapse of the financial markets. It's boobs! I sometimes wonder what it must be like to be a beautiful woman, with no marketable skills other than selling your body. Some busty and shapely immigrants have found a way to milk the millions of tourists who flock to Times Square to visit the constant carnival like circus. I have no idea why so many foreigners and Americans wish to visit this place. I've been there a few times, and there's absolutely no desire to return to this sea of humanity and colorful freak show.

The influx of near-naked women, collecting tips to pose for photos with tourists, has reached epic proportions this summer, and the Mayor and some local residents are angry. They wear only a thong, a thin layer of paint and a big smile. The going price for such a photo ranges from $10 - $20 and some parents are growing alarmed that these women are approaching their teenage boys on vacation. "It's child pornography!", screamed one mom I saw on the news. The police have little power in this situation because public nudity is legal in New York as long as it's part of a "performance." What do you think?Read more... )
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Did you know the USA has no official language? Last week, I sat in an Arlington, Virginia Immigration Court with two of my teenage clients from El Salvador. The room was stuffed with illegals waiting for their first hearing before the Court. This is standard practice, where the Judge sits on the bench, calls one party after the other, and reads the Department of Homeland Security's charges against the illegal. Over 80% of the people in the tiny room had no attorney, and simply showed up because they were instructed to, without the ability to speak or understand any English. However, this is the USA, the country with no native tongue, so there is no cause for concern. :)

Interpreters are provided for everyone in the Courts. Immediately, the Judge explained to the entire crowd why they were there, the purpose of the proceeding, and then echoed the magic words that "no one will be deported today...on this day, only the charges against you will be read, and you must designate a country for removal in the event you are not granted legal status in the U.S. at your full hearing." Absolutely every word the Judge spoke was immediately translated into Spanish by a live Court interpreter. At every Court appearance, and even at full hearings, an Interpreter is provided for non-English speakers free of charge. Sometimes the Interpreter is arranged in advance, sometimes you hear urgent calls over the Court intercoms for a Chinese interpreter, an Arabic interpreter, even Vietnamese. The list of languages is endless...
Read more... )
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Almost two years ago, I wrote a post with a question in the title "What is Love?" The post discussed a monumental Supreme Court decision in favor of gay rights, which granted Federal benefits to same-sex couples in States that recognized gay marriages. It was clear at the time that America's mentality on this issue had shifted dramatically in the last decade. Just moments ago, this was further confirmed when the U.S. Supreme Court issued one of the most anticipated decisions of this term. A monumental victory, holding that gay marriage will now be legal in EVERY U.S. State. The basic outcome of the decision is that States no longer have the authority to reserve marriage rights only to heterosexual couples.about the victory for love )
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Unfortunately, this woman continues to harass me and spread lies, so I'm posting the full content of the abuse complaint here, so it is available for public view. You can read under the cut. If you ever wish to seek permission to use my copyrighted images, it's easy to do. My blog address and name are printed on almost every photo I publish here. The excuse that you don't know how to contact me is pathetic and will not be accepted. You can send a private message to me in LiveJournal, write a comment to the post in which the photo is displayed, or send me a personal email through the Gmail account displayed in my profile. Have a nice weekend!full abuse complaint )
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From the very beginning of this blog, I've advocated for free expression, divergent viewpoints, and admittedly allowed too many abusive comments to infiltrate some posts. The reason is simple - I'm a huge advocate of free speech, even if the viewpoint being expressed is completely idiotic from my perspective, untruthful, or especially unfavorable to me personally. Unfortunately, this week I have no time to write travel stories because I've been consumed with trying to get my copyrighted photos removed from two posts, which have drawn a lot of attention here on LJ.

For those who are unaware, after the Russian translation of my story about the villagers appeared in the popular community [ profile] odin_moy_den last week, someone came up with the brilliant idea to create a scandalous post about me, using a copyrighted photo of myself and one of the kind villagers I met as the backdrop to speak negatively about my appearance (calling me a "piglet") and write a long list of anti-Western sentiments. Btw, the person who wrote the post is an immigrant, now living in Houston, Texas. This, in and of itself, does not concern me. However, it soon became very clear that the true intention of the author was to promote her YouTube videos, piano software and music lessons in the comments to the post. Sadly, the author's creative scam worked, and the post hung in TOP LJ for an entire day, collecting almost 2,000 comments, hundreds of which were generated by the author herself, constantly throwing links to promote her business and get free advertisement at my expense. This behavior is sad and pathetic in itself; however, the reaction from the LJ community was even more disconcerting. So many people quickly climbed to the comments, anxious to spit bile and hate towards me and America, not even realizing that they, themselves, were being played by the author, manipulating and encouraging them on, so she could continue to get free promotion for her business in the comments. Yes, I'm very emotional, angry and frustrated over this situation...Read more... )
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About five years ago, a hot Ukrainian lifeguard started working at my apartment pool. I was in my mid-30's at the time, and he was only 18. Yet one day he swam up to me, flashed his charming smile, and we chatted for a very long time. I think he had absolutely no clue how old I was, but it didn't really matter. We instantly had great and deep conversations, about a wide range of topics, and remain close friends to this day.

I remember vividly something he told me about his lifeguard training before he arrived to the USA to participate in the work/travel program. The instructors informed the male lifeguards that American women are different, that sexual harassment laws in the U.S. are strict, and that a man can easily be convicted for flirtatious advances that would be considered ordinary and acceptable in other cultures. I don't know where all this paranoia comes from, but I want to explain briefly how sexual harassment laws work in America. Because the instructors were totally wrong. The most important lesson for the day - don't be afraid to talk to an American woman, compliment her, flirt with her, or ask her me, you will not be jailed for such actions. :))Read more... )
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Criminal psychology is a fascinating area of study, at least to me. This week, news spread that 79 year old Charles Manson filed for a marriage certificate to marry "Star," a 25 year old woman from Illinois. She was only 16 when she first discovered Manson on the Internet and immediately became attracted to his environmental philosophy, at least that's the story she tells the press. They speak almost every day on the phone, and she's permitted to visit him on weekends. However, conjugal visits are prohibited, so technically sex is not permissible unless they find creative ways to engage in the act without security guards noticing. Entirely possible! People are always finding clever ways to engage in sex in public places or under tight scrutiny.

I started thinking recently about what rights the most evil and heinous prisoners like Manson should have. Should he be allowed to marry? Have sexual visits with his soon to be wife? Some American prisoners have access to TVs, Internet and books on occasion. The most notorious of killers receive thousands of emails from women interested in pursuing romantic relationships with them. What makes a woman attracted to such a person? I can't understand it, maybe there are some psychologists amongst my readers who can explain? As you can see, Manson's soon to be wife is not some ugly duckling. She's quite attractive and well spoken, yet drawn to a prisoner who committed some of the most horrific murders in American history. Future husband with a swastika tattooed on his forehead? Apparently it's attractive to at least one person. You can hear her explain the relationship in this interview.

I know nothing about the Russian prison system, or how inmates are treated there. What rights do you think prisoners should have? Internet, TV, books, privacy for sexual relations if they're married or have a girlfriend? I'm torn on this subject, not sure how I feel...
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It doesn't matter what our profession or financial situation is, everyone has the ability to change people's lives, even if it's only in small ways. At this point in my career, I really get no enjoyment out of being a lawyer. On most days, it's a real struggle to come into the office and sit at a desk all day representing big corporations in the legal world. There's no personal satisfaction, or sense of positive contribution to the world. There's one notable exception, and that's my pro bono work as an attorney. "Pro bono" simply means offering free legal services to the disadvantaged. I choose to offer free legal representation in the field of immigration, for asylum applicants and other victims of torture or abuse in their home countries. A few weeks ago, I received this shiny notification from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, granting a U-Visa to a Honduran woman I've been representing for over two years.Read more... )
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Last week, I saw the most ridiculous story about America hanging in TOP ЖЖ all day - За что в Америке дают 4 года тюрьмы? The story bothered me for several reasons. First, because the post completely misinterprets the American legal system. I'm a lawyer, so such idiotic statements with no factual basis irritate me. Second, the author of the post, [ profile] katysha, clearly took no time to research the facts or think about what she wrote. The post was written to incite the masses, and her objective was achieved as the post has almost 1,000 comments. Third, you shouldn't write about a topic of which you have absolutely no knowledge. In this case, it seems the author knows very little about America and certainly nothing about American laws. I say this because she stated in one of the comments in the post that Chicago is in Michigan, when in fact it's in Illinois and one of America's most popular and well-known cities. I don't claim to know everything, but if I'm ever in doubt about a fact, I take a few seconds to google the topic and find the answer. Apparently this author is too lazy to type on the keys and see where Chicago is located, or research basic facts about American laws. However, she has a very imaginative and creative mind! For this, I give her credit.

Today I want to clarify the falsities in that post, and tell you about America's "Good Samaritan Laws," which protect citizens who render aid to strangers in emergency situations. Perhaps you have come upon an accident scene like the one in this photo? A normal human being would contemplate whether to get out and help, or simply drive past the accident. Are you protected under American law if you help, or render some type of medical aid?
Read more... )
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Maybe some of you know the popular store "CVS" in America? It's a retail store, selling a wide-variety of items like Auchan (but much smaller). These stores are located all over the U.S., including my hometown of Manassas. Over the weekend, I stopped to get a card for a bridal shower and saw this - same sex wedding cards!! "MR. & MR." and "MRS. & MRS." Two grooms, two brides! :)) I was in shock because gay marriage isn't legalized in my home State of Virginia, and I've never seen these cards at any stores in my U.S. travels. Our neighbors in Washington, DC and Maryland have both legalized gay marriage. However, Virginia is more conservative and I don't anticipate same sex marriage being legalized here anytime soon. Recent attempts to amend the definition of "marriage" in the Constitution of Virginia have failed in the hands of voters. Most Virginians still prefer that "marriage" be defined as a union only between a man and woman. No exceptions.

These cards immediately reminded me about the Russian law passed last year, prohibiting propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors. It's my understanding the term "propaganda" isn't defined in the text of the law. So, do these cards violate the Russian law? Are the messages on these wedding cards considered "propaganda?" After all, what's "propaganda" to one person, is merely a joyous celebration of love to someone else.

I did a quick Internet search to see how this law has been interpreted in Russia since inception, but couldn't find much information in English. I see only that some prosecutors in Ulianovsk investigated whether a children's book which promoted tolerance and multiculturalism should be banned from a local library because it contains information about same-sex marriages. See article here. Then, there is an absurd article discussing a politician's wish to change the depiction on Russia's 100 RUB banknote because, in his words, "you can see Apollo is naked, you can see his genitalia" and this is pornographic. I don't know how this equates to gay propaganda, but I'm sure there are many clever lawyers in Russia who can make an argument in favor of the ban. Read the article here.Read more... )

Spank Me!

Jul. 15th, 2014 11:14 am
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Nothing irritates me more than unruly children in public. I don't mean children who are simply crying or throwing temper tantrums, but those who continue to behave as monsters while the parents sit by and do nothing, or attempt to discipline them in a non-authoritative manner. Saying phrases like "Oh, honey behave," "Don't do that," etc., when such words clearly have no corrective impact on the child's bad behavior. As a kid, I was spanked. Common for my generation, and I would assume most people my age received a whipping from their parents. In my household, it was always my father, and never with his hand. He would sit me down, explain why I was being disciplined, and then give me a few belt lashings. Nothing severe or overly painful, but I knew why I received the spanking and sometimes felt shame afterward for my behavior. Is it a bad thing to make children feel shame? I think not, but some are of the view that spanking creates adverse psychological impacts and creates damaged adults.

Now we have a new generation of kids who are being disciplined in a different way with "time-outs", prohibitions on i-Pad usage, etc. rather than a hand to the ass. Is it working? Hmm..well, I don't really think so. Upcoming generations are a new breed, where they have been praised and coddled in all facets of life since birth. In sporting events for the young in America, all kids receive trophies for merely participating. How does this encourage motivation or hard work?

Interestingly, 19 States still permit teachers and principals to spank students (Iowa, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Montana, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina). In 1980, 45 States allowed this version of corporal punishment, so there is a definite trend away from spanking. In some countries, like Sweden, there are laws banning parents from using corporal punishment, even in the privacy of their own home.

How do you discipline your child? Is it okay to spank?

Related Story

Living Child Free
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Why do people read travel blogs, delve into the pages of journey books, or become intrigued by stories and landscapes from far away countries they will likely never reach? The answer is simple - many people have a strong curiosity about the way others live. The curiosity is often heightened for groups of people who belong to unique sects. Personally, I count the Orthodox Jews in this category. In Old City, Jerusalem they are everywhere yet to photograph them or obtain a stand alone image is very difficult. First, there were immense crowds in Old City, no matter the day I visited. I don't know if this is always the case, or if the crowds swelled due to the overlap of Easter and Passover during the week I was there. Second, they don't like to be photographed. So, when I obtained this photo of a young man walking the street I was happy. I posted the image a few days ago on Instagram, and was immediately attacked by someone with the username "madeinjerusalem."  What upset him?Read more... )
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The school year in America is coming to an end, and many classes celebrate with parties or graduation ceremonies. Last week, one of my friends posted this photo from her son's preschool graduation. Having no children of my own, I'm completely removed from the school scene, but was happy to see this presentation on the wall. Complete integration and celebration of the diverse student population, from all over the globe. Some of these flags I don't even know! Then I remembered a recent post by [ profile] rider3099 about English meetings, where local immigrants gather to practice English speaking skills together at the library. These gatherings are held at almost every library across the USA, no matter how small the town. You can read Olga's report about the gatherings here. We have a real problem with many immigrants not learning basic English skills, and in my nephew's kindergarten class some of the kids had almost no knowledge of English when the school year began (only Spanish). I have no idea how the teachers work with them, but somehow they manage.Read more... )


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