By: Adam Liptak
Published: February 26, 2013
New York Times

On Tuesday, February 26, 2013, the Supreme Court argued over whether the police should take DNA samples from people they arrest. The argument that some people have is that this practice could potentially go against the Fourth Amendment, which states that there can be no unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires any warrant to be supported by probable cause. The question that has arisen is whether the Fourth Amendment should allow DNA to be collected from people who have "merely been arrested and so are presumed innocent.”

A case that collected DNA from a suspect is being reexamined because the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that it violated the Fourth Amendment. The case was about a man named Alonzo Jay King Jr. who was arrested on assault charges in Wicomico County, Maryland. He had a DNA test done by swabbing the inside of his cheek and found that his DNA matched evidence found in a rape case from 2003. But the court recently said that “a state law authorizing DNA collection from people arrested but not yet convicted violates the Fourth Amendment.”

But the opposing view said that “this is perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard in decades.” The state of Maryland has had a lot of success with DNA testing because they have arrested 42 people based on DNA evidence. But Maryland uses this method only for people who are arrested for serious crimes. One supporter of this said that people lose some of their rights when they are arrested and other man said it is fairly easy to obtain genetic material just by testing a glass of water that you drank out of.

A supporter of Maryland’s DNA testing system said that soon DNA will be able to be analyzed in 90 minutes. Justice Scalia said that the laws purpose it “to catch the bad guys, which is a good thing, but the Fourth Amendment sometimes stands in the way.”


By Lydia Polgreen
Published: February 20, 2013
New York Times

     Last Thursday, Oscar Pistorius, double amputee who competed in the
2012 Olympic Games in London, shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in the early
morning because he had mistaken her for a burglar. On Wednesday, February 20,
2013, the simple bail hearing turned into a full-blown trail when the main
judge, Desmond Nair, questioned the prosecution’s main witness, Detective Hilton Botha, whose previous testimony did not fully match up to what he told on
Wednesday. Apparently, Pistorius thought a burglar was hiding in the bathroom,
so he got out of bed without his prosthetic legs on and shot at the bathroom
door. Detective Botha said that he actually was wearing his prosthetic legs when
he shot at the bathroom. 

     During the trail, Detective Botha admitted that there was sloppy
police work like the fact that they missed a shell casing found in the toilet
and they entered the crime scene without wearing shoe covers because the police
had ran out of them. Also, Detective Botha claimed that he found two boxes of
testosterone, which are banned substance for most professional athletes and are
known to increase aggression in people who take it, in Pistorius’s bedroom. But
Mr. Roux (Pistorius’s lawyer) said it was not testosterone, but a herbal
supplement. Later, Detective Botha admitted he didn’t read the whole name on the
box and the tests of the drugs have not come back yet. 
     Mr. Roux “accused the prosecution [Detective Botha] of selectively
taking ‘every piece of evidence’ and trying ‘to extract the most possible
negative connotation and present it to the court.’”



By: Elisabetta Povoledo and Alan Conwell
Published: February 11, 2013
New York Times

On Monday, February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will resign on February 28, 2013. Benedict has only been in office for eight years and is the first pope to resign in six centuries, the last one being Gregory XII who left the papacy in 1415 to “end what was known as the Western Schism among several competitors for the papacy.” On Monday, the pope said “‘I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise’ of his position as head of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.”

The Vatican spokesman, Reverend Lombardi, made it clear that there is no ‘motive’ for the pope’s resignation, but his health and age (85 years old) are stopping him from properly performing his duties as pope. But some believe that he is stepping down because of scandals centered on abuse. Apparently in 1985, “when Benedict was Cardinal Ratzinger, he signed a letter putting off efforts to defrock a convicted child-molesting priest.” There have been problems in the past and even today that the church has “shielded priests accused of molestation, minimized behavior it would have otherwise deemed immoral and kept it secret from the civil authorities, forestalling criminal prosecution.” In 2010, some secular and liberal Catholics demanded that for the resignation of the pope. So the question arises, is there something more to the story other than his declining health that has to do with the hard to ignore abuse scandals?


  By: Julia Preston 
Published: January 7, 2013  

On January 7, 2013, it was released that nearly $18 billion were
spent under the Obama administration on immigration enforcement just in the past
year. This amount is significantly higher than any other major federal law
enforcement agencies combined. “In recent years, it found, the two main
immigration enforcement agencies under the Department of Homeland Security have referred more cases to the courts for prosecution than all of the Justice
Department’s law enforcement agencies combined, including the F.B.I., the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives. Total spending on those agencies was $14 billion.”

     There has also been an increase in technology and monitoring
databases since the September 11 terrorist attack. The federal authorities have
created the “largest law enforcement electronic verification system in the
world.” Mr. Krikorian stated that there is a “lack of a national system for
employers to verify that new hires are legally authorized to work.” So although
$18 billion have gone into immigration enforcement in the past year, there are
still problems that need to be worked out.


By William J. Broad and Choe Sang-Hun
 Published: December 17, 2012

On Wednesday, December 12, 2012, North Korea launched a small
satellite into orbit atop a large range rocket. This was considered a huge
triumph for Kim Jong-il’s son and successor, Kim Jong-un. But since the rocket
was launched, there have been signs that the satellite is not working as it
should be and it is possibly tumbling in orbit and could even be dead. Dr.
McDowell said “It’s clear that the rocket part of this mission worked very well
for the North Koreans, they ended up in the right orbit. But the preponderance
of the evidence suggests that the satellite failed either during the ascent of
shortly afterwards.”Astronomers have observed that the satellite gets bright
then dims as it presumably rotates through space. Astronomers have also not been
able to pick up a signal from the satellite which is another huge indication
that something went wrong. The North Korean government didn’t have any response
about the satellites dysfunction, but instead focused on how the launch was in
honor of the first anniversary of the death of Kim Jong-il, their longtime
leader. Mr. Molcazan, a sky watcher in Toronto who is tracking the satellite
said “It’s going to be up there for at least a few years. The real question is
whether the satellite is functioning. Right now, it looks like it’s rotating


On December 2, 2012, this article was posted by David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt on nytimes.com. Recently, the United States have gotten news that the Syrian military is moving around chemical weapons. This lead the United States and many of our allies to warn President Bashar al-Assad that he would be ‘held accountable’ for any actions involving the chemical weapons he takes against the rebels who are fighting his government.

The United States isn’t only concerned about the Syrian military using chemical weapons against the rebels, but also the United States safety because the Syrian forces are not being clear about their intentions. One American official said “the activity we are seeing suggests some potential chemical weapon preparation” which is more than just moving stockpiles around.

‘A series of emergency communications among the Western allies’ occurred over the weekend and President Obama has been very careful about how to handle the Syria situation. “We consistently monitor developments related to Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons, and are in regular contact with international partners who share our concern,” an officer said over the weekend.  But Representative Mike Roger, a Michigan Republican, feels that we need to take greater actions to prevent anything drastic from happening, not wait to see what step the Syrians will take next. He released a statement saying: “We are not doing enough to prepare for the collapse of the Assad regime would be an extremely serious escalation that would demand decisive action from the rest of the world.”

Earlier in the year, there was threatening movement of chemical weapons. Having two consecutive events will most likely cause the United States to take greater actions to protect the United States and their allies. This could just be a bluff from the Syrians, but there is an unusually high amount of movement that ‘we’ve never seen before.’ The United States have ‘increased electronic eavesdropping and other surveillance activities of the chemical sites’ and troops are ready to report to the chemical sites when the Pentagon feels that they are needed.