Constitutional limitations on regal fantasies of presidents

July 24, 2007

Some people still defend the Madisonian view of the Constitution and its limits on the powers of the president (Adam Cohen in the New York Times):

The Constitution cannot enforce itself. It is, as the constitutional scholar Edwin Corwin famously observed, an “invitation to struggle” among the branches, but the founders wisely bequeathed to Congress some powerful tools for engaging in the struggle. It is no surprise that the current debate over a deeply unpopular war is arising in the context of a Congressional spending bill. That is precisely what the founders intended.

Members of Congress should not be intimidated into thinking that they are overstepping their constitutional bounds. If the founders were looking on now, it is not Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi who would strike them as out of line, but George W. Bush, who would seem less like a president than a king.

Convincing evidence against intelligent design

July 24, 2007

About half the population will give credence to this.

Tripoli 6 home in Bulgaria today

July 24, 2007

The six health workers — five nurses and one physician — accused and convicted and sentenced to death for practices that passed HIV/AIDS to hundreds of Libyan children in a series of trials devoid of evidence, reason and justice — are home in Bulgaria today.

Tripoli Six home in Sofia, Bulgaria

The president of Bulgaria pardoned them of any wrongdoing. Details from the Associated Press via The New York Times:

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were pardoned by President Georgi Parvanov upon their arrival in Sofia on Tuesday after spending 8 1/2 years in prison in Libya.

The medics, who were sentenced to life in prison for allegedly contaminating children with the AIDS virus, arrived on a plane with French first lady Cecilia Sarkozy and the EU’s commissioner for foreign affairs, Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

The six came down the steps from the airplane and were welcomed on the tarmac by family members who hugged them, one lifting the Palestinian doctor off the ground.

They were given bouquets of flowers, and Bulgaria’s president and prime minister were on hand, greeting the nurses and Sarkozy, who had been part of the delegation that negotiated the group’s return.

Their defense had been that the contamination of tools used in the hospital caused the infections before the six arrived to help out. Before the second trial, an international team of scientists tracked mutations and the evolution of the viruses in each victim, and produced DNA evidence that proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the infections had occurred prior to any of the six arriving in Libya. The evidence was not granted credence by Libya’s courts, and the six were reconvicted and resentenced. Their release was negotiated only after European sources created a fund to handsomely compensate the victims’ families.

Thank you, readers, for your e-mails, letters and phone calls. In the U.S., it was the work of Nature writer Declan Butler, and bloggers like Revere at Effect Measure, and Tara C. Smith at Aetiology who carried the torch for justice. Give them some credit.

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