John Semmens

SEMI-NEWS: A Satire of Recent News

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SEMI-NEWS: A Satire of Recent News, August 24, 2014 Edition

Congressman Wants to Ban Body Armor

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) has introduced legislation that would prohibit the sale, use, or possession of body armor by unauthorized persons. "Authorized persons" in Honda's view include government law-enforcement personnel, troops, and others the government may deem worthy of such protection.

"Those duly empowered to use deadly force should not have to fear that their efforts might be thwarted by the widespread availability of bullet-resistant vests or helmets," Honda said. "The government's capacity to suppress dangerous elements must not be diluted."

Honda dismissed the idea that law-abiding civilians could have a legitimate need for this type of personal protection?Bullet Blocker's bullet-proof backpacks for students, for instance. "Allowing students to acquire these items could instill a false sense of security. Worse, these backpacks could easily fall into the wrong hands and be used by those with malicious intent."

"To be most effective the firepower of government authorities must be overwhelming and irresistible," Honda argued. "Not only should the government's agents have a monopoly on the ownership and use of guns, they must also be able to operate freely without worrying about potential opposition."

Existing laws that make it illegal for convicted felons to own firearms and body armor "are inadequate," according to Honda. "There's a big loop hole that permits those without a criminal record to obtain the means to commit crimes using firearms and body armor. Access to the means for self-defense enables people to take an antisocial path rather than cooperate with the collectively arrived at decisions of their government. People need to trust and support the authorities and not try to go it alone."

State Department Insists US Is Not at War with ISIS

The beheading of American journalist James Foley, the massacre of thousands of Christians, Kurds, and Shiite Muslims, and ISIS's vow that its flag will soon fly over the White House does not mean the United States is at war with them, says Deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf.

"ISIS may think they are at war with us, but that doesn't mean we are at war with them," Harf insisted. "As you may have observed, President Obama sternly denounced Foley's televised beheading. He has done his part to inspire others to take the actions needed to cope with the situation. There's no need for him to do more."

Harf cited the President's immediate resumption of his golfing vacation and fund-raising as proof that "the President is fully in control of his agenda. He will not be forced into engaging in hostilities with ISIS."

What Obama is willing to consider is "cutting back on the assistance we've been providing ISIS in its battle against Assad in Syria. As concerned as we are about the tyrannical abuses of the Assad government we need to reconsider whether aiding his enemies is the prudent thing to do."

The Deputy State Department spokesperson also defended the President's decision to reveal confidential information about a failed attempt to rescue Foley even though the revelation jeopardizes potential future attempts to rescue other hostages. "Even if a rescue were to be successful the number of lives saved would be minuscule," Harf pointed out. "In contrast, a widespread perception that the President didn't do enough on behalf of Foley is clearly undermining confidence in his Administration. With the off-year elections ahead that is far more damaging than the forgone hypothetical opportunity to save a few of the remaining hostages."

DHS Says It Had to Release Murderers

Outraged over learning that the Department of Homeland Security released 154 illegal immigrants convicted of homicide in their native country, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) demanded an explanation from DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. He received a reply from Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief Thomas Winkowski.

In his reply, Winkowski maintained that DHS "had no choice in the matter. We should not be castigated for obeying the law." Winkowski's contention, though, may not be correct. While it is true that the law does not permit DHS to hold illegal immigrants indefinitely, it does allow for the retention of "dangerous immigrants."

"Just because an immigrant has been convicted of a serious crime in Mexico, say, doesn't prove he is dangerous in America," Winkowski suggested. "Maybe he was unjustly convicted. Or maybe he came to our country to start a new life. Until they are convicted of a crime in the United States they deserve the benefit of the doubt."

Judge Rules Private School Vouchers Unconstitutional

North Carolina Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood declared the state's the Opportunity Scholarship program unconstitutional. The program provided funds for poor children to attend the same private schools attended by their financially better off peers.

"Allowing these children to exit the failing public school system undermines the incentive and capability for improving the public schools," Hobgood ruled. "It would put the good of the few ahead of the collective well-being of the whole. By preventing the few from escaping we maintain the pressure for reform of the system."

Hobgood rejected the argument that allowing students to exit substandard schools would stimulate competition and lead to better public school performance. "Public schools are too inflexible to compete," Hobgood said. "The only chance for them is for public outrage over poor performance to induce a major overhaul of both methods and personnel. Every parent whose child is trapped in the public school is another potential voice of outrage. Parents who are now seeking scholarships to save their own children must be turned into advocates for all of society's children. They won't do this unless they see their own children suffering."

The fact that the vast majority of recipients of the Opportunity Scholarships are Black didn't impress Hobgood. "There is an even larger contingent of Black victims left behind in awful public schools," he observed. "Unless every child can be saved it is better that none be saved. That is the only equality we can absolutely guarantee."

In related news, Dyer County High School senior Kendra Turner was suspend for saying "bless you" after a classmate sneezed. "Blessing has religious connotations," explained a school spokesman. "This is a public school. We have zero tolerance for that."

Missouri Governor Demands Vigorous Prosecution

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) is saturating the air waves with his demand that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson be "vigorously prosecuted" for shooting Michael Brown on August 9th.

"We've all seen the Hell this community has gone through since the shooting," Nixon recounted. "The Black citizens will burn down the entire town if we don't give them the justice they want."

The Governor brushed aside the possibility that the shooting might be justifiable self-defense. "Sure we could spend a lot of time and effort trying to determine whether Brown brought this on himself by attacking Wilson," Nixon said. "Maybe Wilson feared for his life. Maybe he felt he had no alternative. But what I'm saying here is that now we have no alternative if we want to preserve the peace."

"Cooler heads need to come to grips with what must be done," Nixon continued. "If Wilson goes free there'll be more trouble. More people could be hurt. More businesses could be wrecked. Police officers take an oath to serve and protect. Right now, the best way for Wilson to fulfill his oath is to accept responsibility and do his time. If he won't do that voluntarily it is up to us to see that he does. Sacrificing one to save many is the kind of hard choice that the voters of this state elected me to make."

Nixon's perspective was bolstered by Al Sharpton's assertion that rioters who appropriated merchandise without paying for it were "liberators" rather than "looters." "No amount that the white man pays could adequately compensate us for the 300 years of slavery and 450 years of racial discrimination the Black man in America has had to suffer," Sharpton claimed. "It isn't stealing when you reclaim what is rightfully yours."

Texas Governor Indicted for Abuse of Power

This past week an Austin Grand Jury indicted Governor Rick Perry (R) for abuse of power. The offending act was his veto of the budget containing funds for the salary of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. Perry took this action when Lehmberg refused to resign after her arrest for drunk driving.

In April 2013, Lehmberg was hauled in for DUI. Tests showed her blood alcohol level to be more than three times the legal limit. Lehmberg threatened the arresting officer and deputies at the sheriff's office with the loss of their jobs for deigning to interrupt her travels. Thinking that an abusively drunk public prosecutor might be an inappropriate person to hold that position, Governor Perry demanded she step down.

Lehmberg doesn't deny that her behavior was disgraceful, but contends that "at least half the state legislators are drunk half the time. Drinking is the number one past-time of half the adult population of this state. So, being drunk and disorderly can't be a legitimate barrier to holding a public office. There'd be too many vacancies."

The County DA was also quite pleased with her one-upmanship. "Drunk driving is only a misdemeanor, abuse of power is a felony," Lehmberg boasted. "We'll strip Perry of his right to carry firearms and to vote. Any aspirations he may have had to run for President are finished thanks to me."

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