Re-evaluating the role of State shield laws: when conflicting jurisdictions create semi-permeable shield

The inevitable possibility that Foxnews.com investigative reporter Jana Winter could go to jail for refusing to reveal her sources describing how law enforcement officers obtained a notebook of James Holmes, the alleged Aurora movie massacre shooter, is alarming.

A Colorado judge is expected to decide Wednesday whether Winter will be compelled to testify and reveal her sources.

(more…)

Sabres fire Lindy Ruff, NHL’s longest-tenured coach

It is surprising, yet a bit unsurprising that the reeling Buffalo Sabres fired head coach Lindy Ruff Wednesday afternoon. Surprising to see the NHL’s longest-tenured coach of 16 years out of a job in Buffalo less than halfway through a lockout-shortened season, while not surprising considering the Sabres were 6-10-2 through Wednesday, two points out of last place in the Eastern Conference.

It was clear changes needed to be made for the small-market team with a high payroll that has been unable to produce the past two seasons. In fact, it got so bad that the Sabres were booed on their home ice after a 2-1 loss to Winnipeg on Tuesday.

The unfortunate reality is that in the eyes of Sabres upper management, Ruff’s philosophy was not clicking with his players, and to salvage a condensed 48-game season, a leadership change was needed. The reality is that short of Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, and goalie Ryan Miller, the Sabres do not have a load of talent and it has shown, particularly defensively.

They rank 26th in the league with 3.29 goals against per game, and have not made it any easier for Miller. It is hard to pinpoint what exactly is going wrong with the Sabres, a team that committed to a $140 million payroll last season to put together a Stanley Cup caliber team, only to become a big bust, as the Sabres went 9-19-5 during a 33-game stretch, which included 12 consecutive road losses.

But they also nearly leapfrogged the Eastern Conference during an 18-5-5 through February and March in which they jumped from 14th in the conference to eighth on March 24, before falling three points short of the eighth seed and missing the playoffs. What makes ownership think they couldn’t turn it around again this time?

Even more surprising is that general manager Darcy Reiger gave his stamp of approval for the oft-and-on criticized Ruff, whose job security has been in question for years, only to be backed again and again by Reiger.

New owner Terry Pegula also liked Ruff, who has been a symbol of Sabres hockey since he was drafted in the second round in 1979, and a team he spent 10 years with as a player.

And despite the recent struggles, Ruff is also a great coach, and the same coach who guided the Sabres to the playoffs in each of his first four years as coach, including the Conference Finals in his first season, and to the Stanley Cup finals in 1999. Yet the reality was that the past decade, the Sabres have never been able to reclaim the great runs they had in the late 90s.

The Sabres have only advanced past the first round twice in the past nine seasons, and made the playoffs only four of the last nine years. They have also missed the playoffs in three of the past five seasons.

High expectations coupled with another slow start, this time during a 48-game season, led to Ruff’s demise. But for someone who is almost completely synonymous with Sabres hockey, this was certainly a ‘Ruff’ exit for the franchise’s winningest coach, and all the bit undeserving for such a revered figure in Buffalo.

This was a coach who always placed the accountability of the team upon himself, and was committed to the city of Buffalo, living in the area year-round. The bitter, and essentially sad, reality, is that even small market, blue-collar teams, face the constant pressure to win and win consistently.

Yet if you are going to fire him, at least wait until season’s end. The Sabres nearly pulled off the improbable last year, albeit with high expectations, and I am inclined to think they could have done it again under Ruff’s guidance.

I for one am not a big proponent of firing coaches mid-season (in this case not even mid-season), let alone during a lockout-shortened one. And even if plans were in place to save this season, hiring an interim coach from your AHL affiliate is not the route to take.

Although Ron Rolston has had some success in his first two years coaching the Rochester Americans, he has no NHL coaching experience. And if the Sabres miss the playoffs, Reiger is next.

It’s the end of an era in Buffalo. To put it in better perspective, there have been 170 coaching changes since Ruff was hired. It’s a poor way to end a relationship with an ever-lasting figure to a city that lives and dies by their sports teams; the Sabres had a new record for average paid attendance of 18,272 per home game last season.

And while fans may have booed, called for a coaching change, and even believed it was long overdue, it doesn’t change the team Ruff built from the ground up.

Ruff deserved better. Instead, he was shown the door a third of the way into a lockout-shortened season.

A road block to Pentagon for defense secretary nominee Hagel

For the first time in our nation’s history, the nominee for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, remains in limbo.

President Obama tapped Hagel for the Cabinet position, sparking outcry from Republicans who questioned Hagel’s responses to foreign policy during a Senate Committee hearing in which conservatives claimed Hagel had shifted positions on confronting Iran and supporting Israel.

The former Nebraska senator is also the first decorated war veteran to be nominated for the position, and even amidst a contentious seven-hour hearing, passed through the Senate Committee along party lines.

However, Republicans–whom are almost universally opposed to Hagel–insist on blocking Hagel’s confirmation until more information is provided about the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11 of last year, in which the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, and three others were killed.

“There seems to not be much interest to hold this President accountable for a national security breakdown that led to the first ambassador being killed in the line of duty in over 30 years,” Sen. Lindsay Graham R-S.C. told Foxnews.com. “No, the debate on Chuck Hagel is not over. It has not been serious. We don’t have the information we need.”

Many Republicans want the Obama administration to hold some level of accountability for the Benghazi attacks, including more information on what the Obama and the White House was doing the night of the attacks.

However, Sen. John McCain R-Ariz., who sharply criticized Hagel during the Senate hearing, is one of the few Republicans who does not want to delay Hagel’s confirmation.

“I just do not believe a filibuster is appropriate, and I would oppose such a move,” McCain told reporters Feb. 4.

Still, a filibuster may very well ensue, a first for a Cabinet secretary. While Democrats hold a 55-45 edge in the Senate, many people believe Democrats do not have the required 60 votes to squash the Republican filibuster.

According to a CNN/ORC International poll conducted Jan. 14-15, 48 percent of the public said the Senate should confirm Hagel, while 22 percent did not approve. Three in 10 remained undecided or unsure.

While staunch Republicans have more questions than answers, the Democrats are hoping to avoid a filibuster and confirm Hagel. It is another decision that may very well be split strictly along party lines.

Fordham: The little school from the big city that is shocking everyone

Five years ago, the Fordham Rams women’s basketball team couldn’t buy a win. In fact, the Rams set an NCAA record for futility by going 0-29 in 2008, the most losses in one season in NCAA women’s basketball history. The Rams lost 35 overall, and went 21 months without winning a basketball game.

People often think of Connecticut’s historic 90-game win streak that spanned three seasons, but on the opposite end of the spectrum were the Rams’ 35 consecutive losses over two seasons.

Five years later, the Bronx school is back on the New York City map. While upstate New York tends to boast about their past and current success (Albany is 11-0 in the America East, 20-3 overall and Syracuse is 19-3 and 7-2 in Big East play), the Rams are fighting tooth and nail for bragging rights in the Empire State.

In 2008, that would be the butt of a joke en route to a winless season. Picked to finish 11th in the Atlantic 10, the Rams (16-7, 7-2) are shocking everyone sitting fifth in the A-10 standings.

The Rams have clinched their first winning record in nearly 20 years (1994-95) and have won more than 10 out-of-conference games for the first time since the 1983-84 season. They have also won the most conference games since they joined the A-10 in 1996.

And they gave the No. 18 Dayton Flyers all they could handle Sunday in a 68-57 loss to a 21-1 team that is undefeated in A-10 play. The only dubious statistic the Rams hold right now is a career 0-12 record against ranked teams.

The Rams have exceeded expectations with the help of two transfers: Erin Rooney from Monmouth and Marah Strickland from South Carolina. They each average 13.9 points a game, leading the team in scoring.

All it took was two years for head coach Stephanie Gaitley to rewrite the history books. Gaitley left Monmouth for Fordham, inheriting a program not accustomed to winning. Rooney followed her former coach at Monmouth, and has shined in the more competitive A-10 conference.

“We don’t accept losing,” Rooney told the Associated Press. “It’s not what we want to be as a program.”

And milestones for futility are certainly not what the Rams are going for. They are the small private school on New York City’s northern tier simply making up for lost time.

NCAA Tournament or not, the Rams are making history. And history always has a tendency to repeat itself.

Assault weapons ban not a solution to curtail gun violence

While Republicans are walking around on a crutch, Democrats are running marathons. When it comes to national issues–immigration, guns, taxes, spending–the Democrats are winning public support by a landslide. And while the Obama administration stands its ground on implementing more stringent gun control, the underlying issue remains an elephant in the room: mental illness.

Columbine, Virginia Tech, the recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary all had similar motives: the attacks were carried out by people suffering from severe mental illness. No sane person should believe one’s Second Amendment right to own a gun leads people to walk into an elementary school with an AR-15 and let loose. No sane person should reasonably believe, well, a sane person could carry out such heinous and despicable acts.

Even the term “assault” rifle is a misleading representation of the weapon, and ironically a reversal of “political correctness.” Yet the ultimate debate remains: the battle by some Democratic Senators to ban assault weapons and place limits on large-size magazines, and Republicans fighting back by arguing the ban would infringe on law-abiding citizens’ right to own a firearm.

We have tried prohibiting a multi-billion dollar industry from operating, and we all know how well Prohibition worked. Mexico, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, also is one of the most violent, run by drug cartels and filled with corruption.

Yesterday’s pictures showing President Obama skeet shooting should be enough evidence to point out that one’s right to own a firearm outweighs strict gun control for the very, very small proportion of the population that abuses this right.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,228 people died in drunk driving crashes in 2010, accounting for 31 percent of traffic-related deaths. We don’t see the GOP attempting to ban alcohol, so why should guns be treated any differently?

Tragedies occur every day. And tragedies are often obdurate, and impossible to prevent from happening or change in outcome. Banning high-capacity magazines and semiautomatic weapons only exasperates the problem, and prevention is miniscule, while Amendment rights’ violations are vast.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s plan to push some of the strictest gun-licensing, ban assault weapons, and restrict visitor access to schools is a step in the wrong direction. Sure there is a need for tighter background checks and gun safety courses, as proper training should be required before owning a gun, but his plan also does little to address the problem of mental illness.

The question should be why people of mental illness with violent tendencies are not receiving more help. Why Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter who went on a killing spree in 2007, was not a cause for concern after his bizarre behavior in class and often graphic, violent, and gruesome stories he wrote for an English class?

If there is a need to emphasize prevention, it begins with addressing mental illness. If there is a need to emphasize safety, place at least one armed police officer at every school. Paranoia and irrational thinking is one thing. Understanding a person’s Amendment rights and the elephant in the room is another.

Is the elephant that hard to find?