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Land O Links

*Land of the free?: "Margaret Doughty ... is being told by officials that her application to become a naturalized U.S. citizen could be thrown out if she doesn’t join a church that forbids violence. Doughty happens to be an atheist who is morally opposed to war, and so objects to the part of the citizenship oath that requires you pledge to take up arms if the government asks you to do so. Evidently, American authorities only accept objections to war as legitimate if your objections are based on religious beliefs."

Something else for the Obama administration to explain.

*The Legislature could not finish work on Medicaid expansion before the summer break, but it did finish work on reforms to Michigan’s woefully inadequate indigent defense system.

And why was action needed? As Bridge's Pat Shellenbarger detailed:

"Fridays in Ottawa County’s courts — when criminal defendants often are arraigned without legal representation — are referred to as 'McJustice Days.' In Sault Ste. Marie, attorneys representing the poor have little time to prepare and wait in line to meet with their clients in the courthouse’s unisex bathroom.In Wayne County, court-appointed attorneys haven’t received a raise in decades and say they often take on more cases than they can handle.And in a report approved June 22, the Michigan Advisory Commission on Indigent Defense urged the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder to increase funding and implement statewide standards for the state’s system of providing attorneys for indigent criminal defendants — a system that has been criticized as one of the worst in the country."

*If you are really, really interested in what emergency manager Kevyn Orr is proposing to do to manage Detroit’s debt, here are 134 pages of his proposal:

A few illuminating points from the report:

--“The number of employed Detroit residents has dropped more than 53% since 1970.”

--“Some of the City’s EMS vehicles have been driven 250,000 to 300,000 miles, and break down frequently.”

--“As part of the approximately $8 million pledged by a group of corporations in March 2013, DPD expects to receive 100 new leased cruisers in 2013.”

This last one is a bit of a head-scratcher. According to this report, the $8 million mentioned above is for 100 police cars and 23 ambulances. So, that’s a per-unit cost of $65,040. And most of the units are leased.

land-o-FINALPresumably the money also is going to cover other equipment and operational costs, and, in the case of leases, a multi-year period. If so, Mayor Dave Bing’s office would have been smart to include those facts – perhaps substituting for the images of new vehicles -- in their explanation of the program.

*The BBC gives its take on Detroit’s current state of affairs.

*This is one of those stories that explains why Congress, as an institution, is held in such contempt by so many citizens:

"For many — if not most — members of Congress such trips home often begin at Reagan National Airport, which at only minutes away is hugely convenient for those looking to arrive in town at the last minute and leave the first chance they get. But if the pending merger between American Airlines and US Airways is approved, the new mega-airline could be forced to give up slots at the D.C. airport as a condition of the deal, which in turn could lead to fewer direct flights between Washington and many of the smaller airports that are the final destination for many congressmen. You know what that means: bipartisanship!"

*Underneath Istanbul is a large, man-made lake built six centuries ago when the city was the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The photos remind of a more modern visual: The scene in “From Russia with Love” where James Bond uses a boat to travel underneath the city to do some spying.

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