Archive for April, 2008

In Memphis, Tenn., people are shaking their heads over the decision of Daphne Beasley, the principal of Hollis F. Price Middle College High School in South Memphis, who published the names of gay students who were “couples” on a list with heterosexual couples. The result was to “out” the students — a potentially dangerous course. (more…)

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Oklahoma has again tinkered with the decision process leading to an abortion. Under a new law, a woman would be required to go through an ultrasound procedure and given the chance to see the fetus that she is aborting. (more…)

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Ginnah Muhammad is a Muslim woman in Michigan who was forced to decide whether to violate her religious principles (in removing a veil before testifying) or to lose her small-claims lawsuit. Muhammad wears a full hijab as well as a niqab, a veil that covers all but a 2-inch space for her eyes.When she refused, Hamtramck district court in 2006 dismissed her case. She has not appealed to the federal court. (more…)

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Just when it seemed that things could not be worse for Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former aide Crhistine Beatty, it did. Now emails released this week further establish a very compelling case that both lied under oath and spent millions in public funds to try to hide their role in the firing of a police officer as well as their affair. (more…)

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Albert Hofmann, the father of the mind-altering drug LSD, died in Basel, Switzerland at the age of 102. He discovered the effect of lysergic acid diethylamide-25 by accident and used himself as the first test case. (more…)

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A Dartmouth lecturer Priya Venkatesan appears to have some unresolved teaching issues with her Winter ’08 Writing 5 class. Most professors deal with a rude class with stern lectures, implied grading threats, and more homework. Venkatesan reportedly took a different tack: she informed the class that she is going to sue them for discrimination under Title VII. This appears genuine, though it remains hard to believe that any rationale academic would threaten such legal action. (more…)

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Once again, one has to wonder where we find some of the bureaucrats who run agencies like child protective services. University of Michigan Christopher Ratte, 47, made an innocent and understandable mistake at a Detroit Tiger’s game at Comerica Park. He bought his 7-year-old son a lemonade without understanding that it had alcohol. The result? The boy was taken from his parents for two days and Ratte had to move out of the home as subintelligent bureaucrats debated the matter. (more…)

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While many of us have continued to call for a ban on earmarks as a core area of corruption and abuse, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) appears unrepentent — even after years of criticism directed against her for earmarks. In 2009, Clinton has demanded nearly $2.3 billion in federal earmarks — 300% received by any other senator. (more…)

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Ashley Alexandra Dupre is outraged. Outraged. After working as a high-priced prostitute and been advertised on the Internet for shopping Johns, Dupre was shocked to learn that an earlier video that she made with Girls Gone Wild is being marketed by the company. Unfortunately, it may not be possible for both Dupre and GGW founder Joe Francis to lose, but here’s hoping . . . (more…)

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The Supreme Court has taken the case of a breakthrough case where the Ninth Circuit had held that a wrongly convicted man could sue the prosecutor who was allegedly responsible for injustice. The expectation is that the Court will carve out an exception for prosecutors — further insulating abusive prosecutors from responsibility for their acts. (more…)

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It may be the longest false imprisonment case in history. A 73-year-old man known only for now as Mr. F., has confessed in Amstetten, Austria to keeping his daughter (known as Elisabeth F) in a prison in his cellar for 24 years while he raped her and had children with her. They had a total of seven children and further confessed that one of the children (a twin) died and was burned in his oven. It is without question one of the most disgusting and disturbing crimes of the century. (more…)

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It appears that, while U.S. courts are jettisoning privacy rights and expanding the powers of the police in various areas, the Supreme Court of Canada is moving in the opposite direction: actually fighting to preserve privacy. In an important ruling, the Court held that police cannot use dogs to randomly sniff briefcases, book bags etc. They will have to show reasonable suspicion for such searches. (more…)

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The Bush Administration is continuing to claim that it can torture prisoners in violation of international law despite the so-called “torture bill” and pledge of the President to comply with international rules. Congress, which has protected the president from any criminal investigation, is again professing shock and outrage in the longest institutional imitation of Claude Rains in history. (more…)

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This should make for an interesting lawsuit. A Florida family of five bought and boarded a cruise on the Royal Caribbean. However, when their 7-month-old child became sick the ship gave the Cortes minutes to gather their stuff (in their pajamas) and abandoned them on the island of Nassau. It costs them thousands of dollars to make it home, but the Royal Caribbean has promised (you guessed it) to give them not their money back but a credit for another enjoyable trip on the Royal Carribbean. (more…)

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It is now becoming clear why the Spanish have been able to secure the release of their vessels and citizens faster than other countries: they allegedly cave and pay the demanded ransom. Perhaps, the Euro’s rise is making this a small cost of doing business, but one can now see why Somali pirating is the rage. (more…)

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In the ongoing controversy over Jason Beghe’s defection from Scientology (and disclosure of various alleged practices and bizarre beliefs), the one that caught my eye is his claim that Tom Cruise (and John Travolta) believe that they have evolved into a new race, Homo Novis. This would certainly explain a lot in terms of his behavior and offer a glimmer of hope for our own species. (more…)

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YouTube has pulled the account of popular anti-scientology channel “Xenutv1″ run by Mark Bunker — just before it aired a long-anticipated three-hour interview with Jason Beghe – a film and television actor who recently came out against his former Scientology church. The church as been aggressively pursuing and threatening such sites under copyright laws to prevent the disclosure of material on the church. In the meantime, hackers have “declared war” on the Church, which they denounce as a dangerous cult. (more…)

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Soldier Jeremy Hall is the atheist in the foxhole that everyone says does not exist. Perhaps for that reason, some people seem quite upset to find him there – debunking the idea that belief in God is a prerequisite for being a good soldier. Hale, 23, is now suing Defense Secretary Roberts Gates over what he claims is harassment and discrimination over his non-religious views. (more…)

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Professor John Yoo has formally rejected a request from the House Judiciary Committee for his testimony, prompting a likely subpoena from the committee.

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This video shows that even Vice President Dick Cheney’s plane blows off media on occasion. The plane returned a few second later to strafe the tarmac for survivors.

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Paradise Valley Community College psychology professor Michael Todd, 51, is suspended after a student, Andria Ziegler, 19, was found dead from a drug overdose in his Phoenix condo.
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The Senate is congratulating itself on finding taking a stand on ethics. It admonished Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R., N.M.) yesterday for his “appearance of impropriety” in connection with the firing of one of the nine U.S. attorneys fired. Yet, it is hard to see what it takes under congressional rule to commit an actual act of impropriety. Perhaps if Domenici had actually paraded around with the head of David C. Iglesias . . . wait, that is an “appearance of insobriety” under Senate rules. (more…)

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In Jerusalem, two of the most famous cantors in Israel are involved in a scandal right out of a Mickey Spallane novel involving seduction, comely female private detectives, hidden cameras and the works. The central players in the drama are Naftali Herstik and his former student, Israel Rand. Rand will soon be indicted for his conspiracy to turn Herstik into a de-canter. (more…)

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The prize-winning artist Gregor Schneider has alway been fascinating by death, as are many artists. His sculpture “Hannelore Reuen” of a dead woman remains an international sensation. Now, he is going for an even more real angle: he is seeking an actual dying person to agree to die in a gallery as a form of art as people watch. Another artist took a variation on the approach — filming people shortly before and right after death as art. Modeling jobs are getting hard to come by but this is ridiculous. (more…)

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This falls into the “bad cop, no doughnut” category. In Ottawa, they have a curious way of dealing with officers who commit crimes. Constable Alec Moraru has been reinstated after receiving three years suspension WITH pay after he (1) shoplifted, (2) threatened a civilian; and (3) assaulted a civilian. That’ll teach him. (more…)

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Maya Devi, 28, made it in time to a hospital to deliver her baby at the Kanpur Medical College in Northern Uttar Pradesh state. The doctors, however, had other ideas. Devi is an “untouchable” and therefore the upper caste doctors refused to touch her and let both her and her baby die. (more…)

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Okay, I was premature yesterday (here), in noting the current leading candidates for worst persons on Earth. That was before I met Frank White today. The video below shows White taking the wallet of Mississippi State University ROTC student Andrew Bow after he falls into a seizure on the street. (more…)

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Florida is continuing its struggle against the separation of church and state with a new promotion of religion: special license plates for the faithful. The legislature is considering a plate featuring a Christian cross, a stained-glass church window and the words “I Believe.” The sponsor of this unconstitutional measure is Rep. Edward Bullard who sees absolutely no difference between vanity plates and divinity plates. This is no doubt an effort to close the license gap with Iran, which has a “Honk if You Love Allah” plate. (more…)

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Last week, the Senate took an unprecedented step asking the Justice Department to investigate the possible criminal conduct of a House member. The subject of this ignoble moment is Rep. Don Young. For many, it was a well-earned distinction for Young, who is often cited as the face of earmark corruption. However, this is different. Young is accused of effectively stealing millions of dollars for a campaign contributor by changing the words of an appropriations bill after it was passed by his colleagues. (more…)

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The Bush Administration has long had difficulty in terrorism, assembling the worst record of losses of an modern Administration. Now, in the Liberty City case of six defendants accused of plotting to try to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago, they are going to try a THIRD time to get a jury to believe them. This is not a matter of the law of terrorism but the law of averages. Despite the strikingly similar reaction of the prior two juries, the Justice Department just hopes that it can still find people who will not question the unconvincing case against these individuals. (more…)

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Two individuals are locked away this week in a huge net benefit to our collective gene pool. One, Nicholas David Thompson, beat a kitten’s head on a wall for giggles while the other, Aaron Hunter, urinated on a three-old child because he was mad at his mother. (more…)

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that border agents can search a person’s laptop without either probable cause or reasonable suspicion. In a sweeping decision that reversed the trial judge, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain and two other judges found no distinction in a search of luggage and actually reviewing the contents of a computer under the Fourth Amendment. The ruling went against Michael Arnold, who was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport with child pornography. (more…)

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Now, here is an interesting potential torts lawsuit. Diane Sawyer interviewed a Manhattan prostitute for an ABC Special. She was assured that her identity would be concealed, but at least one person recognized her immediately: her mother. The prostitute details the accidental disclosure on her blog under the name “debauchette” (more…)

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Muslim scientists and clerics have called for the replacement of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) with Mecca Mean Time given the more central location of the holy city on Earth. Of course, given yesterday’s report of the Human Rights Watch on Saudi treatment of women, here. MMT could mean making time move backwards. (more…)

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New Hampshire Superior Court Judge Patricia Coffey resigned after she was suspended for three years by the state Supreme Court for dealings considered fraudulent and dishonest by her colleagues. Coffey’s demise is tied to a fraudulent property transfer involving her husband, John Coffey was barred as an attorney over the controversy. (more…)

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In Tampa, Ahmed Mohamed and Youssef Megahed — the two former University of South Florida students — have been charged with terrorism counts stemming from a traffic stop in South Carolina. As with many such cases, the government made a great deal over the stop, suggesting a major terrorism coup that found explosive devices in their car near military facilities. As time went on, the allegations proved somewhat laughable as the government struggled to find any way to justify the original press. (more…)

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As Hillary Clinton is being criticized for running a commercial against Barach Obama featuring Osama Bin Laden, a church in South Carolina has put up a sign “Obama, Osama, hmmm, are they brothers?” It is only the latest intervention of a church in the election in violation of federal law and perhaps the most moronic. Pastor Roger Byrd of the Jonesville Church of God insists that he will not take down the sign, which is less of a problem. It is the tax-supported church behind the sign that need to be changed. (more…)

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A Georgia military contractor, Pyrotechnic Specialties Inc. or PSI, is accused of a conspiracy to defraud the government and to sell defective stun (or “flashbang”) grenades to the military and both state and federal law enforcement officials. Not only were three FBI agents injured, but PSI is accused to luring federal officials with gifts at stripper joints and other perks. Officials are now facing charges of conspiracy, money laundering, mail fraud and defrauding the government. (more…)

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State officials have begun giving DNA tests to 400 children. The testing is intended to help determine their parents and relatives — though it could become part of a criminal case raising some interesting issues. (more…)

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Human Right Watch has issued a detailed report of how Saudi Arabia keeps women in a state of “childhood,” dependent upon males for things ranging from medical care to driving. The report, “Perpetual Minors: Human Rights Abuses Stemming from Male Guardianship and Sex Segregation in Saudi Arabia,” is based on more than 100 interviews with Saudi women. (more…)

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Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine), a member of the House Armed Services Committee comes out in an article in the Los Angeles Times in favor of the Feres Doctrine — a controversial rule that has effectively stripped military personnel of their ability to sue for even the most gross negligent acts by military doctors and managers. The article reports growing demands for the long-awaited termination of the doctrine. (more…)

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Phillip Miles, of South Carolina, was sentenced by a Moscow court to more than three years in prison for smuggling hunting ammunition into Russia. He had brought a box of 20 rifle shells for a friend who had a Winchester rifle. Stupid to be sure, but three years? (more…)

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Scientology is again under criticism over the alleged pressure to remove the video below of Jason Beghe explaining why he left the church and how actors like Tom Cruise and John Travolta allegedly believe that they are now a new species. At the same time, the Internet has seen an explosion of videos alleging highly abusive uses of copyright laws by Scientology lawyers to harass and search leading critics. (more…)

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According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, German citizen Gholam Ghaus Z., 41, had been held since January in Afghanistan after he tried to buy a shaver in a U.S. military supermarket. The four-months of confinement that followed has not been justified by the U.S. government and has become a matter of tensions between the two countries. This follows the case of German Turk Murat Kurnaz who spent almost five years in US military camps in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay despite a lack of evidence of terrorism, in the view of the Germans. The Bush Administration, however, is holding the line it appears at keeping our shavers out of the hands of Al Qaeda to avoid an escalation to nose clippers and that quintessentially American product, the Thigh Master. (more…)

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Posner on Loss of Consortium

Judge Richard Posner has spent his life establishing the value of law and economics reasoning. In a recent decision, he tackled the usually fuzzy question of the value of loss of consortium – offering his own formula for calculating such damages in the case of Ronald Arpin. (more…)

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It is not clear whether this will be more significant as a criminal or a defamation claim. CNN personality Richard Quest was arrested on April 18th. Various news organizations reported that he was found with a small bag of methamphetamine. Bad, but not particularly interesting. However, the New York Post has alleged that Quest was also caught with a rope around his neck that was tied to his genitals, and a sex toy in his boot. A bit of a difference and one that could lead to some interesting litigation if found to be untrue or misleading. (more…)

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Elena Reichman does not appear to be a threat to the traveling pocket, but according to police she warrants a felony battery charge over a confrontation over a secondary search at the Palm Beach International Airport. The 74-year-old grandmother and Holocaust survivor spent the night in jail over an incident that appears to have been the result of a combination bad judgment and bad manners. (more…)

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Rozita Swinton has been arrested in Colorado Springs in a reported connection to the call that alleged abuse at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. The arrest further supports the concern that the original raid might have been based on a false call. Yet, even if probable cause is questioned, it will not likely help the parents who have lost their children in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (more…)

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A Pennsylvania mother, Diane Rose Adorante, 40, will spend as much as 23 month in jail for hosting a birthday party where Samantha Scheuring, 16, drank herself to death. On Jan. 15, 2007, Scheuring was found dead at the apartment with a blood-alcohol content more than five times the legal limit. (more…)

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The controversy at Yale continues over the claims of senior art major Aliza Shvarts that she artificially inseminated herself and then induced miscarriages as part of an art project. Yale issued a statement that the claims were false and merely part of her “creative fiction.” She now says the university is lying and that she did use the miscarriages for art. (more…)

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