Archive for January, 2009

the_week_9316_27This week, the Iraqi government sent police to order the removal of a statue honoring the Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who threw a shoe at former President George Bush. The statue’s removal in Tikrit appears to be an effort to show respect to the United States by denying the right of free speech to the Iraqi people.

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180px-tng-redemption_worf_and_gowronFrench financial firm Calyon in the Americas is being sued by Ryan Pacifico who alleges that he was fired because his boss, Robert Catalanello, thought that he seemed gay because he would not eat steak and wore snug-fitting shorts during triathlons. The firm denies the allegation and says that he was fired for performance reasons.

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johannes20mehserleAs expected, ex-transit officer Johannes Mehserle, 27, is claiming that he shot Oscar Grant by mistake in the infamous video from the BART station in Oakland, California. He insists that he thought that his gun was his taser when he shot Grant in the back.
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In 2005, ex-radio DJ Quincy De’Shawn Smith was involved in a confrontation with a police officer that resulted in his being tased. In November, this case was cleared for trial alleging police brutality by the officer. However, Smith, 24, is now dead after being tased in December by the same Minneapolis police officer, Officer Timothy Devick, who was responding to a report of a domestic assault.
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220px-hillary_rodham_clintonThe appointment of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and her recent confirmation as Secretary of State raises a very interesting constitutional question. As discussed previously here, the Constitution would appear to block Clinton from being able to serve in this capacity under Article I, Section 6. Now, Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit on behalf of U.S. Foreign Service Officer and State Department employee David C. Rodearmel to make just such a case.
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Foreign Ministry Spokesman Eric Chevallier has publicly criticized Israel for allegedly blocking the shipment of a water purification station into Gaza, forcing France to return the equipment to Europe despite the serious health emergency growing in Gaza over contaminated water. Spain for its part has now opened an investigation to look into the allegations of crimes against humanity in how Israel conducted the operation.
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thumb_peanutsAs predicted in our earlier entry, the investigation into the salmonella outbreak has now become a criminal investigation of Peanut Corporation of America. Recently, it was learned that company officials knew that prior batches of its product were contaminated but shipped them anyway. The Food and Drug Administration is spearheading the investigation.

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250px-marie-antoinette_koningin_der_fransen225px-rudy_giulianiFormer New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has an interesting trickle down theory. According to Giuliani, the outrageous bonuses for Wall Street figures (many paid for by public funds) are a vital part of economic recovery for average New Yorker. According to Giuliani, the relatively few super rich recipients are a major source of money for the thousands of people who serve their whims and fulfill their wishes for exotic foods, fast cars, and impeccable service. It is basically the same economic theory advanced by that pre-Friedman scholar Marie Antoinette in the eighteenth century but under Giulianiomics, we don’t let the peasants actually eat the cake . . . just serve it.

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0_61_012909_scared01North Carolina prosecutors are pursuing an interesting felony-murder charge against Larry Whitfield, who is accused of breaking into the home of an elderly lade after an attempted bank robbery and car chase. Whitfield never touched Mary Parnell, 79, but the stress is believed to have caused her heart attack and death.

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180px-nancy_cartwright200px-bart_simpsonNancy Cartwright, the voice for Bart Simpson, may be in hot water with Twentieth Century Fox. Cartwright, a committed Scientologist, used the Simpson voice (which is copyrighted) to leave a widely played voice message for Scientologists. The robocall tape is below.
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thumb_policeman_cartoonEngland is about to make it illegal to take photographs of police officers in a continuing trend limiting the free press and free speech in the West. This ill-conceived law, The Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, will take effect on February 16th and “allows for the arrest and imprisonment of anyone who takes pictures of officers ‘likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’.” For this crime, you can get up to ten years and a fine.

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125px-flag_of_the_united_nationssvgIn a striking departure from the Bush Administration, Ambassador Susan E. Rice, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, called for an investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel in the recent Gaza fighting. While correctly noting such violations by Hamas, Rice noted that there are now credible accounts that need to be investigated. The question is now whether the Administration will apply the same standard to the investigation and prosecution of war crimes that are now clearly identified in the Bush Administration involving an official torture program.
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178174170px-karl_roveKarl Rove is promising to defy the subpoena issued by John Conyers — citing instructions from Bush lawyers shortly before the end of the Administration. The statement may indicate that President Bush is preparing for a novel fight: asserting executive privilege against the position of the sitting president (who would presumably support Congress in this matter). In the interview, Rove compares himself to the Great White Whale in Moby Dick.

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thumb_election_scales1If Chevaliee ”Chevy” Robinson, 30, was unhappy about pleading guilty to drug conspiracy and money laundering in Akron a few months ago, he was probably even less happy when he learned the identity of the snitch that helped set him up with the police: his lawyer Frank Pignatelli. Media has learned that Pignatelli found himself implicated in the drug conspiracy and agreed to work undercover with police in stings to incriminate others, including his own former clients. It is an extremely troubling use of a lawyer by law enforcement that the American Bar Association should review.

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160px-kit_bond_official_portraitholderericSen. Christopher “Kit” Bond (R., Mo.), the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has told The Washington Times that Eric Holder privately assured him that there would be no prosecution of Bush officials for torture or unlawful acts. The story is reminiscent of last week’s statement by Gen. Michael Hayden that he was assured by President Obama that there would be no investigations or prosecutions allowed for war crimes committed by the Bush Administration. I discussed this story and the recent ACLU demand for the release of the torture and surveillance memos on this segment of Countdown.

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php497f382836268Brent Frasier, an eight-year veteran of the Mesa, Arizona police department, is facing remarkably light charges after he crashed his car into a public fountain, fled the scene of the accident and left his car with his badge, Glock handgun, and a clip for an AR15 rifle. He later lied to police about the incident. There has been controversy over the fact that he will be charged with only public damage and false statements in the case.

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thumb_praying_handsthumb_money_bag_greenthumb_praying_handsOne of the items in the stimulus bill that has been overlooked is $100 million in grants for faith-based organizations. As I discussed this week in my column, Obama has pledged to not only continue but massively expand President Bush’s faith-based initiatives.

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churchA California appellate court has ruled that the Riverside County-based California Lutheran High School was permitted to expelled two 16-year-old girls for having “a bond of intimacy” that was “characteristic of a lesbian relationship.” It is a major ruling in favor of free exercise, finding that the religious mission of the school trumped the state’s anti-discrimination laws. (more…)

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200px-ciasvgThe former CIA station chief in Algeria is under investigation by the State and Justice departments for the drugging and raping of two women in his home. Reports indicate that videotapes were recovered showing the officer having sex with what appeared to be drugged women.
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brazilWith lawyers and law students getting pink slips in the recession, Cristina Warthen, a Stanford law graduate, had a novel idea to support herself: she ran a high-priced call girl service. Warthen has now pleaded guilty and avoided jail time, agreeing to pay $313,000 in unpaid taxes as a prostitute who went by the name “Brazil.” She will serve a one year sentence of home detention and three years probation. She ran a website featuring her business named TouchofBrazil.net. She has said that the work as a call girl was done to pay off her student loans.

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gavel2These are the types of dangers that law school simply does not prepare you for. Weusi McGowan, 37, wanted San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser to replace his public defender Deputy Alternate Public Defender Jeffrey Martin. Fraser refused, so after a break McGowan returned to court and promptly produced a plastic baggie with fecal matter and smeared in on the face and hair of Martin. He then tossed the waste at the jury. The home-invasion robbery suspect got a new trial, a new lawyer, and presumably a new assault charge.
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250px-youthcheerleadingpomponsThe Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that cheerleading is a contact sport like footballs and therefore participants cannot be sued for accidentally causing injuries. Brittany Noffke, a former varsity cheerleader at Holmen High School in Wisconsin, sued her spotter after she was allowed to fall backwards off the shoulders of a team member, causing a serious head injury. (more…)

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roy_brownRoy Brown, 54, is a homeless man who said that he was hungry and needed a place to live when he walked the Capitol One bank in Shreveport, Louisiana in December 2007 and stole a single $100 bill. The next day, he turned himself into police, apologized, and said that he was not raised to do such things. After he pleaded guilty, the Shreveport judge then sentenced him to 15 years in prison. In the meantime, former AIG executive Christian Milton defrauded customers of more tha $500 million and was just sentenced to 4 years.

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thumb_peanuts1Internal documents from the Peanut Corporation of America reportedly show that the company knew that peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella 12 times in the last two years, but shipped out the contaminated peanut butter to customers. The revelation will most certainly increase the liability facing the company from both the government and civil litigants after the death of eight people and the injury to hundreds across the country. Indeed, it would appear that criminal charges may now be warranted.

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160px-peter_king_official_109th_congress_photoThe United States is facing a worsening recession, an expanding war in Afghanistan, and global warming. Yet, New York Republican Rep. Peter King believes that one of the more pressing matters for Congress should be to require that all cell phones make a click or sound when taking a picture. It is the basis for his “Camera Phone Predator Alert Act” to protect the unwary from the unscrupulous.
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240px-tetraodon-hispidusNow, this is a tort that can only be found in Japan. Yes (if you are wondering) there appears to be “good” and “bad’ blowfish testicles. Seven people have been hospitalized after eating the testicles prepared in the Japanese city of Tsuruoka by an unlicensed Fugu chef.

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top-bannerFor those who cannot tire of Sarah Palin, relief is at hand. SarahPac is a new political action committee that will be seeking to elect officials around the country who are mavericky enough to be allies of the Alaskan governor. This Palinites will be funded around the country, according th the new website.

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260px-capitol_building_full_viewThis week, I testified again in opposition to the current legislation to create a new form of non-state voting member in the House of Representative for the District of Columbia. The hearing before the House Judiciary hearing was quite lively and it appears that the bill has the votes to pass. My testimony is linked below.

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170px-karl_roveJohn Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has subpoenaed Karl Rove to testify about the Bush administration’s firing of United States attorneys. The subpoena could force an interesting constitutional fight since President Obama would now be in a position to waive executive privilege and Attorney General nominee Eric Holder could allow the matter to go to a grand jury. I discussed this issue last night on Countdown in this segment.
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Player Death ChargesJason Stinson, the football coach of Pleasure Ridge High School in Kentucky, has been charged with reckless homicide in the death of a teenage player, Max Gilpin, 15. Gilpin collapsed from heat exhaustion on August 20, 2008 during a practice and died three days later. Gilpin died during a “gasser” where students sprint up and down the field.
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thumb_policeman_cartoonThe Chicago Police Department is struggling to explain this morning how a 14-year-old boy walked into Grand Crossing District station impersonating a police officer and was given an assignment in a squad car for five hours before anyone realized that he was too young to drive, let one patrol the streets of the city.

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sisteen chapel ceilingAs we approach the one-week anniversary of the Obama administration, it is a bit early to judge the level of true change brought by the 44th president. However, it is becoming increasingly clear what is not going to change (at least for the better) in the Obama administration. With all of the euphoria of the inauguration, many supporters fought back a strange and long-lingering sensation: doubt. There was little room for doubt in the collective celebration of our first African-American president and a new course after a ruinous eight years under George W. Bush.

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thumb_basketball_large_basketball_beveled_seamNow, this could make for an wrongful termination lawsuit. Micah Grimes, the coach of Covenant School of Dallas, was reportedly fired after refusing to apologize for a 100 – 0 victory of his girls’ basketball team over Dallas Academy. He insists that it is ridiculous to apologize “for a wide-margin victory when my girls played with honor and integrity.” He was fired shortly thereafter.
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secondbartcopA new video has emerged in the case of Oscar Grant III, who was fatally shot by former transit police officer Johannes Mehserle in a BART station. The new videotape below shows a second officer, reportedly Tony Pirone, striking one of the detained men (possibly Oscar Grant) on January 1st.

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85px-coat_of_arms_of_the_vatican_citysvgIn shocking documents reviewed by the Indianapolis Star, disclosed evidence shows that the Archdiocese of Indianapolis was fully aware that Father Harry Monroe was molesting numerous boys from 1974 to 1984 and allowed him to continue by transferring him from church to church rather than calling the police or terminating his employment or both.
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238px-batman_truckThere has been a second death in a monster truck show this month. In Madison, George Eisenhart Jr., 41, of Chardon, Ohio died after he walked in front of a passing monster truck at the Dane County Coliseum. This is nine days after a boy was killed in Tacoma, Washington by flying debris in a monster truck show.
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200px-wtc7-2006-0911Ryan Brinkerhoff has a curious way to dealing with being stuck in an elevator. When he found himself unable to get out of the 40th floor of 7 World Trade Center, he decided the best course of action was to spray the interior of the elevator with cleaning fluid and lighting it on fire. The automatic system then forced the elevator to the bottom floor where he was promptly arrested.
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200px-bbcsvgThe BBC has officially refused to air an appeal for aid for Gaza from ten international aid groups, including British Red Cross, Oxfam, and Save the Children. The BBC insists that, no matter how crafted, the aid request would undermine its impartiality in covering the conflict. SKY has now joined BBC in the refusal to air any appeal.

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marijuana-leafNorman Hutchinson, 48, is a member of the Religion of Jesus Church who lives in Mexico, Maine. He has filed a lawsuit in the Oxford Courthouse in Paris Maine against the state, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Mexico Police Department to protect his right to use marijuana for religious reasons.

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180px-rabbi_moshe_leib_rabinovichA federal court in Ungar v. New York City Housing Authority, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3578 (SD NY, Jan. 14, 2009) has ruled against the claims of a Hasidic group that the New York City Housing Authority should be required to give them preference in allocating units in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. They challenged the Tenant Selection Assignment Plan saying that they have religious needs to live near other members of their religious community in Williamsburg.

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250px-chihuahua_01_k78px-taco_bell_logosvgTaco Bell must pay the entirely of a $42 million in breach-of-contract award to the two Michigan men who created the idea of a taco-selling Chihuahua. oseph Shields and Thomas Rinks of Grand Rapids, Mich., prevailed in their claims against the chain as the originators of the “Yo quiero Taco Bell” ads. According to the court, Taco Bell and not its ad company is responsible for the full amount of the damages.
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tdy_mullen_palinhanged_081029300wThere is a fight brewing about an Ebay sale after a supporter of Sarah Palin bought an effigy of her by mistake, thinking that it was just another item to add to his Sarah Palin collection. It turned out to be the controversial effigy of Chad Morrisette, a professional window dresser, who hung it in protest. The Palin supporter is now refusing to pay the $2,200.
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800px-feral_goat_in_arubaThe Vanguard, one of Nigeria’s largest newspaper, has a different take on the conventional crime beat. The newspaper reported how a thief in Kwara state was chased and cornered by vigilantes and promptly turned himself into a goat.
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cpdcrnt-thAnthony Hernandez has sued the Chicago police department after officers arrested him without probable cause on drug charges and then held him for six months in jail. Not only did Hernandez lose his jobs, but he missed the birth of a child. It also turns out that one of the arresting officers, Slawomir Plewa, was stripped of his police powers in 2008 for his involvement in a false arrest.

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200px-freedomdiarybookcoverThe librarians in Independence, Iowa don’t take kindly to people holding on to their books. Shelly Koontz, 39, probably feels like she has become a character out of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment after police arrested her for failing to return a book that she checked out in April. The book value is $13.95.

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deadman1Ok, this has nothing to do with the law, society, politics, or policy. It is just sooooo creepy that I have to post it so you will be equally creeped out. Angel Pantoja Medina, 24, was found dead under a bridge in San Juan and his family wanted to fulfill his desire to be standing at his own wake “ready to party.” So, Angel was embalmed in a special way to allow him to be standing and dressed as people put their arms around him and kissed him at the party.
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0606818109South Carolina state senator Robert Ford is seeking to criminalize bad language in songs and droopy pants. The former civil rights worker believes that he has the right to dictate the speech and styles of citizens — dismissing any claims of constitutional rights. Indeed, he has proudly proclaimed that “[w]e’re talking about teenagers. They have no rights.”
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t1homevictimswvirPolice in Staunton, Virginia are dealing with a deathbed confession that may have solved a 42-year-old double murder. Sharron Diane Crawford Smith, 60, confessed to the murder of Constance Smootz Hevener, 19, and Carolyn Hevener Perry, 20 (who was also Hevener’s sister-in-law) at High’s Ice Cream store on 1967. She said that she shot the woman after she teased her about being a lesbian and got into a physical altercation.

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winter-schuldig1The international trend toward criminalizing any insulting of religion has reached Austria, which has now convicted far-right legislator Susanne Winter for making anti-Muslim statements, including the oft-stated charge that Mohammed was a pedophile for marrying an underaged girl. Winter is an obvious wingnut and her statements obnoxious. However, the first amendment is being sharply curtailed by a movement to criminalize insults to religion, including a United Nations resolution.
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amd_secretCorrectional Officers Michael McKie, Khalid Nelson and Denise Albright have been arrested on charges that they organized a fight club of inmates called “The Program.” Using teen enforcers called “The Team,” they allegedly oversaw a system of beatings, extortion, and terror at Rikers prison in New York. They even allegedly held classes on how to beat prisoners to leave as few marks as possible.
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