Archive for May, 2009

humorous-060_smallWith the virtual absence of any objective review of Sonia Sotomayor’s opinions or positions by members of Congress, the Senate Judiciary Committee appears to be gearing up for another confirmation process with little substantive content. As noted previously with regard to the Roberts and Alito hearings, confirmation hearings have become little more than extended photo ops for Senators.
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225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obamatorture -abu ghraibThe United Nations has released a new report on human rights that has found the record of the United states to be “deplorable.” With the continuing refusal of the Obama Administration to investigate war crimes and to support the Bush policies in court, we have lost an opportunity to show the country has committed itself to change these policies and demand accountability for those who implemented them.
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225px-antonin_scalia_scotus_photo_portrait225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obamaThis week saw the demise of a landmark case in the area of constitutional criminal procedure: Michigan v. Jackson. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court rolled back on the protection of defendants that guaranteed that they had the advice of counsel before speaking with police at critical stages of a prosecution. In Montejo v. Louisiana (07-1529), Justice Antonin Scalia said that the protection was not worth the loss of confessions and only caused confusion. The Obama Administration supported the rollback on protections for criminal defendants and argued for Michigan v. Jackson to be overturned.
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silvio_berlusconi_29-01-2008Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has previously threatened to crackdown on the media for reporting his regular gaffes and notorious conduct. Now, the media mogul is reportedly trying to block publication of pictures with young women after the media pursues allegations of affairs. His wife, Veronica Lario, sought a divorce due to Berlusconi’s, 72, alleged fondness for girls, including a particular 18-year-old Neapolitan Noemi Letizia.

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Saudi Arabia flagSaudi Arabia has added to its macabre medieval tradition with what it called a “crucifixion” — the public display of a beheaded killed, Ahmed Al-Shamlani Al-Anzi. [Update: They did it again in 2013]
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hivmanPhilippe Padieu, who was described by his own lawyer as a “modern-day Casanova,” has been sentenced by a Texas jury to 45 years in prison for knowingly inflicting six women with the AIDS virus.

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160px-Carl_Levin_official_portrait225px-richard_cheney_2005_official_portrait Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has issued a stinging rebuke to former Vice President Dick Cheney — saying that undisclosed memos do not support his claim that torture works and save lives.
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488px-scientology_symbolsvg100px-Wikipedia-logo-en-bigScientology may believe that they can achieve control of time and space, but they are being denied control over Wikipedia entries. Wikipedia has blocked edits from Scientology computers due to a history of what it says are deceptive and abusive edits. They also banned individual Scientologists.

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gavel2The case of Lisa Strong is a tragedy at almost every level from her first encounter with the medical profession to her last encounter with the legal profession. Strong went to the emergency room with what she believed was kidney stones (she had a history of kidney stones). However, due to malpractice, she ultimately lost both legs and arms. Despite the admission of various mistakes by the medical staff, a jury ruled against her. In a rare move, Broward County Circuit Judge Charles M. Greene threw out the jury verdict and ordered a new trial.
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1_61_052809_pharmacy02_320An Oklahoma jury will be asked to decided whether pharmacist Jerome Ersland, 57, is a hero or a murderer. A video camera captured Ersland pumping rounds into an unconscious and unarmed teenager who tried to rob his store on May 19th.
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180px-DamaszenerKlingeAs many on this site know, I am a bit of a history nut and I could not resist this story. There are many ancient accounts of the famed Damascus swords, particularly from Crusaders who described how the blades were so sharp that they could cut a failing piece of silk while strong enough to cut through rock. It now turns out the medieval Muslim sword-smiths learned how to create carbon nanotubes. The actual discovery was made a couple years ago, but I just came across some articles on the research in looking for some crusade background facts.

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art.mugThere is another controversy over police tasers leading to a death. Robert Mitchell, 16, died after being hit with a 50,000 volt taser shock after he ran from a traffic stop and allegedly resisted arrest. Mitchell had a learning disability and according to his family was merely scared.

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225px-Mahmoud_AhmadinejadPotato_23Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made a name for himself as a Holocaust-denying, gay-bashing, Israel-hating, religious nut. None of that appears to have made him particularly unpopular in Iran. However, he is now accused of buying votes with potatoes.
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215px-NypdpatchA New York police officer has been tragically killed by a fellow officer late last night. New York Police Department Officer Omar Edwards, 25, was shot twice by another officer who was chasing a man that he believed was trying to break into his car. He mistook Edwards for the suspect and shot him.

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image5005580g646Father Alberto Cutie, known as “Father Oprah,” has been much in the news after photos were published showing him hugging a woman at a bar and beach. Facing a resumption of celibacy, Father Cutie has discovered the Episcopal Church.

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defaultYonkers police officer Wayne Simoes, 39, has been acquitted by a jury, which reviewed this videotape of Simoes body slamming Irma Marquez, 44, face first into the floor — breaking her jaw and knocking her unconscious at a restaurant.
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England flagAnother teacher has been fired for activities outside of school. Leonora Rustamova, 39, (known as Ms. Rusty) taught English at Calder High School in England and was a successful teacher until she wrote a book that the school found a bit too racy. “Stop! Don’t Read This” is a fictional story about students at the school but includes sex and drug references as well as the name of headmaster Stephen Ball.
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200px-Sonia_SotomayorThe debate over Judge Sonia Sotomayor continues to rage this week. What is remarkable is how much is being said and how little substance can be found in the coverage. One would think that the law of averages alone would guarantee that some substantive points would be hit, if only by accident. It is becoming increasingly clear that, once again, we will not have a substantive and civil review of the qualifications of a Supreme Court nominee. Neither conservatives nor liberals seem to want (or are willing to tolerate) objective discussion of Sotomayor’s qualifications or opinions. For what it is worth, I would like to discard some of the most often heard arguments in the vain hope that we might still achieve some level of reasonable discourse in this debate.
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defaultEarlier, we discussed the story involving a Chinese man who was upset with a man holding up traffic by threatening to jump from a bridge. This video of the incident has been found.
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660px-flag_of_israelsvgLegislators in the Knesset gave initial approval to a law that would make it a crime to deny the right of Israel to exist — mandating a year in prison for such an exercise of free speech.
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220px-The_ScreamIn torts, we have seen a steady line of cases related to the abuse or mishandling of corpses. However, this Indiana case is off the charts. Rev. Reginald Burrell and his parishioners from Northlake Church of Christ went to their newly purchased building only to find four bodies abandoned from 2006.
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225px-Theodore_Olson225px-David_Boies_at_Berkman_CenterTheodore B. Olson, the U.S. solicitor general under Bush and his lawyer in Bush v. Gore, and David Boies, who represented former vice president Al Gore in that case, have joined forces to challenge Proposition 8 in federal court after this week’s loss in the California state court system.

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250px-Chicagopd_jpg_w300h294Chicago Police Officer Richard Bolling was charged in a hit and run that killed a 13-year-old Trenton Booker who was riding his bicycle. In such cases, standard procedures calls for a breathalyzer as soon as possible. However, Bolling’s colleagues gave him four hours and, when they administered the test, he registered 0.079 — miraculously just under the 0.08 limit.

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250px-Chicagopd_jpg_w300h294What happen when you hold a trial and the police are the ones who take the Fifth? That question was answered by Cook County Circuit Judge Clayton Crane who ordered a new trial for Gangster Disciple member Cortez Brown, who alleged that he was forced to confess during beatings in custody.

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IMG_4244This picture was taken when a family went to put flowers on the grave of their veteran family member.

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512In a truly bizarre scene, Royal Governor General Michaelle Jean, the representative of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as Canada’s head of state, protested restrictions on seal products by eating the raw heart of a dead seal. It is moments like these that one wonders whether a strong letter and signed picture might have sufficed.

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California flagflag-rainbow1While buried by the news of the Sotomayor nomination, yesterday was a disappointing day for many of us who favor same-sex marriage. The California Supreme Court voted 6-1 to uphold Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. The only good news for couples is that the Court ruled that the 18,000 unions licensed before the proposition would not be invalidated.

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200px-Sonia_SotomayorPresident Obama has selected Judge Sonia Sotomayor of United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She has an inspiring life story and gave a moving speech at the White House. She is not the intellectual powerhouse that many academics had hoped for. However, many nominees did not find their voices until after years of service on the Court. I discussed the nomination on this segment of Countdown. [For an update on debunking conservative and liberal attacks in this debate, click here]
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090416_RomanovsCossacks1916croppedPresident Obama is about to announce the creation of a “cyber czar” who will have broad authority to develop strategy to protect the nation’s government-run and private computer networks. Obama’s legion of czars has raised concerns among lawmakers about their concentration of power.
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488px-scientology_symbolsvgScientology is back in court this week. Officials are facing organized fraud charges with $7 million in fines and 10 years in prison — and could be ordered to end their operations in France. The Church is viewed as a criminal organization and a dangerous cult for years in various European nations, here and here.

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170px-Red_Bull.svgGermany is considering a nationwide ban on the high-energy drink Red Bull Cola after traces of cocaine were found in it. The officials of the states of Hesse and North-Rhine Westphalia have stopped the sales until the drink can be produced sans real coke — to the disappointment of many no doubt.

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2311175_200X150There is a strange case out of Altamonte Springs, Florida this week. Alan Davis was reportedly mad at the city and his neighbors, so he expressed himself by decorating his house and yard with junk from toilets on his roof to airplane parts to a statue of buttockes. He was convicted in 2003 for felony littering and ended up serving four years.

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9734g1For many kids, clowns are already pretty scary. For the kids at the Ogden 20K Race, their fears were realized when officers of the Wheeling Police Department arrested and cuffed Patricia Ingalls who was in her full clown outfit for a hit and run.

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defaultWhile the start was a bit shaky, Susan Boyle handed in another remarkable performance this week. While we do not often follow shows (and I have yet to see one of these shows), the video below may be of interest to our bloggers.
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SiegeofAntiochAfter the recent disclosure of how Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used biblical passages as part of the war briefings for President George W. Bush, GQ magazine has an even more disturbing account: Bush lobbied French President Chirac that the war in Iraq was foretold in the bible and told that it was the final struggle with Gog and Magog.

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200px-flag_of_the_united_statessvgThe United States has been vocal in its denouncing of the recent arrests of journalists by North Korea and Iran. These countries refuse to comply with American values and legal process, particularly in the treatment of journalists. The biggest difference thus far: North Korea and Iran gave the journalists trials. Reuters cameraman Ibrahim Jassam has been held since September by the U.S. military in Iraq without charges or evidence.

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rac_official_portrait_webPaul Holden has learned that the greatest peril of having a blowout on a local highway is not the possible crash but reporting it to state officials. Holden’s truck experienced the blowout on Ohio Route 286 when a six-pound metal road reflector slashed into his tires. When he reported the debris, he started a saga that led to fines and threats from Ohio officials, including the office of Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.

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47074544Police have arrested Billy Masters, 66, reportedly the preacher at Harvest Baptist Church for first-degree sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy. What is remarkable is that Masters previously was convicted and served time for sodomy of a child.
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default-1There is a shocking video showing King County Deputy Matthew Paul slamming the head of Christopher Harris into a wall in the mistaken belief that Harris was a suspect in an assault. Harris, 29, remains in a coma.
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Happy Memorial Day

humorous-187_smallBest wishes to everyone on this Memorial Day weekend.

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250px-CSI-LV.mainThere is a very interesting torts case out of Los Angeles where one of the writer for the CBS show “CSI” has been sued by two real estate agents for allegedly using the show to trash them after a disagreement. Writer and producer Sarah Goldfinger allegedly put the characters of Melinda and Scott Tamkin into a script and even helped select actors who looked like them. The facts do not make this look like a coincidence and, if not, both Goldfinger and the show have much to answer for.
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new-bedford-300x209new-bedford-princessCousins Jimmy Correa, 24, and Jenny Torres, 31, were arraigned this week in New Bedford, Massachusetts on felony animal abuse charges after they reportedly tossed Princess, a 1-year-old Chihuahua out the window of their speeding SUV. They now want Princess back.
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250px-Lightmatter_wild_squirrelAuthorities in Hazlet, New Jersey have criminally charged Kathleen Buck, owner of Critter Ridder, for animal cruelty after she caught a squirrel that perished in her trap.
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China's flagBeijing was the scene for an bizarre crime. Chen Fuchao was threatening to jump off a bridge and had hel up traffic. Veteran Lian Jiansheng, 66, broke through the police line and went over to Chen and promptly pushed him off the bridge.
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sealdojThe Justice Department is facing yet another possible contempt sanction from a federal judge. This is becoming something of a trend for the Justice Department. One could only imagine the response of the bar to a private law firm with such a record of contempt. The latest threat comes from United States District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker in Al-Haramain v. Obama. This remains one of the most troubling cases from the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration has again yielded to the worst element in the Justice Department in continuing the same policies and practices of its predecessor.
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180px-Catherine_Crier_by_David_ShankboneFormer Dallas judge and CourTV anchor Catherine Crier has filed a lawsuit against a John Doe who maliciously used a story about another female lawyer to defame Crier on wikipedia. The unknown individual took the facts about attorney Catherine Shelton and, by replacing the last name with Crier’s from a 2007 Dallas Morning News story, to suggest that Crier was accused of murder and had been convicted of shoplifting, served time, and was disbarred.
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250px-Hackney_carriageThere is an interesting story out of Edmonton, England where police refused to file charges against four women who falsely accused cab driver Soner Yasa of sexual assault. It is an all too familiar story where false rape and assault victims are often not charged as in the infamous case of the Duke Lacrosse team.
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AflamelogoThe late Rev. Jerry Falwell always insisted that he spoke for “the moral majority.” However, it appears that his university, Liberty University, is equally interested in silencing what they consider to be the “immoral minority.” The school this week shutdown the the Liberty University College Democrats as inimical to their moral mission. The Republican Student organization was retained.
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defaultConservative radio host Erich “Mancow” Muller has been one of the loudest voices denying that waterboading is torture. Like Sean Hannity (who said that he would allow himself to be waterboarded), Muller volunteered for a session to prove the point. Unlike Hannity, Muller fulfilled his commitment. As shown on the video below, in a few seconds, Muller went through the full range of Kübler-Ross of torture from denial to acceptance.
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225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obamaSpeaking to the graduating class of U.S. Naval Academy, President Barack Obama told the graduates that the best way to protect our nation is to stand up to its principles. I discussed the detainee issue last night on this segment of Countdown.

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