Archive for July, 2010

There is an amazing story out of Bell, California where citizens in the small city of 38,000 are outraged at news that Chief Administrative Office Robert Rizzo makes almost $800,000 a year and its police chief Randy Adams makes $457,000. As a point of comparison, Los Angeles (with a population of 3.8 million people) pays its police chief roughly half what Bell pays its Chief of Police. There have been calls for the resignation of Mayor Oscar Hernandez and other city officials.
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A group called the National Republican Trust Pac is airing this disturbing ad to fight the construction of a mosque near ground zero in Manhattan.

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Conservative bloggers are expressing outrage over comments at the recent NAACP conference made by Georgia director of Rural Development Shirley Sherrod. After watching the video, I think they have good reason to be outraged. While Sherrod has claimed that the remarks were “misconstrued.” While Media Matters has raised valid concerns over the fairness of the view as edited, the comments still contain racist elements. She has now resigned.
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The Consumerist has an interesting story this week reporting that United Airlines allegedly over-sold a flight and then dumped passengers based on how much (or little) they paid for their tickets.

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Just when you thought British Petroleum (BP) could not get more unpopular. As tests indicate a leak and massive readings of methane release at the Gulf spill site, reports have indicated that it was BP that lobbied for the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in order to secure a lucrative oil deal from Libya. BP it appears (as its slogan says) “to make the day a little better” for al-Megrahi and a lot better for BP investors.
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Millions of Muslims in Indonesia have been praying to Africa, but not by choice. The Indonesian Ulema Council had Muslims praying West to what they thought was the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It turns out that Mecca is Northwest.
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Roberto Sol Cabrera was not simply “glad to see” customs officials at the Mexico City International Airport. Upon being searched, suspicious officials found 18 monkeys around his waist.

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If you recall, one of the most steadfast public positions of the Democrats and the Obama White House during the health care debate was that the legislation did not constitute a tax. President Barach Obama expressly denied that the legislation was a tax in pushing for its approval. Now, however, his administration is seeking to defend the law on the basis that it is . . . you guessed it . . . a tax.

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Scotland reportedly is about criminalize sending anyone an “indecent communication” without their consent. It is one of the new crimes covered by a law against “Outraging Public Decency.”

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Scariest Mug Shot Ever

It may be hard to believe but this man — Jesse Thornhill, 28 — had trouble with his landlord. Thornhill was arrested after allegedly trying to run over his landlord.
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First there was the discovery of the oldest drinkable champagne in the World. Now, Dogfish Head brewery has released the oldest beer in the world made from ingredients found in a Neolithic burial site in China — beer with an original expiration date of around 7,000 BC. It is now the basis of Chateau Jiahu. They may want to steal the slogan from Abbott Beer: Some Things Get Better Given Longer.
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New York hotels and stores continue to experience an outbreak of bed bugs. The most recent is Victoria’s Secret, which was forced to close for a de-bugging.
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It is a well-known fact that dogs and cars are quite competitive in holding Marty Feldman look-a-like contests These are two of the ranking contenders.

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In Gaza, police are cracking down on the latest public scourge: women smoking water pipes (or shisha or hookahs). Citizens were handed an announcement that the Hamas government was now banning women from smoking water pipes because it leads to divorces.

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A Florida man has been arrested in a bizarre crime. Armand M. Pacher, 64, a former insurance executive, is accused of sex with his Great Dane that he named Christie Brinkley. He was nabbed after allegedly complaining to a veterinarian’s office that the passion appears to have left his love life with Christie.
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The irony of this Politico story is hard to miss. Politico is reporting on a dust up between the Palin and Romney camps after an aide for Mitt Romney stated anonymously that Sarah Palin is “not a serious human being.” A Palin aide immediately charged forward to denounce aides speaking anonymously to criticize his boss — the aide of course insisted on anonymity.

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In a surprising move, Montreal officials have barred this campaign using Pamela Anderson’s picture marked up like a butcher shop diagram display. The city has denied permits for the display with the caption "All animals have the same parts. Have a heart — Go vegetarian."

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Divers have found a cache of the oldest known champagne from the 18th century — believed to be Veuve Clicquot champagne from between 1772 and 1785.
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We have been following cases of citizens arrested for videotaping police officers — often during abusive arrests. Now, Rep. Edolphus Towns (D. N.Y.) has introduced a resolution to denouncing the arrests. While it is refreshing to see at least one member who is motivated to take action in the face of these abusive arrests, the resolution will have no binding impact on these departments.
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There is a controversial ruling in Calgary, Canada where Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Sal LoVecchio has released a mother who strangled her daughter Aminat, 14, (shown left) with a scarf despite the fact that he rejected her self-defense claim. Aset Magomadova will not spend a day in jail for the crime.

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A Norfolk teacher has resigned after it was confirmed that she was rubbing “holy oil” on students and their desks during school at Jacox Elementary School.
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ESPN star Erin Andrews has filed an interesting torts lawsuit against various hotel chains after a man was able to videotape her in her hotel room. Michael David Barrett was sentenced to 30 months after pleading guilty in a harassment case in federal court in Los Angeles. Now Andrews is claiming negligence against these hotels for their lack of privacy and security.
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A leading partner at a Toronto law firm has filed a $2.3 million lawsuit against former associates Adrian Jakibchuk, a fourth-year lawyer, and Sarah Diebel, a second-year lawyer, after they accused him of sexual harassment. The firm, Mathews, Dinsdale & Clarke, advises companies on sexual harassment claims and David Cowling, the partner, has sued two junior lawyers, who have left the firm, for defamation and intentional interference with economic relations.

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The Russian media is reporting that Dmitry Kazachuk, 4, died during an exorcism in the Primorye region. Doctors believe the boy had pneumonia. No one by the shaman was present with the boy when he stopped breathing.

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Alana Newhouse has an interesting op-ed in the New York Times about a move in the Israeli Knesset that would give the Orthodox rabbinate control of all conversions in Israel. The authority (extending to matters of all Jewish births, marriages and deaths) would allow ultra-Orthodox (or Haredi rabbis) to define who is Jewish under standards that could exclude a significant portion of the population.

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Marquevious Jabar Bell, 20, appears to have flunked out of Lamaze classes. Instead of soothing sounds and helpful counting of breaths, The North Carolina man beat his girlfriend while she was delivering their child in the hospital room.

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A family in Connecticut is alleging that police shot their dog for no reason in front of their children during a misdemeanor arrest. Police came to the house of Michael Dadio, Sr. to arrest him. He was mowing the lawn and his girlfriend’s kids were playing in the back yard when they tasered Dadio and shot the dog.
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Three Philadelphia police officers have been arrested in an ambitious alleged conspiracy to steal 300 grams of heroin from an alleged drug supplier and then sell the drugs to another drug dealer. The problem is that the second dealer was a DEA agent as was the money launderer. Arrested are officers Robert Snyder, 30 (shown left); Mark Williams, 27; and James Venziale, 32.
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In an interview with Raw Story, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) denounced President Barack Obama for blocking any investigation or prosecution of torture under the Bush Administration as inviting ‘tyranny.”
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In an astonishing concession under pressure from the Catholic Church, the New Zealand Human Rights Commission has agreed to remove language from a draft report that simply stated that New Zealand is a secular state and that religion was only for the “private sphere.”
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Another Chinese product has been recalled due to harmful contaminants. Children’s jewelry sold to pre-teen girls in stores like Justice and Limited Too have been found to have high levels of cadmium.
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The French Parliament has voted to become the second country (Belgium) to ban full burqas. The lawmakers voted to make it illegal for women to wear a full burqas or nijab in public. It is a direct assault on religious freedom from a nation that helped define the basic rights of all humans.
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The Church of Scientology has launched a campaign against Anderson Cooper for his coverage of controversies surrounding the church. The church has released a glossy magazine on Cooper entitled “History of Lies.”
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Oakland’s police chief Anthony Batts has announced that Oakland Police will not responded to 44 different crimes if planned layoffs occur at midnight. It was useful for Batts to announce the categories in advance for criminals to chose from a criminal dim sum list of free crimes including grand theft, burglary, vehicle collision, identity theft and vandalism.

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We have seen police charge everything from flatulence to a hug to a pillow attack as assault. However, this Toronto officer tells a young woman that if one of her bubbles touches his uniform, he will arrest her for assault. She is later shown being arrested.

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Manhattan Supreme Court Judge O. Peter Sherwood has put an end to an interesting tort lawsuit over the use of a picture in the movie “Couples Retreat.” Former bikini model Irina Krupnik was disgusted when the movie showed actor Jon Favreau’s character masturbating to her picture and claimed that such use went beyond what was agreed to in a contract. She demanded $10 million but, according to Judge Sherwood, she will receive nothing.

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Islamabad, Pakistan is dealing with murder that seems the Middle East version of the water fountain scene in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.. Muslims attacked Hindus and forced dozens to flee their homes in Sindh province after a young Hindu boy committed the offense of drinking water from a cooler outside of a mosque.

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Researchers have announced that they believe that they found the location of the famed round table of King Arthur. They believe it was not in a castle and not actually a table but a Roman-built structure designed to house up to 1000 knights. It was, however, round.

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In a surprising rebuke to the United States, the Swiss have decided to block the extradition of filmmaker Roman Polanski on the curious grounds “that it was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the US extraditionary request.” Putting aside that the reason is incomprehensible, the decision appears to affirm that there are two different systems of justice for celebrities and non-celebrities.
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Stoke-on-Trent City Council has issued directives to school officials to accommodate Muslim students during Ramadan, including canceling swimming lessons, tests, and sex ed classes.

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Scientists have gone public with allegations that the Obama Administration has continued the practice of the Bush administration in blocking scientists and ignoring scientific conclusions for political reasons.

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The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has released a disturbing account in its monitoring of abuses by police in that country. The AHRC alleges that Babul Kazi, a mechanic, was tortured to death after he was unable to pay bribes to the police. Babul was arrested with the two men who worked for him in his auto-ricksaw. Kazi was later brought to the hospital dead and showing signs of torture.

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Dangerous Liaisons

Since I am in Vancouver for a speech, I had to select this picture for our Sunday animal pic.

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The Pentagon has sent out a questionnaire for troops, including questions on how they feel about the lifting of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ban. The questions have been challenged as homophobic and designed to enrage the troops. The military insists that it is merely trying to gather data on the views of the troops and was not trying to trigger a backlash.

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First there was the sighting of a vampire after a crash on the roads of Colorado. Now, witnesses have come forward to report of a car of zombies who first crashed their car on Interstate 84 and then got out and walked around.
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There is an interesting controversy at the University of Illinois where the university has fired adjunct professor Dr. Kenneth Howell for teaching why homosexual acts violate natural moral law under the tenets of the Catholic church. Howell taught courses on the Catholic faith at the St. John’s Catholic Newman Center. He was fired after a student labeled his statements “hate speech.”
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San Francisco’s Commission of Animal Control and Welfare has proposed a ban on the sale of any pets with the exception of fish. The new ordinance would make it unlawful to sell dogs, cats, hamsters, mice, rats, and other pets.

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is reportedly outraged and may be heading down to New Orleans after his nephew, Derek Thomas, was punched and tasered at a Louisiana hospital after refusing to put on a gown.
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Belgium will soon be giving people a funeral more befitting deceased goldfish than people. Undertakers are planning to dissolve dead bodies in caustic solutions and then flush them into the sewers.

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If you (like me) had a certain fear of clowns as a kid, Pedro Artega Velazquez, 53, should re-ignite those fears. In the world’s most creepy mug shot, Velazquez is shown after his arrest for allegedly assaulting his teenage stepdaughter.
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