Archive for October, 2010

Who says appellate judges can’t be literate — and hilarious.

Fisher v. Lowe
122 Mich.App. 418, 33 N.W.2d 67 (1983)

Syllabus

    A wayward Chevy struck a tree
    Whose owner sued defendants three.
    He sued car’s owner, driver two,
    And insurer for what was due
    For his oak tree that now may bear
    A lasting need for tender care.The Oakland County Circuit Court,
    John N. O’Brien, J., set forth
    The judgment that defendants sought
    And quickly an appeal was brought. 

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Columbus Not Bringing Syphillis To the Queen

Explorer, conqueror, and, to some, the carrier of syphilis back to Europe from the New World, Columbus’ reputation seemed set in stone for eternity. Now some nifty forensic archeology may have exonerated the Admiral of the Ocean Sea from responsibility for the scourge that was first documented in Europe two years after his return from the West Indies. Researchers digging in an old church cemetery in East London say they’ve discovered bodies from the 13th and 14th Centuries which show tell-tale signs of syphilis like rough patches on the limbs and skulls of the corpses. Bodies interred with the disease two centuries before Columbus’ voyage would seem like exciting proof to Anglo scientists. However, the Brits managed to contain themselves: “We’re confident that Christopher Columbus is simply not a feature of the emergence and timing of the disease in Europe,” Brian Connell of the Museum of London said.

Now all that we know for sure is that the Europeans gifted diseases like smallpox and measles to the native populations but got precious little in return, that little island at the mouth of the Hudson River notwithstanding. Vikings are now the chief suspects for bringing the epidemic.

Source: AOLNews

Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

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God Hates Figs

No, really: “Mark 11:12-14 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it.”

H/T boingboing

-David Drumm (Nal)

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Cummins’s SuperValu in Ballinrobe, County Mayo enjoys a well-deserved reputation for fresh beef. Now we know why. Stunned shoppers watched helplessly as a bull methodically walked the aisles. “The bull ran down one aisle, and into the store area, where he had a good look around and came back out again. He then charged down another aisle, and out the front door again,” said owner, John Cummings. The only damage sustained was to – you guessed it- the fruit and vegetable stand.

Source: Digital Spy

Ok, Ok, I only posted it so you could hear this beautiful rendition of “Song for Ireland” by the bonnie Mary Black:

-Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

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Vaccine Awareness Week

November 1-6 has been declared “Vaccine Awareness Week.” What a great idea. Especially with the whooping cough epidemic in California. The epidemic is the largest outbreak in more than 60 years and has claimed the lives of 10 children. Over 6200 cases have been reported since January. A perfect time for vaccine awareness, right?

Let’s dig a little deeper …

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Bernie McDaid, a man from Massachusetts, will be leading a rally outside the Vatican on Halloween. McDaid, who was an altar boy in his youth, joined a lawsuit against Cardinal Bernard Law and other officials of the Catholic Church in 2002. The suit alleged that McDaid and a number of other altar boys at St. James Church in Salem had been abused by the late Rev. Joseph Birmingham, a serial pedophile, in the late 1960s.

McDaid and Gary Bergeron, co-organizers of the rally, chose October 31st “because of its powerful symbolism: It is the day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door in Germany, an event that helped trigger the Protestant Reformation.”

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Blowing Smoke?

We have previously discussed the cafe owner who was ordered to remove the exhaust fan, here. The fan was ordered removed because it blew bacon odors that were offensive to Muslims.

Seems like another story of accommodation, but …

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Do It Again

Do It Again

Break out your headphones/earbuds, we have The Beach Boys in glorious stereo! One of my favorite BB tunes is available for you listening pleasure in stereo.

-David Drumm (Nal)

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Peter Crotty has some peculiar ideas about his job responsibilities. Crotty, a waiter at Buffalo Wild Wings, in suburban Skokie, Illinois, takes waiting tables and the “Wild” in “Wild Wings” very seriously. When three area teens decided to skip out on their $51.00 bill, Crotty did his best Olivia Newton John (no, not ‘Let’s Get Physical,” it’s “Grease,” silly) and leaped aboard the roof rack of the teens’ SUV. Our earnest garçon rode the vehicle for eight blocks until the vehicle went behind a building and Crotty jumped off. Dutiful as ever, Crotty ran back to the restaurant and finished his shift. Cops were called and made arrests. And you wonder why there are no car-hops around anymore.

Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Source: UPI

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My daughter and her husband have a Labrador retriever named Jack. Jack is mischievous and quite rambunctious. Whenever I talk to my daughter on the phone and ask how Jack is doing, I always get the same response: “He’s out of control!”

Jack is truly lovable–but he can be exasperating…as I found out recently when my husband and I dog-sat for him overnight. My husband and I spent quite a bit of time running after Jack and playing tug of war as we struggled to take things—my sandal, an area rug from the front entryway, a bathmat, a blanket I had brought with me, and a beautiful shamrock afghan my daughter bought when she was on her honeymoon in Ireland— away from him.

In addition to shoes, bathmats, rugs, blankets, and afghans—Jack likes to chew on chicken bones ($400 veterinary bill), underpants, socks, TV remotes, cell phones, beanbag chairs, and poison ant cups. And Jack LOVES the water—the muddier the better. Can’t let that dog loose near a mud puddle or a pond or a lake or a river or the ocean! You’ll have a hard time retrieving that retriever from the water—as his owners have learned…to their chagrin.

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Norfolk, Virginia, Police Detective Robert Glenn Ford had a reputation as a hard-nosed cop who handled most of the City’s high profile criminal cases. Now he’s got another one but it’s his name “across the v” from the Government. Ford was convicted in federal court in Norfolk of extortion and lying to federal investigators. Specifically, the Government alleged that Ford took money from criminal defendants in exchange for helping them get lighter sentences. Ford maintains his innocence and vows to appeal.

Ford handled 200 homicide cases including the infamous “Norfolk 4″ case which resulted in four convictions for the rape and murder of  an 18-year-old wife of a Norfolk sailor. Ford was accused by lawyers for the “Norfolk 4″ of planting jailhouse snitches near in the men’s cell blocks to solicit confessions.

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Run, Buddy Tough, Run!

Edwin Fry, 73, is quite the dog lover. When his pet poodle, aptly named “Buddy Tough,” was nabbed by local police for running “at large,” Fry decided to pull his best Steve McQueen. Refusing to pay the enhanced fine of $100.00  due to Buddy’s repeat offense,  Fry leaped aboard his riding mower and headed straight for the canine hoosegaw where the chain link was no match for the bolt-cutter wielding pet owner. Sadly, the police took a dim view of animal rescue– Fry-style– and arrested him on complaints of second-degree burglary, trespassing, and destruction of city property. He is also facing a misdemeanor charge for (insert drum roll)…. allowing an animal to run at large. Sadder still, Fry got his own pen and Buddy was euthanized.

On a happier note, this “Born Free” attitude is not limited to our shores. Australians love it too as we see here.

Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Source: WPOC 93.1 Website

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There’s nothing like a little hysteria to get one’s heart pumping. Lately, we’ve seen people in our country who’ve been whipped into frenzies by the following things: the belief that Sharia law could be instituted in the United States, the proposed building of a Muslim cultural center not far from Ground Zero, and stories about Americans being beheaded in the Arizona desert. All this modern-day hysteria got me to thinking about the Salem witch trials, which took place here in my state more than three hundred years ago. It gave me the idea to write about Giles Corey. Corey was an elderly Massachusetts man who was accused of being a witch in March of 1692.

Here’s a poem by an unknown author that summarizes the story of Giles Corey:

THE MAN OF IRON

Giles Corey was a wizard strong, a stubborn wretch was he;
And fit was he to hang on high upon the locust tree.

So, when before the Magistrates for trial he did come,
He would no true confession make, but was completely dumb.

“Giles Corey,” said the Magistrate, “What hast thou here to plead
To those who now accuse thy sould of crime and horrid deed?”

Giles Corey he said not a word, no single word spoke he.
“Giles Corey,” said the Magistrate, “We’ll press it out of thee.”

They got them then a heavy beam, then laid it on his breast;
They loaded it with heavy stones, and hard upon him pressed.

“More weight,” now said this wretched man. “More weight!” again he cried;
And he did no confession make, but wickedly he died.

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Since I am off to Paris in a few hours, I am posting this list a day early.  Happy Halloween to everyone and good luck to our guest bloggers — Elaine, David, and Mark — who will be blogging from today until the 6th (and possibly the 7th if they have any material left!)

While some cities may be banning teenagers from trick or treating, Halloween remains the favorite holiday of not just of Christine O’Donnell but for all torts professors and personal injury lawyers. Few people know it was invented by Slipitus Fallus, an ancient Roman personal injury lawyer. Common carrier hay rides, lighting vegetables on fire, handing out foodstuffs without a permit . . . It’s the most wonderful day of the year. So, with no further ado, here is this year’s annual Spooky Torts list of actual cases from Halloween (with our past winners).

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A consumer-conscious Uniontown, Pennsylvania man called local police to complain about the quality of the marijuana he just purchased. When police arrived, the 21-year-old complained that the pot was “nasty.” A field test by the officers revealed the stash was not marijuana at all, but our boy-genius is not off the hook. He could still be charged with possession of a counterfeit controlled substance. No word yet on whether  the seller takes returns.

I’ve often wondered why possession of  a “counterfeit” controlled substance is a crime at all. Certainly, attempting to sell or selling the counterfeit substance could be punished as criminal fraud, but what is the public policy reason to prevent possession of , say, oregano?  Do we want really want to criminalize even more conduct as we fight the Drug War?

– Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Source: AP

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In what must be a first, Brazilian Judge Joao Ghisleni Filho ruled that a former franchise manager must be paid $17,500.00 because he gained 65 pounds while working for McDonalds Restaurant for over 12 years. The unnamed employee claimed he had to sample food each day to meet quality standards and to appease “mystery clients” that McDonalds hired to secretly inspect the restaurant. The unidentified man’s biggest gripe — McDonalds had the audacity to offer free lunches to employees.

U.S. consumers spend about $150 billion dollars on fast food that is marketed to children and to lower income adults. McDonalds claims it presents healthy choices along with its high fat-high sodium offerings. In 2003, a New York family sued the hamburger giant alleging that, by manipulating the taste of food, fat and sugar content, and its aggressive marketing to children mislead consumers about the nutritional value of its food and led directly to their daughter’s obesity.  A federal judge threw the suit out of court, but the Industry responded with a so-called “Cheeseburger Bill” to ban such suits in the future. The Bill passed the House in 2005 but stalled in the Senate.

Over one half of all American adults are considered obese, and hundreds of thousands of deaths are attributed to obesity. Will “Big Fat” become the next “Big” like “Big Tobacco” and “Big Oil.” If we’re looking in Brazil, the answer might be just wait and see.

–Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Source: Yahoo News

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There is an interesting ruling out of New York that a four-year-old girl can be sued for negligence after running down an elderly woman with her bicycle . . . equipped with training wheels. Justice Paul Wooten of State Supreme Court in Manhattan ruled that Claire Menagh can sue Juliet Breitman, 4, for her allegedly negligent bicycle handling.
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Oklahoma voters will be voting on a curious and troubling constitutional amendment. Labelled the “Save Our State” amendment, State Question 775 seeks to ban the use of Islamic law in state court. Not any other form of religious or international law, just Islamic law. GOP State Senator Rex Duncan wants to protect the state from the ravages of Islamic law despite the fact that there has not been any record of Islamic law ever being invoked in Oklahoma. Indeed, in 2000, there were only 6,000 Muslims in the entire state.
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New Albany (Ky) police officer Jack Messe has been given a rare suspension for comments made during roll call when he criticized the giving of civil rights to minorities. A board gave him a 40 day suspension.
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Mohamed Rafi, 35, may have set a record as a “mule” on an Air India flight. The Sri Lankan arrived in Chennai and was stopped by police who were tipped off that there would be a mule on the flight. They eventually found 2,060 diamonds in his stomach.
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The nature or nurture debate may be over for liberals: scientists have isolated what they believe to be the “liberal gene.” Yes, that’s right. Researchers believe that DRD4 affects people’s ideology. It is ironic that Republicans who oppose evolution may have an evolutionary reason for their position. Of course, this is assuming that people are evolving toward the liberal gene like the fully opposable thumb.

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Midland School District Vice President Clint McCance in Arkansas has shocked the school district by responding to a campaign to end bullying of gay students with a hateful (if not gleeful) Facebook commentary on gay teen suicides. Using the terms “queer” and “fag,” McCance promised to disown his own children if they are gay and refused to mourn the death of “sinners.”
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Prominent Twin Cities lawyer and former State Bar Treasurer Aaron Biber was sentenced this week to 18 years in prison for sexually assaulting a teenage boy. The court reached the sentence by taking an upward departure to increase the jail time. Minnesota law required only 12 years.
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The Baltimore City Health Department issued its first citation for a fat recidivist violator: The Healthy Choice. The ironically named business is in fact (according to officials) a shameless pusher of trans fat — found twice with “high trans fat level in their ingredients.” Conversely, the city appears undisturbed that if trans fats are outlawed, only outlaws will have trans fats.
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A Muslim family flying from Memphis to Toronto was thrown off a Comair flight because a flight attendant was concerned over safety. The family was dressed in traditional Muslim clothing.

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James “Jacob” Thompson, 22, was arrested in Texas on a bizarre mix of charges, including the allegation that he agreed to cut out a teenage girl’s birth control device in her arm before giving her a tattoo. What is amazing is that this may not be the worst tattooing crime recorded this week. Australia may have topped Texas this week in the most bizarre felonious tattoo.
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Phil Davison’s speech in support of his candidacy for Treasurer of Stark County, Ohio may not win many votes but it certainly has won many viewers. This speech went viral on YouTube. What is notable is that Davison actually has a master’s degree in communications from the University of Akron.
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One would have to call Jeffrey Landrigan the ultimate Die Hard Sooner fan. Landrigan gave the “Boomer Sooner” cheer as his final words at his execution in Arizona last night.

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There is an interesting ruling out of the Ninth Circuit. The Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled 8-3 against Catholic organizations that charged that former San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano violated the First Amendment with a 2006 resolution condemning the Vatican for prohibiting Catholic Charities from placing adoptive children with lesbian and gay couples. The Church argued that the resolution violated the prohibitions on establishment of religion. The opinion, however, is remarkably fractured.

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Just days after another GOP candidate was criticized for prancing around in a Nazi uniform, Wisconsin Republican state Senate candidate Dane Deutsch has been criticized for calling Adolph Hitler a “strong leader.”

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A family in England is looking at a possible torts case with a rare piece of evidence. The family of quadriplegic Jamie Merrett, 37, was already concerned about what they viewed as shoddy nursing care from staff supplied by the NHS Wiltshire Primary Care Trust. To satisfy their concerns, they set up a camera shortly before an incident that left Merrett severely brain damaged. To their shock, the footage showed nurse Violeta Aylward turning off the ventilator system.
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The trial of Dutch politician Geert Wilders for his anti-Islamic views has been thrown into disarray after his judges were found to be themselves biased — against Wilder. A verdict from the panel of three judges at the Amsterdam district court was due next week. A re-trial will be scheduled with new judges.
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For those of us clinging to life tenure as teacher for dear life, Nisar Ahmed is like a nightmare from a parallel universe: he has been banned for life from teaching. General Teaching Council for England decided that it could not risk Ahmed, 46, from ever teaching again so it issued the only known lifetime suspension after a 13-year teaching career.

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Castellammare di Stabia appears eager to join the forces in the West cracking down on free speech and expression. The city is moving toward the passage of a blasphemy law — the subject of prior columns and blog entries on a trend against free speech in the West. The city is also planning to ban miniskirts, sunbathing, and playing football in public places. If nothing else, the move will finally give the Taliban a seaside vacation spot to get away from it all.

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This is too bizarre for words. In Paris, eleven people (including children) were injured when they leapt from an apartment to flee “the devil” — who turned out to be the father who was walking around naked in his room.

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I am happy to report we will be implementing another one of your suggestions for improving the blog. Various people suggested a year ago that we have guest blogging to allow regulars a chance to make entries on the blog. With my upcoming speech in France, I thought it would be a great time to try this out for a week from October 31st to November 6th. I have selected three of our best known and most respected regulars: David Drumm (aka Nal), Elaine Magliaro (aka Elaine M) and Mark Esposito (aka Mespo). They will be blogging every day for that week (including on November 7th if they have any material left). They will be signing their entries and will have the full run of the blog. I am very grateful to them and I am very excited to see their work in the coming week.

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Just Don’t Ask Me About Work . . .

I assume he is ordering a Salty Dog.
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In Texas, Stephen Broden, a pastor and Republican congressional candidate, appears to have a back-up plan if he loses to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson in Dallas 30th Congressional District. Broden refused to rule out armed rebellion if the elections to do result in a suitable change in leadership.
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As previously discussed the shocking case of Jennifer Petkov who is accused of harassing a dying eight-year-old girl and her family. Now, a court has ordered that Petkov’s two children be removed from her home and taken to live with their father until resolution of a pending motion for custody.

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We have previously discussed how some of us view the patent, trademark and copyright laws as running out of control in this country. Now, there is an interesting fight between the United States and India over a move by Colgate Palmolive to patent an ancient recipe for herbal toothpaste. The Indians say that the recipe has been used for hundreds, if not thousands, of years by Indians and would now be claimed as the property of the company.
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Councillors at Stockport Council in Greater Manchester have a rather broad notion of accommodating religious sensitivities. Acting under its authority of “residential amenity,” the Council has ordered a cafe to remove an extractor fan because the fan blows the smell of food outside, including the smell of bacon that offends Muslim neighbors.
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Oscar-nominee Randy Quaid, 60, and his wife Evi, 47, have appeared in Canada with a novel claim for refugee protection — claiming that someone is killing off Quaid’s friends and that the couple needs protection from “Hollywood star-whackers.” Evi has a much better sense of taking a good mugshot.

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Republican congressional candidate, Jeffrey D. Perry, in Massachusetts is facing a novel challenge — a victim of police abuse has gone public to say that Perry knew of her sexual assault by his partner in 1991 when he was a Wareham police officer. Perry is running in part on his career as a cop — using the endorsement of the Chief of Police — whom Allen was also accused of nonfeasance in the incident by the victim.
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Singapore is about to cane another American – the first since Michael Peter Fay, then 18, received four cane strokes in 1994 for theft and vandalism. Kamari Charlton is a former Florida State basketball and football star. He was originally arrested for overstaying his visa (beyond the permitted 90 days). The caning is due to the visa violation.
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Gen. Hugh Shelton, who served under Clinton as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has reported in his new book that President Bill Clinton lost the “biscuit,” the launch codes for a nuclear attack, for months before telling aides. He recounts how Clinton first told his security detail that he left the codes somewhere upstairs in the White House but, after an exhaustive search, admitted that he had lost the codes months earlier.
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Do you want fries with that complaint? You can have it at the nation’s first drive-thru law office. The Kocian Law Group in Manchester believes that this is a way to distinguish itself among competitors. (I don’t have a picture of the Kocian drive thru but left is an example from the Maid Rite drive thru).
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A British study from the University College in London has found that wealthy people have higher levels of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate [DHEAS], a life-lengthening hormone.

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To his credit, President Barack Obama added his voice to “It Gets Better” campaign to try to stem the suicide of gay and lesbian teenagers. Civil libertarians and gay rights advocates might be a bit more responsive if the message was not released the day his Administration successfully got a stay to be able to resume the removals of gays from the military and a week after it appealed a major victory in favor of gay marriage.

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The Obama Administration has succeeded in securing a stay of a federal court’s injunction on the don’t ask, don’t tell policy. The Ninth Circuit agreed to the demand of the Administration that it should be able to continue to bar openly gay military personnel and continue to discharge those who reveal that they are gay. The policy is now again active pending review of the lower court decision.

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Connan Gupta, 40, a hotelier moved out of his £700,000, five-bedroom home in Camberwell, England for renovations. When he returned, he found the locks changed and Italian squatters occupying his house — with all of his belongings, medication, and possessions inside. He will remain homeless and living with his sister while the courts sort it out.

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