Hot on the heels of the first capture on an atom of anti-matter in a magnetic “bottle,” scientists now say they’ve discovered the first planet formed outside of the Milky Way. The online edition of the journal “Science” reports that a planet has been found orbiting “our” Star HIP 13044. The new planet is a remnant of an ancient galaxy that collided with the Milky Way and is a mere 2000 light years away. What makes the find intriguing is that, unlike planets in our solar system, the new planet contains (more…)
Archive for November, 2010
Hooters Restaurants likes to promote their orange-hotpanted waitresses with the provocative tied-up teeshirts as, “delightfully tacky yet unrefined.” The slogan might be applied to its security guards too, if a fiesty grandma gets her way. After disputing an errant appetizer on her bill from a Chicagoland Hooter’s, 54-year-old Livier Torres was manhandled by off-duty Oak Lawn Police Officer Joseph Schmidt as she tried to pay. Part-enforcer, part-social engineer (Schmidt reportedly told Torres daughter, “All you people are the same” in an apparent reference to their Mexican heritage.), the fearless crime fighter called for back-up against the marauding grandma — when a headlock and pinning her to the ground wouldn’t suffice. Despite a paucity of video (more…)
Boris Johnson, the conservative Mayor of London, has declared George Bush a persona non grata — asking him to stay out of London with his new torture-touting memoir. The question is whether such international shunning will become actual effort to prosecute Bush, who just confessed to war crimes. I discussed the controversy on Countdown.
There is a fascinating case out of England where an officer has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after a woman died following a road-rage argument. Christine Roche, 64, had a heart attack at the wheel after being confronted by the unnamed off-duty officer who was yelling at her for clipping his car mirror. The yelling reportedly induced the heart attack and led to the manslaughter charge.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has issued the results of a national survey that found more than 45 million Americans, or 20 percent of U.S. adults, had some form of mental illness in 2009. Of those, 11 million had a serious mental illness.
In this video, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) suggests that he would like to see both FOX and MSNBC taken off the air so that people felt better about Congress and their government. This is coming from a Senator who led the effort to kill dozens of public interest lawsuits suing telecommunication companies for violations of their privacy and supported the effort to bar any investigation into the torture program. The problem, it seems, is the new coverage.
The trial of alleged Al Qaeda accomplice Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani has resulted in an acquittal on all major terrorism charges in New York. Ghailani was charged with crimes related to the 1998 suicide bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. I will be discussing the verdict tonight on Hardball.
An independent prosecutor has found Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas had no basis for their public-corruption charges against critics and judges who sought to curtail their abuse of their offices. Navajo County Attorney Brad Carlyon reached the same conclusion as virtually all outside observers, including this blog. In the meantime, Arpaio continues his use of this office to pander to public sentiments and legitimize vigilantism. He announced this week that he had added “Hulk” star Lou Ferrigno and actor Steven Seagal to his anti-immigration posse.
New York Police swept into a park in bulletproof vests to arrest men trying to kill royals including two kings, two queens, four knights and even four bishops. The men had set up chess boards in a park that was empty at the time. It turns out that they were sitting in an area restricted to children or adults with children. They were given summons to appear to answer for their crimes in court and not allow to “castle” laterally to a nearby park.
Bristol Palin has been implicated in a rampage in Dane County, Wisconsin. Her latest alleged victim from her appearance on Dancing with the Stars is Steven N. Cowan, 66. Cowan shared the view of millions that Palin was not much of a star and even less of a dancer. So, when she again escaped being voted off the show, Cowan snapped. He grabbed his shotgun and shot his own television. His wife fled after he demanded his handgun (presumably for a tradition coup de grâce she ran and returned with the police.
As expected, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has prevailed in retaining the top leadership position — a surprise move after many, if not most, pundits expected she would resign after the devastating loss of at least 61 seats and record low popularity ratings for both herself and Congress.
Parents in San Jose, California are upset over an astonishing decision made by a high school principal to stop an ambulance from driving onto a football field to help an injured player at Del Mar High School on October 29th. The principal Liz Seabury reportedly says she was following district orders to protect the school’s recently remodeled field from motorized vehicles.
NYU Professor Wafaa Bilal finally has the solution for all of those spit balls that come flying whenever he turns his back in class: he is having a camera implanted in the back of his head. That’s right, a camera. It is part of a project commissioned by a new museum in Qatar which will broadcast the live images to museum visitors.
Last night on Rachel Maddow, I discussed the controversy over Supreme Court justices attending political fundraisers. Specifically, Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito have been criticized for their participation in such events. Most recently, Justice Samuel Alito was identified by Think Progress at a fundraiser for American Spectator. Alito reportedly said that “it’s not important” that he attends such events. I disagree.
We have long followed trend toward “Make My Day” and “Make My Day Better” laws (also known as “Castle Doctrine” laws) allowing homeowners to kill anyone who invades their homes (here). Some of us have been very critical of these laws as unnecessary and based on a misrepresentation of both the criminal and common law. Citizens are being told that they could be sued for defending their homes from invaders. Now politicians in Pennsylvania have latched on a new gimmick: a law called “stand your ground” that allows people to use lethal force to defend their homes from the outside.
Brownmark Films is suing “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker in a case that seems right out of one of the South Park scripts. The court will decide whether Stone and Parker stole copyrighted material from “What What (in the Butt) — a music video that went viral. They are accused of stealing the idea from the website CollegeHumor, but the show insists that this is simply protected parody.
Steptoe & Johnson has prevailed against a burger restaurant, Rogue States, after the law firm complained that the fumes from the restaurant made them all smell like short-order cooks. Indeed, one of the firm’s “rainmakers” even reportedly threatened to resign from the firm if the burger smells were not removed from his office. D.C. Superior Court judge John Mott ruled that Rogue States was indeed responsible for a nuisance and must either abate the odors or close down.
Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has moved to fine a GOP political consultant to former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (left) for thousands of false calls to suppress the vote in the recent governor’s race to help out Ehrlich. Republican political consultant Julius Henson and his company Universal Elections sent out thousands of calls to convince Democratic voters to stay at home by telling them that they had already won the election. Also named is employee, Rhonda Russell, who reportedly taped the message — which Gansler alleges violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by not identifying who was behind the messages.
This is a terrific speech given by 14-year-old Ann Arbor student Graeme Taylor who is defending Howell High School teacher Jay McDowell, who was disciplined after throwing out two students for anti-gay statements. The controversy, however, gets a bit murkier on closer examination for free speech advocates.
In England, four prison officers were injured after discovering Charles Bronson naked in a gym and covered in butter. Ok, this might need a bit of explanation. Bronson, it turns out, is England’s most violent prisoner — a man who has spent nearly all of the last 36 years in prison for one violent crime or another. On this effort, he decided to butter himself to make it more difficult for guards to grab him — it worked. It took 12 guards to finally subdue the greased con.
In Manchester, New Hampshire, a woman has learned the costs of vanity . . . well at least vanity plates. Bonnie Usher, 43, allegedly was careful to hide her face in a hooded sweatshirt when she robbed a Rite Aid. The problem was the getaway car: her car boasted vanity plates reading “B-USHER.” It did not take long for the police to arrive at her house and recover the cash.
Earlier this year, the Texas State Board of Education removed children’s author Bill Martin Jr. from a proposal to include him in the third-grade curriculum section. Martin would have been put on a list of authors who had made cultural contributions—along with Laura Ingalls Wilder and Carmen Lomas Garza—until board member Pat Hardy made the motion to toss out Bill Martin’s name. You see, Hardy had learned that “Bill Martin” had written an adult book that contains “very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system” from another board member named Teri Leo.
It was while Leo was researching Bill Martin on the Borders.com Web site that she discovered that he had written a book called Ethical Marxism. Leo alerted Hardy to her discovery in an email. Hardy explained: “She said that that was what he wrote, and I said: ‘ … It’s a good enough reason for me to get rid of someone.’ “
Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has a knack for saying just the right thing. She famously educated Chris Matthews on the merits of guilt by association saying ”…usually we associate with people who have similar ideas to us, and it seems that it calls into questions what Barack Obama’s true beliefs, and values, and thoughts are…I am very concerned that he [Barack Obama] may have anti-American views.” Now, Bachman is inviting conservative commentator Sean Hannity and Christian evangelical author David Barton to teach lawmakers the nuances of Constitutional law. Bachmann originally considered Supreme Court Justices Scalia or Clarence Thomas but neither could match Hannity’s honorary degree (he dropped out of two colleges) from the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, or Barton’s religious education BA degree from Oral Roberts Univerity.
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been the right-wing poster boy for tough law enforcement. Subjecting his prisoners to spoiled food, tent villages in scorching heat, pink underwear, and then launching criminal investigations against public officials who challenged him just added to his “Walking Tall,” tough-cop credentials among his backers. He also is the moving force behind Arizona’s tough anti-immigration law backing Governor Jan Brewer in her “Show Me Ze Papers” campaign against Mexican immigrants. Now it seems the worm has turned, and Maricopa County officials are wondering why Arpaio needs to keep two sets of books.
Some of you may recall reading Professor Turley’s recent post about a Massachusetts priest who allegedly stole more than $80,000 from his parish to support his pornography habit. Well, there’s a new story about a priest in Spain who is alleged to have saved more than 20,000 pornographic images of children on his computer.
Earlier this week, Professor Turley wrote a post about the “Twinkie Diet.” That story inspired me to pen a silly poem on the subject of Mark Haub’s junk food regimen for losing weight.
Eating junk food every day
Can melt your excess pounds away.
Count calories—it’s simple as that—
And you’ll be able to shed your fat.
Here is Mark Haub’s Twinkie diet—
Go on. I recommend you try it.
Here’s how to begin:
Pop a vitamin.
Drink a protein shake.
Eat a cream-filled cake.
Chew a brownie too.
Chug a Mountain Dew.
John Boehner, the presumptive next Speaker of the House, is standing firm on his call for extending the Bush tax cuts, for everyone, permanently. Compare that with David Axelrod who said that the Obama Administration, in order to get tax cuts for the middle-class, would accept an across-the-board tax cut, temporarily.
What happened to the Obama position of not extending the tax cuts for the billionaires? POOF!
Overwhelmed by the demand for exorcisms, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops are putting out the word that “Exorcists Need Apply” and that training in Baltimore is being held today. Down to only six U.S. exorcists the “Good Shepherds” hope to raise that number to 122. Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, thinks each parish should have their own Exorcist in residence. You might remember that Bishop Paprocki said, when asked about who was responsible for the sexual abuse crises in the Catholic Church, that “the scandal was at least in part influenced by the Devil’s taking advantage of the moral weaknesses and psychological instability and sickness of the pedophiliac priest-abusers.” Like my idol, comedian Flip Wilson, I see a pattern here — the Devil Made ‘em Do It.
It was cinematic magic when a dying John Foster Kane uttered the famous word, “Rosebud,” as he let fall the snow globe down the stairwell shattering it into scores of broken pieces. Officials at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, aren’t movie buffs it seems. When a TSA employee spotted the suspicious orb in some checked baggage she alerted State Police who evacuated the terminal. Once it was determined that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was submerged in water and glitter, instead of nitroglycerine, order was restored and flights were again whisking their way to all parts of the real globe.
–Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
William Blake may have stood in awe of the ferocity and power of the great cat, but modern man sees quite a different thing. British-based Traffic International, a wildlife preservation group, reports that despite the international ban on the sale of tiger parts, over 1000 tigers have been illegally killed in the past decade. An analysis of seizures of tiger parts — from whole skins to claws, penises, and skulls — yielded the conservative estimate. India, home to half of the world’s tigers, leads all nations with 276 seizures uncovering parts from more than 530 tigers killed. Many Pacific rim nations are not far behind in tiger deaths. Tiger parts are used in many cultures for decoration, traditional medicines and good luck charms.
Source: Daily Mail
–Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Reversing a lower court grant of summary judgment, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed a Wisconsin couple’s “Death by Taser” suit to proceed to trial against the police and Town and Village of Mukwonago, Wisconsin. Their son, 29-year-old, Nickolos Cyrus, suffered from a bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and was well-known to the police for prior delusional — but non-criminal — episodes. When the young man was reported missing, police located him on a construction site. His parents allege that Nickolos was passive, unarmed, and had no history of violence such that multiple taser shocks would be needed to subdue him. The police respond that multiple taserings were a reasonable use of force under the circumstances and that his death was unforeseen.
There is another bizarre story out of our public school system where a school official at Denair Middle School in Sacramento, California told 13-year-old Cody Alicea to remove an American flag from his bike because of fears that it would trigger “racial tensions.” According to this interview with the Superintendent, Cody has now been informed that he can display the American flag after a review of the supervisor’s decision — and a national outcry.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors have approved a ban on Happy Meals and other fast-food servings that fail to meet nutritional standards. While sympathetic to the motivations behind the legislation, I have serious questions over the constitutionality (and logic) of the ban.
Chinese officials in the central city of Xianyang thought that they had a simple means of solving the problem of cigarette butts on the streets: offer residents money for each butt collected and turned in as part of its effort to win the “National Clean City” award. After all, they were offering only 5 fen (less than a penny) for each cigarette butt. That was before residents sent in over 7 million butts and demanded payment.
Another report (this time from the Inspector General’s Office of the Interior Department) has been published detailing the Obama Administration’s editing of a scientific report to downplay the damage caused by the BP oil spill. The new information also reaffirms the clearly misleading statements made by Obama’s energy adviser, Carol Browner — an issue previously discussed on this blog.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi was criticized on this blog and other sites for her failure to end various corrupt practices such as pork and congressional travel. Indeed, Pelosi added jets to ferry members abroad on junkets and used a personal governmental jet to go back and forward to California. Now, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has announced that he will take commercial flights. Regardless of whether you opposed the GOP in the elections, it is important to give credit to such reforms. Boehner is to be commended for this symbolic change.
I have been reading the rave reviews for our guest bloggers — David Drumm, Elaine Magliaro, and Mark Esposito — from last week. This was a trial effort to follow up on suggestions for a couple days in which some of our regulars might also post on the blog. Given the success of last week, I have offered to let David, Elaine, and Mark post on weekends. They have agreed to do so. This weekend will be the first such installment.
Researchers in Vietnam recently sat down for a simple meal and ended up with a scientific feast. They were staring at a plate of cooked lizard but they had never seen this species before. It turns out to be a unique species of female lizards who are able to reproduce themselves by cloning. The perfect radical feminist species.
The Chinese have jailed another activist. This time the victim is Zhao Lianhai, the father of a child sickened by one of the country’s food safety scandals. At least six children died from melamine-tainted milk in 2008 and Zhao’s son was injured. More than 300,000 children were left with kidney problems. Zhao has been demanding answers. He just received one in the form of a 2½ years in prison sentence for “disturbing social order.”
President Barack Obama continued his effort to preserve the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in a filing before the United States Supreme Court. A trial court had imposed an injunction to halt the discriminatory policy. The Administration could have allowed the injunction to stand pending an appeal but succeeded in getting the order reversed. Now, it is defending its intention to continue to discriminate against gays and lesbians in an appeal to the Supreme Court.