Archive for November, 2011

There is an interesting defamation case that has been filed in Texas. Dakota Meyer, a former U.S. Marine who received the Medal of Honor is alleging that BAE Systems OASYS defamed him to a prospective employer by saying that he has a drinking problem, poor work habits, and is mentally or emotionally unstable.
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There is an interesting lawsuit filed against the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C., which stands accused of discriminating against a Muslim employee by barring him from serving an Israeli delegation — claiming a “national security exemption” for such religious and cultural discrimination. The man, Mohamed Arafi, was previously cleared in a security check with the FBI and handled other foreign guests, including dignitaries. He is of Arab ancestry. He is a naturalized citizen of Moroccan descent. I will be discussing the case today on CNN.

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Former Philadelphia schools superintendent Arlene Ackerman is the center of a firestorm this week after she accepted a roughly $1 million buyout from the city and then promptly filed for unemployment benefits. The outrage over the unemployment claim may be better directed at the school district’s handing out obscene salaries and buyouts.
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We recently saw how the leading California physicians group has called for the decriminalization of marijuana as no more harmful as alcohol. Now a new study suggests that legalizing medical marijuana has resulted in a nearly nine percent drop in traffic deaths and a five percent reduction in beer sales.

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Ruth Wagner, 55, may have committed the ultimate Christmas crime — combining holiday themes with criminal intent. Wagner is accused of stealing various items from a Christmas Craft Fair and, when discovered, using a seashell ornament to stab another woman. The case raises an interesting question: is a seashell Christmas ornament a dangerous weapon?

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Valery Vawn Wright, 49, of Two Harbors is shown on a website posing with her prize 199 pound buck. The photo may now be part of a criminal case against her for allegedly baiting deer and hunting without a license.

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Archeologists in Israel have shocked religious officials with a new finding that the revered Western Wall in Jerusalem is not what people have long believed: a wall built by the Jewish ruler Herod. Newly discovered coins underneath wall strongly indicate that it was built long after Herod’s death.
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Three people in Florida have pleaded guilty to scamming customers of their septic tank company, FBK Products, into buying unnecessary products, including in some cases enough toilet paper to last more than 70 years. They are charged with lying to customers by telling them that federal regulations required special toilet paper.
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A lawsuit has been filed against Adams County Sheriff Doug Darr that alleges a shocking mistreatment of a deaf prisoner, Timothy Siaki, who was held in jail for 25 days due to a lack of an interpreter. Siaki is deaf.
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This handsome fellow is the most recent new dinosaur — discovered in Saskatchewan’s Assiniboia district. This resulted in a named that will have kids sniggering in science classes across North America: Assiniboiensis. Thescelosaurus assiniboiensis (THES’-kel-oh-SAWR’-us ah-SIN’-ni-boy-EN’-sis) was confirmed from the 66-million-year-old partial skeleton as a new type of dinosaur.
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Meet Yves Rossy: Rocket Man

This video shows Yves Rossy testing his jet pack by flying with a couple of military jets. The result is spellbinding in the Alps.
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If there is one rule for the corrupt public officer it is this: cash only. Parking Enforcement Aide Jamila Judkins is accused of violating that rule when she allegedly demanded that a man write her a personal check when he explained that he did not have cash to pay her rate of $20 for ignoring a parking violation.
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The Obama Administration is often at odds with Russia and China, but it has found one area upon which they agree: cluster bombs. With Israel, the United States has joined China and Russia to fight an international effort to ban cluster bombs which maim and kill thousands of innocent civilians, particularly children. They were banned under a 2008 convention signed by over 100 countries but not the United States. England finds itself in the odd position to fighting the United States in its effort to rid the world of these weapons.
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Welcome To Ant City

I just saw this video on YouTube and had to share it. Scientists decided to pump a special concrete into an ant colony to create a hard structure of the “ant city.” The result is astonishing.
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Grant Smith, 47, of Utah is the subject of a rare case of child pornography involving witnesses. Usually child porn cases arise from searches of personal or work computers. Smith, however, allegedly decided to review his cache of child porn on a flight from Utah to Boston. Another passenger in First Class reported him to flight attendants who called in the police. [Update: Smith is a professor at the University of Utah and has pleaded not guilty].

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Florida Judge Donna Miller is delighted by the results of a novel sentence that she handed down to a 345-pound man jailed for driving with a suspended license. Miller told George McCovery, 37, that she would reduce his time by a pound a day for weight loss. He lost 25 pounds in 20 days and received early release. Miller is one of the judges who has merged justice with the entertainment industry — replaying proceedings on the television show “Lake Courts.” I have previously written about the dangers of such “novel” sentencing in judges using their courtrooms for entertainment or self-aggrandizement. While some judges have been sanctioned for crossing the line in merging judicial with their entertainment careers, Miller appears to be flourishing in the practice.
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Many of us grew up watching Monty Hall on Let’s Make a Deal. It turns out that the show presents something of a mathematical conundrum: does switching your choice at the last minute between the two remaining rooms increase your chances of success? The video below presents the answer and it may surprise you.

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It appears that British medical schools are facing a growing problem of Muslim medical students and doctors walking out of courses in protest when evolution is taught as part of biology. The students and teachers believe that Darwin’s theories conflict with the Koran, as do many Christians (and apparently most — but not all — GOP presidential contenders) believe in the United States. The view is a bit more unsettling when future doctors refuse to even hear about evolution as a blasphemous subject.
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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty(rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

Now that I have digested some wonderful Thanksgiving food and celebrated my grandson’s first birthday, it is time to get back to work.  In light of the recent calls by Rep. Paul Ryan, Rep. Eric Cantor and former Speaker and current GOP Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich to terminate the non-partisan Congressional Budge Office (CBO), I couldn’t help but wonder why the Republicans have a problem with the CBO?  The CBO has been critical of both parties legislation in the past when the numbers just didn’t add up.  Could this latest announcement by the CBO that the Obama Stimulus package of 2009 is still stimulating the economy be the last straw for the Republicans in their support of the Congressional Budget Office? (more…)

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

A new study, published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science suggests there may be a real universal animal language. Seems humans have a natural ability to understand “dog speak” and it peaks at about age 10.  Dogs and humans have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship for eons, with selective breeding from wolves occurring over the centuries. Scientists know that species eavesdrop on each other in the wild with squirrels understanding the language of some birds and vice versa. However, this is one of the  first inquiries into  just what humans have picked up over the years

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Smallpox And SIGA

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

In 2004 President Bush signed the Project Bioshield Act that authorized $5.6 billion over ten years for “the government to purchase and stockpile vaccines and drugs to fight anthrax, smallpox and other potential agents of bioterror.” The potential use of anthrax as a bioterror weapon is well documented, but smallpox has been eliminated and exists only in ultra-secure labs in Russia and the U.S.

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Occupy Mars

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, with its rover Curiosity, successfully blasted off from Cape Canaveral yesterday. Arrival at Mars is scheduled for August 2012. Curiosity is like previous rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, on steroids. Curiosity will help determine whether Mars has, or had, an environment capable of supporting microbial life.

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Martian Hop

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


Today we present The Ran-Dells in glorious STEREO!

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

America’s newest national holy day is upon us — Black Friday. It seems we’re all co-opted into getting multinational retailers like Wal-Mart out of the red and into the black just in time for Christmas bonuses to their execs.  Quite the achievement. The blog has chronicled the holiday spirit on display with one  pepper spray assault by an exuberant shopper getting the best bargain available. All this despite the New York Times telling us that our friendly, apron-clad senior citizen’s employer might be holding back on the deals.

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

America has the world’s highest rate of incarceration, currently 738 per 100,000. Our nearest competitor for this dubious distinction is the Russian Federation with 607 and Cuba with 487. “The US incarcerates at a rate 4 to 7 times higher than other western nations such as the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany and up to 32 times higher than nations with the lowest rates such as Nepal, Nigeria, and India.”

 http://www.nccd-crc.org/nccd/pubs/2006nov_factsheet_incarceration.pdf                                                                                                                                           Despite possible protestations that this is because we have the best law enforcement, my sense is that the reasons lie more in the system, than those who enforce it. No one ever lost an election in America because of the perception they “were tough on crime”.

“Race: Black males continue to be incarcerated at an extraordinary rate. Black males make up 35.4 percent of the jail and prison population — even though they make up less than 10 percent of the overall U.S population. Four percent of U.S. black males were in jail or prison last year, compared to 1.7 percent of Hispanic males and .7 percent of white males. In other words, black males were locked up at almost six times the rate of their white counterparts.”        http://www.nccd-crc.org/nccd/pubs/2006nov_factsheet_incarceration.pdf

Despite possible protestations that this is because we have the best law enforcement, my sense is that the reasons lie more in the system, than those who enforce it. No one ever lost an election in America because of the perception they “were tough on crime”. “Race: Black males continue to be incarcerated at an extraordinary rate. Black males make up 35.4 percent of the jail and prison population — even though they make up less than 10 percent of the overall U.S population. Four percent of U.S. black males were in jail or prison last year, compared to 1.7 percent of Hispanic males and .7 percent of white males. In other words, black males were locked up at almost six times the rate of their white counterparts.”      

http://www.laprogressive.com/law-and-the-justice-system/boiling-hot-mad/.html

These two sets of statistics when viewed together tell a terrible tale of how racial oppression still exists in this country despite our Black President and Black Attorney General. This Administration hasn’t caused of this problem, but they  don’t seem to have made any progress dealing with it. We do know that there has been a widespread effort to play down the racial division that continues to plague this country. This continues despite Civil Rights Laws, Martin Luther King’s Birthday and TV beer commercials that always include at least one black male friend enjoying the camaraderie. Clearly there is a disconnect between how we Americans want to see ourselves and the reality for many Black males. (more…)

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Foreclosure Firm To Close

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

We have previously discussed the foreclosure firm of Steven J. Baum and the offensive Halloween party where employees mocked foreclosure victims. The firm has filed notifications with government agencies stating their intentions of shutting their doors. The firm employs 89 full- and part-time workers who have to find another source of income to pay their mortgages.

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Who’s Sorry Now

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


Presented for your listening enjoyment, Connie Francis in glorious STEREO!

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The annual holiday scenes have appeared at stores with the commencement of Black Friday and the holiday shopping savagery.
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They don’t call it Black Friday for nothing. A woman in a Los Angeles Walmart hit the store at 10:20 pm to grab the holiday deals only to find other customers rushing toward the items that she wanted. Police say that, as the coverings on the items were removed, she pepper sprayed the other customers. Twenty people were injured.
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I previously wrote a column about the ongoing controversy over statutory rape prosecutions, the subject of prior blogs. Now, Grant County District Attorney Lisa Riniker appears intent on outdoing other prosecutors by charging a 6-year-old boy with first-degree sexual assault for what the family says was playing doctor with a 5-year-old girl.

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George Hinnenkamp, 89, can be forgiven for being as “surprised as hell” in being sued recently by two passengers involved in an accident in his car. First, he was not driving the car at the time. Second, the driver was the man who stole his car.

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As many of you know, I am lead counsel in the Sister Wives case challenging the constitutionality of Utah’s statute criminalizing plural or polygamous marriage. I also served as legal expert in the challenge to a similar law in Canada. The court has now ruled in that case and upheld the law in the decision below. While I strongly disagree with both the legal and factual conclusions of the Court, it is a decision that is worth reading. The decision can now be appealed to the higher courts in Canada.
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Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I wanted to wish all of our virtual family at the blog another Happy Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving remains my favorite holiday and I hope that each of you will have a great time today.
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Turkey Torts (2011)

In celebration of Thanksgiving, I give you our annual Turkey Torts of a few potential and actual lawsuits from this holiday. From deep-fried Turkeys to salmonella salads, the holiday gives personal injury lawyers a great deal to be thankful for. This year we have an array of Thanksgiving-related litigation to report from copyright to torts.

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We previously followed the horrific story of an elderly man knocked unconscious by a teenager while his friends laughed and mocked the man at a CTA station. He is Scotty Strahan, 18, who does appear to be the man in the widely viewed videotape on YouTube.
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Everyone person who has illusions about the still awaited breakout of democracy and freedom in Afghanistan should read the article below. It details the life of a woman called Gulnaz who was raped by her cousin’s husband and became pregnant. Rather than prosecute the man, she was convicted of sex outside of marriage and given a choice: marry your rapist or spend twelve years in jail. She has been serving the sentence with her daughter in jail in this abomination produced by Sharia law. In the meantime, the EU has yielded to demand by the Afghan government that it bar the showing of a movie featuring her story, and other women like her.
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UCLA researcher have announced a discovery that should have garnered more attention in the media: a mouthwash that could effectively eliminate dental cavities. The study details how the researchers have been able to eliminate S. mutans bacteria – the main cause of tooth decay — while not killing good bacteria that helps fight tooth decay. Current mouthwash products act like nuclear bombs — killing good and bad bacteria indiscriminately. The scientists used new antimicrobial technology known as specifically targeted anti-microbial peptides, or STAMP.
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There is an interesting study out by University of Notre Dame Psychology Professor Gabriel Radvansky, which appears to show that one of the causes of forgetfulness may be doorways. Radvansky’s study shows that “entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an ‘event boundary’ in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away.” Does this mean that we need a type of psychological feng shui movement with homes built with fewer doorways?
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In Chesapeake, Virginia, Ashley Fowler, 22, is our latest example of an a human who allegedly expresses her feelings by killing or torturing a pet. In this case, it was a pet piglet of her friend’s former boyfriend, Zach Sawyer, who raised piglets as therapy after an accident. Fowler is accused of decapitating the piglet.

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We have been following the uproar over Suffolk Professor Michael Avery’s email criticizing the sending of care packages to troops abroad. Many of us joined in that criticism while supporting Avery’s right to raise his objections. Now, an adjunct professor, U.S. Army Reserve Major Robert Roughsedge, serving in Afghanistan has resigned over the controversy — a curious response that seems to suggest that Avery should not have been allowed to voice such positions.

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The Justice Department is infamous for conducting long investigations of its own attorneys and finding no grounds for criminal charges as in the dubious investigation of attorneys involved in the torture program. Now, a special prosecutor has found that (surprise) there is no basis for criminal charges against Justice Department officials who concealed evidence in the prosecution of former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens in open contempt of court. The reason is something only found plausible in the Justice Department’s review of its own conduct: U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan failed to order them not to conceal evidence and comply with ethical rules. I kid you not.
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Two teenagers share a passing kiss is viewed by most people as a sign of young love. The assistant principal at Orange River Elementary School, however, viewed it as a matter for immediate police intervention. The teacher called in the Lee County Sheriff to handle the teens. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said “[t]he sound of a kiss is not so loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a great deal longer.” That was not even counting the time for arraignment in Florida.
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Now this is an interesting warning defect case. Toys R Us are selling “You & Me Interactive Triplets” dolls that parents say use bad language. Parents claim that the dolls say “Hey, Crazy Bitch.” Of course, produce defects are those problems that are more dangerous than the expectations of the ordinary consumer. In this case, the child is not in physical danger but the product exposes them to bad language. The dolls are simply too interactive and a bit too “street” for many parents.
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For many years, the slogan for Tootsie Rolls was “The world looks mighty good to me cause Tootsie Rolls are all I see.” It appears that that marketing slogan has become a legal strategy. The candy company is suing Footzyrolls in Chicago for trademark confusion. It is yet another lawsuit in a series that we have discussed. I remain highly critical of the current law that allows effective ownership of generic images or terms, obvious parodies, or in this case, a vague familiar name.
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There is an interesting religious challenge in Georgia where factory worker, Billy E. Hyatt refused to be marked with the sign of “the Beast” and was fired by Plaint Corporation. Plaint found Hyatt less than compliant when he was asked to put on a sticker proclaiming that the plastic factory was accident-free for 666 days. He refused and said that, to do so, would have cost him his eternal soul. Instead, it cost him his job and he is suing.
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We have previously seen fake doctors arrested after harmful or lethal operations, often low-cost cosmetic surgeries. Few compete with the alleged medical practice of Oneal Ron Morris, who is accused of injecting the buttocks of women with cement and flat-tire sealant in her “practice.” The use of flat-tire sealant appears to be a favorite off-the-counter item for such faux cosmetic doctors, given past cases. She was charged criminally for practicing without a license and obviously can be sued civilly.
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The civil libertarian community in Israel is alarmed by the government’s decision to shutdown a radio station that has been outspoken in its opposition to the growing plans for war with Iran. The Israeli-Palestinian radio station called “All for Peace” was shutdown after demands from members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative coalition.
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Kevin Daly, 22, may need both a clothing and legal make-over. He was not only arrested for allegedly driving drunk and crashing into a police cruiser, but was wearing a tee-shirt reading “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings.”

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Princeton George M. Moffett Professor Emeritus of Biology John Bonner, 89, has dedicated his life to Dictyostelium discoideum, known to the rest of us as slim mold. He is described in Science Magazine this month as “the current patriarch of the slime mold community.” I loved the article and I think it is about time for you to take a little time out and consider the beauty and genius of our often-forgotten friend, the slime mold.
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This afternoon, I will participating in a discussion of “Trying High-Profile Cases” with David Bois as part of the American Bar Association’s Annual Conference (CLE Premier Speaker Series Webinar). The conference also include federal judges Barbara M. G. Lynn
(Northern District of Texas) and Gene E. K. Pratter (Eastern District of Pennsylvania) and leading litigator Randall M. Kessler. It will start at 1:00 p.m. (ET).
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