The Church of Scientology is trying to dampen down another scandal from a former high-ranking member. Debbie Cook ran the church’s Flag Base in Clearwater, Florida for 17 years. A former “captain”, Cook has offered testimony and given interviews detailing alleged physical abuse by church leader David Miscavige as well as a hellish trailer known as “the hole” for bad scientologists. It has been a bad period of Scientology which recently saw a French court uphold its fraud conviction in France.
Archive for February, 2012
Something odd happened recently in professional wrestling — a real fight broke out. Former professional wrestler John Levi Miller, 23, has sued Clinton Woosley (who performed under the name Guido Andretti) for failing to take a fall as planned and actually kicking him in the groin — causing the loss of a testicle. Woosley was the designated “heel,” or loser in the bout. [Image shows Blue Demon, Jr. wrestles El Hijo Del Santo].
We previously discussed the senseless burning of the oldest pond cypress tree in the world — “The Senator” at Big Tree Park in Longwood. Now police have arrested the woman who they say committed the destruction. She is Sara Barnes. Barnes has been charged with the third degree felony of intentional burning of land. It was an over 3,500-year-old cypress tree . . . until it encountered Barnes in 2011.
We previously read about the ethics charges and lawsuits leveled against Hawkins County (Tenn.) Judge James Taylor for various violations, including stealing money that he raised for a “Citizens Heritage Display” with the Ten Commandments to be placed in the lobby of the Hawkins County Justice Center. While Taylor announced he would still run for reelection and assured people that his name would be cleared, he has now asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in his answer to accusations of theft and misconduct in the judicial ethics investigation.
Former Deputy District Attorney David Schubert has been sentenced to nine months in jail for felony crack possession. We previously discussed the case, but Clark County District Judge Carolyn Ellsworth took the notable step of denouncing the plea deal with Schubert as something of a sweetheart deal for the former prosecutor.
This may not come as a surprise to many law students or lawyers, but lawyers were ranked second among the professions with the least sleep by the Health Interview Survey — averaging just seven hours. IF you want twenty more minutes, try applying for a position as a forest and logging worker.
President Barack Obama this month launched “African Americans For Obama.” This video shows Obama with an articulate and moving message tied to African American month, but is it the right message? There is no question this is a direct appeal to race as a unifying theme with supporters — a move that would be denounced if tried by his white opponents. In the video, Obama states “I don’t think there’s a better time than Black History Month” for this effort, but some view this as the worst time for an open injection of race as a motivating factor in politics. I am frankly divided on the issue because I can see the justified pride of this community in President Obama. However, I remain uneasy over a direct appeal from the President on race — just as I have criticized past appeal to sectarian religious groups by presidential candidates.
Exclusive: After running the earlier story on the “Zombie Mohammed” case, I had the opportunity to speak to the victim, Ernie Perce. We previously discussed the remarks of Judge Mark Martin of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania in the dismissal of a charge against Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim who attacked Perce for insulting the Prophet. Perce was parading as a zombie Mohammad in the Mechanicsburg Halloween parade when Elbayomy allegedly grabbed him. Elbayomy was at the parade with his family. Yet, it was Perce who ultimately came into a tongue lashing from Martin. Martin reportedly responded in a statement that I posted previously.
I was on CNN this morning discussing the comments of the Pennsylvania judge on the assaulting of an atheist. On the way back, the CNN driver took I-66 and we passed this scene of a woman drinking coffee and reading her Nook . . . while moving over fifty miles an hour during rush hour.
Officer Kevin Yang is a fridge felon who picked the wrong workplace to snarf his colleague’s snacks. The suburban Houston police officer was charged with theft and suspended without pay for 30 days after a hidden camera nailed him as the long-sought culprit who was stealing food and drinks from the employee refrigerator.
Former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has been criticized in the past for his statement that he “almost threw up” when he read John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 comments about the role of religion in public life and the separation of church and state. This weekend he took time out to say that he would still like to throw up.
We have had a great deal of discussion about the controversy over the remarks of Judge Mark Martin of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania in the dismissal of a charge against Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim who attacked an atheist Ernie Perce for insulting the Prophet. Perce was parading as a zombie Mohammad in the Mechanicsburg Halloween parade when Elbayomy allegedly grabbed him. Elbayomy was at the parade with his family. Yet, it was Perce who ultimately came into a tongue lashing from Martin. Martin has now reportedly responded with the message below. I am not sure how much it helps on the merits, but he does clarify a couple of points if this response (which has appeared on several sites) is genuine.
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
For the first time, law enforcement officials are taking aim at not just child abusing priests but those who enabled the crimes by covering up. And what a cesspool they’ve uncovered. Monsignor William Lynn, on trial in Philadelphia on charges of conspiracy and child endangerment has filed a novel motion seeking to dismiss all charges. Lynn alleges that Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, a long-time pillar in the American Catholic Church, destroyed a memorandum written by Lynn’s superior detailing the abuse and the priests who perpetrated it.
-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Florida Highway Patrol officer Daniel Cole used his taser to stop a fleeing Danielle Maudsley. As a result, Maudsley fell and cracked her head on the concrete roadway. Maudsley has been brain dead ever since and is not expected to recover.
-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Break out the headphones/earbuds and enjoy The Beach Boys in glorious STEREO!
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
With apologies to the famous song of the same title, the State of Georgia has produced some interesting legislation and proposed legislation these days. The latest in that long list of specious legislation is the proposal pushed by five Georgia State Senators that would set up a commission to review Federal laws. Any laws not approved by that commission would be nullified and would not be upheld in their state. If I understand the proposed legislation correctly, the State of Georgia, if this law is passed, would claim supremacy over Federal law. I realize that in some Tea Party view of the Constitution this makes sense, but not in the real world where the Constitution and court precedent makes it very clear that Federal law supersedes any and all conflicting State laws. (more…)
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
Do you wonder how American politics has gotten so crazy in the last five decades? As someone who has lived through them as an adult I have often been amazed by our evolving political scene. This week the PBS documentary series “The American Experience” focused on the life and the two terms of Bill Clinton. It was a typical PBS historical documentary in that it made sure to present all sides of the issues and of course it dealt with “Whitewater”, Monica Lewinsky and the Impeachment proceedings. While we all lived through this bizarre political period in the 90’s, time and personal matters no doubt has dimmed its memory for most of us who were not directly involved. What fascinated me about this four hour documentary was that even in its non-partisan fairness, it delved into the massive effort made to discredit Bill Clinton begun from even before the inception of his first term. Though he won his election fairly, Republican’s and Conservatives never accepted his legitimacy as a duly elected President. It was this perceived “illegitimacy” that undermined his efforts as President and was the focus of constant attacks from his enemies. I’m not writing this as someone who felt that Bill Clinton was a great President and there were many concessions he made like “Welfare Reform” and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that I still hold against him. My question is that given his legitimate electoral mandate, did he ever get a chance to actually put his programs into effect and be President?
Bill Clinton entered his Presidency at the end of the first Iraq War. His inaugural speech talked of healing and bi-partisanship, as he would work together with Republicans to create a bridge to the Twenty First Century. The country was in a recession, partly caused by the excesses of military overspending by Reagan and G.H.W. Bush and by their tax cuts for the wealthy. There was a shrinking middle class due to the outsourcing of our manufacturing base and also because the Reagan Social Security “Reform” was actually a massive, regressive tax raise on those of middle income. The Reagan and G.H.W. Bush years burdened the Country with massive budget deficits and in Clinton’s first years the clamoring of the Republicans, Wall Street and the “Chattering Classes” for “Deficit Reduction” was at a fever pitch. We had also seen an illegal involvement in trying to topple the government of Nicaragua, despite a strong Congressional ban and its’ direct perpetrators falling on their swords to protect President Reagan and Vice President Bush. The din of budget deficits was so loud, with predictions so dire, that this newly elected President, with no Washington experience, was forced to accept the specious merits of this argument. Forgotten of course was that it was these selfsame groups, had blithely ignored rising deficits during the twelve years past of Republican governance. Perhaps, in my re-visiting what you already probably knew, a sense of Deja’ Vu might be occurring when thinking of American politics and political issues today? (more…)
-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Gov. Chris Christie (R-New Jersey) offered a fallacious argument when questioned about Warren Buffett’s argument on tax increases for the wealthy. The logical fallacy is Ad Hominem Tu Quoque and is committed when “it is concluded that a person’s claim is false because 1) it is inconsistent with something else a person has said or 2) what a person says is inconsistent with her actions.”
-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
For your listening enjoyment, we present Herman’s Hermits in glorious STEREO!
I have previously discussed my objections to the ludicrous expansion of trademark and copyright laws to cover common expressions and symbols. The latest example is “Linsanity,” which New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin has filed to claim and is now in competition with a guy who previously claimed the term as his. “Linsanity” appears to be “the trademarking of a common expression to declare ownership over something that you neither created nor have any legitimate right to own.”
We have seen in the Republican primary how candidates have engaged in a type of race to the bottom in embracing torture and suggesting that they would launch attacks against Iran and other countries. In this debate, the law and the Constitution are often dismissed as weak considerations for a strong president. Not to be outdone in such macho posturing, the Obama campaign has mocked Mitt Romney for even suggesting that he would consult with lawyers before launching attacks or taking critical actions. Stephanie Cutter, President Obama’s Deputy Campaign Manager, delivered the message on MSNBC that Obama was strong because he didn’t need no stinkin’ lawyers.
There is a surprising story out of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania that seems the perfect storm of religious tensions. You begin with Ernie Perce, an atheist who marched as a zombie Mohammad in the Mechanicsburg Halloween parade. Then you add Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim who stepped off a curb and reportedly attacked Perce for insulting the Prophet. Then you have a judge (Judge Mark Martin) who threw out the criminal charges against Elbayomy and ridiculed the victim, Perce. The Judge identifies himself as a Muslim and says that Perce conduct is not what the First Amendment is supposed to protect. [UPDATE: The judge says he is not a Muslim despite what is heard by most listeners on the tape. That being the case, the criticism of the comments remains.] [UPDATE2: Perce has responded to our blog and denied many of the factual representations made by Judge Martin].
First, Einstein was right. Then he was wrong. Then he was right due to a loose wire. Now he may have been wrong due to an oscillator. Many of us would just throw up our hands and say everything is relative with Einstein, but scientists at OPERA say that a second equipment problem may have led to a too conservative reading of the 730-kilometer journey of the neutrinos reported by the European Organization for Nuclear Research or CERN.
Tucker Carlson is back and it appears that his stint on Dancing With The Stars left him a bit frisky. In this interview on Fox, Tucker Carlson states that not only is the United States the only country with the moral standing to launch a preemptive strike on Iran but Iran “deserves to be annihilated.”
Local NBC reporter Adrienne Pedersen in Tampa did not exactly come across as Edward R. Marrow in this clip. She is reporting on gas prices as screeching tires are heard behind her in a wreck. She is then told by the anchor to turn around and does a surprisingly dismissive account of the accident.
The Chinese have long believed that bear gall bladders hold special healing qualities — leading to the worldwide massacre of bears to feed the Chinese traditional medicine market. Now a publicly traded pharmaceutical company, Guizhentang, has introduced “Bear bile farms” where hundreds of bears are held in cramped cages to be harvested for their bile. The horrific practice is carried out on drugged bears with a hypodermic needle.
Ever get up for Ash Wednesday and just hate to have to get out of your car and walk into a church? Now, getting your ashes is as easy as a McDonald’s cup of coffee. Just pull up to Mt. Healthy United Methodist Church in suburban Cincinnati and Rev. Patricia Anderson Cook will appear at your window for ashes on the run.
Albert Einstein is not such a dummy after all. As we previously discussed, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in making a subatomic particle go faster than the speed of light for the first time. The scientists used neutrinos, which were observed smashing past the cosmic speed barrier of 186,282 miles per second (299,792 kilometers per second). It now turns out that it was just a loose wire that delayed the reading by a few nanoseconds — that was enough to disprove the faster than the speed of light finding. It also means the loss of a good joke
The Iranian Sharia courts have given the world a steady stream of horrific judgments — using the pretense of a legal system to mete out religious-based and perfectly medieval punishments. They have now added a fresh outrage. Despite worldwide condemnation, a trial court in Iran has issued its final verdict that Youcef Nadarkhani, 34, be put to death. His crime? Converting to Christianity. During the country’s Sharia law, such apostasy is punished by death.
It is with great sadness that I report the death of Chapman Law Professor Mary Katherine Baird Darmer, 47, a leading proponent for protections of gay and lesbian citizens. Darmer died in a six-story fall from a parking garage that was believed to be a suicide. She leaves a husband and at least one child.
We have previously discussed the problems of lawyers with being attacked by ex-girlfriends for their alleged bad relationships. The latest such story involves attorney Matthew Couloute Jr. who sued a former roller derby queen Stacey Blitsch and another ex for their posts about him at liarscheatersrus.com. The site still has a place for Couloute comments. Now, federal Judge Harold Baer has tossed out the defamation lawsuit as improperly based on protected opinion. In this case, the opinion that Couloute is a collossal loser. [Just for the record, I want to note that I have not dated Couloute and that I am merely repeating the opinion of those who have dated Couloute].
Sometimes the Chinese are sooooo competitive. On the heels of the announcement of Russian scientists that they have grown a plant from 30,000 old seeds, Chinese scientists have announced that they have found an entire 300-million-year-old peat-forming forest at a site near Wuda, China. Of course, Americans have had the last laugh but pointing out that the Earth is only 5000-6000 years old, according to Creation Science and many of our leaders.
Michigan legislators are moving to make possession of toy guns a crime. The legislation by members is based on the growing practice of criminals cutting off the orange tips and using the toy guns in crime. This way, presumably, they will go and get real guns for their crimes?
The debate over Virginia’s new abortion bill is raging. While there are good-faith debates over the scope of state authority vis-a-vis women in cases of abortion, the legislation would appear to require an invasive ultrasound procedure for women in the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy — tipping the scales in terms of the burden on women. However, conservative CNN Contributor Dana Loesch went on the air this week to make the rather astonishing claim that such an involuntary procedure is no different from voluntary sex.
Mitt Romney is out another supporter. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu (who is also running for Congress) has resigned from the campaign after the Phoenix New Times reported that Babeu not only has a male lover but a Mexican immigrant lover who Babeu allegedly threatened to deport if he revealed their relationship. Babeu denies the allegation of threatening to deport the man and insists that it was the former campaign worker named as Jose who threatened him. While some are focusing on the political, I am wondering about the libel in these rivaling statements.
We have previously discussed the growing number of stories of young children raised in the opposite gender (here) or without a gender (here and here). The children raised in the opposite gender are often found to have Gender Identity Disorder (GID). Now, a four-year old boy named Zach has been diagnosed with GID and he is being raised as a girl. He began to evidence GID, according to his doctors and parents, when he was three.
Scientists in Russia have announced that they have grown plants from seeds stored away by squirrels over 30,000 years ago in the banks of the Kolmya River in Siberia. The Institute of Cell Biophysics team claims to have raised plants of Silene stenophylla from the squirrel leavings. Of course, what they really found was a den of atheist squirrels since various presidential candidates and religious figures have agreed that the Earth is only 5000 to 6000 years old.
California prosecutors have brought a rare manslaughter charged against an architect for the substandard construction and design of a $11 million mansion. Albert Becker, 48, was arrested after a firefighter died in a blaze at the home, which was going to be the backdrop for a reality show called “Germany’s Next Model.”
Recently released intelligence reports have shined light on how U.S. officials secretly demanded investigations of Charlie Chaplin — portraying him as a dangerous radical. The English intelligence officials at MI5 found no support for our paranoia about Chaplin as a dangerous communist. They also failed to show where Chaplin was born. What they did find did not please U.S. officials.