Archive for October, 2012

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Happy Halloween to all of the ghostly regulars of the Turley Blog! Despite the theory that Halloween is just a cry for help from my rotting soul, I love this holiday and the house is covered with our annual display of skeletons, webs, and spooky items.
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Judge Perry Anderson of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles has issued a notable injunction in Simi Valley to prevent the city from enforcing a law requiring convicted sex offenders from having to post signs to warn away trick-or-treaters.
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Here is our annual list of Halloween torts and crimes. This holiday remains a favorite for personal injury lawyers around the world and this year’s additions show why. Of course, with Sandy, our area is already looking pretty spooky with downed trees and tattered exteriors.

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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Having finally made it home and reunited with my children after being stranded in New Orleans, it was a shock to learn that Sandy was not a natural disaster but, according to various Syrians, a vehicle of Islamic justice sent by their special forces with the help of the Iranians. Getting stuck in the blizzard in the mountains with Leslie in our rented jeep, I should have seen the hand of the Bashar al-Assad given the wanton destruction caused by the storm. Yet, somehow I like this better than Hurricane Katrina being sent by God to punish us for homosexuality or earthquakes sent to punish “pacts with the Devil,” according to Pat Robertson.

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Noam Chomsky, considered one of the world’s leading intellectuals, makes a surprising appearance in this MIT takeoff of the popular Gangnam Style video. Chomsky is an Institute Professor and Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT.

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In Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Vincent T. Anderson, 19, from Little Rock, Arkansas, and Marcus E. Jones, 27, of Cotton Plant, Arkansas, have been charged with first stealing a car and then hitting pedestrians in what they described as a game akin to “Grand Theft Auto.”

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In Oregon, Washington County Circuit Judge D. Charles Bailey has ruled rejecting a bid from a dog rescue organization to take custody of an obese dachshund named Obie weighting 77 pounds. Oregon Dachshund Rescue Inc. wanted to take Obie away from foster owner Nora Vanatta, a former veterinary technician. A Washington couple gave up Obie when they could not control his eating which seems a bit strange since Obie cannot buy food or set it out himself.

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The corruption in China is legendary as communist officials acquire huge homes and wealth in assisting businesses take land and create industries. The Chinese government regularly responds to such corruption stories with executions but they are viewed as little more than a lethal form of public relations. Now, however, the family of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has retained lawyers after a New York Times report that the family has amassed a massive amount of wealth in accounts spread around the world. It is an ironic moment given the government’s continued refusal to allow ordinary Chinese to have real legal recourse to contest their treatment, including the lost of land. The Times article details Wen’s relatives have alleged amassed assets worth at least $2.7bn (£1.7bn) around the world.

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It appears that Bill Gates is a virtual proletariat businessman in compared to some. A website called Celebrity Net Worth calculated the wealth of well-known historical and contemporary rich guys and found that 14th century African king Mansa Musa I was the richest person in history.

Mansa Musa I had an estimated $400 billion fortune. In comparison, Gates weighs in with $136 billion. Fourteen of 25 are Americans. Here is the list of the adjusted incomes:

1. Mansa Musa I – $400 billion
2. The Rothschild family – $350 billion
3. John D. Rockefeller – $340 billion
4. Andrew Carnegie – $310 billion
5. Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov – $300 billion
6. Mir Osman Ali Khan – $230 billion
7. William The Conqueror – $229.5 billion
8. Muammar Qaddafi – $200 billion
9. Henry Ford – $199 billion
10. Cornelius Vanderbilt – $185 billion

Musa I lived between 1280 to c. 1337. He was the tenth Mansa or “King of Kings” over territory formerly belonging to the Ghana and Melle (Mali) empires.

Mansa Musa controls key shipping routes and showed great ambition. Arab-Egyptian scholar Al-Umari quotes him as saying:

The ruler who preceded me did not believe that it was impossible to reach the extremity of the ocean that encircles the earth (meaning the Atlantic). He wanted to reach that (end) and was determined to pursue his plan. So he equipped two hundred boats full of men, and many others full of gold, water and provisions sufficient for several years. He ordered the captain not to return until they had reached the other end of the ocean, or until he had exhausted the provisions and water. So they set out on their journey. They were absent for a long period, and, at last just one boat returned. When questioned the captain replied: ‘O Prince, we navigated for a long period, until we saw in the midst of the ocean a great river which flowing massively. My boat was the last one; others were ahead of me, and they were drowned in the great whirlpool and never came out again. I sailed back to escape this current.’ But the Sultan would not believe him. He ordered two thousand boats to be equipped for him and his men, and one thousand more for water and provisions. Then he conferred the regency on me for the term of his absence, and departed with his men, never to return nor to give a sign of life.
—Mansa Musa

The Romney campaign has immediately issued a press release that Mansa Musa “did build that.” However, the Obama campaign has stressed that his tax rate was still lower than the planned increase for top earners in the U.S.

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Still Virginia Bound

Leslie and I are still fighting to get back to the kids after being stranded in New Orleans after all flights were cancelled. We are safe but had a wild night trying to find a way home.

Despite the fact that the weather was mild on Sunday and Monday morning in Washington, US Airways cancelled our flights. It was very frustrating to speak to friends in Washington and hear how the weather was fine. The cancellations appeared to be decisions based on the location of equipment, but thousands of passengers could have made it home. The main problem however at US Airways was the virtual collapse of any customer assistance that continued to Monday. We had to wait literally hours on the telephone to get through and then had to wait over an hour on hold to reach anyone. US Airways then told us that we would have to buy a separate ticket to go to closer airports like Charlotte (it didn’t matter since those were cancelled as well.) I remain furious with US Airways which (despite plenty of forewarning) did not appear to set up sufficient personnel or resources to assist passengers. We literally spent 24 hours from Sunday to Monday trying to reach someone at the airline, which has a message that repeatedly cut off calls and told them to call back.

With four kids with our sitter in Virginia, we could not wait any longer so I rented a four-wheel drive jeep and set out Sunday morning from New Orleans. We made it 700 miles when we were hit last night with a blinding blizzard storm in the mountains of Virginia. Visibility dropped quickly to virtually zero and we barely got off the highway. We found a motel in a tiny town called Marion, Virginia and bunkered down.

We are going to set out again shortly to try to get to the kids. A lot of roads are cut off with debris and winds remain high in McLean at 37 miles per hour. However, there are signs of it winding down. The kids are fine and still remarkably have electricity. We are prepared however. In Alabama, we bought boxes of water and Moon Pies (which we can’t get around us in McLean). If anything goes wrong, we can survive on Moon Pies for days in the mountains!

I hope all of our regulars on the East Coast are safe and sound today.

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Virginia Bound

Leslie and I are still stuck in New Orleans. As I noted yesterday, we have been stranded by US Airways which cancelled flights to Washington yesterday despite the relatively mild weather in the city. It appears that the airline simply did not want aircraft in Washington when the storm hit. My complaint has not been that decision but the lack of consumer support after trying for hours to reach anyone at the airline. We have little choice but to try to drive back to Virginia since we have four kids who are being watched over by our sitter (I also have classes to teach on Tuesday and Wednesday). We intend to be highly cautious and stop if it gets to dicey. However, we cannot leave the kids any longer in this storm.

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Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has long proven a lightning rod on the Court, particularly his consistent and controversial habit of making highly charged public comments. I have previously criticized him and other justices for the increasing public speeches, often to highly partisan groups, that undermine the legitimacy of the Court. This week Scalia raised eyebrows in his advice to law students not to take “Law and Women” or “Law and Poverty” courses which he says amount to little more than professors teaching their “hobbies.”

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There was an interesting mistrial announced this month in a discrimination case against the University of Iowa law school. Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on a 14th amendment claim by the part-time legal writing professor who claims that she was passed over for a full-time position and then lost her adjunct position due to hiring bias against conservatives. Teresa Wagner (left) worked for pro-life causes and says that law professor Randall Bezanson (right), a former law clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun, campaigned against her hiring (Blackmun wrote the Roe v. Wade decision). She further noted that only one faculty member at Iowa is a registered Republican.

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We have had some bizarre religious injuries this week among both the Christian and Muslim faithful. In Newburgh, New York, David Jimenez was grateful to God for curing his wife of cancer, particularly he believed due to his devotion of a large crucifix outside the Church of St. Patrick in Newburgh. So he received permission to paint the crucifix to show his thanks, but it proceeded to fall and crush his leg in a rather mixed message. In the meantime, Muslims have reported a spate of injuries and deaths from people being trampled by animals during annual sacrifice Islamic rituals this week.

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Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz this weekend added his voice to the call of Muslim leaders for an international blasphemy standard that criminalizes anti-religious speech.   The monarch demanded the law in light of recent insults to Mohammad: “It is our duty and that of every Muslim to protect Islam and defend the prophets.”  Of course, Saudi Arabia does not even allow the building of churches in its country and routinely metes out draconian sentences for those who attempt to convert followers to other religions or commit apostasy.

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