New Jersey Judge Peter Bogaard has rejected the initial effort of Rachel Canning, 18, to force her parents to pay for her financial support and college. Retired Lincoln Park police Chief Sean Canning and his wife, Elizabeth, insist that she moved out of their house voluntarily after she refused to live according to the rules of the house, including speaking respectfully to them, taking a curfew, reconsidering a relationship with a boyfriend (viewed as a bad influence) and doing chores. She said that they kicked her out as soon as she turned 18. However, the problem is that she is indeed 18 and the idea of forcing parents to pay for schooling after the age of majority is a problematic one. She has accused her father of being “inappropriately affectionate” but an investigation reportedly cleared Sean Canning (shown here with Rachel).
Archive for the ‘Bizarre’ Category
Controversial Centinela Valley School Board Members’ Elections Financed By Construction Firm That Later Received Hundreds Of Millions In Contracts
Posted in Academics, Bizarre, Media, Politics, Society, tagged Bond Issues, California, Centinela Valley School District, Elections, Jose Fernandez, Piper Jaffray, Political Action Committees, School Boards, Taxes, TELECU on 1, March 1, 2014 | 13 Comments »
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
In the two past contested elections for what now has become the controversy magnet of the Centinela Valley School Board, (as reported in a previous article regarding Superintendent Jose Fernandez’ generous $663,000 compensation package seen HERE) it was revealed that a major California construction firm TELACU poured large amounts of money into campaigns to elect their favored candidates. In return for the favor, the friendly school board awarded TELACU two construction bond measures on the ballot totaling nearly $200 million. Voters approved both, and TELACU was awarded contracts to manage the construction projects.
The Daily Breeze reports Centinela Valley officials have pointed out that as a result of the two successful bond measures — one in 2008, another in 2010 — major face-lifts have occurred or are in the pipeline for all three campuses. The projects have replaced old, sometimes crumbling facilities with state-of-the-art classroom wings, media centers, offices and commons areas.
Critics, on the other hand, say the whole thing smacks of a money grab for the interested parties at the expense of the taxpayers.
Posted in Bizarre, Politics, Society, tagged e-Cigarettes, Electronic Cigarettes, Marijuana Tax, Small Business, Smoking, Tax Protest, Taxation, Tobacco Tax, Vapor Shops, Washington Legislature, Washington State on 1, March 1, 2014 | 37 Comments »
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
In the seemingly endless hunger to tax everything under the clouds the Washington Legislature is considering placing a 95% wholesale tax on electronic cigarettes and supplies. Currently retail sales of e-cigarettes are taxed as ordinary sales tax where as tobacco products are taxed at the highest wholesale tax rate in the United States.
Not to be pushed out of the tax racket, the various families at the state legislature are trying to make sure their interests are “protected”.
Posted in Academics, Bizarre, Politics, Society, tagged California, Centinela Valley School District, Executive Compensation, Jose Fernandez, Public Employee Compensation, School Boards, Taxes on 1, March 1, 2014 | 13 Comments »
Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
In the Los Angeles area a quickly drawn school board meeting demanded by members of the public, a hearing was held on the total compensation package of Centinela Valley Union High School District Superintendent Jose Fernandez. The package with salary, benefits, and perks for the calendar year 2013 amounted to $663,365.00. The school district has 6,600 students enrolled. This compares, or rather contrasts, with that of John Deasey, Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District who received a total compensation package of $309,997.00 and enrollment of 650,000 students. President Obama receives a compensation package of $569,000.00
In addition to Jose’s base salary the compensation package included a loan of $910,000.00 to purchase a residence in the affluent Ladera Heights neighborhood with a term of 40 years and an annually compounded interest rate of 2%, half the prevailing market rate at the time.
Is this a compensation package commensurate with the talent brought to the school district or another example of news reports of questionable public employee compensation endemic in California as of late? Much more intrigue follows.
by Charlton “Chuck” Stanley, Weekend Contributor
Since February is Black History Month, it seemed to me that a local story was worth discussing. I first became aware of the story when it appeared in the Johnson City (Tennessee) Press last Tuesday . A little further digging revealed the story originated when a member of the church sent a copy of one of “Brother” Donny Reagan’s sermons to The American Jesus blog. The American Jesus blog is run by the Rev. Zach Hunt, who is currently working on a graduate degree at Yale Divinity School. Zach published a brief story and posted the seventeen minute long sermon on The American Jesus blog last week.
“Brother” Danny Reagan is pastor of the Happy Valley Church of Jesus Christ, located between Johnson City and Elizabethton, TN. He records and archives all his sermons on the church website. Or at least he did until a couple of days ago. Now look what you get when you click the link.
People in Austin were outraged recently when Amanda Jo Stephen was arrested for jaywalking – a crime that ultimately required four officers and left Stephen sitting cuffed and crying on the ground in front of onlookers. The video is below. However, it was the response of Austin police chief Art Acevedo made this even more bizarre and disturbing.
Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Statistical analysis has shown that in the past ten years a great threat has been lurking under every dandelion, apple blossom, and tulip growing in the United States, one that is seemingly innocent but is proven to be even more deadly than we could have imagined. And it is with us nearly everywhere during half the year. Your children playing in your back yard, they are especially at risk to this menacing brood. This threat is not to be taken lightly, as it is even greater than terrorism, which you all know is the worst threat our politicians tell us there is.
My fellow Americans we need to look at the degree our government has gone to protect us from terrorism. The NSA monitors seemingly every e-Mail, telephone call, video uplink, and cellphone record it can to address this threat along with billions and billions of dollars for nebulous programs, fought long wars, all to protect us from terrorism. But if this effort is warranted to protect us from terrorism, it is only reasonable that an even greater effort should be waged to protect us from a worse threat: Bees.
There is an interesting legal ethics case out of New York involving Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa (left) and his girlfriend, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (right). It appears that Sliwa, now a radio host making some $400,000 annually, is in the midst of a messy divorce after being accused of adultery. He has been sending confidential legal communications without realizing that his wife, Mary Sliwa was being blind copied on the messages. Paul Siegert, her lawyer, however, insists that it is the fault of Curtis Sliwa and neither he nor his client had any obligation to let him know of the breach of confidentiality or refrain from reading the confidential communications.
Russia appears to be looking at a new cause for protesters who are seething with anger. No, it is not over Putin’s rollback on free speech or the criminalization of open displays of homosexuality. Women in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are rising in anger over a trade ban on lacy lingerie. The ban prevents the importation, manufacture, or sale of any underwear containing less than 6 percent cotton. It is not clear if Putin’s infamous police units will begin panty raids in addition to their press raids, but the law has many knickers in a knot.
Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
The code of DUI offender silence was violated in Mexico after police allegedly contacted a driver at a checkpoint, suspecting him of drunk driving. As Guillermo Reyes stepped out of the car, his parrot called out “Está borracho, Está borracho!” Spanish for “He’s drunk, He’s drunk !” Police at first believed the parrot’s voice to be that of a passenger.
Reportedly the parrot was correct as Guillermo was later arrested for DUI.
As many on this blog know, I have long been a critic of the International Olympic Committee which has long been accused of corruption, cronyism, and plain stupidity. One of the most outrageous decisions was the elimination of wrestling, one of the few original sports, in favor of events like golf with more wealthy supporters. (Wrestling was later reinstated after global outcry). My sense of confusion depended this week with the reappearance of curling — a sport viewed by 99 percent of people every four years and met with the same universal question: “why is this a sport?” I do not contest that curling is a sport, I just fail to understand why it is an Olympic sport (like shooting) when sports like wrestling were cut.
The senior official associated with the annual and notorious dolphin hunt in Japan assured U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy that the harpooning of the cetaceans in entirely painless. Yoshifumi Kai of the Taiji Fishermen’s Cooperative wants to correct the odd impression that the dolphins writhing in the blood infused slaughter are actually experiencing pain when a giant spear-like weapon is thrust through their bodies. If so, we may have a solution for the shortage of lethal drugs for executions: we could just harpoon death row inmates. Indeed, in euthanasia countries like the Netherlands could switch over to harpooning for the terminally ill.
There is an interesting torts case out of Pennsylvania where Donald H. Adams III has won a $5 million settlement in a products liability against Poly-San, a portable toilet manufacturer and installer. Adams was left a quadriplegic after two of his relatives decided to play a prank on him by rocking the port-a-potty with him inside only to watch it tip over. The case in the Sullivan County Court of Common Pleas, Adams v. Poly-San, raised interesting elements of superseding forces and negligence. Notably, the case also included his relatives as defendants with the company as well as the toilet installer, Lewis Crawford. (Portable toilets shown are not involved with the company or case)
President Obama has continued the practice of selling ambassadorship off to wealthy friends and donors — a practice that many used to denounce during Republican administration but has been dismissed with a shrug in this Administration. I have long been critical of the practice which places a president’s and a party’s interest ahead of that of the nation. I was at a dinner party a few years ago where an Obama donor spoke openly how the White House gave him an ambassadorship and he decided to just give it to his wife who he said is delighted that she is now called “ambassador” wherever she goes. As discussed this weekend, donor Noah Bryson Mamet has been nominated for ambassador to Argentia but has never even visited the country. This follows an embarrassing hearing with Obama bundler George Tsunis, who was nominated for ambassador to Norway. Tsunis showed as striking lack of knowledge of that country.
By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor
A 2009 report by the National Research Council (NRC) passed quietly into the night (except in legal and forensic circles) while barely garnering more than a ripple in the public’s psyche. It should have been a tidal wave given news last December that a 48-year-old New Jersey man, Gerard Henderson, who spent 19 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, was done in by faulty crime lab work. Henderson was convicted largely on “bite mark” evidence. Bite mark evidence is a process used to exam indentations and anomalies on a victim’s body and ostensibly made by human teeth which are then matched to a defendant’s dentures in an effort to prove that he/she was the perpetrator of the crime. Convicted in 1995, Henderson proved that state testing of the bite marks on the back of 19-year-old victim, Monica Reyes, was deeply flawed and conducted without sufficient safeguards to insure its reliability.
Independent forensic scientists working for Project Innocence could not reproduce findings by the state crime lab which is the gold standard for scientific verifiability. Henderson became one of the more than two dozen people wrongfully convicted of rape or murder since 2000 as a direct result of flawed bite mark evidence analysis all duly attested to as accurate by the local crime lab.
By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor
Teen idol and Canadian citizen Justin Bieber just entered the consciousness of serious adults but it wasn’t for his singing or making their teenage daughters swoon. No, Justin set the world ablaze due to a pot smoke-filled airline cabin and a felony arrest for egging a neighbor’s house. And lest you think the American Congress has better things to do than follow the shenanigans of today’s latest pop star, think again. At least one senator has called for his deportation and an on-line petition to jump-start that process has gathered 100,000 signatures.
CNN has issued an apology for a story that ran this week calling the famous “Courage” Monument in Brest, Belarus “the world’s ugliest monument.” Not to be outcome on the stupidity scale, Russian Senator Igor Morozov has proposed a temporary ban on CNN (I guess until their tastes change in conformity with state demands). I do not happen to agree that such memorials should be immune from artistic or architectural criticism. Indeed, I have criticized some of our own memorials. However, I was most struck the harsh critique. I find the memorial to be refreshingly different from the usual flaming torch or sword. CNN however appears to have taken down the story, which raises concerns over withdrawing a piece due to unpopular opinions. I happen to disagree with the author, but what is the standard for post-publication deletion of opinion pieces? This was not racist or sexist or even categorically false. It was an opinion.
Clyde Ray Spencer, a former motorcycle patrolman, was secured a $9 million damage award from a federal jury after spending nearly two decades in jail on a fabricated case. The jury found that two of his colleagues at the police department fabricated evidence and possibly coached witnesses to convict him of sexually abusing his two children. Retired Clark County Police police Sgt. Michael Davidson and retired Detective Sharon Krause have been accused of the most serious violations in the case.
There is an interesting story about of Arizona involving an elite athlete Audrey Glemba, 49, who completed her latest Ironman Arizona last competition in November. Glemba has an impressive history of such competitions. The problem is that Glemba is a medically-retired police officer who collected worker’s compensation because she insisted that she was unable to meet even the minimum of duties as an officer. Glemba’s history is even more troubling.
While the Superbowl was a bit of a bust, lawyer Jamie Casino is being widely heralded as scoring a touchdown with his local commercial during the game in Georgia where he tells his life’s story as an advocate for clients. Since I have already ventured into film critique this morning with the students of Columbia, I might as well say my peace about the film of Mr. Casino despite the overwhelming popularity of the commercial. I found the commercial below to be unprofessional and self-serving and just a bit creepy. What is striking about this story is that it was not long ago when such an advertisement would have been viewed as an ethical breach. I did not support those earlier rules against advertisements. However, Casino has a history of such commercials that trade content for flashy effects along the lines of a car salesman or infomercial pitchman.
Columbia University and Barnard College created a stir this month by filming what has been described as “a feminist pornographic film” in Columbia’s Butler Library to fight what they see as “gender tension” at the school. The film called “Initiatiøn,” was billed as a feminist statement exploring “the rituals of American Ivy League secret societies, to the point of hysteria, highlighting our culture’s perception of female desire.” It somehow made this ambiguous point by showing the women engaging in fondling, tweaking, and rubbing eggs on their bodies in the Butler library.
By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor
University of North Carolina clinical instructor and academic advisor Mary Willingham got a reprieve of sorts last week. UNC Chancellor Carol Folt admitted for the first time to the school’s board of trustees that the university had “failed students for years” by offering bogus classes, forging professors’ names and changing grades to keep athletes eligible. Jettisoning the party line that 2012′s scandal in the African and Afro-American Studies Department which resulted in an indictment against a UNC professor for fraud was merely an isolated instance, Folt said ”We also accept the fact that there was a failure in academic oversight for years that permitted this to continue.This, too, was wrong. And it has undermined our integrity and our reputation.”
Ukrainian riot police appear to be having trouble deciding who to beat up. BBC is reporting that police stopped a bus heading to Kiev and assumed that they were more protesters. So, they did what has become standard operating procedure for Ukrainian police: they proceeded to savagely beat the occupants. It turns out that they were government supporters being bused to support the government in its effort to break away from the West and sign a trade deal that will place the country under the domination of Russia. What is amazing is that, after being beaten by the government, they reportedly proceeded to the rally in favor of the government and all the good things it brings to the people of the Ukraine. Now those are the types of supporters that would have made Stalin proud. In the meantime, the police succeeded in capturing a real protester and reportedly tortured him and left him to die in the cold. He has survived to tell the tale.
Washington has been rocked recently by the news of a high-ranking congressional staff, Jesse Ryan Loskarn, was arrested for possession of child pornography. Loskarn was the long-time director of the office of Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. He recently committed suicide by hanging himself. A letter has now been released where Loskarn explains his demise and his shame. In the letter, he refers to abuse as a child but does not identify the culprit. Psychiatrists have long documented the tendency of victims of child abuse to be drawn to child pornography. I was personally involved with such a case of a man with documented such abuse who downloaded such images — a reaction that a respected psychiatrist testified was extremely common. You may or may not believe the final account of Loshkarn but it is a striking letter from a man clearly struggling with the shame of his action.
There are health care nightmares and then there is what happened to Eric Fergusan, 54, in North Carolina. Fergusan was bitten by a snake on the foot while putting out trash last August. He drove himself to the hospital and was given anti-venom medicine that can be purchased online for as low as $750. The bill” $89,227 bill for an 18-hour stay.
Rep. Michael Grimm (R., Staten Island) apparently wanted to unwind after the State of the Union with a little good-old-fashioned Reporter tossing from the Capitol Rotunda. A traditional form of exercise, RT (as it is called) is highly aerobic and involves throwing an adult reporter from a stationary position with no more than three paces before the launch. This is much more difficult than tossing the caber in Scottish game because the journalists tend to be odd sized and flexible. They are the second least aerodynamic of profession (after Sumo wrestlers). There is also the problem of congressional ethics rules and criminal assault concerns. However, if Grimm looked in ill-humor, it was nothing like the mood of voters.
HSBC customers are understandably confused in England after they went to the bank to withdraw their money only to be told that any large withdrawals would require disclosure of why they needed it and the agreement of the bank. That’s right, you need to show the bank why you need your money and the bank has been saying no to customers, according to the report below.
We previously discussed the case of Max Mosley, the ex-Formula One boss, who became infamous on the Internet after the posting of a video showing him in a sadomasochistic orgy. The story broke in the now defunct News of the World tabloid and reported the scene as a five-hour orgy with five prostitutes dressed as Nazi guards — a particularly embarrassing performance given the fact that Mosley’s father, Oswald, was the pre-war leader of Britain’s fascist “blackshirts” and even invited Adolf Hitler to his wedding. Mosley, 73, prevailed in a court action in showing that the party did not have a Nazi theme and that his privacy was violated. Now he is continuing what can only be described as a scorched Earth campaign against everyone who has carried the photos and announced a new lawsuit against Google. In a move that raises concerns over the censorship of the Internet, German court ordered the Internet giant to block photos of him at his sadomasochistic orgy.
Norfolk County Agricultural High School teacher Marc Mertz has been arrested in a rather bizarre case where he was seen walking around his driveway wearing only a ski cap and googles. What is most interesting about the story is that this is not the first exposure allegations that Mertz has faced.
An Italian manager, Roberto Cassago, is a tad embarrassed after an accident that would befit Mr. Bean. He is facing repair costs to an 18th Century Italian painting after he blew a hole through the canvas with the cork of a bottle of sparkling wine. Fittingly enough, it was a painting depicting a battle with knights and their chargers but the addition of the cork missile to the battle scene was a historical as well as an artistic invasion.
Posted in Bizarre, Courts, Justice, Lawyering, Politics, Religion, Science, Society, tagged Artificial Insemination, Child Support, Groucho Marks, Judge Mary Mattivi, Kansas, Sperm Donor, Topeka, William Marotta on 1, January 24, 2014 | 26 Comments »
By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor
William Marotta is proving Groucho Marx right. ”It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City* in order to be unhappy, ” Marx quipped in a letter. The classic comedienne may have just been on to something as Marotta has been ordered by a Kansas court to pay support for a child he fathered in Topeka as part of a private artificial insemination contract.
Even though Marotta signed the contract waiving any legal rights to the child, Shawnee County District Court Judge Mary Mattivi said he must still pay support because the artificial insemination was performed without the involvement of a licensed Kansas physician. The story began– as so many strange ones do –with an ad on Craig’s List in March 2009 seeking donated sperm. (Wonder if it was in the “free” section?). The authors of the ad were a lesbian couple in Topeka who desperately wanted a child and needed a donor of genetic material.
There is a disturbing case out of Ohio where an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper reportedly admitted to sexual encounters with a boy five years ago but will not face any criminal charges. (However, the trooper now denies those allegations). Trooper Ricky Vitte Jr. (left) has a history of domestic violence and admitted that he watched pornography with the boy and then they masturbated. He insists that he was trying to help the boy and was not engaging in the conduct for sexual gratification (at least not direct at the boy). It appears that Vitte will also continue as an officer with the state patrol after Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt (right) refused to bring the case to a grand jury.
What will happen to Col. Mustard in the dining room with the kitchen knife? It is not just Clue aficionados that will be effected by a new reform being proposed in England, pointy kitchen knives may soon be a thing of the past. A group associated with West Middlesex University Hospital is proposing a ban in the British Medical Journal on pointy kitchen knives as unnecessary from a culinary standpoint and downright dangerous from a crime standpoint.
I have often commented on how breakfast in China is a still evolving skill, particularly with regard to bacon which seems boiled and rubbery. This picture may explain part of the problem. The image is from Wuhan and shows how Chinese bacon is “air-cured” on balconies in major cities. Given the alarming levels of pollution, the image is doubly unappealing. This makes the sale of fake eggs more appealing than the authentic bacon.
We have been discussing how the U.S. military continues to waste billions with little accountability for failed programs or unneeded equipment. This includes tens of billions wasted in our ongoing wars. Much of this waste or lost resources has been covered up by intentional accounting tricks. No one appears to be disciplined, let alone fired, for billions of lost money and over-charges. And the beat goes on. The Senate Armed Services Committee has decided to actually investigate waste and is looking into a failed $1 billion software project for the U.S. Air Force that was implemented by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. It was scrapped after it was disclosed that we would have to spend an additional $1.1 billion just to fix the unused system.
As parents, many of us have an ever-expanding list of things to worry about for our children. We can now add “nasal maggots.” That’s right, nasal maggots. School officials are warning parents in Rhode Island that students are snorting Smarties and the latest fad is causing allergic reactions, lung irritations, and potential maggots in the nasal cavities.
I enjoyed the game with the kids last night between the San Francisco 49ers that sent the Seattle Seahawks. That amazing game however was marred by a bizarre rave from cornerback Richard Sherman. Sherman immediately followed the win with a screaming and unhinged rant. The question is whether the Seahawks should be able to discipline Sherman for such a disgraceful performance — just after an equally disgraceful taunting of the 49ers. I would be the first to defend the free speech rights of Sherman to act like a street thug and even diss opposing players like San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree. However, the Seahawks drew well-deserved praise on this blog for moving against thugs in the stadium in the prior game with the 49ers. How about the thugs on the field? This is not an attack on free speech by the government. The question is whether a company can discipline an employee at work for behaving like a thug. UPDATE: Sherman has been fined by the NFL for his taunting shortly before his outburst on television.
We have previously seen some hilarious propaganda films coming out of North Korea, including some directed at children. However, Marc Ambinder at the The Week says that he has found yet another classic North Korean cartoon. This one shows children how to use a protractor by showing that it can be useful in killing Americans.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Blogger
Tyler pleaded guilty in 2009 to Felony Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes and to Theft in the First Degree. As a convicted felon, he is under Washington law prohibited from possessing firearms. He also is required to register as a sex offender.
Tyler recently appeared on the National Geographic reality show Doomsday Preppers in November of 2013 where he proclaimed his survivalist prowess and that he would engage in “marauding” by robbing people of high powered rifles and their provisions claiming that he would take it from his neighbors by force.” He was also alleged to have stated on the show: “We’re not in it to stockpile. We’re in it to take what you have and there’s nothing you can do to stop us. We are your worst nightmare, and we are coming.”
Posted in Academics, Animals, Bizarre, Congress, Constitutional Law, Courts, Criminal law, Environment, Free Speech, International, Justice, Lawyering, Media, Military, Politics, Religion, Science, Society, Supreme Court, Torts on 1, January 18, 2014 | 55 Comments »
We recently discussed a weight-loss advocate who was taken off Facebook for potential hate speech in criticizing a plus-sized clothing ad campaign. Now, Marilyn McKenna of Washington State says that a similar thing happened to her. McKenna posted an image to show how much weight she lost (over 100 pounds) only to have Facebook reportedly inform her that the picture was inappropriate for promoting “idealized physical appearances.”
If a criminal defense lawyer is supposed to take heat of a client, Cody Mann (left), 28, has found the right attorney in Jenny Chaplinski. Chaplinski is under fire for comments that she made regarding her client’s torture, killing, and cooking of his pet cat. Chaplinski dismissed the outrage over the crime as involving just “meat.” Cat meat to be sure but “it’s meat.”
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
This is the third of a multi-part article on the Public Interest Defense and its application to the the Edward Snowden situation. The defense is not recognized in America but other nations have considered this legal mechanism to provide an appropriate way to deflect criminal charges from whistleblowers like Snowden. Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 can be found here.
We found in parts 1 & 2 that the absolute right to a public plebiscite on punishment for political crimes goes back centuries to at least the time of Publius Horatius. We also saw that rulers have used this right to manipulate outcomes to further their own interests in deflecting blame or attacking political opponents. In modern times, the jury has replaced the assembled citizenry but the motivation of rulers to limit or channel the ancient right to their own ends remains. Even in America where the defense doesn’t technically exist but where its cousin, whistleblower protections, do, the urge to rein in messengers of truth remains.
The Public Interest Defense Abroad
Imagine the most influential prosecutor in modern America uttering the following words about the public’s right to understand the secret inner workings of its government: