Archive for the ‘Bizarre’ Category
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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:
Someone on Reddit caught this interesting way of disguising a “B” sanitation posting. You have to posted it but the business found a way to make it less noticeable. (Note how they worked hard to match the color and font. If they worked equally hard as cleanliness, this might not be necessary).
We have been discussing the effort of University of Denver law professor Nancy Leong to have the Illinois bar punish an anonymous poster called “Dybbuk” who criticized her on a blog as well as other female law professors. Now, University of Chicago Professor Brian Leiter (right) has added a rather bizarre twist to this story on his blog. Professor Leiter says that Professor Paul F. Campos (left) has threatened him not to reveal the identity of the poster targeting Nancy Leong with the disclosure of unspecified embarrassing information on Leiter. [Update: Professor Campos has responded]
As soon as the police arrived, the body of Denver Lee St. Clair, 58, seemed to rule out suicide or natural causes. St. Clair was suffocated by his own underwear. He also had evidence of blunt force trauma. Police say that his stepson, Brad Davis, 33, strangled him with a homicidal atomic wedgie.
There are times when Iran and other sharia-based countries look like characters out of a Fellini film. This week, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued another fatwa to Muslims that left the rest of the world chuckling. Khamenei has outlawed participation in social networks that include both men and women. He wants something akin to a Cyber Burka for women to avoid even getting as little as a tweet from a man who is not a family member. Adding to the absurdity, he used his website (which presumably has both men and women) to make the announcement.. He also has a Facebook but presumably any future “friends” will be male.
Clearly Fairfax County School officials do not watch our scientific polling. While our polls shows (at the time of this posting) over 94 percent of readers criticizing the decision to cancel classes over cold that ranged from 8 to 18 degrees, Just as a follow up . . . I was just notified that the Fairfax County officials have ordered a two-hour delay for the morning. That is a delay ordered for a day with a projected temperature of a low of 25 and high of 32. There is no snow or icy roads.
I know that I have previously complained about the snowphobia that grips Washington, D.C. the minute a flake descends from the clouds. I have long been mystified by the closures of schools and businesses with even a dusting of snow. Then there are the spontaneous car crashes that seem to follow immediately after a flake hits a car hood. However, nothing prepared me for today. All of the school in Fairfax are closed because it is cold. That’s right. No, snow. No freezing rain. It is eight degrees so schools are closed. That is clearly really cold. But does it require cancellation of schools? The forecast today is sunny with a high of 17 degrees. [Update: As of noon, it was sunny, 19 degrees, and rising in McLean.]
The Obama Administration continues to struggle with questions of why it has blocked any investigation, let alone prosecution, of James Clapper (right), director of National Intelligence, who previously acknowledged lying before the Senate. Not only has Clapper not been fired, but Obama has asked him to help oversee the “reforms” of the very abusive program that he helped run and then lied about to Congress. It is part of America’s Animal Farm where government officials can commit crimes with impunity while pursuing others like Snowden for arrest. Yet, the questions persist about Clapper so the Administration sent forth National Intelligence general counsel Robert Litt (left), who promptly made it far worse.
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
This is the second 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. You can read the first installment of the series here.
The Trial of Publius Horatius
When last we met Publius Horatius, soldier of Rome, he had saved the Eternal City from disaster in an epic battle of champions and then was quite ceremoniously convicted of treason against the state for the murder of his sister thus preventing the Senate from dealing with her traitorous grief over one of the fallen foe of Rome. In a clever legal maneuver made at the secret behest of the Roman king, Tullus Hostilius, who distrusted the designs of the Senate in passing him this hot potato of a case, Publius invoked the ancient right of every Roman citizen to a provocatio ad populum – a direct appeal to the people of Rome. Readers of the Christian Bible will likely recall that Paul of Tarsus was likewise accorded this right by virtue of his Roman citizenship, though by this time Rome had moved from a republic to an empire and the appeal was made to Cæsar himself.#
Submitted by Charlton Stanley, Guest Blogger
Since it has been somewhat tense around here, I thought a bit of adrenaline might relieve some stress. There is a curious thing about aviators. We hate high places. If you can get a typical pilot on a roller coaster or Ferris wheel, you have accomplished something. Oh sure, there is the occasional outlier who doesn’t mind, but few pilots I know are willing to get out on high places. I once knew a Marine Harrier fighter pilot who went over to a friend’s apartment for a cookout. The friend lived on about the 14th floor. The grill was out on the cantilevered balcony. This tough Marine fighter pilot would not go out there, even when bribed with beer.
I have some theories why this is so, but that involves rather dense aviation psychology research discussion that might give some of our readers a math headache, and is beyond the scope of the #1 Legal News & Analysis Blog on the intertoobz. At any rate, some of us would like to be able to ride a real roller coaster without getting any higher off the ground than we are willing to fall. Quite a feat for a designer to build a fast roller coaster that does not go any higher than the average pilot is willing to fall without a parachute. The Austrians and Swiss have accomplished just that.
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
This is the first 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 2 can be found here.
The Legend of Publius Horatius
For centuries, children in ancient Rome would recount the legend of Publius Horatius, one of three Horatius brothers (known as the Horatii), who fought to defend Rome from attack by the militaristic and close-by Italian city-state of Alba Longa. Rather than engage in a pitched battle of armies for supremacy of the peninsula and subject all of Latinium (as Italy was then known) to the vulnerability of foreign attack, Rome and her rival opted to name a triumvirate of champions to fight to the death to decide the fates of two ancient megalopolises. One would emerge as the dominating power and the other would be relegated to a vassal state. The Horatii seemed the obvious choice among the Roman legionnaires as the triplet brothers were unequaled among their peers in strength and martial prowess. Swearing an oath to fight to the death, the brothers strode to the Field of Mars to battle for both the glory and survival of Rome. For her part, Alba Longa chose her own incredibly coincident set of warrior triplets known as the Curiatius brothers (or the Curiatii) who swore an equally obligating oath to “return either with their shields or on them” as a Spartan might say.
I just saw this video and had to share it. A helicopter crew was flying in the countryside and saw a kid and his Dad lose a World War II RC plane in the top of a tree. They proceed to hover over the tree and pull the plane out of the branches. They then land and give it to the Dad and a dumbfounded kid.
Normally, a product containing donkey meat would be the reason for a recall. However, in China, it is the lack of donkey meat that has caused a scandal. The Chinese have found that a produce called “Five Spice” donkey meat contained traced of meat from other animals, particularly fox meat. We previously saw scandals involving rancid or rat meat being sold in China. However, from a Western sensibilities standpoint, this is a rather novel claim that donkey meat was contaminated by non-donkey meat.
We have been discussing of the continuing rape epidemic in India, including repeated rapes by police officers in that country or efforts by police to shield rapists. Police in Kolkata reached a new level of abuse in actually hijacking the hearse of a victim who was gang-raped and dumped at at a hospital for nine days with fatal burns. The police then tried to force the family to agree to an immediate cremation.
There is an interesting ruling by an administrative appellate court in Australia this week awarding an Army widow a pension after the death of her husband in July 2012. Clement Hutton had hypertension and Shirley Hutton argued that he became addicted to salt while serving in the Australian army in World War II.
Iowa State University professor Dr. Dong-Pyou Han has resigned after admitting he falsely claimed results to suggest a breakthrough in a vaccine for the AIDS vaccine. Han received a $19 million grant after reporting that rabbit blood could be turned into a vaccine. Turns out it was just hare and hype.
Scandal gripped the Sister Wives case last week with the statement released on this blog. In my statement responding to the decision to appeal the decision striking down the criminalization of cohabitation, I included the following line: “these are not Utahan rights but American rights.” I consciously used “Utahan” rather than “Utahn” as preferred by many in the state. This results in a couple news sites running the quote with a correction for a misspelling: Turley wrote. “Nevertheless, these are not Utahan (sic) rights but American rights. It will be an honor to defend this decision, and the rights of the Brown family, in Denver.” I stand by my decision in the use of Utahan as correct despite the disagreement from many of my Utahn friends.
Well, another Bears season ended short of the playoffs with the added ignobility of having the Packers deliver the coup de grace. The most bizarre aspect was of course the fumble from Aaron Rodgers in the second quarter that everyone thought was a dead bar, including Packers receiver Brandon Boykin who was told to pick up the ball by the Packers sideline and score. To lose with a dead ball, reminded me of a certain scene from an old Bogart movie. Can you guess?
Submitted by Charlton Stanley, Guest Blogger
Ever since I was a kid, wheels, gears and spinning things held a fascination. I suspect that is true of most youngsters. One of my all time favorite Christmas toys was a gyroscope. When I took physics, my favorite subject was Mechanics, especially when I got to play with the lab equipment that demonstrated angular momentum and Newton’s laws of motion. I did a bit of research on the history of the discovery of the laws of angular momentum and inertia. Seems Descartes first formulated it, then Newton used Descartes’ ideas in developing his Laws of Motion. When adding the discoveries of Newton and Descartes together, we get the Law of Conservation of Momentum. Several years after Newton published his Laws of Motion, Euler first wrote the formula F=ma.
The physical laws governing Mechanics, like all other branches of scientific discovery, were discovered piecemeal. The process of discovery took place over centuries. There were many investigators, some more prominent than others. The thing I find interesting is the fact that the significance of the piecemeal discoveries were not always understood at the time. That is particularly true of momentum, which was discovered almost like the palaeontologist scratching dirt away from a fossil, a bit at at time. However, Sir Isaac Newton is given credit for creating the branch of physical science we call Mechanics.
All those discoveries makes the Cubli possible, but we had to wait for computers to be invented to make it work. What, may you ask, is a Cubli? Good question. The name “Cubli” is derived from the English word “cube” and the Swiss German diminutive “li.” The Cubli is a cube 15cm on each side. It contains three reaction wheels that act as the force generators. Their spin is controlled precisely by the computer. It is a mistake to think the Cubli works by gyroscopic force. It doesn’t. The wheels are spun, then suddenly stopped. That creates the reaction force needed to make the Cubli do what it does.
Take a look over the jump to see the Cubli in action.
Submitted by Darren Smith, Guest Blogger
In what otherwise would be seen as a string of words generated from a random joke generator, it is true authorities with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina report that a woman allegedly did just that.
Deputies reportedly arrived at the home of Helen Williams and found a man covered with blood. Williams stated to deputies he fell and cut himself however was not able to explain why her hands and clothes were bloody. But stranger issues were afoot
Submitted by Darren Smith, Guest Blogger
The Chinese Government banned the video game Battlefield 4, developed by Electronic Arts, claiming the video game casts China in a bad light and advocates political issues which make China appear to be a warlike society.
The game play plot takes place in the year 2020 where a military coup occurs in China resulting in a geo-political intrigue that could bring the US into a protracted war. The US sends troops to Hong Kong to fight against the coup and the PLA.
The Chinese Ministry of Culture went as far as to ban all things related to the game including software, patches, and news reports. It censored the topic of the game on China’s main social media website weibo.com. On a link derived, according to ZDNet, from an official Chinese news publication, there was much worry over the video games:
In a previous column, I criticized the work of the White House Task Force on the NSA surveillance program as stacked with Obama loyalists with a majority of surveillance hawks. Later, one of the five members came out to say that the reforms were not significant and that he believes the program should be actually expanded not limited. Now, the only member without prior positions in the Administration and national security ties, University of Chicago Law School Professor Geoffrey Stone, has declared that the NSA is not a rogue agency and that Edward Snowden is a criminal.
Houston bankruptcy and family law attorney Michael Busby Jr. has filed a rather curious lawsuit on his own behalf (and those of more than 100 people) for alleged fraud by a fortune teller. Busby claims that he gave fortune teller Melena Thorn $2,700 in a box for “cleansing” that she never returned to be part of a husband-wife reunification ritual. (The money was to be placed under the “marital bed” to bring about happier relations). Busby claims also to have paid Thorn $30 for a tarot card reading and $500 for the ritual. Many would be rather embarrassed to participate in such supernatural services, but Busby is taking Thorn to court under a claim of fraud.
There is a truly bizarre case out of Ohio where Norman Gurley, 30, was arrested for having a hidden compartment in his car. However, there were no drugs or guns or anything illegal in the compartment. Indeed, there was nothing illegal in the car or on Gurley. However, just have a hidden compartment in your car can now be charged as a crime in Ohio. It is part of the expanding criminalization of America where virtually any act can be charged as a crime by police.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey has one wish for the holidays: for Edward Snowden to be tried for treason and “hanged.” That was Woolsey’s response to the suggestion of amnesty for Snowden.Of course, the National Intelligence Director can commit perjury and CIA officials can lie to Congress without nary an investigation let alone prosecution. Intelligence officials can run a torture program in violation of treaties and international law without punishment. CIA officials can openly destroy evidence so that it cannot be used against them in a criminal case and continue in office without penalty. The CIA director can even reveal classified evidence to a filmmaker working on a pro-torture movie. All of that is perfectly correct, but Snowden must die.
Now this would make for an interesting torts case in the United States. In Cabo Frio, Brazil, doctors performed a cesarean section on a 37-year-old woman only to discover that she wasn’t pregnant. The hospital later said that they were relying on the woman who said that she thought that she was pregnant and that they panicked when they could not hear the baby’s heartbeat.
Scientology has long been accused of thuggish treatment by former members who say that they are followed and harassed if they go public with disclosures about the church. The latest such accusation comes from Monique Rathbun, wife of former high-ranking church member Marty Rathbun. She alleges that the Church set up a surveillance system next to their home and followed the couple when they tried to find a remote hideaway from the church. What is different is that she claims to have pictures of the Scientology operatives responsible for the harassment. Rathbun filed her lawsuit in Texas and detailed how the Church maintains a group that it calls “squirrel busters” who track down and harass former scientologists. (more…)
Of all of the pitiful mug shots that we have seen through the years, the sorrowful Santa’s helper in Louisiana. Indeed, Brandon Touchet, 34, who apparently got a bit too jolly while dressed as Buddy the elf. He brought back some fond memories of my old home of Lafayette where I lived while clerking for Judge Eugene Davis of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
The intolerance and abuse of religious minorities in Pakistan reached a new low this case with the incarceration of Dr. Masood Ahmad, 72, a British doctor who is has been charged with the ridiculous crime of “posing as a Muslim.” In 1984, a law was passed declared Ahmadis to be “non-Muslims.” He could face three years in prison after being caught reading and interpreting the Koran.
The University of Colorado is reeling from the disclosure that its cultural diversity coordinator with the Ethnic Studies department, Resa Cooper-Morning, is under investigation for allegedly operating a phone sex business while working for the university. Cooper-Morning, 54, is on paid leave while the University is investigating the matter. In 2008, the University of Colorado honored Cooper-Morning for her work at the university and how “her engaged and respectful participation in department dialogue touches the intellect and spirit of everyone involved.”
We have been discussing the alarming erosion of free speech principles in England in recent years. This trend includes both humorous and political speech. Now a sandwich shop owner has been arrested, his computer seized, and questioned for hours because he merely made a joke about Nelson Mandela. Neil Phillips, 44, was not charged but the message clear: even jokes are now subject to criminal investigation if deemed insulting by the police or sensitive public members.
It appears that China’s runaway pollution may be good for the nation’s defense but is less helpful for airplanes trying to find cities like Beijing. As a result, the country is demanding special training for pilots to land in pollution, or so-called low-visibility landings.
There was an interesting and disturbing moment in a hearing this week on Afghanistan before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Appearing for the Administration to answer questions on the costs and status of the war were James F. Dobbins, State’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan; Donald Sampler, assistant to the administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, which provides civilian foreign aid; and Michael Dumont, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia (right). In the middle of the hearing, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (left) asked what should have been a rather predictable question: how much are we continuing to spend on the war annually? None of the Administration witnesses could answer the question. He then asked how many Americans have died in battle? Again, a collective shrug from the witnesses. Even Democrats appeared stunned by the Administration’s inability or refusal to answer the questions. In the meantime, Hamid Karzai has shown the Administration a better way to dealing with pesky congressional questions: you bar them from entering the country.
John Michael Farren has had a career that most lawyers would envy. He is a former White House attorney advising George W. Bush and the former general counsel of Xerox. He is now however a criminal defendant with a bench warrant out for his arrest. Farren, 60, failed to show up for a trial on his alleged beating of his former wife, Mary Margaret Farren, 46. We previously discussed the case. Mary Farren suffered extensive injuries in the beating at their New Canaan Mansion after she said she refused to reconsider her demand for a divorce. He was criminally charged with attempted murder, two counts of first-degree assault and risk of injury to a child.
We have yet another example of school administrators opposing a child over innocent behavior. We have followed the zero tolerance lunacy that has taken hold of schools across the country on guns and drugs where kids are suspended for finger guns or aspirin. We have seen that same blind, senseless application of rules regarding contacts between students including suspending teenagers seen exchanging a kiss. Now a six-year-old boy has been suspended for kissing a girl on the hand as a sexual harasser. That’s right, officials in Canon City, Colorado have nailed a six-year-old sexual harasser under its zero tolerance rules. Hunter Yelton admits that he has a crush on a girl at school and, during a reading group, he leaned over and kissed her on the hand.” That is when he was nailed as a serial harasser by the administrators at Lincoln School of Science and Technology in Canon City.
Yesterday, we discussed a case of a former law student who got off lightly after being found to have been practicing law without a license. We can now add an Iowa lawyer to the list of the fortunate among bar defendants. Robert Allan Wright Jr. arranged for various people to give him money to secure inheritance of $18.8 million from a mysterious long-lost Nigerian cousin. Most people above the age of six would immediately scoff at the classic Nigerian scam, but the Iowa Supreme Court found that Wright not only believed the scam to be true but still believes that it is true. It is the village idiot defense but in this case the subject is an attorney who secured loans of thousands from clients. Now here is the most disturbing fact: Wright was not disbarred. He was suspended, leaving open the possibility that he will represent people in the future.
We previously discussed the lesbian waitress in New Jersey, Dayna Morales, 22, who attracted international attention after being denied a tip by a family which allegedly wrote on the check that they did “not agree with your lifestyle.” The family later came forward with evidence suggesting that Morales had lied and that not only did she receive a tip from them but that they supported gay rights. We have been discussing the growing evidence that Morales appears to have lied — particularly after former friends can forward to say that she has a history of habitual lying. The question that we discussed was her criminal and civil liability after she and the restaurant attracted thousands of customers and donations after the national media covered her alleged mistreatment. Now, the restaurant has said that they have let Morales go and that all donations will be returned.
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
A restaurant owner in one of Richmond’s rural suburbs is defending his use of a surveillance camera in the men’s room. Owner of Calabash Seafood Restaurant and Club Midway, Dennis Smith, isn’t letting anybody tell him how to protect his property from would-be vandals. “I’ve been doing this for 34 years. I’m not concerned with the public’s opinion of how to run my business,” said the 55-year-old owner. “I know how to run it better than anybody. I don’t need them, the county, the government or anybody else telling me how to do it.”
On September 14, Glenn Broadnax, 35, allegedly jumped in front of cars in New York’s Time Square. He was reportedly disoriented and, according to his counsel, was communicating with dead relatives in his mind. However, two police officials feared that the unarmed Broadnax was reaching for a weapon. They responded with a barrage of gunfire that cut down two bystanders. Now, prosecutors have charged Broadnax with assault for the shootings by the police officers on the theory that “recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death.”
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has issued an interesting opinion in the case of Royal v. CCC&R Tres Arboles on what constitutes sexual harassment and retaliation. Denise Royal alleged that she was the subject of repeated sniffing by co-workers and was later fired for complaints of being continually sniffed. The Fifth Circuit ruled that sniffing can constitute sexual harassment.
On the death of Nelson Mandela, the case of Williamson County State’s Attorney Charles Garnati before the the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission would seem to confirm just how much work has yet to be done. Garnati has been called to account to an argument in a murder trial that contrasted the black defendant with people “in our white world.”
The Washington Post has a controversial take on yesterday’s hearing in its coverage by Dana Milbank. The hearing raised the serious question of a pattern of allegedly unconstitutional actions by President Obama in either barring enforcement of federal law or directly violating those laws. However, the Washington Post only reported on the fact that impeachment was raised in the hearing in the discussion of the constitutional means left to Congress to address presidential abuse. Republicans object that the Post piece misses 99 percent of the hearing detailing the rise of an imperial presidency under Obama and four hours of discussion of the dangerous shift of power in the tripartite system. Impeachment or presidential abuse. It seems that two hearings occurred simultaneously. Both sides appear to be claiming the other is blinded by bias. The Milbank and Republican accounts appear a modern version of the parable of the elephant and the six blind men.