There was a delicious irony to the coverage of a speech by Zhang Chunxian, the party chief of Xinjiang, to journalists. In the authoritarian, one-party state, Chinese leaders speak matter-of-factly about censoring reporters and blocking free speech. In this case, Zhang spoke about the vulnerability of the system of censorship maintained by him and other party bosses. His remarks were then censored by his own censors. Just another day in the worker’s paradise.
Archive for the ‘Society’ Category
By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor
Lucky or just good? That’s what police in Madison, Wisconsin are wondering after crime analyst, Caleb Klebig, successfully predicted the date and time of Scottie T. Patterson’s, 28, latest and last bank heist. Using data from other similar robberies, Klebig estimated that the then unknown Patterson would hit his next bank on a Wednesday or Thursday between 2 and 7 p.m. He narrowed the field of potential targets to five banks in greater Madison. Police staked out the banks and, sure enough, Patterson arrived right on cue at 2:40 p.m. on Wednesday. Confronted by the seemingly omniscient detectives while exiting the bank with the loot, Patterson made a break for it but was captured behind a nearby shopping center. (more…)
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor
As the son of a fallen Air Force pilot whose remains were never found, I am sensitive to the plight of family members of servicemen and women whose remains may be recoverable, but yet are still not identified. There are multiple military and defense department agencies who are responsible for locating and identifying the remains of veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam and Cold War missions.
The purpose of this article is to examine the efforts of just one of those agencies. The Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, or J-PAC, is an example of an agency that is crucial to both locating and identifying remains, but because of bureaucratic constraints, outdated methods and the possible stubbornness of its scientific head, has produced very little results at a very expensive cost to the taxpayers. (more…)
Last week, I wrote a post about Josh Miller (Not All Needy People Are As Deserving As Others), a young Republican state legislator from Heber Springs, Arkansas. Miller, who was paralyzed more than a decade ago in a catastrophic car accident, has been able to live a productive life due to the medical benefits he has received from both Medicare and Medicaid. Yet, this young state senator has spoken out against Medicaid expansion in Arkansas. Some of us find his stance on this issue to be hypocritical.
This past Tuesday, lawmakers in Arkansas voted to continue allowing the state “to use Medicaid dollars to buy private health-care insurance for poorer residents, overcoming resistance from some Republicans who said the program amounted to an endorsement of the Affordable Care Act.” According to the Wall Street Journal, Arkansas became the first state “to offer a ‘private option’ to extend coverage to lower-income residents…” Supporters of the program saw the private option “as a way to accept federal dollars and cut the number of uninsured residents without enlarging Medicaid.”
Posted in Academics, Constitutional Law, Courts, Justice, Society, Torts, tagged Catholic Church, Catholic Schools, Employee Discrimation, Gay Marriage, Religious Freedom on 1, March 8, 2014 | 37 Comments »
Mark Zmuda announced he is suing Eastside Catholic school and the Seattle Archdioceses for wrongful termination after he legally married his male partner. The case stems from his employment as vice-principal to the school was satisfactory for years and that after he announced he had married his male partner, he was given an ultimatum to divorce his spouse or his employment with the school would be terminated. Mark refused to divorce and was fired.
Employment Attorney, Jeffrey Needle, stated the case is likely to go to the appellate courts and potential the state supreme court for its precedent setting nature. The church counters Mark’s claim, proffering its status as a religious organization which holds tenets that bar gay marriage. However, a recent state supreme court decision might prove difficult for the church to support that position.
Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor
Mark Fiore said he was thankful that Governor Jan Brewer vetoed Arizona’s “religious freedom” bill last week. If the bill became law, Fiore said, it “would’ve given people carte blanche to discriminate against gay people (and others, for that matter).” Fiore also said what he found most baffling about the whole thing was the existence of a state legislature that would pass such a bill.
Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Prompted by public outcry into Los Angeles area Centinela Valley School District’s extreme 2013 Superintendent compensation of $633,000.00 that included a $910,000.00 mortgage at half market rate and a million dollar fully funded whole life insurance policy California Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, who chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on education Finance, said Assembly Bill 2710 would ensure greater transparency and accountability, in part by requiring all local school districts to post the employment contracts of their superintendents online.
Somehow I knew this day would come. Down deep I knew that there would come a time when I had to express sympathy of Justin Bieber. Thanks to the Miami Police and a Florida law that day has come. CBS4 News, the Miami Herald and other media outlets went to court under the state’s open records law to demand videos of Bieber giving a urine sample. This followed Bieber’s arrest after he drag raced a Lamborghini on a residential road in South Beach and admitted to smoking marijuana and taking prescription pain killers. The video showed Bieber urinating and a black box had to be placed over his genitalia by court order of Judge Miami-Dade County Judge William Altfield in the interests of his privacy. What I fail to understand is why the entire video of urinating is not treated as a protected matter for privacy purposes. The demand by these media outfits truly disgusts me but I am more concerned in how this law is being interpreted to publicly release videos of people urinating.
Oklahoma City attorney, Frank Kirk, 70, is looking at a likely disbarment after his arrest in a bizarre discovery in the Oklahoma City Jail. Kirk is accused of smuggling in a sex toy for a female prisoner to use in exchange for his legal representation. He is now charged with possession of contraband and multiple counts of offering to engage in an act of lewdness. What is interesting is that one of the most serious charges is not his sneaking in a vibrator or the sexual acts but the cellphone that he had with him. It is a felony to bring a cellphone into a prison interview room. What is particularly distressing is that this alleged act of depravity is now the basis for proposed changes limiting counsel and expanding searches. This is a case that by any measure is bizarre and grotesque. It does not reflect either the criminal defense bar and makes for a poor basis for rewriting interview policies in my view. Notably, this was a sting operation so the prison was made aware of the violations and audio taped the encounter.
What is fascinating about the utter failure of our duopoly of two parties is how they have failed to even do the little things rights. You would hope that, while wasting hundreds of billions, the two parties could at least offer a modicum of help for citizens. This week’s report from Ookla Speedtest offers one clear example. The United States ranked behind Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Uruguay. We are 31st in the world.
The persecution of homosexuals continues in Nigeria with four young men convicted of homosexual relations and flogged on in open court. The judges and lawyers watched as the men (aged 20 to 22) were laid prostrate on the floor, stripped, and whipped on their buttocks in a demonstration of Sharia justice. The sadomasochistic nature of the punishment appears to have escaped the onlookers. While a crowd outside tried to grab the men to kill them, the court explained that stoning was not needed since the men admitted to homosexual acts previously but said that they were no longer engaging in such relations.
As many on this blog know, I am a fanatical dog lover and I love virtually everything about my hometown of Chicago (particularly a certain football team). However, I have some serious legal qualms over a new law passed by the Chicago City Council. The City Council has a worthy goal of combating “puppy mills” where dogs are bred in crowded and cruel conditions. The city also wants to increase the adoption of dogs over commercially bred or pure breed dogs. As a result, it has now banned by a vote of 49-1 the sale of commercially bred dogs. (If nothing else, it gives me a chance to run another photo of my dog, Luna.)
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).
We have another towering success of the “zero tolerance” rules applied blindly in our schools. Ohio school officials have finally captured and suspended Nathan Entingh, 10, after he pulled a finger gun out at school. That’s right, another finger gun suspension. While these cases have been widely denounced as insane, school officials remain undeterred and continue to hammer children with nonsensical actions. To complete this utter insanity, the family then received a letter informing them that Nathan had been found with a “level 2 look alike firearm.”
There is an interesting products liability lawsuit by a New York dentist, Dr. Joseph Kurtz, 35, against manufacturers of flushable wipes. The wipes have been blamed for massive “fatberg” formations in municipal sewer systems and Dr. Kurtz says that he is out $600 in plumbing bills at this New York and New Jersey homes due to the alleged misrepresentation. He is now seeking unspecified damages in the suit in Brooklyn against Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Costco Wholesale Corp.
Many parents spend countless hours trying to keep their children off social media sites. Patrick Snay, 69, can claim that his daughter’s busy fingers cost him $80,000. The former head of Guillver Preparatory School in Miami lost a settlement from a discrimination lawsuit against his former school. The agreement came with a confidentiality provision so the school’s lawyers were a bit put out to read a taunting Facebook posting from the daughter that bragged about the settlement and told them to “Suck it.” It did not quite work out that way. The case is Gulliver Sch., Inc. v. Snay, 2014 Fla. App. LEXIS 2595.
Below is my column today in USA Today on the ruling out of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit over a ban at a California high school of students wearing tee-shirts with American flags during the Mexican heritage celebration Cinco de Mayo. The opinion is Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified Sch. Dist., 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 3790.
We have repeatedly discussed local planning boards that trash their own (and our) heritage by approving development of battlefields and other historic sites (here and here). Real estate and development interests often stack these boards to guarantee such results. The latest controversy is centered in Lake George, New York where historians and tourists often come to see the site of the battle in the French and Indian War. Farmers rallied at this stop to fight for their homes and many fell and were buried in and around a critical ravine. Despite objections from historians and experts, the town of Lake George (and specifically its planning board) gave permission to businessman Anthony Tomasovic to dump tons of fill and cut down trees to allow him to develop the land. Notably, he has not even stated how he would develop it. The town just opened up the historic site to be filled in and cut down . . . just in case Tomasovic could use some flat land.
There is an interesting lawsuit that is an outgrowth of the new “Wolf of Wall Street” movie over the character Nicky “Rugrat” Koskoff, described in the lawsuit as the ultimate loser. The problem is that lawyer Andrew Greene says that the character is based on him and makes him look like “a criminal, drug user, degenerate, depraved, and/or devoid of any morality or ethics.” Greene, an inactive member of the California bar, is suing for $25 million for alleged defamation.
The Syrian rebels have continued their crusade to bring Islamic law to rural areas of that country. In the latest atrocity, a Syrian spokesman narrated an amputation of a hand by a man that the rebels said asked to punished for theft “in order to cleanse his sins.” In the twisted mind of these extremists, the video was supposed to show the purity and righteousness of Islam as a sword is used to sever the hand of the man.
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.
The death of Pastor Jamie Coots, a third-generation snake handler and religious leader of the, w Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church in Middlesboro, Ky., has renewed concerns over the practice and the need to criminalize such conduct. However, criminalization triggers a serious question of free exercise so long as the animals are not being abused or children allowed to handle poisonous snakes.
We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. (For prior columns, click here and here). Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, these abuses continue. The latest case comes from Baltimore, Maryland. Maryland has been previously cited in abuses by police in this area as we discussed. In this case, the officer summed up too many such cases by telling the witness simply “you have not rights.” That simplifies things wonderfully for police and citizens alike.
The crackdown on free speech continues among our Arab allies. This week, Dubai arrested four people for posting insults about companions of Prophet Mohammed on Instagram. Since the companions of Prophet Mohammed are revered by Sunni Muslims, the insults are particularly sensitive in the country with tensions between a majority of Shiites and a Sunni monarchy.
Chaz Seale, 17, would normally be considered a model student. In running out of his home one morning, he grabbed what he thought was a can of soda but realized at lunch that he had grabbed a can of beer. He turned it over to his teacher who reported it to the principal of Livingston High School. According to news reports, the principal then suspended Seale under another blind and senseless application of zero tolerance rules.
There is an interesting lawsuit in Nevada in which Rick Vukasin, a 65-year-old electrician and big-game hunter, is a Canadian outfitter and a hunting guide in Tajikistan for a type of “shoot and switch” ploy. Vukasin says that he paid $50,000 to kill a rare, threatened argali sheep known as “Marco Polo” but received a lesser trophy rack in the mail.
This morning I will be testifying before the House Judiciary Committee at 10 am. (I hope to post other stories after I return from Congress this afternoon) The hearing is entitled “Enforcing the President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws” and will explore the options for Congress in resisting the encroachment of executive power. I was critical of such encroachment under Professor George W. Bush and I believe that danger has grown under President Barack Obama. UPDATE: Here is the video link to the testimony.
In Bloomfield, New Jersey DJ Marcus Jeter, 30, was charged with eluding police, assault and other crimes based on the sworn reports of two Bloomfield police officers. The officers accused him of fleeing a scene and then assaulting them after they were called to his home with his girlfriend. It was all a lie but multiple officers joined in framing Jeter. The problem was a police dash came video that prosecutors never bothered to review despite his denials. It was once again the media that did the due diligence and presented the evidence to the prosecutors who dropped the charges. Prosecutors however claim that the fault rests with the police.
Styles & Pumpian, a Wisconsin law firm, appears eager to replace the fictional Dewey, Cheatem & Howe as a stereotype of lawyers. The family of Ira Bordow, 54, (left) was struggling to deal with his suicide when they found a check for $250,000 from a settlement with West Bend Mutual Insurance. Some $41,666 of that money was Bordow’s as part of a one-third contingency fee shared with his firm. The family sent the check to the firm expecting that it would do the right thing and send the estate Bordow’s share. However, Edward Styles of the Styles firm wrote his brother to say that they decided to keep it all because Bordow had “terminated his relationship with us regarding this action without notice and without cause.” The firm has forced the grieving family to go to court to get it to relinquish the money.
When Joseph Vallenti’s family bought one of the “Signature Series” cakes from King Kullen supermarket to celebrate his 96th birthday, they didn’t not expect the apple strudel to have a high protein element. However, when they started to eat the cake, Vallenti complained that it did not taste right. When they looked, there appeared to be black mold in the cake but soon realized what it was one a rat tail appeared.
We recently discussed the incredible decision by the Dallas Police Chief that officers will no longer be allowed to give their accounts of shootings for the first 48 hours after officers were found to have lied in past cases. They will now be allowed to get their accounts straight before going on the record. Two Brooklyn officers are probably wishing that such a rule might apply to non-lethal controversies. Officers Christopher Oliver and Shazad Shigri are accused of sideswiping a parked SUV owned by Robert Jackson, 31, and then charging him with the accident — after looking around for any security cameras that would contradict them. They missed one.
Posted in Free Speech, International, Media, Politics, Society, tagged European Pariament, Eurozone, Free Speech, Internet, Internet Service Providers, Net Neutrality, Networking on 1, February 23, 2014 | 7 Comments »
Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Net Neutrality is in general the practice of prohibiting Internet Service Providers, Telecommunications Providers, and Networking Services from giving favorable access or download speeds to entities they wish to give advantage via preferential treatment relating to agreements or other considerations. End users would under Net Neutrality be afforded with equal access to material unconstrained by their service providers.
The vote is scheduled for February 24th of this year.
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.
By Mike Appleton, Weekend Contributor
“This bill is not about allowing discrimination. This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”
-Arizona State Sen. Steve Yarbrough (R), on SB 1062.
Assaults on the civil rights of homosexuals and the acceptance of gay marriage have been the focus of a number of state legislatures. The most recent lunacy is a bill in Arizona that now awaits action by Gov. Brewer. The bill amends sections of the Arizona Revised Statutes by incorporating provisions that effectively insulate many forms of grossly discriminatory conduct from legal consequence if done under the cloak of religion. This is accomplished in three steps. First, the bill defines “exercise of religion” to include “the ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.” Second, the bill expands the definition of “person” to include “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity.” I refer to this as the “Hobby Lobby” amendment. Finally, the bill prohibits, with a strict scrutiny exception, any “state action” that substantially burdens the free exercise of religion even if that state action is a law of general application.
I anticipate that the governor will veto this atrocity, not as a matter of constitutional principle, but out of concern that enactment of the law would further harm Arizona’s reputation and economic interests. But it is nonetheless disturbing that legislators would willingly employ a fundamental freedom as a weapon against a disfavored group of citizens. (more…)
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.
Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
With many reports becoming all to familiar with state sponsored censorship of internet traffic users in these nations are engaged in a cat and mouse game with a government that is showing increasing levels of sophistication and legislative muscle. The tactics often used include filtering objectionable material, firewalling targeted IP addresses, tracing data back to individuals and sanctioning those individuals, and creating a system of fear generally in which the public is dissuaded into engaging in free speech.
The common element in these electronic censorship measures is that the government controls access via the physical structure of the network. They are able to do this through land based infrastructure. But what if these physical vulnerabilities to free speech and press were removed and instead replaced with broadcast satellite systems that are immune from filtering and geo-locating individuals?
There is an interesting development in gun technology this week with the announcement of the release of the first so-called “smart gun” to hit the market. The Smart System iP1, a .22-caliber pistol made by the German gun-maker Armatix GmbH, can only function with an accompanying wristwatch. As explained below, this gun and similar new models in the works could have an impact on torts liability for gun manufacturers.
We have previously discussed Stand-Your-Ground laws and common misconceptions that arose during the George Zimmerman trial. That controversy is back this week in Alabama after Judge James Roberts Jr. cited Alabama’s stand-your-ground law in dismissing a civil lawsuit by a former college student who was injured in a fight with a sorority sister. The lawsuit has drawn particular attention in the state because the sorority sister, Kristen Saban (left), is the daughter of University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban.
We have yet another report of the mind boggling waste and mismanagement by the Defense Department in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. In the most recent investigation, the U.S. government continues to hand out no-bid contracts worth billions to companies with histories of ripping off the U.S. taxpayer. One foreign company, Supreme Foodservice should be remained Supreme Fraudservice after the company based in Switzerland overcharged the government by $757 million. Nevertheless, the company has been given contracts worth more than $5 billion to feed the troops in Afghanistan.
There is finally justice for San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow who was left brain damaged and permanently disabled after a vicious attack by these two men: Louie Sanchez, 31, and Marvin Norwood. Both Dodgers fans pleaded guilty to the attack and received eight and four years respectively for their crimes. Given the injury to Stow, however, I am left divided on whether the punishment is sufficiently long.
Christopher Roupe, 17, was a ROTC student at at Woodland High School in Georgia who dreamed of serving his country in the Marines. That dream came to an end when he answered a knock on the door of his trailer home. He found himself face-to-face with Euharlee police officers who promptly shot him to death. An officer said that she saw a weapon in his hand. It turned out to be a Wii controller.
Police have finally arrested the “Catch Me If You Can” motorcyclist who taunted police with the video below showing him dangerously speeding through traffic at more than 100 miles per hour. He is Alberto Rodriguez, 26, who has (surprise) a criminal record and a demonstrated lack of judgment and self-preservation.
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.
We have another highly disturbing case involving a police officer who abused and arrested a citizen for recording an encounter. I have previously written about the first amendment right to videotape officers. The courts have consistently upheld this right despite efforts of prosecutors like Anita Alvarez in Cook County to put citizens in jail for such recording. However, police officers continued to misrepresent the law and seize cameras or threaten citizens with arrest. In a cellphone recording (available here), Florida mother Brandy Berning is roughed up and arrested by Broward Sheriff Deputy William O’Brien after he tries to seize her cellphone as evidence of the crime of recording him.
Rep. Gail Finney, a Democrat from Wichita, has created a bit of a stir in Kansas with new legislation that would allow parents, teachers and caregivers to spank children hard enough to leave redness or bruising. While most parents assume that they already have such authority, Finney is worried that physical punishment and restraint is increasingly being viewed as a form of abuse. It raises an interesting question of whether societal standards have changed to the point that the old-time spanking is now a questionable practice from a legal perspective. Notably, the bill would actually limit the number and kind of spanks allowed to parents.