Archive for the ‘Things That Tick Me Off’ Category

220px-NYNY2010220px-Wi-Fi_Logo.svgYes, it is time for another installment of “Things that Tick Me Off,” the category where I allow myself that chance to vent about something that is so annoying that I must vent to retain my sanity. Over the years, I have complained about the mounting fees on planes and hotels (here and here). A particular pet peeve is the fact that high-end hotels routinely charge for wi-fi while lower priced hotels do not. When I stayed overnight in Vegas, I encountered the latest scam by hotels – a bait and switch made possible by sites like Expedia. I stayed at the New York, New York hotel and it was my first encounter with the “resort charge” for “free wi-fi.” This followed an equally misleading notation about the Renaissance Hotel which not only did not provide free wi-fi in the room but my stay included the “disappearance” of my fitbit watch for good measure. When I travel, I often leave notes for myself in the future and anyone who may be interested. So here it is.

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FAA logo220px-United_Airlines_-_N14219_-_Flickr_-_skinnylawyer_(1)It is now time for another addition of “Things That Tick Me Off” — my opportunity to vent frustrations and petty injuries to a captive audience. Today’s recipient is the Federal Aviation Administration. As some of you might have followed on Twitter, last night was an unmitigated nightmare as I returned from Chicago after a speech. It was bad enough to get a horoscope before a speech telling me to avoid speaking at all costs, but then the fire alarm was triggered at an FAA facility on Tuesday — forcing flights at both O’Hare and Midway to a grinding halt — it triggered a series of events that grew increasingly bizarre. Indeed, yesterday was clearly the result of my ignoring my horoscope and speaking despite the fateful warning. My frequent flyer Odysseus moment.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

No Quartering Association LogoA controversy is developing in Cornwallis, Washington where residents of a neighborhood bordering the army’s Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) say the city council’s latest ordinance is yet another example of an overreaching government.

During the Christmas recess the mayor called a midnight city council meeting, with no public notice, and reportedly of all places in a Seattle pub. After seven exhausting hours the council voted 5 to 4 to enact a law that was purportedly intended to ease the severe traffic jams along Interstate 5 which runs through JBLM. But these intentions some believe were not so benevolent.

The law allocated nine tracts of park land to build high density housing for military personnel and their families. The land is just west of the Berkeley Bridge and soldiers going to and from the base would not need to use I-5. However the land is platted within the realm of the Lafayette neighborhood and its homeowner’s association. Residents angrily objected to their former park being taken over by the city, and in response turned to a relatively unknown civil rights advocacy group, the No Quartering Association, (NQA) to seek redress for the city violating the Third Amendment’s prohibition of quartering soldiers in citizens’ homes. Unfortunately for them, the worst was yet to come.
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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Mary RootIn an outrageous lack of discretion,  some members in the animal control and court system in Havre de Grace, Maryland put 81 year old great grandmother Mary Root through a harrowing ordeal.

Mary Root says her pets somehow got loose from her yard several times. A neighbor took pictures of the dogs running down the street and reported her to Animal Control.
The agency slapped Root with a $7,000 fine or she could spend nearly a year in jail.

“I’m struggling to pay my house taxes. I couldn’t pay it. It’s a different thing when you leave your dogs out and you don’t care. But I do care,” Root said. But when the cancer survivor failed to show up at court on her doctor’s orders, a judge had Root arrested.

She was booked, fingerprinted and issued a striped jumpsuit. She waited to see a judge in a cell without her cancer medication.
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Entreating the Godfather

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Due to the close of the legislative session, the various families in the legislature were not able to agree how to put the Medical Marijuana industry out of business. Bosses at the Liquor Control Board and the two prominent political families worked all session to preserve the state’s business interests in the Recreational Marijuana Racket, with its excessive taxation and protection.

This had the potential to force medical marijuana patients to give up their medical privacy, pay more for their medicine, and force the medical dispensaries out of business. This in the hope of shunting people in to the state sponsored highly taxed recreational marijuana racket. Luckily for now, the bill is dead.
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Submitted by Darren Smith, Guest Blogger
215px-UWO_logoIn accordance of a new strategy to protect the citizens from bad things happening, London Police Services has instigated last fall Project L.E.A.R.N. Quoting from the police website:

“Successive L.E.A.R.N. Projects have addressed quality of life issues and targeted specific geographic areas traditionally plagued with nuisance type behaviours. L.E.A.R.N project members have provided strict but fair enforcement of by-laws related to parties, parking, open fires, noise, litter and public urination. Provincial offences were strictly enforced in relation to excess alcohol consumption, open alcoholic containers in public, public intoxication, illegal sale of alcohol and any related offences. The most severe behaviours warranted criminal charges such as causing a disturbance and mischief.”

Well it seems that this includes now such broken windows type nuisances as the University’s Cheerleading Squad on its way to the game.
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Submitted by Charlton Stanley (Otteray Scribe) guest blogger

cbpThis has not gotten much national press….yet. I had been hearing of these events through the aviation grapevine, but did not know for sure it was actually happening until the story of Gabriel Silverstein broke on the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) news web page. Mr. Silverstein is a New Jersey businessperson who was returning from a business trip to California with his husband. He had filed a flight plan, and landed his Cirrus SR22, a small private aircraft, in Oklahoma for a fuel stop. At that time, he was subjected to a ramp check.  By Federal Air Regulations, a ramp check is supposed to be done only by an FAA official. On a standard ramp check, the pilot has to produce documents showing the airplane is airworthy, is registered, and has the paperwork on board as required under Part 91 of the Federal Air Regulations. The pilot must show his or her pilot’s license and medical certificate.  The Oklahoma ramp check was brief, and he went on his way. He had to stop for fuel again in Iowa City. Upon arrival, he went into the FBO (Fixed Base Operator) office to pay for his gas, take a break and file a new flight plan. When he returned to his plane, he found it surrounded by officers, being searched without his permission, and with no explanation. The officers said “Probable Cause” was the K-9 dog had “hit” on the baggage compartment. The officers ordered him to be quiet, and if he asked any more questions, he would spend the rest of the day in the back of a police cruiser in handcuffs.

?????????????

CPB stock photo by Gerald L Nino
CPB captions this as being at their Air and Marine Operations Center

One officer handed Mr. Silverstein a business card identifying him as being with the Department of Customs and Border Protection.  Mr. Silverstein says the brown uniforms and shoulder patches he saw that day were identical to the one worn by the officer on the right in this stock CPB photo. On their web page, the CPB identifies this location as being at their Air and Marine Operations Center. I think we can safely assume this is not the main operations room, but only part of the operation.

Geography was not my favorite subject in school, but last time I looked, both Oklahoma and Iowa are a long way from any international border.

More Border Patrol and Homeland Security goodness over the jump, including a video interview with Mr. Silverstein.

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apple logoI have previously written about the deteriorating level of support at Apple Computer and the shocking treatment of customers who fell victim to a defect in the iPhone. This week, I had the third power cord for my MacBook Pro fail. Every cord has developed exposed wires due to common bending with the machine. In seeking to remedy the situation, I ran again into the same customer service wall that I experienced earlier with the defective iPhone. In order to get a new cord (under warranty), I had to see a “genius” as opposed to the dozen “specialists” standing around. But before I see a “genius” I had to have an appointment and there were no appointments available for hours. I stopped there before I was told that I also had to bring them the ruby slippers to gain entry to the “genius.”

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img_0415This weekend, my dog Molly was hit by a car in McLean, Virginia. Molly (shown here after teaching one of my classes) is still in intensive care but is expected to survive. However, it will take a while for me to get over my anger toward the driver who left my son on the side of the road after hitting our dog.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

I guess it should not come as a surprise to me anymore. However, it still upsets me to see a military defense contractor trying to deflect blame for the damages its negligence caused to members of our military while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.  In a news item that I didn’t notice until a few days after it broke, Huffington Post reported that the defense contractor, KBR, was found negligent and responsible for the poisoning of a dozen soldiers in Iraq in 2003.  Over 800 members of both regular and reserve units were stationed at an Iraqi water treatment plant to secure it and they were exposed regularly to a dangerous carcinogen called Sodium Dichromate.  The impact on the soldiers and Guardsmen’s negligent exposure to that “extreme carcinogen” was both devastating and deadly.

“Sodium dichromate is an orange-yellowish substance containing hexavalent chromium, an anti-corrosion chemical. To Lt. Col. James Gentry of the Indiana National Guard, who was stationed at the Qarmat Ali water treatment center in Iraq just after the 2003 U.S. invasion, it was “just different-colored sand.” In their first few months at the base, soldiers were told by KBR contractors running the facility the substance was no worse than a mild irritant.  Gentry was one of approximately 830 service members, including active-duty soldiers and members of the National Guard and reserve units from Indiana, South Carolina, West Virginia and Oregon, assigned to secure the water treatment plant, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sodium dichromate is not a mild irritant. It is an extreme carcinogen. In November 2009, at age 52, Gentry died of cancer. The VA affirmed two months later that his death was service-related.  In November, a jury found KBR, the military’s largest contractor, guilty of negligence in the poisoning of a dozen soldiers, and ordered the company to pay $85 million in damages. Jurors found KBR knew both of the presence and toxicity of the chemical. Other lawsuits against KBR are pending.” Huffington Post   (more…)

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

gold-dollar-signI don’t know about you but I was certainly happy that I woke up this morning. For a few years now there has been great speculation that the world was going to end yesterday. As I fell asleep about 1:00pm last night it was with knowing that in Mexico it was three hours earlier and so that the dread prediction of the world’s end by the Mayan Calendar still may have been possible. The whole idea was a blatant misrepresentation of Mayan belief and hoax-like, yet that didn’t prevent many from making this non-story into yet another way to frighten people. Frightening people with made-up nonsense seems to be a human trait and certainly has been exploited throughout history for one sort of gain or another.

Fear not though, because just as the collective We has just bitten one bullet, another comes along to frighten us once again with disaster and that “disaster” will occur on December 31, 2012, as we come to the end of another turmoil ridden year in societal intercourse. I’m writing, of course, about the “Looming Fiscal Cliff” that has been so very prominent in what our mainstream media calls “news and commentary” and our leaders of both parties call governance. My opinion and that of many others with far more economic expertise than myself, is that the “Fiscal Cliff” is a mere “bogeyman”, used by those politicians on the Right and the Left as leverage to accomplish their particular political agendas.

Since one of the interests of this blog is the Constitution and the consequent Rule of Law that should be its’ result, this comes within our purview because serious issues of national interest are being driven by false mythology grown to myth like proportion. Let’s look at what is behind this mythology and its propaganda. (more…)

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The ABA Journal has released its list of the top 100 legal blogs in the world and we are once again in this august group of blogs. Congratulations to all of our regulars contributors and weekend bloggers. We have previously taken the top spot under the opinion category in the past but the ABA has now eliminated that category. Even more ominous was the decision to put the largest blogs in direct competition under an expanded “News/Analysis” category. This includes the long dominant “Above the Law” site. We would have to punch considerably above our weight to beat “Above the Law,” which is ranking regularly in the top two most visited legal sites in the world. Frankly, it is like a dingy going up against a battleship. However, we have never flinched in the face of superior numbers. So it is time to vote! It takes a very quick registration. Just click here and cast your vote today!

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Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. This is my favorite holiday with all of the essential elements of joy: food, friends, and football. (more…)

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By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Newly elected Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren has a radical idea — words should mean what they mean. Take for example the word “filibuster.” Most of  us have the quaint notion that a filibuster is a rarely used exhausting  oration  by a  principled senator to stop devastatingly wrongheaded or corrupt legislation in its tracks.  From the time of Cato, the legislative maneuver was used as the last gasp effort to do the right thing even as the forces of corruption were circling.  It was essentially a plea for good men and women to think long and hard before passing ill-considered law. Think Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger

I was struck by a news story earlier this week, not only because of its importance, but because of how little air time it received in the mass media.  Earlier this week, the victims of the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona had a chance to speak to the man responsible for those hideous acts.  One statement was especially powerful and it was from the husband of Gabby Giffords, now a former Congresswoman from Arizona.  I apologize for the length of the following quotations, but I think it is important to read most of what Gabby’s husband said to Mr. Jared Loughner, who perpetrated the crime.  (more…)

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