Doughnut Thief Spared 30 Years, Receives Five-Year Suspended Sentence Plus 90 days in County Jail

In a nightmare befitting Homer Simpson, doughnut thief Scott A. Masters, 41, was facing 30 years in jail for stealing a doughnut and shoving a store employee. The case produced a national outcry and the court recently sentenced him to a five-year suspended sentence, five years of probation and 90 days in the county jail, including time he has served since Sept. 19. He was released this month. Continue reading

Is Privacy Dying in the United States? Recent Report Says U.S. One of the Worst in the World

Americans have always been defined by their robust views of individual autonomy and privacy. However, in the last ten years, privacy has suffered massive reductions in the United States due to both governmental and private surveillance, data mining, and searches. Now an international privacy groups ranks for the United States and England as some of the worst “endemic surveillance societies.” Continue reading

Another Juror Comes Forward to Claim Coercion in White Case

Another member of the Long Island jury that found John White guilty of manslaughter in Long Island has emerged to claim coercion or pressure in reaching the verdict. Previously, a white juror in a racially controversial murder case has gone public with a claim that he felt pressured by the judge and fellow jurors to convict John White, a black man found guily of killing a white teen, Daniel Cicciaro. It is a claim that is likely to produce more of a political and social response than a legal response. Instead, the defense is likely to challenge the judge’s instructions in the case. Continue reading

Torture Videos Shed Light on Egyptian Torture — and U.S. Rendition Policies

For years, unnamed government officials have acknowledged that they use “extraordinary renditions” to send suspects to other countries to be tortured. Our ally Egypt is a favorite destination of such flights. Now, videos of Egyptian torture have forced Americans to see what such “special treatment” is like for suspects. In one video, a woman is forced to strip and is abused by a police officer and in another Egyptian mini-bus driver, Emad el-Kabir, 21,l is shown screaming on the floor as officers sodomize him with a wooden pole. The police then sent the video to el-Kabir’s friends to humiliate him. These videos remove the abstract quality of the debate over U.S. torture policies, both in terms of waterboarding and extraordinary renditions. Continue reading

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Reverses Teacher’s Firing Under Immorality Clause

The meaning of standard immorality clauses in teaching contracts has long been a source of controversy. Such clauses tend to be very ambiguous and can sweep protected (but unpopular) activities within their scope. Now, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has issued an opinion upholding an interpretation of the clause for that state, ordering a new hearing for Sherie Leigh Vrable, 49, of Washington Township in Fayette County, who was fired as a teaching assistant in an emotional support class with the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit. The immorality cited was her overdose of a drug at the school. Continue reading

Girl Wins Hanna Montana Tickets with Fake Claim of Father Dying in Iraq

A six-year-old girl won an essay contest for Hanna Montana ticket beginning with the fraudulent claim that “My daddy died this year in Iraq.” What is astonishing is the amoral attitude of the mother, Priscilla Ceballos, who said “We did the essay and that’s what we did to win . . . We did whatever we could do to win.” The question is now whether prosecutors will do whatever they can to criminally charge on what may constitute a fraud. It could be a close question. Continue reading