Monday, September 13, 2010

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
You're Still Not Cynical Enough

Prime Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
September 13, 2010
(datelines September 4-September 11) (links correct as of September 13)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Bite Me, Plus A Solution to the Ground-Zero Mosque and Lawyers Who Hear the Dead

★ ★ ★ ★!

In Mississippi, "Conviction System" or "Justice System"? The former is operating smoothly in the case of "bite mark" analysis that has been ridiculed by actual "justice systems" elsewhere in America. Reason.com's Radley Balko explains how the state attorney general is pushing to execute yet another man based on scant "real" evidence but on the assurances of two hick local-yokel "experts" that tooth marks on the corpse could only have come from the man on trial (alone among everyone walking the earth). The A.G. may now even have reached Stage 5 Acceptance that his "experts" were not--but still believes that his oath of office requires him to preserve previous convictions rather than to "do justice." ("Doing justice" would require, at the very least, not executing Eddie Lee Howard on the basis of pseudo-science.) Ugly. Reason.com

Only in San Francisco: (1) To serve the city's jailhouse population (where romance is discouraged and interpersonal sex is illegal), the city government's health obsessives have installed 16 condom machines (as if Leroy and Big Wayne care). (2) Normally, if a business owner raises prices, it's supply and demand. In Haight-Ashbury, though, the obstreperous homeless who litter in front of the local McDonald's aren't sitting still for this obvious plot against them. Pushing the 99-cent hamburger back to $1.49 insults their dignity and drives them to the Dumpsters. San Francisco Chronicle /// San Francisco Chronicle

Patriot Game: TPM's Muckraker (the investigative arm of Talking Points Memo's liberal-leaning political blog) discovered TeaPartyBizOpp.info, which looks like a blatant pyramid scheme and is cheerfully acknowledged by the founder to function like one--but that's all right, Mike Patterson blissfully says, because he's a "patriot," and you'll hardly notice he's ripping you off because some of the money collected will go to support "patriotic" programs. There's even a helpful chart on how much you and your sign-ups can earn each other through the first 11 levels, topping out at $53,000. TPMMuckraker

Solution for the "Ground Zero Mosque": CNN reported last week from Amsterdam that a Muslim had opened an Internet site selling Shariah-compliant sexual aids for marrieds--lubricants and lotions, with lingerie coming soon--vetted by Saudi scholars. (And the site is tasteful--no videos or dildos.) [ed.: So if proprietor AbdulAziz Aouragh could buy into a storefront at the Park51 (mosque) site, a beautiful convergence would result--of Islam, tolerance, self-awareness, private enterprise, man-woman-supporting marriage, New York City sex! Win-win-win! Please, I'm much too modest to accept the lavish praise you're about to bathe me in.] CNN

And Still More Things To Worry About

"Exposure to Chemical TBT Causes Female Snails to Grow Penises on Heads" Good to know. (Garden-type snails are already hermaphrodites.) Australian Associated Press via News.com.au

The Americanization of China Continues: A lawyer in Xian has sued her local movie house and a national distributor for the cost of wasting her time . . by subjecting her to 20 minutes of commercials before the movie started. The Guardian (London)

A 17-year-old girl in Ardingly, England, sued her school because she tripped and hit her head six years ago and since then has suffered a "personality disorder," i.e., she's a real bitch, and she knows it, and nobody seems to like her. Daily Telegraph

Romania's senate killed a bill to regulate and tax "witches" and fortune tellers. The bill's sponsor said the opponents just chickened out--afraid they'd get spells cast on them if they voted for it. Associated Press via Google News

Losers

The lovely Shannon Wriska, 34, was arrested for going nuts on her husband (attempting to burn his boat, his go-kart, their Jacuzzi) because he praised the actress Jennifer Lopez while the couple watched a movie. Northwest Florida Daily News

Larry Taylor, 18, was arrested for a street robbery in Seattle--easily found by cops and easily ID'd by the victims because his hairstyle includes "GET MONEY" shaved onto one side of his head and because of tattoos "GET" on his left hand and "MONEY" on his right. KOMO-TV (Seattle)

Tierra Aldridge, 24, was jailed in Chicago after handing in her 3-year-old son at a police station, telling officers she doesn't want him anymore. WBBM-TV (Chicago)

Steven Black was arrested in Maryland Heights, Mo., accused as part of an identity-theft ring. He was carrying $1,540 at the time . . bound in a shoelace tied to his scrotum. The Smoking Gun

Mark Smith, 59, entered a bank in Watsonville, Calif., and plopped down a holdup note that claimed he had a bomb, and demanded $2,000 because he needed to help a friend pay the rent. The teller then persuaded Smith that what he really needed was just a bank loan, and he had started the paperwork as police arrived. Santa Cruz Sentinel

The Pervo-American Community

Author unknown, but a 170-page hardcopy "instruction manual" on child-molesting surfaced in Orlando. Book review (by local detective): "amazing," "detailed," "I've never seen anything like it." WFTV (Orlando)

First, there was the "Austrian" (Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned one daughter for 24 years and fathered her 7 children). Then we got the "American" version (Phillip Garrido of California, who imprisoned Jaycee Dugard for 18 years and fathered her 2 children). It turns out that we need more "American" subdivisions. Garrido's the "Californian," and Jeffrey York, 47, might be the "Ohioan." He is now accused of locking up and sexually abusing his adolescent daughter for a year and otherwise terrorizing the entire family for a decade. And then, higher on the nausea scale, there are the "Missourians," who were indicted last week for kidnaping and enslaving over several years [ed.: and sexually torturing--story is Not Safe For Stomachs, and you don't really need to click the Courthouse News Service link] a teenage girl in Laclede County, north of Springfield. (Bonus Ridiculous Fact: So, after abusing the girl for two years, the leader took care, as soon as she turned 18, to have her sign a "contract" permitting even more torture, as if--.) CNN /// Courthouse News Service

Your Weekly Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]


(Update) Infinite Number of Cats, Infinite Number of Keyboards: Keith Griffin, 49, told detectives that he never acquired child porn and that all that stuff on his computer must've downloaded accidentally as the result of his cat walking across the keyboard while he was away. Guilty? (Spoiler Alert!) Even Keith now realizes he's full of caca. He just pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12½ years. TCPalm.com [BETTER LINK (since the mugshot is now missing from this one: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Laurence Saunders can't possibly be innocent, can he? Police say he broke into a neighbor's house and scared her so bad that she grabbed his Fidel Castro beard and dragged him out the door. Kansas City Star

And here's an alleged probation violator (from this week's Smoking Gun collection) who you know has spent a good deal of time with the mirror . . to get his look just right. The Smoking Gun

Below The Fold

"Businessman Hid in Shed from Bailiffs for a Year" (Seriously. Business went south. Couldn't pay loan. Thought if his house was dark, bill collectors would go away. Neighbor slipped him food. Seriously.) Daily Telegraph

"Mom Pulls Gun on Middle School Volleyball Team" (It was a mismatch, and the victorious brats were taunting the losers and, she figured, needed a dose of hot lead.) (Update: Well, maybe she only pointed her finger like a gun; they're not sure now.) KENS-TV (San Antonio)

The well-known aphorism "Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result" doesn't apply to the tax-resister movement or the "sovereign citizen" theory. Even the Texas Court of Appeal agrees. If you're an individual, a corporation, or an association, you're subject to American law. Submitting the well-worn "Affidavit of Truth," or declaring yourself a "living flesh and blood son of God" or "a sovereign man" gets you no exemption. And especially you get no exemption on the ground that your name in all caps (on court documents) is a different person than your name in upper/lower case. But guess what? Those guys will keep claiming they're right. Gray v. Texas, Texas Court of Appeal via TheNewspaper.com (court decision 8-18-2010)

"'Father' of 55 Children Arrested in Suspected Benefits Scam" French officials will do DNA tests on the 42 mothers they've contacted so far, but you're advised to bet heavily on him being a "father" only by paperwork. Reuters via Toronto Sun

Univ. of Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley, now that he's had a few months of practice to observe his charges: "We had, I told them, the worst shower discipline of any team I've ever been around. So we talked a little bit about application of soap to the rag . . .." Knoxville News Sentinel

Arizona lawyer Charna Johnson is about to be suspended for telling a client that she channeled the client's late wife and that the wife said it was OK if the client had sex with Johnson. [Suspended--for claiming "channeling"? "Channeling" is how former U.S. Sen. John Edwards got rich . . by melodramatically convincing North Carolina jurors that a dead baby was speaking to them through Edwards and that the dead baby wants jurors to make that mean ol' malpracticing doctor pay . . ..] National Law Journal via Law.com

Weird 2.0
"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"That's close enough for government work"—unknown
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, 7-18-64A.D.


Classic American "Success" Story: Three guys in the right place at the right time and who had mastered the military contracting process formed Mission Essential Personnel and have now won $1.4 billion in business by promising to supply interpreters for the Afghanistan "surge" last year and this. [ed.: That ends the "success" part of the story.] Problem: That's a big contract, for a big need, and there just aren't that many people who can pass security and who know the Dari or Pashto languages. A? whistleblower has come forward to ABC News to swear that at least one-fourth were unqualified at the job but were approved (Bonus: Language tests were administered over the phone! Double Bonus: Probably some of the people being "tested" over the phone weren't ringers!) All were thrown into the field with U.S. personnel depending, life-or-death, on their interpreting. The Army is investigating. Won't end well. ABC News /// Truth-Out.org

Among the profit centers of the American economy in 2009: Capitol Hill. The 50 richest Senators/Representatives "earned" $85 million for the year (using low-ball numbers listed on Congressional disclosure forms). For most, it was effortless. U-S-A! U-S-A! The Hill

IRS figures that employees on Capitol Hill owe $9.3 million right now to the federal government in back taxes, including three employees of the Office of Government Ethics. Washington Post

U.S. overseers have successfully pressured Iraq to part with $400 million--everything works beautifully in Iraq, y'know, so they've flush with money--to pay off overprivileged Americans who were caught in the war zone when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991. Oh, were they ever traumatized back then! They naturally sued Saddam, and they won, and they've been waiting for a government to be formed in Iraq so they can collect the big bucks. Iraq has 30 percent unemployment, high infant mortality, a fragile infrastructure, etc., but let not anyone stand in the way of Americans who demand their day in court! Christian Science Monitor

"Staffing Shortages Stymie Stimulus": A USA Today investigation found that it's not only the Pentagon that can't manage its contractors. Congress passes massive legislation so that members can claim credit for something but with scant attention to how the legislation will be implemented. Result, for example: Dept. of Energy has spent only 8% of the $3.2 billion, 18-month-old stimulus money for energy-efficiency block grants . . because it has not enough officers to vet, award, and monitor contracts. (One solution, offered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration: We need to hire new contractors to vet, award, and monitor the awarding of contracts. But then won't we soon need new contractors to vet, award, and monitor those contractors?) USA Today

Once again (this time in the UK, but the US does it, too), agencies and courts focus on the particular "right" involved directly in front of them--up or down--and not on the bigger picture. (This phenomenon, for example, gave rise to "victim statements" now required in many states, forcing judges to listen--live!--to concerns other than the precious "rights" of the convicted. The formal "victim statement" was an astonishing change in Anglo-American law.) Nonetheless, here's Ms. Tania Doherty of the UK, who had the crap beat out of her by Kawa ali Azad, and is petrified of the man, but he was dealt with by the system, in that he was deported back to Iraq. Case closed; Tania's safe. Except: Iraq refused to take him, and he's now back in Britain, and an immigration judge decided that, as an "asylum-seeker," Kawa's "human rights" require that he be released on bail, and no one's seen him for five months. Daily Mail

Editor's Notes

Two thoughts today: Ms. Pia Beathe Pedersen quit her job as newsreader on a Norwegian radio station--in real time, while on the air. There's an awful amount of pressure nowadays. News, news, news. Politicians complain about the incessant 24-hour news cycle, the constant updates, the Internet "hits" culture, the more-more-more nature of satisfying ever-shorter attention spans . . . but, ladies and gentlemen, someone has to write and deliver the stories that populate those problems. Pia, Sweetie, Yr Editor feels ya. I can't tweet, can't Facebook, can't even blog . . . because I just lack the 24/7 mentality. Associated Press via The Times of India

Howard Kurtz's explicit "Appeasing the Google Gods" lays it out. Today's news professional must write accurate, insightful, and fair repor?ts but also must create cognitive explosions to grab Internet readers' attention, wading as they do through the online slush. (Presumption: Readers are still interested in finding accurate, insightful, and fair reports. Questionable.) I should've titled this post "Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and Hillary Clinton Appear to Chuck Weirdly Undecided About Sarah Palin, Osama bin Laden, and Angelina Jolie." Washington Post

Newsrangers: Andy Wright, Gerald Sacks, Kevin Karplus, Alan Esworthy, Peter Smagorinsky, and Frank Smith, and the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney) and Board of Editorial Advisors (Tom Barker, Paul Blumstein, Harry Farkas, Sam Gaines, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Steve Miller, Mark Neunder, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Stephen Taylor, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle)