Friday, May 30, 2008

Burn Baby Burn

What is this the Middle Ages?

Villagers burn woman accused of being witch

BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - An Indian woman accused of witchcraft was beaten, gagged and burnt to death in a remote eastern village, police said on Friday.

The woman was dragged out of her home, her hands and legs tied and taken to a crematorium where she was set on fire in front of the village which ignored her screams for help.

The incident took place in a tribal village in Orissa and occurred last week, but came to light on Thursday with the arrest of three villagers.

The victim was murdered by the husband and relatives of a neighbour whose death was blamed on her witchcraft.

Dozens of women are killed every year on suspicion of being witches or witch doctors in India, where superstition is widespread, especially in rural areas that lack an effective schooling system.

10,000th reader view

Thanks folks and dear readers for allowing us into your lives each day.

We've reached 10,000 views in just a short while. I am humbled by your reading my blog and thank you.

You are why I keep writing.

Man o' Law

Bow wow

Why does it seem that so many of these odd crime stories come out of South Florida?

Inquiring minds want to know.

A Palm Beach Gardens man and his mother, a middle school science teacher, are permanently barred from owning or possessing animals, a judge ruled Thursday after watching a short film of the man having sex in his bedroom with a German shepherd.

Palm Beach County Judge Frank Castor also ordered that the county be given custody of the woman's pets — two German shepherds and two cats — and ruled that she and her son, 18, jointly pay the county $1,848 in boarding costs and other fees.

The man, who was 17 at the time of the recorded activity, did not appear in court. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is not identifying him because he was a juvenile at the time of the activity.

His mother, whose residence is where the sexual activity occurred, teaches at a public school. She testified at Thursday's hearing, insisting repeatedly that she was unaware of her son's sexual acts with her male German shepherd. She said she found the behavior reprehensible and out of character for her son, whom she said is a recently graduated high school honors student.

Thursday's hearing included graphic details of the man's sexual acts, including descriptions of the film that Palm Beach County sheriff's investigators found stored on his personal computer in his bedroom.

Testimony was provided by a detective, county Animal Care and Control officials, including a chief veterinarian, and an expert animal trainer who said the videotape indicates the dog showed signs of submission and pain.

The woman urged the judge not to take away her dogs, and said not allowing her to have future pets "is punishing the mother for the sins of a son."She told the judge, "I have not done anything wrong or have hurt these animals in any way. I was mortified to find this was going on."The county intends to put the animals up for adoption.

Just park it in front of my house


I knew I lost my truck, it just disappeared. Thanks for finding it for me, here keep a $100 bucks for finding it for me.

No, no you don't have to thank me, thank you.

$1 million found in truck in Laredo

BROWNSVILLE — More than $1 million in cash was found in a Mexico-bound tractor-trailer in Laredo, the second seizure of more than a million in a week, Laredo police said Thursday.

The money was found stuffed into two duffle bags during a traffic stop about 9:40 p.m. Wednesday. The truck was heading south toward the World Trade Bridge.

The driver's identity and other details were withheld pending further investigation

Breaking the trust

This is hideous.

As a former Cubmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, and Commissioner, I am repulsed by the idea that someone would use this position of trust to prey on youngsters entrusted to him by their parents.

I hope the jury does the right thing in this matter.

Send him away for the rest of his life.

Ex-Scout leader guilty of sex assault
By Elizabeth Allen: Express-News

A Bexar County jury Thursday found that former Assistant Scoutmaster James Hiatt spent two years molesting a member of his troop.

Jurors deliberated almost four hours before finding Hiatt guilty of four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and five counts of indecency with a child. They found him not guilty on one count of indecency.

Prosecutor Chris DeMartino described Hiatt as “grooming” the boy, beginning when he was a preteen, first fondling him and then intensifying the encounters over time.

“He chose the perfect victim,” DeMartino said in closing arguments. “He used the Scouts to pick a victim ... and for that, he should be condemned.”

He described a man who cultivated the trust of the boy's single mother so she began sending him to the home of Hiatt and his girlfriend for entire weekends.
“James Hiatt was the male role model that this boy didn't have,” DeMartino said.

The Express-News generally does not identify victims of sexual assault.

The boy didn't tell anyone about the encounters until a neighbor of Hiatt's called police in November 2005 to report twice seeing the man and the boy in sexually suggestive situations.
Defense lawyer Rick Woods urged the jury to look at inconsistencies in the testimony and question the truthfulness of both the victim and the neighbor.

The first time, the neighbor said, she went to Hiatt's bedroom to retrieve a cell phone and found the door locked. She said she heard a moan, and then shortly afterward Hiatt opened the door, holding his pants closed, with his shirt up.

“Don't you think that if he heard a knock on the door, he would at least put down his shirt and zip up his pants? Use your common sense,” Woods said. The witness was “on a mission” to make trouble for Hiatt because of a disagreement they'd had, he said, while the boy was angry because Hiatt had given him a spanking that day.

DeMartino responded that the neighbor's life would have been simpler if she had just ignored what she had seen. And when the boy was questioned, he said, he was at first reluctant to say anything, but eventually talked about the encounters and testified at the trial.

“Let's not discount his courage in that. This is a boy who didn't ask to be here,” DeMartino said, “who didn't have any agenda except to be this man's friend.”

DeMartino asked that Hiatt be taken to jail overnight before the sentencing phase of his trial begins today, and 144th District Judge Catherine Torres-Stahl agreed.

Putting the Genie back into the bottle

Its about time.

Now, do your investigation on a proper family to family basis with no rush to judgment or semi-hysterical need to remove children from families which have apparently done no wrong.

State is set to return children to sect parents
By Janet Elliott and Lisa Sandberg: Express-News

AUSTIN — Child welfare officials began preparations Thursday to reunite more than 450 children with their parents after the state's highest court said their removal from a West Texas polygamist ranch seven weeks ago was illegal.

“We are disappointed, but we understand and respect the court's decision and will take immediate steps to comply,” said Marleigh Meisner, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services. “We will continue to prepare for the prompt and orderly reunification of these children with their families.”

The Texas Supreme Court's decision upheld a May 22 ruling by the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin. The 3rd Court ruled the state didn't have enough evidence to order into foster care every child who lived at the Yearning for Zion Ranch,
“On the record before us, removal of the children was not warranted,” the court said in an unsigned opinion.

It wasn't clear exactly when the children will be returned, and restrictions can be placed on their living arrangements.

CPS attorneys will have to decide whether to go back to court to try to regain custody of some of the children, particularly the underage girls, whose safety has been at the heart of this case.

Child welfare officials have said the teenage girls were at risk of being sexually abused by marriages to older men.

“It is a victory as to returning the children to the families, but it does not mean the case is over,” said Laura Shockley, an attorney who represents some of the children. “It doesn't mean that re-removal of some of the children couldn't occur again.”

Six justices agreed entirely with the decision. Three justices — Harriet O'Neill, Phil Johnson and Don Willett — said they would keep pubescent girls in state custody but return younger girls and boys.

• WHAT HAPPENED: The Texas Supreme Court said Thursday the state didn't have the authority to remove more than 450 children from a West Texas polygamous ranch last month. The order gives the trial judge broad discretion, however, in imposing conditions on their return.
• WHAT'S NEXT: State District Judge Barbara Walther must withdraw her original order that put the children in protective custody. Then she can set conditions, such as barring their removal from a particular jurisdiction or ordering suspected child abusers from having contact with them.

The court ordered District Judge Barbara Walther to withdraw her order giving the state custody of all the children, who are scattered around the state in group homes and shelters.
However, it noted she can place conditions on their return, including requiring them to stay in West Texas and removing abuse suspects from their home.

University of Texas law Professor Jack Sampson said the ruling gives Walther broad discretion to provide greater protections to teenage girls, and that she can make sure CPS has access to children.
“She has the power to ensure that the kids aren't going back unmonitored,” he said.

There was no immediate reaction from Walther's court and no orders had been issued by 5 p.m. Thursday when court offices closed.

Lawyers from Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and Legal Aid of Northwest Texas represented 43 mothers who challenged the largest custody case in Texas history. Although the appeals decision involved only 129 children, CPS conceded it is expected to apply to all of the children.

Dan Jessop, 24, an elder in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and a father with three small children in state custody, said he was “glad that there is justice in the court system. We look forward to having the children back and continuing our happy lives.”
He said he and his wife, Louisa, feared CPS might attempt to stall the reunifications as long as possible.

Returning the children likely will make it much more difficult for child welfare authorities to continue their investigation into whether youngsters were abused on the remote compound owned by members of the breakaway Mormon group known for its polygamist practices.
Agency officials said they were unable to get clear information from the children when they still were with their mothers in temporary shelters in San Angelo.

CPS is awaiting the results of DNA tests, which Walther ordered to match children with their parents.

A criminal probe also is continuing as investigators sift through more than 900 boxes of material removed from the ranch during the weeklong raid that began April 3.

“They're going to have to return the kids, but this is going to be a fiasco,” said Shockley, an attorney whose FLDS clients include a 26-year-old mother whom CPS insisted was an underage girl until a week ago.

Shockley, a Dallas attorney, said it's not a clean win for FLDS parents.
“Yes, they have to return the children but they, CPS, can put provisions in an order that requires all sorts of monitoring and home studies and that sort of thing,” he said.

Lawyers for the mothers argued that treating all the children who lived at the compound as one household was wrong.

“Instead of focusing on whether each parent engaged in or tolerated the sexual abuse of their children, the (state) put their entire religion on trial,” they said in papers filed to the high court.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the parent agency of CPS, argued that there was sufficient evidence to show a culture where adult men commanded sex from underage children while adult women knowingly allowed such abuse.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Beep Beep! Move it, Granny!

God bless her.

I hope she doesn't run anyone over.

What? I'm just sayin'

101-Year-Old Woman Gets Driver's License Renewed Until 2011

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A Florida woman who is considered to be the world's oldest driver got her license renewed until 2011.

Lillian Cox, 101, said she has been driving since 1915 and continues to travel around Tallahassee in her 1984 sedan.

"They're surprised that I'd get a driver's license at 101," Cox said. "But I have four more years."
Local 6 showed video of the woman driving around a neighborhood.

"I'm sure I look (101 years old) but they don't let me know that," Cox said while driving around a neighborhood.

Cox has been invited to the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

She said she hopes the show picks her up in a limo.

Land of the Lost

If I defended her my defense would be she had "missing bag" syndrome and flew into uncontrollable rage over the loss of some of her luggage.

Everyone on the jury would let her go.

Then she can sue the airlines like the guy below.

Supermodel Campbell charged over 'air rage'

British supermodel Naomi Campbell has been charged with a string of offences after allegedly assaulting a police officer at London's Heathrow airport, her lawyer said Thursday.

Campbell, 37, was taken off a British Airways plane by officers on April 3 after she boarded a flight to Los Angeles in the US and was told that one of her bags was missing.

She is charged with five offences -- three counts of assaulting a constable, one of disorderly conduct likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress and one of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour to cabin crew.

The star will appear at in court in west London on June 20, her lawyer Simon Nicholls said, after she answered bail at Heathrow's police station.

"Miss Campbell is bitterly disappointed that the prosecutors have advised her she is to be prosecuted for various offences," Nicholls said in a statement read out on her behalf outside the police station.

"She respects that decision and she hopes this matter is dealt with expeditiously."

The incident took place as Campbell was travelling through the airport's new Terminal 5 building, whose high-profile opening in March was marred by serious problems with the baggage handling system.

Last year, the supermodel was ordered to spend a week mopping floors at a New York City warehouse for hitting her maid with a mobile phone.

She was sentenced in January 2007 after pleading guilty to reckless assault, and also ordered to attend a two-day anger management course and cover her victim's medical expenses.

Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon

Funny how karma has a way of turning around and biting you in the ass.

Ms. Stone has apparently seen the errors of her ways and so apparently has Christian Dior.

Sharon Stone apologises for China quake 'karma' remark

Hollywood star Sharon Stone has apologised for suggesting China's earthquake was bad "karma" for its handling of Tibet, but Christian Dior on Thursday dropped her from its local ads amid a public uproar.

The 50-year-old US actress offered to help with relief efforts after the May 12 quake that killed nearly 70,000 people, in an effort to smooth over tensions sparked by her controversial comments at the Cannes Film Festival last week.

"My erroneous words and deeds angered and saddened the Chinese people, and I sincerely apologise for this," she said in a statement issued by Dior China and sent to AFP on Thursday.
"I'm willing to participate in any earthquake relief activity and to do my utmost to help Chinese people affected by the disaster," she added.

But Dior said Stone -- who promotes the French luxury brand's anti-ageing skin-care line, among other products -- would no longer appear in its ads in China.

"In light of the negative reaction that Sharon Stone's inappropriate remarks have triggered, Dior China has decided to immediately cancel and stop any advertisements, marketing campaigns and commercial activities associated with Sharon Stone," it said.

Stone -- perhaps best known for her starring role in "Basic Instinct" -- sparked the controversy last week, which has angered people across China and led to pledges by some cinemas here to boycott her films.

"I'm not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else," Stone said, according to footage widely available on YouTube.

"And then all this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and I thought, is that karma -- when you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?"

The remarks sparked an uproar in China, where people are in no hurry to forgive her, according to a survey published on the popular web portal

Of the more than 300,000 who had participated in the survey by late Thursday, 70.3 percent said they would "never forgive" Stone, while 20.5 percent did not accept her apology because "it was not sincere".

Another 8.7 percent said an apology was useless and it was necessary to observe her actions, while a mere 0.6 percent said they were satisfied by her apology.

Before pulling Stone from its ads, Christian Dior's China branch had already distanced itself from her comments.

"We don't agree with her hasty, unreflecting remarks and we deeply regret them," Dior said in a Chinese-language statement.

"Dior was one of the first international brands to enter China and has won the affection and respect of the consuming public. We absolutely do not support any remark that hurts the Chinese people's feelings.

"We express our sorrow over the compatriots who lost their lives in the earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan, and we extend our sympathy and condolences to the people in the disaster area."

Tibet was rocked by unrest in March. According to aides of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, 203 Tibetans were killed and 1,000 injured in China's subsequent crackdown in the Himalayan region.

But China says Tibetan "rioters" and "insurgents" killed 21 people, and has accused the Dalai Lama of trying to sabotage the Beijing Olympics -- a charge he denies.

On May 12, a massive earthquake struck China's southwest Sichuan province, leaving nearly 88,000 people dead or missing.

Fly the unfriendly skies

Man, that would suck big time.

But at least they didn't charge him extra for each suitcase.

Lawyer sues Delta over delayed trip to Argentina
By SAMUEL MAULL, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - A lawyer has sued Delta Air Lines Inc. for nearly $1 million, claiming the company's incompetent and rude employees made his 80-year-old mother's birthday trip to South America a stressful, costly horror.

Richard Roth said he and his family arrived in Argentina almost three days late, forcing him to spend thousands of dollars on food, hotels and transportation, plus buy tickets for another airline.

Roth also claims Delta misplaced his luggage, which meant he had to buy new clothes for himself and family members after arriving in Buenos Aires.

During the ordeal, Roth's court papers say, several Delta employees were "nasty," "rude," "obnoxious" and "totally disrespectful." Those who were courteous were generally ineffectual in assisting him, he claims.

A Delta spokeswoman, Betsy Talton, said Tuesday that she could not comment on pending litigation.

Roth said Tuesday he wants $21,000 for out-of-pocket expenses and another $275,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress. He said he also wants punitive damages which would be at least three times the compensatory amount.

Roth, 49, of Scarsdale, N.Y., said he arranged for his mother to fly to her native Argentina during the 2007 Christmas holidays. He said he and his family were scheduled to fly from the Westchester County Airport the evening of Dec. 20.

Roth said he was with his mother, his wife and his teenage son and daughter. They were to fly to Atlanta and take a connecting flight to Buenos Aires where they would celebrate his mother's 80th birthday.

In Atlanta, say court papers filed last week, a gate agent refused to let Roth and his family onto the jet for the connecting flight, although the plane was sitting at the gate with the door open.
Roth's court papers say that after he and his family spent two nights in Atlanta, a ticket agent told him Delta could not get him to Argentina before Jan. 8. So they flew to Florida, spent a night there and took an Aerolineas Argentina flight to Buenos Aires after buying one-way tickets, court papers say.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

You want your toilet fixed, WHERE?

Wow, how much is the plumber going to charge to fix this?

I bet just showing up to give an estimate will cost NASA at least a $100 bucks.

ya think?

New Challenge for Space Station Crew: A Broken Toilet

Four words you don’t want to hear in space:

“The toilet is broken.”

The crew aboard the International Space Station is working on a problem with the system for collecting solid and liquid waste, which is a trickier proposition without gravity than it is on the Earth. Space toilets use jets of fan-propelled air to guide waste into the proper container.

A NASA status report noted that last week, while using the toilet system in the Russian-built service module, “the crew heard a loud noise and the fan stopped working.” The solid waste collector is functioning properly, but the system for collecting liquid waste was not.

The crew tried replacing one device, an air/water separator, and then a filter, but nothing seemed to bring the toilet back to full operation. Russian mission control told the crew — Russian Cosmonauts Sergey Volkov and Oleg Kononenko, and Garrett Reisman, a NASA astronaut, to use the toilet on the Soyuz capsule that is attached to the station as a lifeboat. But that system has very limited capacity, and so repairing the system has become an increasingly urgent issue.

As so often happens when there’s a plumbing problem, house guests are on the way: the space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to launch on Saturday, with seven astronauts aboard. The shuttle, however, has its own toilet.

Nicole Cloutier-Lemasters, a spokeswoman for NASA, said that mission managers are working on plans to carry replacement toilet parts to the station. In the mean time, she said a temporary work-around has been put in place: “they’re bypassing the troublesome hardware” for urine collection with a “special receptacle” that has been attached to the toilet, she said.

Of all the technological achievements of space travel, none has captured the popular imagination as much as bathroom physics. Mike Mullane, a former astronaut and professional speaker, said questions about the operations of space toilets are the most popular questions from audiences by “more than ten to one” over such questions as “have I seen any aliens” and “did we fake the moon landing.”

Mr. Mullane, who has written a ribald book, “Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut,” recalled that on a shuttle mission in 1984, mission managers shut down the urine collection system out of concerns that an icicle of frozen urine at the discharge port could damage the spacecraft’s delicate tiles during reentry. The crew, including astronaut Judith Resnick, had to urinate in plastic “Apollo bags” that are stored on board.

It was, he said, an annoyance, but “it’s one of those camping-trip kind of things you have to adjust to.” Set against the larger risks and grandeur of space travel, he said, “this is small potatoes.”

She cleaned up real good

Hello? maid service?

I think the gal you sent over cleaned up, but good!

TAMPA - A nude maid cleaned up good at a Florida man's home.The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says the maid stole more than $40,000 from a Cheval home despite not wearing any clothes.

The 50-year-old man hired the maid from the Internet on Friday to clean his suburban Tampa home.Authorities say the woman arrived at the home in a one-piece, light colored dress. She took off the dress and cleaned the house for $100-per-hour.

Sheriff's office spokeswoman Debbie Carter says the man told deputies he left the maid alone in the bedroom to clean.When the man's wife came home from vacation, she discovered $40,000 in jewelry missing from their bedroom.Police are investigating.

Dumb and Dumber

Okay let's see;

Gun, check, demand money, check, oops, put on mask first......Damn!
Put mask on first!...Doh!

Authorities in Columbus, Ohio, have released surveillance images of a bank robbery on the city’s north side.

The robbery happened shortly after noon at the National City Bank at 1886 North High Street.
An FBI release alleges that a man walked inside the bank and sat in a lobby chair until other customers left. He then approached the teller, produced a silver handgun and demanded money.

It was only after he demanded cash that the robber pulled a blue mask over his face in a vain attempt to conceal his identity.

The robber was described as a black man in his 20s or 30s, who was about 5 feet 7 inches tall.
He had a thin build, and was wearing a dark-blue New York Yankees baseball cap and sunglasses during the robbery.

Authorities said that a dye pack mixed in with the cash likely exploded inside his getaway vehicle.

Hey, I just work here

How dumb is this?

A suspect in a bizarre robbery has been nabbed.

Police in Mesa, Arizona, allege that the man, identified as 21-year-old Marc Antoine Stovall, called a 7-Eleven store there on April 27, falsely claiming to be a new employee, arranged for training and then went to the store and was taught how to use the cash register.

Later that day, according to police, Stovall returned, purchased several items, including a roll of duct tape, but then said that he didn’t want the tape.

An hour later, Stovall came back to buy beer. When the clerk commented about his first name after he provided her with photo ID, police say that he pulled a gun, forced the woman into a bathroom and bound her with duct tape.

Stovall then went back out front, pretended to be the clerk and was helping customers when the real clerk broke free, emerged with a gun and Stovall fled with some cash.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The rocket's red glare, II

Can we all agree now that home owner's associations suck?

OK how about they wield too much power or have stupid rules?

Does that make you feel better?

Vet Faces Lawsuit For Flying American Flag

CLERMONT, Fla. -- A Central Florida war veteran faces a lawsuit for flying the American flag in his front yard.

"I don't understand why it would bring down the values of our homes by flying the American flag from a pole in my front yard," homeowner Jimmie Watkins said.

Watkins and his wife, Ria, received a final notices from the Sussex homeowners' association in Clermont that they must remove the flag or else face legal action.

The former retired U.S. Navy communications officer said he refuses to back down for the American flag.

"Our people are serving today to give us freedom," Watkins said. "To do as we like here within the law of America. It is my right to fly my flag from my pole and until a court of law tells me to haul that down. I will not haul it down. I think about all of the people who have served our nation and all of the lives that it's costs and all of the friends that I've lost."

Local 6 reported that all surrounding subdivisions in Kings Ridge allow a flag pole display in a person's front yard.

Jim Hart, who handles property management for 1,500 properties, including Sussex, said it is the association's call and not his.

"Each sub-association has its own set of documents and they can differ," Hart said. "The rationale for that only exists within the minds of the folks that are doing it. I can't sit here and tell you why."

The homeowner's association is not commenting about their rules. But state law said anyone can display a flag in a "respectful manner" as long as it is removable, Local 6 reported.

The rocket's red glare

Careful! You can poke an eye out with one of those things.

Continental pilot startled by encounter with 'rocket'

Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

A Continental Airlines pilot reported being startled by what he described as a rocket that shot past his cockpit window Monday when the plane was about eight miles north of George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force are investigating the incident, which occurred about 10:30 a.m.

"We don't know for sure what the object was. But we think it might be somebody doing model rocketing," said Roland Herwig, an FAA spokesman. "The pilot saw the rocket and some people saw the rocket's trail (of smoke)."

Continental Airlines spokeswoman Kelly Cripe said Monday night that she could not discuss what was seen by the crew of Flight 1544. She would only say that the Boeing 737, with 148 passengers. left Bush at 10:17 a.m. and arrived in Cleveland, Ohio at 2:13 p.m.
She said the pilot made no diversionary maneuvers, and she added the plane was not damaged, and nobody was injured.

The FAA does not yet know how close the object came to the plane or what altitude it reached. "We will determine that by establishing a radar history," Herwig said.
FBI spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap stressed that it is "routine" for the FBI to look into suspicious activity involving an aircraft.

"We don't know if it was a rocket or what. We will interview everyone and determine the validity of what was seen," she said.

If it was model rocket, investigators want to know the type and who launched it.

"Building rockets is a legitimate hobby, but hobbyists have to let the FAA know what they're doing," Herwig said.

Robert Morehead, an engineer who is president of the Amateur Spaceflight Association in Houston, said the FAA would only need to be notified if a rocket would be entering controlled airspace.

He said the only danger to a plane might be if the rocket is ingested by a plane's engine.
"But their engines are designed to ingest birds and not come apart," said Morehead, who lives in Clear Lake. "The real question is if the rocket would tear up the engine instead of just shutting it off."

Model rockets can be made of cardboard and glue or have aluminum air frames, he said. Rockets also have no difficulty reaching the 30,000 to 40,000 feet, the altitude at which an airliner may cruise.

"There is a guy who claims his rocket has reached the threshold of space or 75 miles," Morehead said. "But there are lots of models that could fly as high as an airliner. You can do it with a 10- to 15-foot tall rocket and some little ones."

But Flight 1544 had recently taken off and might not have been flying that high, he said.
The models can be fueled with everything from black powder to ammonium percholorate and aluminum, he said.

"It's not rocket science when you use a kit," he said. His organization builds rockets from scratch to teach students the math and science behind it.

"We just built one using liquid fuel that had substantially more thrust than the models," he said.
Laura Brown, an FAA spokeswoman in Washington D.C., said the Monday incident is not the first time a rocket has crossed paths with an airliner. But so far, no plane has been hit by a launched model rocket.

"There are model rocket clubs operating around the country. This was a holiday weekend that would be good for a launch," she said.

Earth to Sharon.....

Wow, Sharon Stone, you look great but you sound like an idiot.

I mean I've got a Bachelor's and Masters of Science degrees in Geology and I simply cannot recall karma as being listed as a cause of earthquakes.

Rather it was always thought to occur through the rather mundane mechanisms of plate tectonics, you know continental collisions and drift, sometimes localized earthquakes were caused by pumping water or even oil out of the ground. Some movies said it was caused by the actual wrath of God, but Karma? Jeeze Louise, Woman.

Okay, I didn't mean that Sharon, Lord knows I don't want an earthquake to swallow me up.

‘Karma’: Actress Sharon Stone Blames China’s Treatment Of Tibet For Earthquake

Has Sharon Stone been drinking too much lately? You be the judge. Here's what she said on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival when asked about the earthquake that has devastated the Sichuan Province:

Well you know it was very interesting because at first, you know, I am not happy about the ways the Chinese were treating the Tibetans because I don’t think anyone should be unkind to anyone else. And so I have been very concerned about how to think and what to do about that because I don’t like THAT.

And I had been this, you know, concerned about, oh how should we deal with the Olympics because they are not being nice to the Dalai Lama, who is a good friend of mine.
And all these earthquake and stuff happened and I thought: IS THAT KARMA... when you are not nice that bad things happen to you?

And then I got a letter, from the Tibetan Foundation that they want to go and be helpful. And that made me cry. And they ask me if I would write a quote about that and I said, “I would.” And it was a big lesson to me, that some times you have to learn to put your head down and be of service even to people who are not nice to you. And that’s a big lesson for me... [Transcript from Speak4China]

Meanwhile, Zhang Ziyi (章子怡) says she's been outraged by all the ignorance of the quake in China going on at Cannes, and has taken it upon herself to make a pamphlet about the earthquake to show foreigners, apart from donating $144,000 to earthquake relief. She told the AP:

"I was as angry as a madwoman. I said, 'Are you idiots? You are well-dressed people who look like you identify with society, but you don't know what's going on on planet Earth.' It's incredible!"

Why, I'm shocked, SHOCKED!

Is anyone else bothered by Iran's secrecy and duplicity while working on a nuclear weapons program?

Do you feel comfortable with an Iran armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons?

I don't know about you but I would rather not have my children and grandchildren turned into radioactive dust.

IAEA: Iran may be withholding info in nuke probe

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Iran may be withholding information needed to establish whether it tried to make nuclear arms, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday in an unusually strongly worded report.

The tone of the language suggesting Tehran continues to stonewall the U.N. nuclear monitor revealed a glimpse of the frustration felt by agency investigators stymied in their attempts to gain full answers to suspicious aspects of Iran's past nuclear activities.

A senior U.N. official familiar with the investigation into Iran's nuclear program said none of the dozens of agency reports issued in that context had ever been as plain spoken in calling Tehran to task for not being forthright. He agreed to discuss the report only if granted anonymity because he was not authorized to comment to the media.

Iran has described its cooperation with the agency's probe as positive, suggesting it was providing information requested by agency officials.

Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA, said as much again Monday, telling The Associated Press that the report described "the peaceful nature of our nuclear actions."
"The Americans failed ... in shameful attempts" to co-opt the agency into delivering anti-Iranian findings, he said.

He noted a paragraph in the report saying that agency experts had been given access to all declared nuclear material in Iran and verified that all of it was accounted for.

But Gregory L. Schulte, his U.S. counterpart, suggested the report was a strong indictment of Iran's defiance of the international community's efforts to get answers about troubling parts of its nuclear program, noting it "details a long list of questions that Iran has failed to answer."
"At the same time that Iran is stonewalling its inspectors, it's moving forward in developing its enrichment capability in violation of Security Council resolutions," Schulte told the AP.
He described parts of the report as a "direct rebuttal" of Iranian claims that all nuclear questions had been answered.

U.S. intelligence says Iran stopped work on nuclear weapons in 2003 but some other nations believe such activities continued past that date. The report noted Iran continued to deny such allegations.

Obtained by the AP, the restricted report forwarded to the U.N. Security Council and to the 35 board members of the IAEA said Iran remains defiant of the council's demands that it suspend uranium enrichment.

Shrugging off three sets of council sanctions, Iran has expanded its operational centrifuges - machines that churn out enriched uranium - by about 500 since the last IAEA report, in February, the new report said.

In announcing major progress in his government's push for nuclear power, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last month that Iranian scientists were putting 6,000 new uranium enriching centrifuges into place and testing a new type that worked five times faster.

The IAEA report noted Iran now had only 3,500 centrifuges and said the few advanced machines actually running were only in a testing phase. Still the senior U.N. official said Iran's goal of 6,000 machines running by the summer was "pretty much plausible."

Uranium can be used as nuclear reactor fuel or as the core for atomic warheads, depending on the degree of enrichment.

Running smoothly, 3,000 centrifuges could produce enough nuclear material for a bomb within 18 months. But Iran insists it is only working to produce fuel for reactors that will generate electricity and says it has a right to conduct enrichment for such purposes under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

In addressing whether Iran was complying with IAEA requests, the report appeared to come down on the side of the U.S. "Iran has not provided the Agency with all the information, access to documents and access to individuals necessary to support Iran's statements" that its activities are purely peaceful in intent, it said.

"The Agency is of the view that Iran may have additional information, in particular on high explosives testing and missile related activities which ... Iran should share with the agency," the report said. It was referring to two alleged sets of tests that IAEA officials say could be linked to a nuclear weapons program.

The allegations of nuclear military programs "remain a matter of serious concern," the report said. Suggesting fears of clandestine weapons activities remain, it added: "Clarification of these is critical to an assessment of the nature of Iran's past and present nuclear program."

Iran already rejected evidence provided by the U.S and other IAEA board members on alleged weapons programs in February, but then promised to revisit the issue before the agency's next board meeting in a week.

Intelligence received by the IAEA in its investigations, as well as from the U.S. and other agency board member nations, suggest Iran experimented with an undeclared uranium enrichment program that was linked to a missile project and drew up blueprints on refitting missiles to allow them to carry nuclear warheads.

The intelligence also suggested Iran was researching construction of an underground site that apparently could be used to test fire nuclear bombs and ordered "dual use" equipment from abroad that could be part of an atomic weapons program.

Additionally, Iran possesses diagrams showing how to mold uranium metal into the shape of warheads.

Its nuclear work has been under IAEA investigation since 2003, when a dissident Iranian group revealed the existence of a clandestine enrichment program.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Do you barter?

More stupidity.

Oh yeah, and alcohol was involved.

I'm not surprised.

A man in Masterton, New Zealand, who offered to pay with marijuana he did not have enough money for a snack was busted by a police officer who overheard his unusual proposal, according to a May 20 report.

The man, identified as 28-year-old Wade Churchward, went to a service station on March 22 in Wellington, the capital, where he picked up two packets of M&Ms and some potato chips, the Dominion Post, a newspaper there, reported.

Churchward, who had been drinking, began snacking on them while standing in line at the cash register.

But when he reached the cashier, it dawned on him that he did not have enough money, and instead offered a container with 0.042 ounces of weed and a pipe for smoking the stuff.
Churchward failed to notice a patrol car parked outside and a police officer standing behind him in line — who, needless to say, promptly arrested him.

He pleaded guilty May 19 in Masterton District Court to possessing marijuana and to several unrelated charges, the newspaper reported.

Churchward was released on bail and will be sentenced on July 3. Marijuana possession is usually punished by a minor fine in New Zealand.


Now that is going to piss off the Judge.

Police in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, say that a Philipsburg man in jail for slashing a district judge’s tires got out of the Centre County Correctional Facility on May 21, walked across the street and stole a car from Bellefonte Lanes.

The man, identified as 18-year-old Shawn Allen Linberg, who was in jail for slashing the tires of a car belonging to magisterial district judge, was arrested by state police in Philipsburg and arraigned May 23 on charges of theft and receiving stolen property.

Linberg was sent back to the Centre County jail on $50,000 straight bail set by District Judge Daniel Hoffman.

“The man can’t wait an hour before he is alleged to have violated the law again,” said Centre County District Attorney Michael Madeira.

Not long after the 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass was stolen from the Bellefonte Lanes bowling alley the morning of May 22, police suspected that Linberg was the culprit based on witness interviews, according to the criminal complaint.

Around 1:30 that afternoon, a duty police communications officer with the Philipsburg barracks spotted the car along Ninth Street in Philipsburg and called his barracks, police said. As state troopers were arriving, Linberg returned to the car and was arrested as he attempted to get back inside, police said.

Linberg confessed to stealing the car after being released from jail that day, police said.
Linberg was in jail on charges including retaliation against a prosecutor or judicial official and criminal mischief for slashing all four tires on a vehicle belonging to District Judge Allen Sinclair on April 25. The judge told police that he suspected Linberg and another 18-year-old, Thomas M. Moore II, with inflicting the damage to his vehicle after he recently dealt with the pair in his courtroom. Moore is also facing charges in the incident.

Linberg later told police that he slashed the tires because he “did not like” the judge, according to court documents.

Even though Linberg is back in jail, Madeira said that his office likely will seek to revoke his bail on the first case to make sure that he stays there as the cases go through the courts.

On top of all that, according to police, Linberg was also driving the hot car without a valid driver’s license.

Howdy! I was watching youtube and.......

Talk about being really really stupid.

Dumb Criminal” Posts Video Evidence On YouTube

Authorities in Leeds, England, have labeled a man the city’s “dumbest criminal” after he posted videos of himself engaging in antisocial activities on YouTube.

The city council there called the man, identified as 23-year-old Andrew Kellett, the city’s “dumbest criminal” after he put at least 80 videos on the Internet video-sharing site of people, including himself, breaking the law in many different ways, the daily mail, a newspaper there, reported in its May 21 edition.

It is reported that the incriminating videos include footage of people taking drugs, racing cars and taking off from a gas station with stolen fuel.

“Kellett must be in the running to be Leeds’ dumbest criminal. He has handed us the evidence against him on a plate,” said Les Carter, a member of Leeds City Council.

On May 20, Kellett was given an interim anti-social behavior order at Leeds Magistrates Court, forbidding him from posting further illegal behaviors on YouTube until his hearing in June.

Happy Memorial Day

My hunch is alcohol will be found to have contributed to this tragedy as well.

My Condolences to both families.

North Side collision leaves two dead

A driver running red lights collided with another car at a North Side intersection early Sunday. The crash killed both drivers, according to a police report.

The driver of the car that ran the lights had not been identified Sunday. Rhonda Purcell, 42, the other driver, died at the scene.

About 2 a.m., a car traveling south on U.S. 281 ran two red lights — one at Stone Oak Parkway and another at Evans Road, where the crash occurred. The report listed driver inattention, disregarding a signal and failing to control speed as factors in the accident.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Unbelieveablly crass remark

Senator: despite what you may think words do mean something. They convey thoughts, they convey character, they convey inner musings.

What your words meant, on some level, is the rather bizarre notion, "I must continue here. I must continue in this pursuit of a now unreachable goal because, well, because, you know, someone might shoot Barrack Obama, and well then where would we be in the Democratic Party if our nominee has been killed?"

On some level, somewhere inside, she means this. This horrible self-justification of her nobility, "I'm here to pick-up the pieces."

What an enormous ego she has.

The problem for us is that to even give flight to this notion leads us to the darkest times in American politics. The politics of violence, the killings of John F. Kennedy, Rev. Martin Luther King and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Not to mention others like Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. The attempted assassinations of Ronald Regan and Gerald Ford, and candidates Gov. George Wallace and Theodore Roosevelt.

I do not truly think she is hoping for this, again on some rational level, but words are windows on the soul, Senator.

Some of us have measured you in the past and have found things that have dissuaded us from you. Your politics of triangulation, your pragmatic strategy of giving them what they want, "I'll say anything to be anything to this particular group of folks". You're seeming Zelig-like chameleon attempts to blend in knocking back boiler-makers and shots, the stories of being under fire in Bosnia and gun hunting with your Daddy, threats of nuking Iran, reducing gas taxes, and drawling on in a Southern accent about how far the journey is and how untired you are to listeners at an African-American church.

You are incredibly tone-deaf to your messages and insensitive to what your messages say. You have apologized to the Kennedy's "hey sorry, your (fill in the blank) brother, father, uncle, was killed, but I have a race here to stay in in case they kill the black guy."

Where is the apology to Barrack Obama? or to his wife, Michelle?, to his children? to us the American public?

You cannot stay in this race, you cannot be Obama's VP, you cannot be a heartbeat away from the Presidency of the United States.

Hillary cites RFK assassination in explaining why she's still in race
from Jonathan Martin at

Hillary Clinton today cited the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy during the 1968 presidential campaign to explain why she was remaining in the race despite long odds."We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California," Clinton told the editorial board of a South Dakota newspaper. " I don't understand it," Clinton added, alluding to the calls for her to quit.Clinton made the statement after pointing out that her husband didn't lock up the nomination until June of 1992, trying to point out that, by past history, it's not late in the campaign. (See a clip of the interview here.)

But Barack Obama received Secret Service protection one year ago this month, the earliest ever in presidential history, after reports of threats.

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement: “Sen. Clinton's statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign."Clinton's made the comment to the Argus Leader newspaper in Sioux Falls, S.D.

UPDATE: Clinton's campaign has put out a statement in her name, apologizing for the remark.

"The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Sen. Kennedy and I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, and particularly for the Kennedy family, was in any way offensive," she said. “Earlier today I was discussing the Democratic primary history and in the course of that discussion mentioned the campaigns that both my husband and Senator Kennedy waged in California in June 1992 and 1968 and I was referencing those to make the point that we have had nomination primary contests that go into June. That’s a historic fact. The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy and I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, and particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that, whatsoever. My view is that we have to look to the past and to our leaders who have inspired us and give us a lot to live up to, and I’m honored to hold Senator Kennedy’s seat in the United States Senate from the state of New York and have the highest regard for the entire Kennedy family.”

Friday, May 23, 2008

Oy vey, Dawg

You would think these two historically oppressed groups would have much common ground and therefore there should be no troubles between the two. Back in the early 60's many young Jews took up the cause of civil rights and marched with African-Americans in protests across the South. Some, as did African-Americans, paid with their lives to advance the cause of civil liberty and equality for all men, regardless of race, creed or color.

Get it together people.

Black, Jewish Crown Heights Leaders Seek Unity
Upswing In Recent Violence Has Communities At Odds
Fears Of Riots Similar To 1991 Grip Residents

NEW YORK (CBS) ― Police are mobilizing a massive presence in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn in the wake of increased tension between African American and Jewish communities. Leaders from both communities have come together recently to preach cooperation among residents of the neighborhood where African Americans and Hassidic Jews live side by side. But recent violence has showed that religion and race don't always mix. "I definitely feel [like there's unrest] because I see it everyday. I'm around here a lot and that's what I'm hearing," said Crown Heights resident Anthony Rios.

Another resident, Joe Morgenstein, agreed, saying he hears "a lot of racial slurs all day" in the community. Since 1991, when riots broke out after a 7-year-old black boy was killed by a Hassidic driver, Crown Heights has been hurt off-and-on by periodic tension.

In the past month, 20-year-old Andrew Charles, who is black, was beaten up, and the suspect is Jewish. Then last week, 16-year-old Alon Sherman, who is Jewish, had his jaw broken while being allegedly robbed by two black teens. The attackers were arrested Thursday. Inside a Jewish museum dedicated to tolerance and understanding, black and religious leaders pleaded for the public to write a new history of race and religious relations. "We are one standing together yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Forever," said Jewish Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn).

Added Councilman Mathieu Eugene (D-Dist. 40): "We may have arrived on different ships, but now we are all in the same boat." It's a boat some don't want to see sink under the weight of ignorance and intolerance. "It's a bad thing. I hope it doesn't escalate," one black resident told CBS 2. And if it does, there will be a quick response. "It's scary what's been going on, but I'm happy police are taking it seriously," said Chana Levine, a Jewish Crown Heights resident. Police admit their presence there is a temporary fix until tensions drop, but some fear once police leave, what's happened here will be repeated.

Suicide is painless.....

You try to do something nice for someone and this is how you are repaid?

Seriously, I hope all affected recover with no adverse long term problems.

Go back to committing sepukku, or as we say in the United States hari-kiri, that way you're only causing problems for yourself, well...and the ones who have to clean up the mess you leave behind.

Dozens sickened in Japan after suicide

By MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press Writer

TOKYO (AP) - A Japanese farmer who committed suicide by drinking pesticide vomited the poison at a hospital before he died, releasing toxic fumes that sickened more than 50 people, the hospital said Thursday.

Doctors were trying to pump the 34-year-old man's stomach when he threw up, spraying his rescuers with chloropicrin, causing 54 doctors, nurses and patients to develop breathing problems and eye sores.

Ten of them were hospitalized themselves, and 90 hospital personnel had to be called in to help with the emergency Wednesday night, said Tomoko Nagao, spokeswoman for the Red Cross Kumamoto Hospital in southern Japan.

The most severely injured was a 72-year-old pneumonia patient, whose condition worsened after exposure to the fumes, Nagao said. The hospital's emergency ward was closed and firefighters called in to decontaminate it.

The doctors were not wearing protective gear and were unprepared because the paramedics who brought the farmer to the hospital had not identified the pesticide, said a local police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of protocol.

The incident came amid a string of suicides in Japan by people mixing household chemicals to create lethal fumes. Many bystanders in recent months have been sickened by fumes that escaped into adjoining rooms, apartments or homes.

Seishi Takamura, a doctor who treated the farmer, said he could not stop coughing after inhaling the fumes, which smelled like chlorine, Kyodo News agency reported.

Chloropicrin is a highly volatile pesticide with a pungent odor that can cause breathing difficulties and sometimes death when inhaled in large amounts.

Meeting the enemy

I didn't think this suit had legs. You don't vote and under the Texas Democratic party rules the number of delegates received at the primary evening caucuses are proportionally related to the historical voter turn-out for each district.

Adding insult to injury, as I recall, Judge Biery was a Bill Clinton appointee, not that it would or should have any effect on this matter.

Just call it irony.

Judge tosses LULAC's suit over Dems' primary
By Graeme

Citing cartoon character Pogo's lament that, “We have met the enemy and he is us,” a San Antonio federal judge Thursday dismissed a lawsuit alleging that the Texas Democratic Party's primary rules dilute the power of Hispanic votes.

The Texas League of United Latin American Citizens sued the party May 6, seeking among other things to enjoin the seating of delegates at the party's state convention next month.

The suit came amid the hurly-burly of the now-winding-down contest between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and after record turnout here for the March 4 primary. Obama was able to actually net delegates from Texas, blunting Clinton's popular-vote win through the subsequent precinct and district conventions and the allocation formula.

The state party rules give greater weight to districts that had higher turnout for the party's most recent gubernatorial nominee. That meant heavily Latino districts, which went overwhelmingly for Clinton, were given fewer delegates proportionally, since their turnout in 2006 was low.

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, in a typically colorful order in which he averred that, “I hope to shoot baskets some day with Sen. Obama,” noted the irony, lacing it with some implicit criticism.
“Consequences flow from not voting,” he wrote. “While the Court believes those protected by the VRA are squandering the legacy given them by Martin Luther King, Willie Velasquez, Lyndon Johnson and others by not participating, they cannot be forced to govern themselves while placing a higher value on other endeavors.

“Rome was not built in a day,” he continued, “nor did it decline overnight, but its decay from within came in part because of its misplaced priorities.”

Biery ruled the suit was untimely, that the spirit and intent of the Voting Rights Act was not being violated by Texas Democrats, and that the remedy sought by LULAC would effectively encourage folks not to vote.

One of LULAC's main contentions was that the party had not sought “pre-clearance” for its primary rules from the Justice Department, as they claimed was required by the VRA. Biery ruled that such a stricture did not apply, since it was a “hypertechnical” reading of the rules and there was no evidence of intimidation or threats.

Luis Vera Jr., a LULAC lawyer and Clinton supporter, said the group would appeal Biery's decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“I think he's just wrong. How can the (VRA) not apply in this case?” Vera said. “Unfortunately, all these cases, when you look at the history, were lost at the district court level. ... It's very disappointing, but we've been disappointed before.”

He said he was holding out hope that the Justice Department would intervene.

In a statement, Texas Democratic Party Chair Boyd Richie took a conciliatory tone, saying the party would continue to reach out to minorities, and he encouraged proposals for reforming the primary rules.

Oh my!

More bad news for the State in this matter.

The Third Court of Appeals found no justification for the Judge in San Angelo to have ordered the children taken by CPS from the Yearning from Zion Ranch to be placed in foster homes. Further news is that the State appealed San Antonio District Court Judge Michael Peden's decision to award temporary custody and then apparently hold a full custody hearing regarding the children of one of the FLDS families to the Fourth Court of Appeals which denied the State's request to stay the hearing.

As I predicted earlier this was not going to go well for the State of Texas. If nothing else it makes the State and particularly CPS look bad in being overzealous while having no legal basis to do what it did. It will probably lead to law suits against the State, no prediction on how those would go, and ultimately harm CPS's effectiveness in the future when "real" danger to children might be detected because of people becoming "gun shy" and less likely to "pull the trigger" to seek removing children from a problematic family situation.

On to the Texas Supreme Court is next on the agenda.

Court says state didn't prove sect children in danger
By Lisa Sandberg and Terri Langford: Express-News

SAN ANGELO — An appeals court ruled Thursday that the state had no right to seize hundreds of children from a polygamous religious sect because it failed to prove they were in immediate danger of abuse.

The decision halted ongoing custody hearings and raised the possibility of family reunions.

The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin ruled a San Angelo judge exceeded her authority in ordering into foster care every child residing at the Yearning for Zion Ranch, not just the teen girls who Texas Child Protective Services said were at risk of being married to older men.

“The department (CPS) did not present any evidence of danger to the physical health or safety of any male children or any female children who had not reached puberty,” the order by a three-judge panel of the appeals court said in part. About half of the more than 460 children placed in protective custody were babies or toddlers.

The decision was greeted with jubilation among parents who happened to be at a San Angelo courthouse for their children's status hearings, which were immediately placed on hold.

The ruling

• IT SAYS: The state didn't prove all the children it took from a polygamist sect's ranch were in imminent danger of abuse.
• IMMEDIATE EFFECT: Ongoing custody hearings halted, other court pleadings by sect parents bolstered.
• WHAT'S NEXT: The state could appeal, or the order removing the children could be narrowed to apply only to girls who have reached puberty.
“Hurray. Praise the Lord!” said Sarah Barlow, 45, the mother of two children in foster care. “We're grateful for this.”

Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid Attorney Julie Balovich, whose organization filed the appeal, said it was “about time a court stood up and said that what was happening to these families is wrong.”
But it wasn't immediately clear how soon the children, now scattered in foster care across the state, might return to the custody of their parents, followers of a breakaway Mormon sect known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The ruling orders state District Judge Barbara Walther, who approved the mass removal from parental custody, to rescind her order.

If the state appeals the ruling to the full appellate court or the Texas Supreme Court, the children could remain in state custody until it's resolved, legal experts said.

Officials showed little eagerness Thursday to discuss their next step.

Child Protective Services issued a statement saying it would work with the Texas attorney general's office. A spokesman for the office, Jerry Strickland, said his agency so far wasn't involved in the case.

Though the suit was filed on behalf of 48 mothers seeking the return of their children, legal experts said it likely would apply to other parents in similar circumstances. Rod Parker, a spokesman for the sect, said he expected attorneys for other parents to file paperwork this week to ensure they “get the benefits of this ruling.”

The 3rd Court ruled the same way Thursday in a separate case involving three FLDS mothers — a mother of daughters, one with sons and one who gave birth last week and was alleged to be an underage pregnant mom, but whose lawyer says actually is 22.

“I think it's going to be hard to say the proof-problem that the state ran into here wouldn't be applicable to (all the parents whose children were taken into state custody),” said Dallas lawyer David Schenck, representing the three.

Schenck said he expected parents and children to be reunited “pretty quickly,” adding, “I think it's going to focus CPS' investigation more narrowly on the circumstances where there's actual evidence a particular child is at risk with respect to a particular set of parents.”
Observers said it was possible that Walther could amend her original order, possibly to ensure that post-pubescent girls remain in state care.

“The order might leave room for some tailoring in special circumstances,” said Scott McCown, a former judge who now heads the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin.
The appeals court ruling was a bitter blow to Child Protective Services, whose investigators accompanied law officers on a weeklong raid and search of the ranch outside Eldorado beginning April 3.

The raid was based on calls placed to a San Angelo domestic violence center by someone who identified herself as a 16-year-old mother and abuse victim at the ranch. The caller now is believed to have been a 33-year-old woman in Colorado with a criminal history involving making false reports.

CPS experts, at a two-day hearing before Walther last month, argued that the FLDS had a “pervasive belief system” that groomed boys to become sexual predators when they reached adulthood and taught girls to submit to underage marriage when they reached puberty.

The appeals court said the state needed more than that to remove children from parents.
“The existence of the FLDS belief system as described by the department's witnesses, by itself, does not put children of FLDS parents in physical danger,” it said in part.

“Even if one views the FLDS belief system as creating a danger of sexual abuse by grooming boys to be perpetrators of sexual abuse and raising girls to be victims of sexual abuse as the department contends, there is no evidence that this danger is ‘immediate' or ‘urgent' ... with respect to every child in the community.”

McCown said the appeals court didn't say children could not be removed from their families, only that Walther had overstepped her authority with an emergency order.

If the children are returned to their parents there's a risk they'll be moved to another state, Canada or Mexico and be outside the reach of Texas law, he said.

“One of the real dangers is flight, and the court doesn't address that at all,” McCown said.
As they absorbed the ruling on the lawn of the Tom Green County Courthouse in San Angelo, several mothers said they were uncertain about their next move.

Parker, the FLDS spokesman, called the decision wonderful and said he expected sect members to gather at the ranch late Thursday and predicted a mood different from a day earlier, when two CPS officials arrived at the front gate seeking a half-dozen other children they believed were being sheltered there.

The ranch residents wouldn't allow them to enter without a search warrant.

In San Antonio, lawyers for an FLDS couple, Joseph and Lori Jessop, who won temporary daily visits with their children last week and a full custody hearing today in a Bexar County civil district court, will use the appellate decision to bolster their argument that the state must return the three children.

“The 3rd Court has said that we were right all along,” said Rene Haas, the Corpus Christi lawyer representing the Jessops.

Lori Jessop had been allowed to spend days with her nursing infant but had been told by CPS workers, she said, that when he turned 1 year old he would be put in foster care like her two other children, ages 2 and 4 years.

On Thursday, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services asked the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio to stop Jessop's custody hearing, filing written arguments that state District Judge Michael Peden exceeded his authority and that “it would not be in the children's best interest to be torn between two courts rendering opposite decisions which would have to be addressed in further appeals.” A three-judge panel denied the state's request.

“We went to CPS today and said, ‘Give us back our children,' and they said no,” Haas said.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Justice around the world.

Not so pretty is it?

Kenya mob burns 15 women to death over witchcraft

A rampaging mob in western Kenya burnt 15 women accused of witchcraft to death, a local official and villagers told AFP Wednesday.

"This is unacceptable. People must not take the law into their own hands simply because they suspected someone," said Mwangi Ngunyi, the head of Nyamaiya district. "We will hunt the suspects down," he added.

The gang of about 100 people moved from house to house late Tuesday, tied up their victims and set them ablaze, the official said.

Ngunyi added that the mob also torched 50 houses in Nyakeo village, located some 300 kilometres (180 miles) northwest of the capital Nairobi.

"I can't believe my wife of many years would be killed so brutally by people who cannot prove their case even before God," said Enoch Obiero, a pastor.

"My mother has always been a role model to the entire village and why the mob had to kill her will remain a mystery to me forever," lamented 32-year-old Emily Monari.

The region, populated mainly by the Kisii tribe, has been dubbed Kenya's "sorcery belt" due to mob attacks on women suspected of witchcraft.

Efforts by the authorities to clamp down on vigilante and mob justice have been unsuccessful.

Dozens of suspected people were killed in western Kenya in the 1990s, amid allegations of sorcery.

Several cases were also reported in recent months in neighbouring Tanzania, forcing President Jakaya Kikwete to order special protection for albino, who were being murdered and mutilated for good luck by with-doctors.



That is really going to hurt.

'Squawk Box' Guest Warns of $12-15-a-Gallon Gas

By Jeff Poor Business & Media Institute

It may be the mother of all doom and gloom gas price predictions: $12 for a gallon of gas is “inevitable.”

Robert Hirsch, Management Information Services Senior Energy Advisor, gave a dire warning about the potential future of gas prices on CNBC’s May 20 “Squawk Box”. He told host Becky Quick there was no single thing that would solve the problem, due to the enormity of the problem.

“[T]he prices that we’re paying at the pump today are, I think, going to be ‘the good old days,’ because others who watch this very closely forecast that we’re going to be hitting $12 and $15 per gallon,” Hirsch said. “And then, after that, when oil – world oil production goes into decline, we’re going to talk about rationing. In other words, not only are we going to be paying high prices and have considerable economic problems, but in addition to that, we’re not going to be able to get the fuel when we want it.”

Hirsch told the Business & Media Institute the $12-$15 a gallon wasn’t his prediction, but that he was citing Charles T. Maxwell, described as the “Dean of Oil Analysts” and the senior energy analyst at Weeden & Co. Still, Hirsch admitted the high price was inevitable in his view.

“I don’t attempt to predict oil prices because it’s been impossible in the past,” Hirsch said in an e-mail. “We’re into a new era now, and over the next roughly five years the trend will be up significantly. However, there may be dips and bumps that no one can forecast; I wouldn’t be at all surprised. To me the multi-year upswing is inevitable.”

Maxwell’s original $12-15-a-gallon prediction came in a February 5 interview with, a Web site run by two former Wall Street Journal staffers.

“[Maxwell] expects an oil-induced financial crisis to start somewhere in the 2010 to 2015 timeframe,” reported. “He said that, unlike the recession the U.S. appears to be in today, ‘This will not be six months of hell and then we come out of it.’ Rather, Maxwell expects this financial crisis to last at least 10 or 12 years, as the world goes through a prolonged period of price-induced rationing (eg, oil up to $300 a barrel and U.S. pump prices up to $15 a gallon).”

According to associate of Maxwell at Weeden & Co., Maxwell is out of the country and currently unavailable for comment.

Maxwell’s biography on the Weeden & Co. Web site said he “has been ranked by the U.S. financial institutions as the No. 1 oil analyst for the years 1972, 1974, 1977 and 1981-1986,” according to polls taken by Institutional Investor magazine.

“In addition, for the last 17 years he has been an active member of an Oxford-based organization comprised of OPEC and other industry executives from 30 countries who meet twice a year to discuss trends within the energy industry.”

Although Maxwell’s prediction is for the long-term, not everyone supports high-end predictions, even in the short-term. CNBC contributor and the vice president of risk management for MF Global (NYSE:MF) John Kilduff said on “The Call” May 7that he expected gas prices to drop following the Chinese Olympics, as China’s economic boom slows down.