Flatulent Felon Faces Further Felonies

Sometimes reading the news is a such a source of frustration that I must take a break from it’s onerous affect on my well being.

Today is not one of those days. This news isn’t onerous, it’s odorous.

Apparently it is against the law to pass gas in Charleston, West Virginia. Well, at least in the presence of a police officer. And if you are so unfortunate as to fart in front of a police officer, it is in your best interest not to fan it towards him or her, even if the fanning is meant as self-preservation, not assault.

Apparently in Charleston, West Virginia the prosecutors are so bored that they are stretching the definition of battery to include fluffy attack.

It’s a good thing it wasn’t an SBD, or they’d have to a heck of a time proving he was the, er, perp. They’d have to interrogate everybody present:

Prosecutor: Mr. Cruz, did you in fact fart in front of Patrolman Parsons?

Mr. Cruz: Wasn’t me!

Prosecutor: Mr. Cruz, Patrolman Parsons smelled it.

Mr. Cruz: Well, he who smelt it, dealt it!

Prosecutor: He who denied it, supplied it!

Okay, I’m done.

No! Wait…

I hope his sentence isn’t too harsh. Perhaps instead of Taps this will be played at his sentencing…

NOW I’m done.

Shame on you, Citibank

Between 1992 and 2003, Citibank operated an “automatic sweeping” program that would without notice remove positive balances from customers’ credit card accounts—mainly those of the poor and the recently deceased—and pocketing the money. Now it’s been ordered to pay back $14 million dollars to the affected customers, plus another $3.5 million in penalties to California, thanks to California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr..

According to the article, in July of 2001 a Citibank employee uncovered the practice and brought it to the attention of his superiors. The employee was later fired for discussing the credit sweeps with an internal audit team. Niiiiiiiiiiice.

In one of the most outrageous examples of gargantuan kahunas and at the same time an obvious effort to win the Biggest Asshat of the Year contest, one executive apparently said (according to the press release of the California Attorney General), “Stealing from our customers is a business decision, not a legal decision.” The same executive later said that the sweep program could not be stopped because it would reduce the executive bonus pool.

And we wonder why the average American hates corporations.

So now Citibank has to pay back the money (they say they’ve already started). And their penalty for stealing from their customers?

Well, the state gets $3.5 million. And they should.

The affected customers? They get the amount that was stolen plus 10% interest.

Ten percent?

This was a broad conspiracy to commit theft, and abuse of fiduciary responsibility! It wasn’t a corporation that made this decision, it was flesh and blood men and women who made a decision to abuse their position of trust for their own profit. The executives responsible should be prosecuted criminally for their deeds.

And the whistleblower should be compensated handsomely. Unlike Citibank customers.

A ten percent penalty? That’s barely interest on a loan, and this was no loan. This wasn’t punishment. Forget “slap on the wrist”. This is more like a light breeze, without even enough power to make the hair on their wrists move. Gee, that will make Citibank and others who have engaged in this same type of deception quiver. Methinks there is the sound of laughter, popping corks and the tinkle of champagne glasses being clinked going on in the Citibank boardroom this week.

Attorney General Bob Butterworth, are you listening? Did this happen here in Florida, too? If so, I hope you pursue it.

And I hope you make Citibank really pay.

It’s a Good Thing I’m Not Watching the News This Week

If I was watching the news this week I’d have to comment on:

this: Jamie Lynn Spears engaged … good idea? Video,

this: TSA Forces Woman to Remove Nipple Ring, Woman Represented by Gloria Allred, and

this: Drew Petersen’s PR Expert Tangles with CNN Host Nancy Grace.

I could have had a lot of fun with these.

Indeed.

Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan has had many troubles lately, most of them her own doing. The substance abuse monkey is a very difficult one to try to get off your back, and the bad decisions one makes as a result of intoxication, self-hatred and general apathy can have far-reaching consequences.

But some of Lindsay’s troubles aren’t of her own doing. There are many who want to take advantage of her, and her deep pockets.

In October of 2005 Lindsay was involved in a car accident with one Raymundo Ortega. The California Highway Patrol determined that Mr. Ortega was responsible for the accident, having made an illegal U-turn. Nevertheless, Mr. Ortega, a busboy, felt that it was moral and just to sue Lindsay for $200,000 because she had the nerve to be there when he made his illegal U-turn. He alleges that she was fleeing paparazzi (not a crime) and drinking (likely, but there’s no evidence).

Lindsay settled the lawsuit with Mr. Ortega, but I really wish she hadn’t. I’m sure he didn’t get $200,000 from her, but he didn’t deserve a penny. Not one cent.

These types of cases really get my panties in a twist. The burglar who sues you because he gets stuck in your garage while breaking into your house. The kid climbs the fence to break into the pool area and breaks his neck diving in. The woman who sues the apartment complex because she gets bit by a dog in the park across the street.

Those people have kahunas. Great big mirrored brass ones.

I don’t have an issue with suing the truly responsible party if you are injured permanently or suffered greatly or lost money due to someone else’s negligence. But I shouldn’t have to pay someone who got hurt because of their own. Neither should Lindsay. And neither should you.

Yet another reason to get a Personal Liability Umbrella.

Adding Idiot to Injury

You suddenly find that there’s more money in your bank account than there should be. What do you do?

What if it’s an extra $5 million? Dollars, not pennies (though I’d certainly be happy with 5 million pennies, too!).

You’re a basically moral person. You call the bank and tell them about the error. They tell you there is no error; the money is yours.

Do you say, “Okay!” and hang up as quickly as possible? Decide you’ve done your moral duty and reported it? Realize that the bank must be right, it is yours by golly!? Do you go spend the windfall?

Of course not. You’re not an idiot. You realize that the only idiot in this scenario is the one you’ve been talking to at the bank who thinks you would forget that you’ve got $5 million coming to you.

You would go down to the bank and talk to as many people as possible until you find one who is not an idiot and can get it straightened out. You might even ask to keep the interest (about $400 a day at 3%), or at least score a toaster. Can’t hurt to ask, right?

You would not, under any circumstances, withdraw $2 million. You would not spend it on gifts and bad investments.

That’s good. Because then you would not get arrested and charged with grand larceny, like this idiot.

Three Cheers for the Sadistic Killer!

A few years ago I read a book, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, about a serial killer who only kills other killers. His foster father had discovered his proclivity for taking life, and instead of turning him in or getting him treated, he trained him to kill only those who are so depraved they don’t deserve to live. He’s a sadistic killer with a bad childhood, and he is so devoid of feeling he fakes every social interaction. A perfect solution to so many nasty little problems, no? So, he was an antagonistic protagonist, sort of.

I find myself fascinated with this character. He forces me to challenge my own beliefs about what’s right and what’s wrong.
What’s moral and just? How does this sit in the biblical context of an eye for an eye?   I feel empathy for his bad childhood, and he really seems to want to do as his foster father asked and kill no innocents. But still it bothers me that a stone cold killer is the supposed good guy, on our side. We can’t cheer him on as he’s cutting a child molester to pieces! Or can we?

On one hand, what a great way to bypass a little thing called due process. On the other hand, am I really going to cry if nasty people who know how to manipulate the system are exterminated?  But even the roaches I loathe aren’t killed by the exterminator by being chopped up in little pieces (though I really don’t know any exterminators so I can’t really say that with any degree of certainty).  And does it really matter if the extermination is humane?  Dead is dead.   And then, of course, I start thinking about the death penalty and, well, now you have a little glimpse into how my mind works.

Like many books I’ve read in my lifetime it’s stayed with me, and every once in awhile I’ll think about it, ponder the issues it ignites, and put it away. I like it that way. I wonder if other people are as disturbed as I am, and I argue each side. My own private little debates, most of which have no resolution.

My private little debate is going public, though. Why? Because they’ve created a television series based on the character, Dexter. It’s disturbing and powerful and pushes many envelopes. But will it start a dialogue similar to my own inner debates?

It makes me wonder what everyone thinks of this book, this show, this “solution”.

What say you?

Hey Legislators! Let’s make a Minimum 24-hour Jail Stay Mandatory

Eighty-four minutes. That’s how long Lindsay Lohan “served” in jail as part of her plea deal related to her guilty plea on drunken driving charges last year.

Eighty-four minutes. I’ve had longer prison terms in line at the DMV. And, really, how is that any different? We both sat in government offices, both of us subject to the whim of government workers, and we both got our pictures taken (though I’m sure hers came out better).

I just think these in-and-out terms are ridiculous. I understand that there are programs to reduce overcrowding, and that they give time off for good behavior. I don’t like but accept that there are these teeny-tiny itty-bitty sentences, which are more statement than punishment.

But really, no one should ever be allowed to serve less than twenty-four hours. People convicted of crimes that have jail sentences should have the  experience of the  bars closing behind them. They should have to sit in a cell and reflect, even if only for one full day, on what actions they took that landed them there. They should have to poop in jail. They should have to at least attempt to sleep on a too-small, too-hard cot. They should have to hear noises in the night that they didn’t make, and wake up disoriented. They should have to experience a day in jail so they can, hopefully, decide never again to make the choices that got them there.

Eighty-four minutes isn’t going to do that for anyone.

It seems perfectly reasonable and logical to me.  Legislators, are you listening?  At least, those of you who aren’t in trouble yourselves?

One Life Lost, Another Ruined, and I’m Out of Hands

A twelve-year-old kills an 17-month-old toddler, allegedly because she was crying while he was trying to watch cartoons.

Normally I completely avoid stories like this. Ever since becoming a mother I cannot stand to watch or read news stories involving harm to children. It hurts me to my core.

This story, though, is all anyone is talking about here. It’s all over the news, the radio, the supermarket. Moms were talking about it when I dropped my son off at school, the people at the table next to us were discussing it, loudly, as my family and I shared a meal at a local restaurant.

So, I’ve been thinking about it.

On the one hand

On the one hand, should a twelve-year-old boy be charged as an adult for a crime like this? Can his brain have formulated the intent to kill? Did he understand that by beating Shaloh Joseph with a baseball bat she would likely die? Did he think that, like in many of the cartoons he is so fond of, death isn’t permanent? Was he just so indifferent to life that he didn’t care?

Should his life be over at twelve?

My mother’s heart says to try him as a juvenile, and give him a chance to have a life. I think of my own son, but just can’t imagine that he would ever do something like this.

I’ll bet his mother didn’t think so, either.

On the other hand

On the other hand, some crimes are so grave they go beyond what the juvenile courts can really address. We had a case a few years ago when another twelve-year-old, Lionel Tate, killed six-year-old Tiffany Eunick.  That boy was convicted as an adult. After an appeal he was released and given a second chance, which he blew within months. Lionel has been in trouble ever since, and is now back in jail.

On the other hand, Shaloh Joseph’s life is over after seventeen short months. Her little personality didn’t have a chance to fully develop. She’ll never go to school, ride a bicycle, get married. It’s over for her.

Over.

Can any punishment really bring justice?

A tragedy waiting to happen

The boy was alone with the girl and another child when this happened. The mother insists he wasn’t babysitting, but either way is a twelve-year-old child responsible enough to care for two younger children?

My sister and I stayed alone when we were eight and ten. We were latchkey kids – a common occurrence when we were growing up. Today parents get arrested for doing what our Mom did.

Still, I wonder how this could happen. I wonder if he’s saveable. And I wonder if he deserves that chance. I think of another case I commented on, involving a seven-year-old who was charged with a felony after a fight, and I wonder where he’s headed.

I wonder, and I worry.

And I’m glad I’m not the one whose hands his fate is in.

File it under “Duh”

A few years ago a seven year old boy had felony charges brought against him for a fight that happened with another boy in first grade. He had punched the boy, then kicked, hit and scratched three other adults as they tried to get him under control.

Today he was found incompetent to stand trial – too young to understand the charges against him.

That’s the first Duh.

The boy is obviously troubled. Violence should absolutely not be tolerated, and intervention was absolutely necessary. Agreed. I’m totally on board. But charging a seven year old with a felony?

“This should have been a whole team of people trying to help a kid, but in reality it turned into an adversarial posture,” the prosecutor said.

That’s the second Duh. What did you think was going to happen? You could have gotten the kid – and the family – help without bringing these ridiculous charges. Help doesn’t need to be court-mandated. It just needs to be.

Children are malleable and capable of learning and should not be shackled with the felon label for life because of an incident such as this at age seven. No weapon. No blood. No permanent – or even semi-permanent injuries. I understand that there could have been. I understand that there could be a next time.

I don’t know at what age children should be held legally accountable for their actions. I just know it’s not seven.

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