Saturday, August 9, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

The "Mayors and Crime" trifecta is now in play

First, there's the story of the Mayor of Detroit having his bond revoked for leaving the country.

From the AP:

DETROIT (AP) - Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was jailed Thursday for a bond violation in his perjury case, his pleas for leniency rejected by a judge who made it clear the mayor would get no special treatment.

Kilpatrick, charged with perjury and other felonies over his testimony in a civil trial, apologized and acknowledged that he made a mistake when he visited Windsor, Ontario, minutes away from Detroit, for city business last month. But District Judge Ronald Giles was not moved, saying he needed to treat the mayor like any other defendant.

Now the Mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, had a SWAT team kick in his door and kill his dogs.

Again, from the AP:

BERWYN HEIGHTS, Md. (AP) - Mayor Cheye Calvo got home from work, saw a package addressed to his wife on the front porch and brought it inside, putting it on a table. Suddenly, police with guns drawn kicked in the door and stormed in, shooting to death the couple's two dogs and seizing the unopened package.

In it were 32 pounds of marijuana. But the drugs evidently didn't belong to the couple.

Police say the couple appeared to be innocent victims of a scheme by two men to smuggle millions of dollars worth of marijuana by having it delivered to about a half-dozen unsuspecting recipients.

The two men under arrest include a FedEx deliveryman; investigators said the deliveryman would drop off a package outside a home, and the other man would come by a short time later and pick it up.

A furious Calvo said Thursday that he and his wife, Trinity Tomsic, are asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the July 29 raid.

"Trinity was an innocent victim and random victim," Calvo said outside his two-story, red-brick house in this middle-class Washington suburb of about 3,000 people. "We were harmed by the very people who took an oath to protect us."

Calvo insisted the couple's two black Labradors were gentle creatures and said police apparently killed them "for sport," gunning down one of them as it was running away.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Mother Pleads Guilty To Having Sex With Teen

Becky Jo Tatum, previously arrested for unlawful contact with a minor, insurance fraud, drug possession and weapons possession, among other things, has plead guilty to sleeping with one of her daughters friends at a party.


COLUMBUS, Ohio — A mother accused of having sex with a teenager pleaded guilty to the crime on Wednesday.

Becky Jo Tatum admitted having unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. She said that she engaged in sexual conduct with a 14-year-old girl, her daughter's friend, at a party, 10TV's Maureen Kocot reported.

The teenager told police that Tatum's daughter claimed her mother had sex with other teenage friends, Kocot reported.

Bexley police also found more than one ounce of cocaine and a gun inside Tatum's home. She was not allowed to own a firearm because of a 1999 conviction for attempted drug trafficking and a 1998 conviction for promoting prostitution.

Tatum will be confined by an electronic monitoring device until she is sentenced in September. She could face up to 11 1/2 years behind bars.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Another domestic terror attack

Looks like arson and firebombs aren't just things that happen around here.

From the LA Times, it seems there's been a firebomb attack on two UC Santa Cruz scientists.

Santa Cruz -- Firebombs that struck the home and car of two UC Santa Cruz scientists this weekend were part of an increasingly aggressive campaign by animal rights activists against animal researchers at University of California campuses, officials said Monday.

Santa Cruz police officials said the blasts, which occurred three minutes apart, caused one of the scientists, his wife and two young children to flee their home through a second-story window.

There's a reward in the case:

City officials joined in harshly condemning the bombings and urged members of the public who might have evidence in the case to contact authorities. They announced a $30,000 reward, including $2,500 donated by the Humane Society of the United States.

"The threats and attacks are shocking and abhorrent," Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty said. "We as a community are unambiguous in our condemnation of these actions. Let me be clear, this is not protest. This is terrorism."

Nationwide, incidents of violence by self-described animal rights activists have been on the rise, according to the Foundation for Biomedical Research, which has tracked such attacks since 1981, when there was one.

In 2000 there were 10 such episodes against biomedical research facilities alone, and in 2006 that figure had grown to 77, according to the group's website. In addition, the type of attacks has changed in recent years.

"Prior to that, the vast majority of actions taken were against institutions -- break into the lab, steal the animals, trash the facility," said foundation President Frankie Trull. "More recently, however . . . they've become much more personal, attacking the researchers at their homes. California seems to be the focus of this activity right now, but not the only focus."

Note that there's also a $110,000 reward in a related case.

Federal and local officials on Tuesday announced a $110,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions in the attempted firebombing of a prominent UCLA eye doctor’s car last month.

A group known as the Animal Liberation Brigade claimed responsibility on a website for the act, which authorities described as “domestic terrorism.”

On June 24, an incendiary device was lighted next to a car parked at the Westside home of Dr. Arthur Rosenbaum, who is chief of pediatric ophthalmology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute.

The device did not ignite, but authorities said it had the potential to cause great harm.

Rosenbaum has conducted research that, among other things, used monkeys to test procedures correcting severe cross-eyed conditions.

UCLA says that all animal research at the university is humane and meets federal standards.

At a news conference Tuesday at FBI offices in Westwood, law enforcement officials urged anyone with information about last month’s incident to call the FBI at (310) 477-6565; the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives at (888) 283-2662; or local law enforcement agencies.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Psychiatry becomes pill pushing... as if you didn't know

Not that it's a surprise to anyone, but the AP is reporting that psychotherapy is in decline in favor of drug treatments.

His study found that the percentage of patients' visits to psychiatrists for psychotherapy, or talk therapy, fell from 44 percent in 1996-97 to 29 percent in 2004-05. The percentage of psychiatrists using psychotherapy with all their patients also dropped, from about 19 percent to 11 percent.

Apparently, the thinking is that insurance companies will pay more for visits to get drugs than for the time it takes the "talking cure" to be effective.

The expanded use of pills and insurance policies that favor short office visits are among the reasons, said lead author Dr. Ramin Mojtabai of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

"The 'couch,' or, more generally, long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy, was for so long a hallmark of the practice of psychiatry. It no longer is," Mojtabai said.

Today's psychiatrists get reimbursed by insurance companies at a lower rate for a 45-minute psychotherapy visit than for three 15-minute medication visits, he explained.

Of course, no mention of health care would be complete without marketing references:

As talk therapy declined, TV ads contributed to an "aura of invincibility" around drugs for depression and anxiety, said Charles Barber, a lecturer in psychiatry at Yale University and author of "Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation."

"By contrast, there's almost no marketing for psychotherapy, which has comparable if not better outcomes," said Barber, who was not involved in the study.

So, all that talk about "chemical imbalances" ( none of which can be objectively tested for, apparently ) is bunk? Is it all really just a matter of changing one's outlook and actions? Not that that's a simple proposition... but it's not something you need a prescription for.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Knights Templar sues Vatican

Yes, really.

From the UK Daily Telegraph:

The Association of the Sovereign Order of the Temple of Christ, whose members claim to be descended from the legendary crusaders, have filed a lawsuit against Benedict XVI calling for him to recognise the seizure of assets worth 100 billion euros (£79 billion).

They claim that when the order was dissolved by his predecessor Pope Clement V in 1307, more than 9,000 properties as well as countless pastures, mills and other commercial ventures belonging to the knights were appropriated by the church.

Damn. You can just about hear the popping of conspiracy theorists heads.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I'm not dead yet...

From the AP

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - A man believed to have died in a Colorado flood in 1976 has been found living in Oklahoma.

Sixty-three-year-old Darrell Johnson told the Fort Collins Coloradoan for a story Friday that he didn't know he had been counted among the 144 victims of the Big Thompson Canyon flood until a resident called him last year.

Barb Anderson said residents didn't want his name on a memorial plaque without proof he was dead.

Johnson and his family had decided to leave their shabby cabin the morning of the flood after just one night. A few hours later, the resort was washed away.

How Johnson ended up on the victims list remains a mystery.

He now directs funerals in Oklahoma City and acknowledges he was lucky to get the bad cabin.

Says something about the state of records. If the guy was declared dead in 1976 I'd think his Social Security Number would be in the Social Security Death Index.

Of course, having a living person show up in the death index is a real problem, so a death not being reported seems a better error, considering the problems than a "false positive" can cause.

Odd problem for someone in the death industry, though.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Happy Caturday

With a special Caturday appearance by lio:

Friday, August 1, 2008

Anthrax suspect kills himself

As seen on NPR, a suspect in the 2001 Anthrax attacks has apparently killed himself.

The sudden naming of scientist Bruce E. Ivins as the top — and perhaps only — suspect in the anthrax attacks marks the latest bizarre twist in a case that has confounded the FBI for nearly seven years. Last month, the Justice Department cleared Ivins' colleague, Steven Hatfill, who had been wrongly suspected in the case, and paid him $5.8 million.

Ivins worked at the Army's biological warfare defense labs at Fort Detrick, Md., for 35 years until his death on Tuesday. He was one of the government's leading scientists researching vaccines and cures for anthrax exposure. But he also had a long history of homicidal threats, according to papers filed last week in local court by a social worker.

Kinda odd that social workers are only recently filing papers about homicidal threats. You can read them for yourself here.

For a whole lot more on the anthrax attacks, ABC news and links to the invasion of Iraq, check out this opinion piece on Salon. Seems like there's a lot more to this story.