Wednesday, October 31, 2007

This Date in (Non-)Fire History

I was planning on doing one of my interminably long posts on the anniversary of Orson Welles' Halloween gift to the nation, the 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds. Of course, the date was yesterday, not today, so ol' day-late-and-dollar-short screwed up again.

In atonement, go read what Mustang Bobby has to say about it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

"Bad Faith" Claims Against Insurance Companies

One of the countless magazines, journals, newsletters, and assorted other periodicals I slog through on a regular basis is Fire & Arson Investigator, a quarterly journal published by the International Association of Arson Investigators. The current issue contains two pieces that I found interesting.

The first article concerns the severing of "bad faith" claims against insurance companies. The article, by the way, discusses the Canadian courts' handing of the matter, but, by and large, the same arguments apply on this side of the border.

Generally, a "bad faith" claim is included in a suit against an insurer when the plaintiff (usually the owner of the damaged or destroyed property) feels that the company acted in bad faith in denying a claim under an existing policy. Such claims have been raised against many insurers in the Gulf Coast region after Hurricane Katrina.

Author Havelock Madill, Q.C.*, asserts that an insurance company faced with a "bad faith" claim connected to a suit involving the loss of insured property may want to sever the bad faith claim from the rest of the suit for several reasons:
  • "[The] severing of the insurance contractual claim for initial determination will result in a judgment for or against the insured. If the determination on the contractual claim is against the insured, then the action ends there and there is no need to consider the bad faith claim. On the other hand, if the determination of the contractual claim is favourable to the insured, then the insured will have a judgment for the amount payable under the policy, and what remains is a determination of whether it is also entitled to punitive or exemplary damages arising from the insurer’s conduct in respect to the handling of the contractual claim."
  • "[The] possibility that the insurer may be required to waive legal privilege in order to defend itself with respect to the bad faith claim. If the insurer would not have been required to waive legal privilege over communications but for the existence of the bad faith claim, then the insurer will have been prejudiced by the bad faith claim being conjoined with the contractual claim."
  • "[The] insurer’s legal counsel may be required to be a witness in the proceedings in respect to the bad faith claims. In such circumstances, the Professional Codes of Conduct in most, if not all, of the Canadian provinces would require that the legal counsel step down from their representation of the insurer. This, too, can be the primary purpose of the insured’s bad faith allegations."

I am far from being an attorney, especially a Canadian attorney, but there are some points I feel Madill overlooked.

Perhaps Canadian insurance companies are more honest in dealing with their customers, but here in the US, I think it's a foregone conclusion that insurance companies view income (premiums received) as their God-given right, and disbursements (claims paid) as an insufferable burden.

We have all seen, heard, or read of instances where insurance companies in the Gulf region denied claims arising from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, claiming that the damage to the property was caused by floodwaters (not covered under a homeowners policy), despite clear evidence to the contrary (e.g., a roof blown off, or a tree through the house). We’ve seen medical insurers deny claims on the flimsiest of pretexts, often leaving a family with catastrophic medical expenses that they can’t possibly pay. We’ve seen adjustors for automobile insurance companies demand access for repeated inspections, and then using a simple missed appointment as a pretext for denying a claim.

Let’s look at Madill’s points in order.

"[The] severing of the insurance contractual claim for initial determination will result in a judgment for or against the insured. If the determination on the contractual claim is against the insured, then the action ends there and there is no need to consider the bad faith claim.”

Madill is absolutely correct in this assertion, and there is no valid reason I can think of for pursuing a bad faith claim under these circumstances.

“On the other hand, if the determination of the contractual claim is favourable to the insured, then the insured will have a judgment for the amount payable under the policy, and what remains is a determination of whether it is also entitled to punitive or exemplary damages arising from the insurer’s conduct in respect to the handling of the contractual claim."

This is also correct, but I believe Madill has glossed over the fact that a second action – for punitive or exemplary damages – also means additional costs for the plaintiff. Remember, the insurance company will almost invariably file an appeal to a judgment against its interests, leaving the plaintiff with no money and steadily rising legal bills (which the insurance company simply passes on to policyholders; the plaintiff doesn’t have that luxury). Also, depending on the nature of the original decision, the insurance company – if its actions have been particularly egregious – may see the writing on the wall and pressure the plaintiff to accept a settlement for a nominal amount, rather than risk a jury’s sympathy. Additionally, separating the claims enables the defense – the insurance company – to file additional requests for delays, dragging the case out until the plaintiff has no further resources with which to pursue his claim.

"[The] possibility that the insurer may be required to waive legal privilege in order to defend itself with respect to the bad faith claim.”

Madill explains, “the insurer will likely be required to di­vulge communications and/or work product in order to defend itself in respect to the allegations,” and that, “allegations allow the insured an opportu­nity to gain insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the insurer’s position by becoming privy to legal opinions and other communica­tions that would be protected from required disclosure in the defence of the contractual claim but are relevant to the bad faith claim, and therefore open to examination by the insured.” This means that the insurance company, in attempting to show it did not act in bad faith, would have to reveal materials it would not otherwise be forced to disclose. While Madill has a valid point, the fact remains that bad faith claims continue to be filed because the insurance companies continue to shaft their policyholders. If they did actually conduct all their business in good faith, no one would want to see the notes of private meetings.

“If the insurer would not have been required to waive legal privilege over communications but for the existence of the bad faith claim, then the insurer will have been prejudiced by the bad faith claim being conjoined with the contractual claim."

At the risk of sounding like Malkin or Coulter, well, boo-frickin-hoo. If the insurance industry treated policyholders with respect, honesty, courtesy, and dignity, it wouldn’t have to worry about juries being prejudiced against it. The sanctimonious bastards brought it upon themselves.

"[The] insurer’s legal counsel may be required to be a witness in the proceedings in respect to the bad faith claims. In such circumstances, the Professional Codes of Conduct in most, if not all, of the Canadian provinces would require that the legal counsel step down from their representation of the insurer. This, too, can be the primary purpose of the insured’s bad faith allegations."

The reason the lawyer would be called, of course, would be to testify that all proceedings were handled in good faith, in a prompt manner, in accordance with generally accepted professional standards. This would not happen, if the insurance companies didn’t have such a track record.

Again, boo-frickin-hoo.

Madill notes that courts in Eastern Canada have been less willing to grant requests for severance than have those in Western Canada, and that it is a “basic right” to have all issues in a case tried at the same time.

Madill makes another interesting comment:

There must then be a compelling case made that the delay that will be experienced if the subsequent issue(s) needs to be determined is justified and is more than off-set by the expenses that may be avoided if it develops that the subsequent issue(s) does not need to proceed.

Madill fails to mention that the delay and expense work in favor of the insurance companies:

  • Most individuals will not be able to devote the time to a case that an insurance company can. The individual must arrange housing, or transportation, or medical care, or whatever it is the companies have refused to pay. If nothing else, the plaintiff must continue to work, to earn an income, to pay for the necessities of life, rather than spending months or years in a courtroom. Additionally, witnesses may die, move away, or their memories of the incident may fade. The incentive here is for the company to extend the process as long as possible.
  • Insurance companies have attorneys on staff on a permanent basis; they do not have to pay hourly the way the plaintiff must. The insurance company attorneys get paid whether or not they’re working on a particular case. Plaintiff’s attorneys, on the other hand, even those working on a contingency basis, cannot afford to put in countless hours without compensation. The advantage falls to the insurance companies.
  • Furthermore, the insurance companies know that if they can drag out the proceedings long enough, the plaintiff will eventually drop the action, either through bankruptcy or frustration at the snail’s pace of litigation.

So, while Madill has some very valid points, the most important factor has been ignored:

It is the long history of the insurance industry’s abuses of its policyholders that has led to the increasing number of bad faith claims.

It is not the “poor helpless little monolithic insurance company” against the “big, evil policyholder,” as the article would have you believe.

* Queen's Counsel, are lawyers appointed by letters patent to be one of "Her Majesty's Counsel learned in the law"; the position exists in various Commonwealth countries around the world. They do not constitute a separate order or degree of lawyers. They are, however, more than merely a professional rank, as their status is conferred by the Crown and recognised by the courts. In order to become one of Her Majesty's Counsel one generally has to serve as a barrister or a Scottish advocate for at least 10 years. [Source: Wikipedia]

A Crime Against Humanity

Via The Dark Wraith, I found a post by Peter of Lone Tree (one of the regulars at BlondeSense), linking to a Houston Chronicle story about a man taking his own life rather than vacating a home he had lost to foreclosure. The Wraith, with his inimitable flair, got right to the point of the matter:

Who here thinks - I mean, really, really believes - that any rich person, spitefully, blithely hateful to the working class, or pandering and blubbering to it, fundamentally has even a clue?

That fellow down there in Houston? He finally figured it out. When hope is gone, all that remains is the one thing almost no authority can prevent a person from having:

The right not to die on his knees.

The Wraith points out that the failure does not lie solely with the Republicans; Clinton, Obama, and Edwards are equally oblivious.

The Dark Wraith is, as usual, right.

I don't think it takes any great genius to recognize that politicians -- any and all politicians -- are completely insulated from the real world. When one has to be a millionaire to run for office, one winds up with office-holders who have a millionaire's outlook on life. And while most of them may not come right out and say it, I think their general feeling is, "I did it, so can you. And if you can't, you're a loser."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

skippy Awareness Week

Via skippy, I see it is officially "skippy the bush kangaroo awareness week."

This has been designated by The Center for Sticking Up for Non-A List Bloggers. As a C-lister myself (at least, as of the other day), it is the official position of 618Rants that you should go say HI to skippy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Fascism Is Coming Out In The Open...

The September 2007 issue of Homeland Defense Journal includes an article by “Prof. Dr. John L. Clarke”, a Professor of Leadership, Management and Defense Planning College of International and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall Center. As soon as I saw him listed as “Professor Doctor,” I was wary – this “stacking” of titles is prevalent in authoritarian societies such as Nazi Germany and the old Soviet Union.

Clarke writes:

In addition, an unknown number – at least to the public – of attacks have been prevented, through the undeniable disruption of terrorist networks and through increased security measures. Of perhaps even greater importance, high-quality intelligence work has resulted in the prevention and, indeed, preemption, of a number of potential attacks.

Of course, these successes have come at some price to the individual liberties treasured on both sides of the Atlantic. But it should be noted that the public, thus far, has been very accepting of the additional burdens placed on their societies. It seems fair to say that the balance between liberty and security has become more stable in recent years. But the fact remains that the greatest threat to those freedoms is the next terrorist attack. If that attack involves large numbers of casualties, or the use of WMD, then the public will demand, and governments will supply, security measures which may have a significant impact on liberty.

That said, much remains to be done…. [Emphasis added]

“Professor Doctor” Clarke – or should it be “Herr Professor Doktor”? – has taken his talking points straight from the bush/Cheney cabal:

  • “… [An] unknown number… of attacks have been prevented….” One of the primary “justifications” for administration secrecy is the “war on terror”, accompanied by claims – never documented – of tremendous strides in combating the evildoers. We are supposed to take the busheviks at their word that they are providing a suitable level of protection for Americans, a claim that may be debunked simply by looking at New Orleans.
  • “ [U]ndeniable disruption of terrorist networks…” Again, we are supposed to believe the men who said our soldiers would be greeted with flowers, and that the war would last three to six months. There have been no trials (other than Richard Reid) of those terrorists whose attacks have allegedly been prevented, and obviously, no convictions.
  • “[P]revention and preemption of attacks…” Another “fact” offered without any semblance of proof. If this administration had in fact prevented or preempted an attack, they would have been screaming it from the treetops. And claiming the need for “confidentiality to protect sources and methods” won’t wash, folks… remember, this is the same bunch that outed a covert CIA operative in retaliation for her husband’s criticism of the bushevik’s claims.
  • “[T]he public has been very accepting….” This is said almost as if we had any say in the matter. The administration has made it abundantly clear that they, and only they, have any discretion in granting or limiting freedoms. And since individual freedom is anathema to this Fascist regime, our freedoms are becoming more and more limited.
  • “[T]he public will demand, and governments will supply, security measures…” This is, of course, one of the main “points” repeated advanced by the busheviks – that if we do not surrender our liberty now, the “terrists” will have won.

To me, however, the most terrifying part is where Herr Professor Doktor Clarke says, “That said, much remains to be done.” In using this phrase – “that said” – Clarke reveals his arrogance and disdain for the freedoms he professes to support. “That said” is simply a polite way of saying, “Now that I’ve covered the politically correct bullshit, here is what we really need.” Don’t believe me? Listen carefully the next time you hear that phrase… I can guarantee you that whatever follows will effective negate whatever preceded it.

Clarke then lays out ‘what we really need’: “…a ministry of the interior, a domestic intelligence service and a national police force.” [page 24]. In mentioning a “ministry of the interior,” Clarke does not mean reconstituting the existing Department of the Interior, responsible for national parks, environmental issues, and the like. No, what Clarke wants is a “ministry” similar to those found in authoritarian states like the Soviet Union, mainland China, and North Korea, a ministry that inevitably houses a secret police or political police organization.

Additionally, the United States already possesses a “domestic intelligence service”; it’s called the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI has been tasked with domestic counterintelligence responsibilities since at least the 1940’s. Clarke’s objection to the FBI seems to lie in that agency’s commitment (even these days) to individual rights. Clarke also glosses over the fact that, in the free European nations, the national counterintelligence agencies do not have law enforcement powers; Britain’s intelligence agencies, such as MI-5, must request assistance from local police agencies or Scotland Yard to make arrests. It is the authoritarian nations – China, the Soviet Union, and North Korea – where the counterintelligence agencies have full police powers.

We also have a “national police force” that manages to function within the confines of the Constitution, the United States Marshal Service; other Federal agencies have law enforcement responsibilities within the scope of their respective duties. Obviously, the “national police force” that Clarke envisions would be based on the KGB, “the sword and shield of the party.”

Clarke also says:

Moreover, given the potential for catastrophic terrorism, every effort must be made to prevent and preempt terrorist attacks before they occur – even if this means the employment of armed force…. [page 24]

Again, Clarke is parroting the bushevik line – you must give us unlimited power to battle the terrorists. While I am in full agreement with the necessity of preventing and preempting terrorist activity, I do not agree that unfettered power for the government is the way to achieve that goal. The administration has already shown its willingness to use military force in the pursuit of its goals… regardless of the actual necessity of using that force. Giving government the green light to wage unprovoked, aggressive warfare, against “enemies” who have not been conclusively proven to pose a threat to the national security, is one more step down the slippery slope to fascism.

We have already seen many examples of the creeping fascism of the current administration: the virtual abolition of habeus corpus, simply by declaring someone an “enemy combatant;” the revocation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures through the use of “national security letters;” the limitations on freedom of speech and assembly (bush’s so-called ‘free-speech’ zones, where protestors are kept far away from Dear Leader). Telecommunications companies have been co-opted by the government, ordered to release confidential business records, with no notice to the citizens involved, and no accountability for the companies. In fact, they have recently been granted retroactive immunity for their trespasses.

“Big Brother” has demanded unparalleled powers in the “war on terror,” powers which have been granted by politicians and others desperate to be on the “inside,” to be close to the seat of power. This uninhibited raping of the Constitution has been carefully overlooked by those in power, leaving those of us on the outside – the poor, the weak – to raise the alarm. Those who can act to protect our Constitution, refuse to do so.

The Framers of the Constitution were well aware of the perils of a unitary executive; they had fled England for that very reason. The three branches of government were carefully crafted to prevent such abuses of power in this new nation. Unfortunately, the legislative branch – the Senate and the House of Representatives – have proven incapable of pushing back against the administration, while the judicial branch – the Supreme Court – has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican Party since the days of George H. W. Bush (remember, Junior “won” the presidency in 2000 by a single vote, thereby negating the power of the polls). With the two “competing” branches completely enthralled by the Executive, there is no effective means of stopping the busheviks. Civil disobedience obviously would serve no useful purpose, in that we have witnessed “legal” authorities trampling the rights of individuals to protect those in power.

The lack of a common perception of the threat across the Atlantic represents the biggest problem in transatlantic homeland security. Alliances are predicated on a shared sense of risk. Will the terrorists succeed where the Soviet Union failed, in convincing Europeans and Americans to abandon their solidarity and seek that separate peace? Therein lies the greatest danger of all.

Given the fascist tone of the rest of Clarke’s article, this final paragraph is especially chilling. Not content with the unitary executive power currently wielded by bush, Cheney, and the rest, Clarke apparently wants to expand their power to global hegemony. By rattling the saber of the Soviet Union – a nation that effectively ceased to exist more than twenty years ago – Clarke is using the old concept of the “Godless Russky commies” to instill fear in the hearts and minds of Americans, in an effort to force us to surrender those freedoms held nearest and dearest, in the interest of “national security.”

No, Herr Professor Doktor Clarke, that is the greatest danger of all.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ode to Casey and Clyde

I would like all of you to meet Casey and Clyde; it has been my honor to spend the past 14 years as their Auntie. Casey and Clyde have always been an old married couple, spending hours snuggling and spooning each other. Casey, the saucy calico, was the queen of everything (and she had no qualms about letting everyone know it). Clyde was for most of his life the shy quiet gentleman, I was one of the first people other than his mom that he allowed to get close to him.

We lost Casey a couple of years ago, and now we are preparing to part with our sweet Clyde, he hasn’t been doing very well lately, and then developed a growth on his paw that has been ruled cancerous. With the various health issues and the pain he has been in, his mom has decided that the time has come for him to join his love Casey.

I spoke with him for the last time Wednesday night that has always been one of our special things. You see after his mom moved to Boston, he instinctively knew when I was on the phone and he would climb up on her shoulder and start head butting her till she would either drop the phone or she would put it down for him to talk to me, I would talk, he would mew and purr, roll around on the phone and even push the numbers. I always felt his love and affection pop thru the line.

I know that at one time or another we have all had a pet in out lives be it ours or someone else’s that we have felt that special connection to and have had to say good-bye. To honor all of the pets we have lost I will ask that at 2 p.m. EST you take a moment to think of them and say a little prayer for Clyde as this Sweetest Day he peacefully joins his sweetie Casey for eternity.

“I shall not look upon his like again.”

~William Shakespeare

NOTE: The above was written by the lovely yet talented Mrs 618. I can only add that they -- like all beloved pets -- are crossing the Rainbow Bridge and will be there to greet us when our time comes. And unlike the last time we see them in this dreary life, when we meet again, they -- like us -- will be young and healthy and energetic.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

(Author unknown...)

TSA Laptops Stolen... Along With Hazmat Driver Info

Transportation SECURITY Administration, which is part of the Department of Homeland SECURITY

"TSA Laptops With Hazmat Driver Info Stolen"
Dark Reading (10/16/07) ; Higgins, Kelly Jackson

The Transportation Security Administration has experienced a security breach involving stolen laptops from a TSA contractor containing sensitive information about hazardous material commercial drivers. Two laptops, belonging to Integrated Biometric Technology, contained Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, and names of about 4,000 hazmat drivers. Information regarding the presence of drivers' personal data was obfuscated by two separate accounts from TSA, first stating they had erased all sensitive information on one laptop, then confessing the data was still present on both laptops. Although the TSA ordered all contractor information to be encrypted following the breach, Paul Kocher of Cryptography Research says the agency enacted "basic measures" only after a disaster occurred. A previous incident involving a missing external storage device left 100,000 TSA employees' bank accounts, payroll information, and Social Security numbers exposed. Security experts say they would not be surprised by terrorists attempting to attack the agency because of their failure to adhere to security best practices, such as deleting or encrypting sensitive data. Integrated Biometric Technology will provide those exposed by the breach with one year of free credit-report monitoring. [Emphasis added]

Now, what part of SECURITY do these MO-rons not understand?

Yup, makes me REAL confident in their ability to safeguard our security.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Update: Urban Paramedic

On Friday, I mentioned a blog that "ya really oughta read", written by TS under the pseudonym Urban Paramedic".

My timing is truly fantastic.

Monday, TS announced he would be leaving shortly to join the Army, specifically the Judge Advocate general's corps. he heads off to Virginia in february, but till then, he's got veriotable pooploads of things to put together.

Stop by his place and wish him well.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Another One You Should Read

While doing some research on the Winecoff Hotel Fire, I ran across a link to a blog written by a deaf firefighter. It is well worth stopping by.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Two Ya REALLY Oughta Read

I don't remember quite how I found this blog, but you really ought to check it out. It's called "other people's emergencies: random thoughts of an urban paramedic"[sic]. Written by a paramedic in Boston, it's real insider's look at the wonderful world of Emergency Medical Services.

I blogrolled TS last week, but I should have done a post about him(?) as well.

For the people like Blue Girl, and the others who have experience in emergency services, it'll be a look at how another agency does things. For those whose knowledge is limited to "Emergency!", "ER", and the like, it'll be an eye-opener.

Also, Kiko at (not surprisingly) Kiko's Place has some wonderful pet and wildlife pictures. I still have to dig through her archives, but from what I've seen so far, she's as much of a cat fancier as the lovely yet talented Mrs 618. I'll be blogrolling Kiko as soon as I can.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Kitty collar questions

Hi! Mrs. 618 here.Question for any of you cat owners, have any of you had problems with break-a-way collars. I had one on my last cat Jenna but she almost choked herself with it. While on vacation same thing happened to Joey while he was with my mom. He wiggled it forward, got it stuck in his mouth, panicked and started choking. My mom had to cut it off of him as it never broke away as it was to suppose to. I have been told by vets as well as other animal professionals that these were suppose to be wonderful, but my guys either wiggle or chew out of them and have never had a single problem with the old traditional collars. So please send me your comments and experiences, I want to keep the boys safe but not at the constant cost of these problems. Baily and Joey thank you for helping me make an informed decision.
Also a couple of after thoughts...
  • To you young men in Nova Scotia for taking you stance an promoting a positive change you really rock!!!!! Good luck with all your endeavors.
  • To Whoopi, Thanks for still provoking thought not just politics.You ladies keep me laughing and sane
  • My wall of Shame goes to...
  • All you educators out there who are telling the little tykes(4-6 years old) that a pat on the back, or hugs that they are guilty of inappropriate touching. When, where and most of all WHY where are you teaching them to show no compassion to others, 15-20 years of this and as the song says "What a Wonderful World it Will Be" (more hate , more violence, No tolerance will seep from one area of our youth to another and if we can't be bothered to talk to them from early ages on the difference between good touch and bad touch as well as age appropriate touches how the hell do we discuss real sexual violence and assault, anger management, racism and the bulling, how will our children ever be taught to trust, love and to follow the heart. They learn from their parents, teachers, nannies and all those who care for them. I personally feel we are morally obligated to let them see thing not just in black and white but that gray does exist. That it is not our place to pass judgement on others for what they believe but use respect, common sense and listen to all points of view. It is the only way they will learn to form their own opinion
  • Maybe we all need to take away the valuable lessons of our youth in Nova Scotia's Pink Peninsula, and let some of this trickle down the eastern sea board.

Zero Tolerance Raises Its Ugly Head Again

I just saw on TV that two children -- aged 12 and 13 -- were charged with sexual assault under a school board "zero tolerance" policy. A while back, I quoted Randy Cassingham (publisher of This Is True), whose essay on zero tolerance included this:

Again, as I've explained on -- my still-needs-to-be-updated ZT page -- I'm NOT advocating tolerance for REAL transgressions. Kids who actually sexually harass other students (and you can be sure that does happen) SHOULD get real punishment. But a 4-year-old pressing his head on an aide's boobies during a hug IS NOT sexual harassment, and how does anyone think it's OK to punish such a young child for that? And there are plenty of other outrageous examples on my ZT page -- and in TRUE's archives. This MUST stop; we're destroying our children -- the next generation of teachers, cops, and judges.

This case involved two boys swatting girls' bottoms during "flat-butt day"... the boys and girls swatting each other. Obviously, to the brain-dead MO-rons in the principle's office, this was outrageous conduct, so the boys were arrested.

Arrested. As in handcuffs, Miranda rights, the whole nine yards.

And six months later, when the case finally went to court -- courtesy of an over-zealous prosecutor -- the judge was presented with affidavits from every one of the girls -- every one of them -- leading the judge to dismiss the charges.

This is truly stupid.

Cassingham has a ton of other ZT horror stories at the link above. Go read them, and call your school board.

$5.5 Million Award in McDonald's Strip Search Suit

A little more than a year ago, I recounted the tale of a strip search at a McDonald's restaurant. Today, in a separate case, Louise Ogborn, formerly employed at the McDonald's in Mt Washington, Kentucky, was awarded $5.5 million, as a result of another McDonalds strip search.

This case involved a person on the phone claiming to be a police officer; the caller accused Louise of theft and directed the assistant manager to conduct a progressively more intrusive strip search... despite a history of similar fraudulent calls against the chain. The assistant manager complied, even to the extent of leaving the hysterical 17-year-old naked with her (the manager's) fiance. The fiance, acting at the "cop's" behest, forced the girl to perform oral sex on him.

Louise sued for $200 million.

Despicably, McDonald's defense counsel and experts tried some truly hateful tactics: saying Louise had gained from the experience (something they called "traumatic growth"), claiming that she had brought much of the stress on herself by going to the press, etc.

The jury awarded Louise $5.5 million -- not the $200 million requested in the suit, but considerably more than the previous record award - $239,000. [Update: that's the record for the county in which the trial took place; Louise's lawyer was quite pleased.]

Last year, I made this comment

If I were the chairman of McDonald's, I would make damned sure that every corporate employee, every franchisee, and every franchisee's employee was made aware of this scam. It produces bad publicity for the company (and the franchisee), plus McDonald's will eventually run into a judge who'll say something along the lines of, "this has happened x number of times, and you're still claiming you know nothing about it? I don't think so."

Okay, in this case, it wasn't the judge, it was the jury who said, "Uh-uh, no way."

Louise says she'll use the money to pay for law school.

Somehow, I don't think she'll be doing a whole lot of corporate defense work.

Pet Blogging

Here's Bailey, the "feral" cat.

Yeah, feral.

My ass, he's feral. My son's bichon frise has more feral street cred.

And I found out who added Garfield to my "Yahoo" page.
I thought that looked like Joey's hair on the keyboard...

Couple More Quickies...

... that I forgot earlier.

As a safety and security professional, I subscribe to an almost obscene number of print and on-line publications. One -- from the Dept of Homeland Security -- had a little glitch day before yesterday: hitting "reply" sent your message to all the thousands of subscribers (brought about by someone replying to change an email address). So, instead of simply receiving the day's mailing, we also received several hundred replies, ranging from introductions ("I like chardonnay and roasted duck") to job searching. It was heartening to see that some security professionals have a healthy sense of humor. It was disheartening to see, however, that some of my professional peers are humorless (and, in some cases, oblivious - "stop hitting reply and this'll stop".... umm, dude, that includes you). Today, exactly the same thing happened to another mail list, this one from the State Department.

Nice to see the government can't even control their own mail lists. Makes you wonder how in hell they expect us to trust them to run a war. So much for the Global War on Terra®.

NBC Nightly News just ran a story about two high school kids in Cambridge, Nova Scotia, who took a stand against bullying by wearing pink shirts. Their "movement" has now spread across Nova Scotia.

Mr and Mrs 618 say:


More a little later.


... and not the kind ole Senator Craig was looking for...

I was watching Cops a couple of nights ago, and was treated to a Palm Beach County deputy pointing out that the best thing about law enforcement was that he wasn't in a cube, sucking up the air conditioning, enjoying looking at a monitor. Instead, from what I could see, he was sitting in a Ford Crown Vic -- smaller than the average cube -- sucking up the air conditioning, and enjoying his mobile data terminal.

Next week is Fire Prevention Week. Go check the linked site, and make sure you Practice Your Escape Plan. You do have an escape plan, don't you?

October is also Crime Prevention Month. This site has a ton of useful stuff to help keep you safe.

Mr Conservatard has apparently been sent for deprogramming. We hope all is well with him...

Someone asked me a few days ago why I had not done a Fire History post on the Hartford Circus Fire, which occurred on July 6, 1944. The fire claimed 167 lives, including the famous "Little Miss 1565." The reason I didn't write something up was that it hits a little closer to home than the other major disasters I've written about. But -- since someone asked -- there will be a belated post about the fire within a day or two.

The Grand Old Perverts have released the logo for their annual convention, to be held in the Senator Craig Memorial Stall at Minneapolis Airport:

The lovely yet talented Dark Wraith has, not surprisingly, modified it slightly, to better reflect the rethuglican's true nature:

Various other bloggers have also taken potshots at it, including one -- and I can't remember whom -- pointed out the prison stripes, wide stance, starry eyes, and preparation to screw America yet again.

Anyway, more in a bit. For some reason, my rassafrassin' boss expects me to actually do some work!