Monday, April 25, 2011

Chalk One Up For The Good Guys And One For The Terrorists.

The escape of 450 Taliban fighters captured during the U.S. campaign was mitigated by the news of a failed hijacking of a plane. Flight 329, an Air Bus from Paris to Rome was interrupted when Valery Tolmachev, 48, held what appeared to be a knife to a flight attendant's neck. He demanded that the plane be diverted to Libya. Fortunately, the other flight attendants kicked his @ss and restrained him in his seat. A doctor on board apparently also sedated the man for the remainder of the flight.

The man was described as "agitated." The plane landed safely in Italy and the would be hijacker has been arrested. Tolmachev had no previous criminal record. In fact, he was known to have lived in Italy and worked at UNESCO. The flight attendant was treated for minor injuries and released. This good news definitely softens the blow of 460 Taliban escapees. The escape underscores a growing concern that the local government in the south is losing control.

Update 4-26-11: 65 of the 460 escaped Taliban fighters were recaptured.

Update 5-2-11: First the Royal wedding comes off with out a hitch and now we know that bin Laden has been killed. Navy seals invaded a mansion in Pakistan where bin Laden had been enjoying "the good life." No American deaths were associated with the raid. In sum, we can thank President Obama for a good weekend. First Gaddafi's compound was bombed disrupting his tyrannous plans for a pleasant weekend and then Osama bin Laden was buried at sea. The burial was respectfully performed in accordance with Muslim beliefs.

It is now up to the world to decide if it is ready for peace.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Houston Kindergartner Brings Gun To School!

It could have turned out much worse; however that is little consolation to the students and their parents who were frightened by the thought of a kindergartner toting a weapon at a Houston elementary school. Two six year old boys and one girl were accidentally shot in the foot when the kindergartner accidentally dropped the loaded gun. (According to police, the six year old was apparently sliding the cocking mechanism on the Kel-Tec 9 mm when he accidentally pulled the trigger. The gun then apparently dropped to the floor.) The boy was merely showing off the weapon and did not intend to hurt anyone. All three were taken to the hospital in good condition!

What a scare? How could the parents allow a kindergartner access to a loaded gun? Authorities need to investigate this one very carefully. Steps need to be taken to prevent a future tragedy. A full investigation should lead to the parents answering some real important questions about supervision and maintenance of dangerous weapons.

Update 4-23-11: One reader suggested that guns are necessary for the weak because they lack the physical strength to protect themselves. They further opine that the disparity in physical strength is only negated with fire arms. After reflection on the issue, certainly there are alternative ways to avoid robbery, assault and abuse. See The Nursing School Degree article on avoiding sexual assault which is available by doing a Google Search.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Was the Lashandra Armstrong Tragedy Another Consequence of Domestic Abuse?

Domestic violence once again rears its ugly head. While undoubtedly we will also hear about postpartum syndrome, domestic violence remains at the core of the problem. Lashandra Armstrong apparently got into a domestic dispute with her live in boyfriend. He apparently is the father of her youngest child. She then loaded her four children into a minivan. She then apparently drove herself and her four children into the Hudson River. Her 10 year old son apparently escaped the vehicle before it sank. Everyone else in the vehicle died. And just like that, Lashandra Armstrong and her three children perished from this earth in little more than a blink of an eye.

Lashaun Armstrong, the 10-year-old boy was apparently found by Mavis Ryan. The soaking wet boy was taken to a nearby fire station where he said that his mother had driven off a boat ramp in Newburgh. (This is about 60 miles north of New York City.) The ten year old apparently had a different father than his youngest sibling. Tragically, he lost his two brothers ages 5 and 2, and an 11-month-old sister. The minivan was found submerged in 10 feet of water about 25 yards offshore. The woman lived in an apartment near the river.

The domestic altercation allegedly occurred about 10 minutes before the woman drove into the river. The fatal ramp was located just a few blocks from her apartment in Newburgh.

A similar incident occurred a few miles south of Newburg in 2006. In 2007, Victor Han plead guilty to child endangerment when he put his daughters at risk when he stepped out of the family minivan on Bear Mountain in June 2006. Their mother, 35-year-old Hejin Han, then drove the Honda Odyssey off a 300-foot drop, killing Hejin but only injuring the children. the recent Newburg accident is also eerily similar to Susan Smith, the South Carolina woman who drowned her young sons in 1994. (Susan is serving life for killing 3-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alex by strapping them into their car seats and driving the car into a pond.)

The importance of reducing domestic violence is well known. Let's do something about it. LINK

Update 4-15-11: The apparent murder-suicide took place after Lashandra became upset with rumors that her boyfriend had been cheating on her. Apparently family members indicate that she had been acting strange and paranoid in the days leading up to the tragedy.

Update 4-27-11: Jean Pierre, the 26 year-old father, strikes back! Pierre wants it to be known that it was the children's mother, not him who took the lives of the kids by driving into the Hudson River. Pierre claims that he has been unjustifiably vilified as a cheater and as a deadbeat, both of which he and his lawyer deny. Fact is, Pierre works at Dunkin Donuts and actually was not married to Armstrong. Pierre was also active in his children's lives. (Pierre did apparently have a brush with the law when a child endangerment charge was brought when his 2 year old was found wandering the streets. This was apparently resolved with "parenting classes."

So why was Pierre the target? After the tragic April 12, deaths, it was a natural human impulse to want to blame someone. But in this case, Jean Pierre claims the focus on him is entirely misplaced. Pierre is represented by attorney Stephen J. Powers and Michael O'Connor. Now some may argue that if Pierre and Armstrong had a better relationship then Armstrong may have sought mental help instead of the suicide/murder route. (Police claim Armstrong was involved in a domestic incident just before she drove into the Hudson killing Landen Pierre, 5; Lance Pierre, 2; Lainaina Pierre and herself.)

10-year-old La'Shaun Armstrong was not Pierre's son. He escaped and said his mother had had a "big, big argument about my step dad's cheating on her." Technically Armstrong and Pierre were not married but they did share a long term off and on relationship.
Regardless of whether there was a marriage certificate, this tragedy shouldn't be blamed entirely on a boyfriend because he was not monogamous. Mental illness, not infidelity is the true culprit.

Pierre elected to have a separate funeral and burial for the children. Given how he has been treated, it is hard to criticize his decision.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Barry Bonds Facing 3-2 Pitch In Court Room! Update 4-11

We've held up on an update because we hate to say we told you so... but we already foreshadowed this trial over three years ago. MITCHEL REPORT. Barry Bonds case is now in the hands of the jury after the Defense chose to call no witnesses. Closing statements aren’t evidence and typically they are not all that persuasive in most cases. But they do give the audience an outline of what the lawyer's think was important during the evidence phase of trial. The prosecutor’s theme was “all he had to do was tell the truth.” True enough statement. But did the prosecution meet their burden by proving beyond a reasonable doubt the basis for the alleged lie? With perhaps the exception of the single charge relating to injections, did anyone testify that “Barry lied?" If Barry Bonds was a rampant steroids user who knew that what he was doing was wrong, then why didn't someone testify as such in the courtroom?

The defense argued that the prosecution was a vendetta against Bonds. Prosecution witnesses were labelled as ex-friends or scorned lovers. Bonds was definitely intended to be "made an example." Why was it so important to tear down one of the last remaining sports heroes? Even if Bonds was not completely truthful, a guilty verdict may seem excessive given the relative insignificance of performance enhancing drugs. What real significance is there that a star baseball player took performance enhancing drugs when thousands of weekend athletes and weight lifters regularly take performance enhancing supplements without any real threat of prosecution? BALCO was already punished. Bonds' testimony did not prevent the prosecution of the "dealers." Kathy Hoskins testified she saw Bonds injected. But that alone does not prove that Bonds knew the injection contained an illegal steroid. Cortisone is legal. Growth hormone is not a steroid. In the end, was this trial much to do about nothing?

Again, is it really so important to destroy every American sports hero? Is there so much harm in kids admiring comic book super heroes that come to life in the athletic arena? The jury may soon reveal the answers.

Update 4-11-11: There are three charges of lying to a grand jury and one count of obstruction of justice. If convicted on any of the charges, federal sentencing guidelines recommend a prison sentence of between 15 and 21 months.

Update 4-14-11: And the pitch... it is a check swing called a third strike. But wait a minute, there is an appeal to the field umpire.... a federal court jury found Bonds guilty only on the obstruction of justice charge. Under oath, rather than say "yes" or "no" to whether he received drugs that required a syringe, Bonds gave a rambling response to a grand jury, stating: "I became a celebrity child with a famous father." U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declared a mistrial on the three charges that Bonds made false statements when he told a grand jury in December 2003 that he never knowingly received steroids from trainer Greg Anderson. Either Illston or the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether to overturn the lone conviction. Furthermore, federal prosecutors must decide if there is any point in wasting any more of the taxpayer's dollars by retrying Bonds for a second time on the deadlocked charges. Let's hope this contest is finally over.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Something Is Rotten In Gilgo Beach Area!

Shannan Gilbert, 24, of Jersey City has been missing since May. She was last seen alive in the Gilgo Beach area. As authorities searched for Shannan last year, they uncovered the bodies of four prostitutes in various stages of decomposition. Recently an additional body was found March 29 off Ocean Parkway, west of Cedar Beach. Forensic evidence has confirmed that the fifth body was not Gilbert.

As the search continued on Monday, three additional corpses were apparently discovered. This brings the total to eight. Police are now intensifying the hunt for a potential serial killer. So far it is believed that all victims had advertised on such sites as Craigslist. For the eight victims and their families, the premature endings have ruined a lot of dreams.

Lewis Wolpert, professor emeritus of biology at University College London, recently wrote a book claiming that "... people tend to become ever more cheerful and optimistic, perhaps reaching a maximum in their late 70s or 80s," Wolpert told the Telegraph. See: Assuming that Wolpert is correct, then the serial killer responsible for these murders should have to read the book so that he realizes what he is missing as he rots in prison.

Update 4-13-11: The remains of a nineth person have been found. Shannan's body still has yet to be recovered.

Update 5-2-11: Shannan's family retraced her last known moves. Police are expanding the search. For more information, please see comments.