Archive: OFF/beat Politics

No Pints for Chancellor of the Exchequer

British drinkers show distaste for beer tax.

By Emil Steiner | March 27, 2008; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

Guinness Lobbies for St. Patrick's Day Holiday

Should the celebration of Ireland's patron saint be a national holiday?

By Emil Steiner | February 28, 2008; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (18)

Fouad Mourtada Gets Three Years for Phony Facebook Page

The story of a Moroccan man's imprisonment, and subsequent international outrage, over a Facebook tribute page.

By Emil Steiner | February 26, 2008; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (22)

Selling Sex Toys Now Legal In Texas

5th Circuit Court of Appeals picks privacy over morality, but should buying "obscene devices" be as easy as buying guns?

By Emil Steiner | February 14, 2008; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (114)

British Council Calls Ghostbusters On Taxpayer's Dime

It may have been wrong for the District of Easington to hire a psychic medium to cleanse a housing project of evil spirits, but it was also cost effective.

By Emil Steiner | February 13, 2008; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (7)

Voytek, the Soldier Bear of Poland Battles Obscurity

The beer-guzzling, chain-smoking bear of Poland's 22nd Transport Company may be honored in Scotland.

By Emil Steiner | January 28, 2008; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (16)

Turkmenistan Loses Absurdity, Keeps Tyranny

While legalizing opera and the circus, Turkmenistan tightens its grip on civil rights.

By Emil Steiner | January 23, 2008; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (14)

Medical Marijuana Users Seek $200K For Lost Stash

A Colorado couple could make it a lot more expensive for police to patrol pot.

By Emil Steiner | January 17, 2008; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (96)

Medical Marijuana Payback Burns Colorado Police

Medicinal pot farmers find refuge and relief under the state's constitution.

By Emil Steiner | January 9, 2008; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (91)

Australian Politician Promotes Hope & Clean Underwear

Words to live by from an Australian senator.

By Emil Steiner | December 13, 2007; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (5)

Evolution, Creationism and Civil Rights

Can a biologist be fired for not believing in evolution? An OFF/beat poll.

By Emil Steiner | December 12, 2007; 11:15 AM ET | Comments (39)

Westboro Baptist Church Sings Hate And Freedom

The single "God Hates the World" goes viral -- and free speech goes extreme.

By Emil Steiner | December 6, 2007; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (45)

Medical Marijuana Growers Payback

A pair of Colorado pot growers may sue the police -- for $100,000! -- for destroying their stash.

By Emil Steiner | December 5, 2007; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (90)

Ripon High Cheerleaders Show Their Spirit

Six cheerleaders who flashed their covered backsides during a halftime performance were suspended. Does the punishment fit the crime?

By Emil Steiner | November 21, 2007; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (10)

The Joys of Multi-Party Politics

Bored with America's two-party snooze-fest? Here is OFF/beat's list of political parties.

By Emil Steiner | November 19, 2007; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (4)

Has Sonny Perdue's Rain Prayer Been Answered?

Can a prayer -- or millions of them -- affect the weather?

By Emil Steiner | November 15, 2007; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (171)

Bara Bröst Reveals Feminism's Assets

From Sweden, a story of topless rebellion.

By Emil Steiner | November 14, 2007; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (21)

From Facebook Follies to MySpace "My Bads"

When you do something stupid online, you're stupid online forever.

By Emil Steiner | November 13, 2007; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (11)

Of GW, Jewish Humor and Antisemitism

Did freshman Sarah Marshak commit a hate crime against herself?

By Emil Steiner | November 8, 2007; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (23)

Extreme Makeover: Santa Claus

With St. Nick being encouraged to slim down to curb obesity, OFF/beat has some other suggestions to make him even more jolly and appropriate.

By Emil Steiner | November 7, 2007; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (20)

Judge Roy Pearson Fired, Pants Appeal Still Pending

Was there finally justice in D.C.'s infamous $54 million pants suit?

By Emil Steiner | November 1, 2007; 09:32 AM ET | Comments (33)

Second Life Players Bring Virtual Reality to Court

Six virtual merchants files suit against a virtual thief in a very real court. Where does the game end and the law begin?

By Emil Steiner | October 29, 2007; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (49)

Aussie MP Kevin Rudd Waxes Disgusting

Is a man with so little savvy for the cameras surrounding him fit to hold his nation's highest office?

By Emil Steiner | October 24, 2007; 10:27 AM ET | Comments (42)

Second-Grader Kyle Walker Suspended For Drawing a Gun

The story of a seven-year-old who got suspended for drawing a gun (on a sheet of paper).

By Emil Steiner | October 23, 2007; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (71)

Myanmar's Panty Protest, Rome's Reddest Fountain

The return of absurd protests, demonstrations and political gestures.

By Emil Steiner | October 22, 2007; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (4)

Hanging Free Expression Out To Die

Banning nooses may make a lot of us feel better, but will it erase racism?

By Emil Steiner | October 16, 2007; 12:29 PM ET | Comments (26)

Bohemian Baby Dilemma

If you discovered after 10 months that the hospital had accidentally given you the wrong baby, would you switch back or keep the one you have? OFF/beat readers decide.

By Emil Steiner | October 15, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (11)

Christian Clown Busted For Kiddie Porn

As if Coulrophobics didn't have enough to worry about! An Illinois "Christian clown" has been charged with possession of child pornography and sex tourism stemming from a trip to a Filipino orphanage.

By Emil Steiner | October 12, 2007; 12:49 PM ET | Comments (41)

New York Councilman Nails Norwegian 'Daily Show'

A Staten Island Republican erupts in a profanity-laced tirade that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush.

By Emil Steiner | October 10, 2007; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (68)

Romanian Freedom Fighter Stages Casino Hunger Strike

Can one man change history -- or at least the decision of a local casino to ban him from the roulette wheel?

By Emil Steiner | October 9, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

Larry Craig Flip-Flops on Resignation Pledge

The Idaho Republican won't be coming out of Congress after all.

By Emil Steiner | October 5, 2007; 12:27 AM ET | Comments (58)

Middle School Shows Love By Banning Hugs

Who needs hugs, anyway?

By Emil Steiner | October 3, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (41)

Cavemen: Spinning Ads Into TV Gold

ABC's "Cavemen" sitcom raises a question: What other commercials could go prime-time with shows of their own?

By Emil Steiner | October 3, 2007; 01:40 AM ET | Comments (13)

Blackface-book: Should Whites Reenact Jena 6?

A college student's blackface rendition of the "Jena Six" stomping stirs Facebook controversy.

By Emil Steiner | October 2, 2007; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (87)

Attack of the Terrible Excuse

Sometimes even the best-intentioned reasoning can go terribly wrong. Here's the latest example.

By Emil Steiner | October 1, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (24)

Larry Craig: Pleading for Reconsideration

OFF/beat readers vote on whether the Idaho Republican is guilty of disorderly conduct, and whether he should resign.

By Emil Steiner | September 27, 2007; 11:50 AM ET | Comments (32)

The O.J. Simpson Verdict: Where Were You When?

With the prospect of another Simpson trial, readers submit their stories of where they were when the first verdict came down.

By Emil Steiner | September 21, 2007; 10:00 PM ET | Comments (6)

Pearson v. Chung The Latest Victim

The latest victim in the $54 million pants lawsuit is Custom Cleaners.

By Emil Steiner | September 19, 2007; 04:51 PM ET | Comments (35)

Andrew Meyer, Free Speech and the Joy of Tasers

How much Taser is too much Taser?

By Emil Steiner | September 19, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (160)

Florida Student Is Shocked at Kerry Forum

Does a student deserve to be arrested because his question went on too long?

By Emil Steiner | September 18, 2007; 09:15 AM ET | Comments (475)

Fighting Airborne Sartorial Terrorism

Has Southwest Airlines opened Pandora's lingerie hamper?

By Emil Steiner | September 17, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (24)

Who Are the Craziest Sports Fans?

Readers choose from six 'worthy' nominees.

By Emil Steiner | September 13, 2007; 01:00 PM ET | Comments (37)

Knut The Malingering Polar Bear

Do animals really fake injuries to get our sympathy?

By Emil Steiner | September 12, 2007; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (11)

The Upside of VeriChip's Potential Cancer Risks

Conspiracy theorists, ask yourself what might be gained by putting a carcinogenic tracking chip under your skin!

By Emil Steiner | September 11, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (27)

Art, Vegetation and the Birds & the Bees

There has been little protest as a performance artist creates the world's first porn theater for house plants. What would the Lorax say?

By Emil Steiner | September 10, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (14)

Does Sacrificing Goats Make More Sense Than TSA Procedures?

What is it about contemporary airport rules that make animal sacrifice seem logical?

By Emil Steiner | September 5, 2007; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (41)

Sen. Larry Craig's Image Make-Over To Do List

OFF/beat's six-step plan to re-build Sen. Larry Craig's tattered image.

By Emil Steiner | August 30, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (50)

Sen. Larry Craig Got 'Disorderly' in an Airport Bathroom

Another conservative Republican involved in a restroom sex scandal.

By Emil Steiner | August 29, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (160)

Sex, Drugs & Seniors: An OFF/beat Investigation

Is television behind the outburst in teenage judgment among senior citizens?

By Emil Steiner | August 27, 2007; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (13)

Man of Many Suits

Roy Pearson's title as most frivolous litigant may be in jeopardy: The challenger to his crown is a federal prisoner named Jonathan Lee Riches.

By Emil Steiner | August 23, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (24)

Is Russia Researching Mind Control?

Can the government use psychotronic weapons to control your mind, or is it all just a lot of crazy talk?

By Emil Steiner | August 22, 2007; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (49)

Transvestite Court Drama Stuns Nigeria

Another nominee for this year's wackiest trial.

By Emil Steiner | August 21, 2007; 02:00 PM ET | Comments (11)

Arkansas Law Opens Door For Really Young Love

If you're looking to marry a 5-year-old, Arkansas is the place to be.

By Emil Steiner | August 20, 2007; 02:00 PM ET | Comments (13)

Roy Pearson Appeals Custom Cleaners Decision

The case of Pearson v. Chung continues, despite the Chung's gracious and generous offer to end it.

By Emil Steiner | August 15, 2007; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (65)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners The Saga Continues

The $54 million suit that just won't die!

By Emil Steiner | August 14, 2007; 02:50 PM ET | Comments (46)

Roy Pearson v. Custom Cleaners The Final Chapter?

Could this be the end of the $54 million pants suit? Don't bet on it.

By Emil Steiner | August 14, 2007; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (13)

China To Regulate Reincarnation

Government regulation can be overbearing sometimes, but once you're dead, shouldn't the state should let your soul, well, rest in peace?

By Emil Steiner | August 14, 2007; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (16)

My Surreal Summer Vacation

He was a wheelchair-bound art teacher who lost it all thanks to a shock jock, a porn star and Salvador Dali.

By Emil Steiner | August 13, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (8)

Man Cleared in 'Sleepwalking Rape' Trial

Is 'sexsomnia' a viable alibi for rape -- or a criminal's dream come true?

By Emil Steiner | August 9, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (20)

The First Hacker Hate Crime?

A hateful DoS attack shuts down, but you can't keep a good gay gamer down.

By Emil Steiner | August 8, 2007; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (18)

Elected Official Blames His Arrest on Fear of Black People

A Florida lawmaker arrested for solicitation has a novel excuse.

By Emil Steiner | August 7, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (29)

No Sex Please, We're Vegans, That Is Vegansexual

New Zealand Researcher Identifies 'Vegansexualism' For some vegans, will zero tolerance equal zero fun? (TWP) In the ever-expanding world of sexual identity there are countless orientations, fetishes and predilections, but few as tasteless as this. According to a New Zealand study, some vegans will actually refuse to share a carnal embrace with carnivores. And you thought saying no to frozen yogurt and fur coats was a sacrifice! The University of Canterbury report, titled "Cruelty-Free Consumption in New Zealand," examined the perspectives and experiences of 157 vegetarians and other "ethical consumers" across the country. While 63 percent said they would want a "partner who was also concerned for animals in the way they were," some went further: They said they had no interest in a sexual relationship with a person who eats or uses animal products. Annie Potts, co-director of the New Zealand Centre for Human and Animal Studies at Canterbury,...

By Emil Steiner | August 1, 2007; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (28)

Offbeat's Definitive List Of America's Strangest Laws

Yes, yes, Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, was found "tied to his steering wheel in his birthday suit," but did you know that it is illegal to peel an orange in a Los Angeles hotel room? If not, don't fret -- OFF/beat is here to set you straight with our definitive list of America's 20 strangest laws (compiled from various websites and legal tomes). Readers are encouraged to add their own as long as doing so doesn't violate any obscure statute in their locality ... this means you, readers in Turkmenistan and North Korea! It's Against the Law to: 20) Fish while wearing pajamas in Chicago. 19) Sell instruments in South Carolina on Sunday. 18) Be drunk in a Wyoming mine. 17) Have a goatee in Boston. 16) Serve margarine in a Wisconsin restaurant unless the customer specifically requests it. 15) Eat a hamburger on Sunday in...

By Emil Steiner | July 31, 2007; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (12)

Sacred Cows and Sick Ones

Shambo & Skanda Vale: Welsh Hindus Facing More Battles Over TB-Infected Bovines Don't have a cow, man! (AFP/Getty) A struggle in Great Britain over the fate of a number of sacred but diseased cattle kept by a Hindu monastery is the latest battle in the tug-of-war between church and state. Last week Shambo, a beloved and revered Friesen bull, was dragged from Skanda Vale Temple in western Wales and slaughtered by British health officials after testing confirmed he had a rare and infectious form of bovine tuberculosis. Before the bull could be removed, however, monks and nuns from the Hindu monastic community formed a human shield around his enclosure, inciting a day-long standoff, attracting 56 officers. The 100 or so protesters where forcibly removed, and Shambo killed, but that may just be the beginning. New tests confirm that at least two more animals, a water buffalo named Dakshini and a...

By Emil Steiner | July 30, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (27)

In Memoriam: Weekly World News Dies At 28

Here are my 10 favorite headlines from the paper version of the WWN over the years -- what are yours?

By Emil Steiner | July 26, 2007; 10:33 AM ET | Comments (87)

Zimbabwe Duped By Mystic

Mugabe Regime Hunts Spiritual Medium After Miracle Rock Comes Up Empty Do you believe in magic? (Reuters) Since taking control of Zimbabwe in 1980, President Robert Mugabe has piloted the once-prosperous south African nation into the kind of tailspin that makes "Leaving Las Vegas" appear upbeat. And yet despite a list of political and economic missteps longer than ODB's rap sheet, his latest move still seems admirably idiotic. With inflation hovering around 1.5 million percent and massive fuel shortages the de-facto dictator did what any sensible head of state would. According to a number of reports, he pinned his hopes on a witch doctor who claimed to be have a magic rock from which diesel fuel oozed. Rotina Mavhunga the "traditional healer" in question, made headlines in April when she announced the discovery of "hundreds of years" worth of the refined fuel within a boulder on top of a hilltop...

By Emil Steiner | July 25, 2007; 12:40 PM ET | Comments (8)

Lack of Gay Rights Causes Alimony Abuse

How California's Stance Against Same Sex Marriage Actually Helps Lesbians Can homosexuals have their cake and eat it too? Is it possible that laws defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman provide benefits to gays unavailable to married heterosexuals? Judging from a recent legal ruling in California, the answer would seem to be yes. In March, I wrote about the story of Julio Roberto Silverwolf (nee Julia), whose ex-husband was forced to continue to pay alimony even though Silverwolf's sex change operation made it impossible for them to reconcile. That was in Florida. Now there's a similar case in California: A judge in Orange County has ordered a man to continue paying alimony to his ex-wife despite the fact that she is now in a registered domestic partnership with another woman. According to the ruling, Ron Garber is legally bound to give Melinda Kirkwood (she took...

By Emil Steiner | July 24, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (23)

Making the Language Barrier Work for You

A court's inability to find an interpreter for a suspected child rapist may allow him to go free.

By Emil Steiner | July 23, 2007; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (42)

Independence Day Fun List: Conversation Starters For Your BBQ

Top 9 OFF/beat Facts About Our Founding Fathers "Well, I still think: 'Life, liberty and two horses in every barn,' reads better." (National Archives) 9) While George Washington was a well known hemp farmer, did you know his gardener at Mt. Vernon was a rampant alcoholic? In fact the guy was such a lush that, in return for the promise of the sober fulfillment of his duties, our first President would compensate him with "four dollars at Christmas, with which to be drunk four days and four nights; two dollars at Easter, to effect the same purpose; two dollars at Whitsuntide, to be drunk for two days, a dram in the morning, and a drink of grog at dinner and at noon." 8) Anyone who's read the Declaration of Independence can surmise that Thomas Jefferson believed some rules were meant to be broken, but were you aware that he extended...

By Emil Steiner | July 4, 2007; 05:26 AM ET | Comments (10)

Washington's Hottest Power Couple?

Nuclear Power and Climate Change Create The Perfect Environment For Love Could this be the solution to global warming? (AP) Right now environmentalists are just playing footsie with the Burnsian forces of nuclear power. But this relationship is heating up faster than the planet -- any minute now, I expect the lights of the Capitol to dim and a disco ball to descend from the dome. On one side of this dance hall is Ms. Environmentalism, burning with an urgency inspired by dire prognostications and "Inconvenient Truths." Across the room she spots Mr. Nuclear Power, the dangerous bad boy her polls have warned her about. "Maybe he isn't so bad," she thinks. "Maybe nuclear power is just misunderstood. Those rumors about his meltdowns -- they're blown out of proportion by the popular oil boys, who are just jealous. They know he could be more efficient than they are. If Mr....

By Emil Steiner | July 3, 2007; 10:42 AM ET | Comments (3)

Illinois Swinger Sues Over Broken Heart

Cook County Court Says 10 Years of Marriage Worth $4,802 Love may not cost a thing, but stealing it can be expensive. (Getty) It's a story as old as time. A man and a woman meet, fall in love and marry -- but after 10 years, they become bored. So the husband asks the wife to begin sleeping with other people in front of him. The wife obliges, then falls for one of her lovers. Heartbroken, the husband sues the lover under an arcane statute. OK, so maybe this story isn't exactly universal. German Blinov, of Cook County, Ill., has been ordered to cough up $4,802 for "stealing the affections" of Arthur Friedman's wife, Natalie. Using a little-known state law, Friedman successfully convinced a jury that he was entitled to compensation from Blinov because his wife no longer loved him. Natalie Friedman admitted to having multiple affairs at her husband's...

By Emil Steiner | July 2, 2007; 10:11 AM ET | Comments (6)

German Sex Ed = Homosexual Role Playing

Berlin Schools May Battle Homophobia by Teaching Students Gay Pick-Up Lines Field trips to gay pride parades? (Reuters) They say you can't understand someone until you walk a mile in his shoes. Perhaps with this in mind, Germany's Regional Institute for School and Media has introduced a series of exercises in which students pick up same-sex partners. Pupils 14 years old and up will participate by practicing homosexual wooing techniques -- and in the process, officials hope, break down age-old schoolyard prejudices. Not everybody in Germany is enamored of this approach. "I think having such topics on how to pick up gay men in role-playing games for youths is completely wrong," FDP Party education spokesman Mieke Senftleben was quoted saying. "We are talking about 14-year-old pupils," she added. (Was she implying that youngsters should wait until they have reached the age of consent, 16 years old in Germany, before participating?)...

By Emil Steiner | June 28, 2007; 10:35 AM ET | Comments (20)

Sweden, Sex Offenders & Pornography

Court Says Rapist Can Have Porn Absolut Rehabilitation? (Bloomberg) Should sex offenders have access to pornography? If you live in Sweden, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, not only are they allowed to own it and read it, but prisons are also forbidden from taking it away -- for safety reasons. Fire escape? Check. First aid kit? Check. Penthouse? Double check! The decision handed down last week by the Supreme Administrative Court in Stockholm states that denying access to porn magazines to inmates serving time for rape could "jeopardize the security of the institution." And best of all for Sweden's diminutive prison population, the ruling cannot be appealed. Take that, Warden! Not surprisingly, officials from the Swedish Prison and Probation Service are perturbed. They say perusing porn can interfere with a prisoner's rehabilitation. They also make the argument that such literature excites inmates, who may then try to...

By Emil Steiner | June 27, 2007; 11:49 AM ET | Comments (14)

Bong Hits 4 Jesus: Supreme Court Rehash

Morse v. Frederick: Free Speech v. Half Baked Lawsuit Can Schools Censor "Non-Disruptive" Jokes? (Dudley M. Brooks) When high school senior Joseph Frederick unfurled a 14-foot banner reading "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS" during a class trip, he did it to get attention -- and it worked. His "sophomoric" prank not only got him the media spotlight, it also got him an audience at the Supreme Court, in what some legal experts have called the most important free speech case in 20 years. In yesterday's 5-to-4 ruling in Morse v. Frederick, the court held that schools have the right to censor non-disruptive student speech if it "can reasonably be regarded as encouraging illegal drug use." Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts stated that even though Frederick's message was "cryptic," teachers could reasonably determine the banner would be understood by other students as promoting recreational pot smoking. Dissenting, Justice John...

By Emil Steiner | June 26, 2007; 01:40 PM ET | Comments (48)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners Press Conference

Before an audience of dozens of reporters from several countries that was crowded into a tiny parking lot in Northeast Washington, Jin Chung stood before his dry-cleaning shop and held before him the pair of slacks that created a worldwide media sensation. As cameramen jockeyed for position, the Chungs' lawyer, Christopher Manning, said it was a "great day for justice." With their daughter translating, the Jin and Soo Chung said they were "happy with the result" when asked what they thought of the American justice system. They also stated that they are no longer planning to move back to Korea, and even went so far as saying Roy Pearson was still welcome as customer. The Chungs' lawyers added that they were certain Pearson would appeal. They also stressed that court costs, which Pearson has been ordered to pay, are much smaller than legal costs, which he hasn't been ordered to...

By Emil Steiner | June 25, 2007; 02:06 PM ET | Comments (54)

More on the Verdict in Pearson v. Custom Cleaners

$54 million for a pair of pants???

By Emil Steiner | June 25, 2007; 11:55 AM ET | Comments (106)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners Verdict

I have been inundated with requests for a full copy of the decision. Interested readers can find it here. Enjoy!...

By Emil Steiner | June 25, 2007; 11:37 AM ET | Comments (36)

Bong Hits 4 Jesus Supreme Court Ruling

"Morse v. Frederick: Free Speech or Half-Baked Lawsuit?" Schools Can Censor "Non-Disruptive" Jokes? (Dudley M. Brooks) This morning The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that schools have the right to limit a student's speech when it advocates criminal activity. The case of Morse v. Frederick, which some legal experts have called the most important First Amendment test since Vietnam, came about after high school student Joseph Frederick was suspended for unfurling a 14-foot sign reading, "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" during a class field trip in 2002. MORE COMING SOON......

By Emil Steiner | June 25, 2007; 10:56 AM ET | Comments (70)

Roy Pearson v. Custom Cleaners, The Verdict

Talk About Being Taken to the Cleaners (AP) D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff today ruled that Roy "Pant-less" Pearson is entitled to nothing.: "The Court finds that the plaintiff is not entitled to any relief whatsoever on his claims under the CPPA, Counts One and Four of his Amended Complaint. The Court's analysis of the plaintiff's CPPA claims applies as well to his claims of common law fraud in Count Two of the Amended Complaint. The plaintiff acknowledges that he is required to prove those claims by clear, convincing and unequivocal evidence. He has not proven those claims by a preponderance of the evidence, let alone by that higher standard. Judgment therefore will be awarded to the defendants, as well as their costs." MORE COMING SHORTLY, STAY TUNED......

By Emil Steiner | June 25, 2007; 10:16 AM ET | Comments (209)

Roy Pearson v. Custom Cleaners Update

Keeping Tabs on This Year's Most Frivolous Lawsuit Talk About Being Taken to the Cleaners (AP) Sources close to the case have informed me that a verdict in Roy Pearson v. Custom Cleaners -- the $54 million pants suit -- is expected either Friday afternoon or Monday morning. Feel free to give your predictions now. And, in the spirit of Bob Barker, the reader who comes closest to the actual dollar amount rewarded to any party, without going over, will win fame and possibly fortune, with an OFF/beat entry in his or her honor. Stay tuned......

By Emil Steiner | June 22, 2007; 12:25 PM ET | Comments (146)

A Controversial Condom in the Land of the Kama Sutra

Does the 'Crezendo' Violate Indian Law? Multi-purpose contraception? (Reuters) Few medical ethics debates have the potential to touch so many people as the one now going on in India over a tiny plastic ring called the Crezendo. The Crezendo, a condom with a battery-powered vibrating ring attached, has sent shockwaves through the world's second-largest country, where contraception is encouraged but sex toys and pornography are forbidden. In the state of Madhya Pradesh, conservative Hindus are particularly disturbed by the device, which they say is nothing more than a vibrator. Adding to their outrage is the fact that a government-owned company is involved in marketing it. Madhya Pradesh's minister for road and energy, Kailash Vijayvargiya, told the BBC that the government's job "is to promote family planning and population control measures rather than market products for sexual pleasure." But a spokesman for Crezendo's manufacturer, Hindustan Latex Ltd., explained that the product...

By Emil Steiner | June 21, 2007; 10:56 AM ET | Comments (10)

Save a Life, Lose Your Job

One Man's Heroic Response Violated His Employer's Policies Did Superman have it so rough? (Reuters) If you risked your life to save a customer's, you'd think your employer would at least say thank you. But the heroism of Colin Bruley, a Florida leasing agent, cost him his job. The story begins at approximately 2 a.m. on June 12, when Bruley awoke to screams in his apartment complex near Jacksonville. The 24-year-old, who worked and lives in the complex, was on medical leave at the time and recuperating in his apartment. When he heard a female voice shout, "I've been shot," he grabbed his shotgun and rushed to the scene in only his boxer shorts. His neighbor, Tonnetta Lee, had been shot in the leg in a third-floor "breezeway." A former hospital attendant and nursing school student, Bruley began administering first aid. He located the exit wound at the back of...

By Emil Steiner | June 20, 2007; 10:55 AM ET | Comments (35)

Mike Gravel: Presidential Candidate Gets Metaphorical

Liberal Political Ad Challenges Americans To Think Symbolically! Come Again? Mike Gravel, not afraid to throw rocks. (By Robert A. Reeder -- The Washington Post) At a time when presidential candidates only seem to be getting louder, Democrat Mike Gravel has bucked the trend with a series of "metaphorical" campaign ads in which no words are spoken. Not only that, there are no catch phrases, no news clips, no bar graphs or polls, and no muckraking of any kind... seriously. In fact, the concept is so foreign and bizarre that it has left seasoned political analysts demanding an explanation, which, it seems, is just the point. In the first, and most widely circulated, video (thank you, YouTube!) the bespectacled former Alaska senator is shown chest up in tight shot, standing next to a pond in San Francisco. He stares directly into the camera, with a grandfatherly gaze, his head cocked...

By Emil Steiner | June 19, 2007; 10:11 AM ET | Comments (12)

Roy Pearson, Custom Cleaners & The $54 Million Pants

Note: Please upgrade your Flash plug-in to view our enhanced content. var thisObj = "flashObj1"; var so = new SWFObject("", thisObj, "454", "279", "8", "#ffffff"); so.addParam("allowScriptAccess", "always"); so.addParam("swfliveconnect", true); so.addVariable("thisObj", thisObj); so.addVariable("vid","ms061407-2v_title"); so.addVariable("playads", "no"); so.addVariable("adserv",""); so.addVariable("autoStart", "no"); so.write("flashcontent"); Hey, I wanted to thank everyone for their support of my blogging of the $54 million pants suit. The coverage, as you probably know, has been absolutely crazy. Who knew a story about a pair of trousers could have such legs! I've made a number of appearances on MSNBC, BBC, NPR and WaPo Radio to discuss just how bizarre it is that a judge (of all people) is filing what must be the most frivolous lawsuit in recent memory. Above, there's a clip of my most recent MSNBC appearance for those who missed it, or who want to see a picture of me without those "OFF/beat" bubbles. And be sure to...

By Emil Steiner | June 14, 2007; 01:50 PM ET | Comments (62)

Louisiana Mayor Bans Sagging Pants

Delcambre To Punish Low-Rider Fashion With Jail Time The 'Battle of the Britches' Continues It seems like all I've been blogging about this week is pants, but this story -- like the $54 million pants suit -- is too strange to ignore. Still, I promise next week to drop my pants blogging entirely! That said, the droopy drawers détente has marched westward from Florida to Louisiana into the "Cajun-country town" of Delcambre. That's where Mayor Carol Broussard announced his plans to sign an ordinance making it illegal for folks "to let the waistband of [their] pants sag too low in public."The new law would carry strict penalties for violators, including fines up to $500 and jail terms of up to six months if underwear or private areas are visible. That second stipulation effectively closes the "commando" loophole left open by Florida's measure, which focused only on visible undergarments. Also, unlike...

By Emil Steiner | June 14, 2007; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (70)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners, Day 2

Talk About Being Taken to the Cleaners (AP) Soo and Jin Chung came to the United States from South Korea to pursue the American dream -- only to have it torn asunder by that other famous American institution, the frivolous lawsuit. The Chungs came to Washington in 1992 and built a dry-cleaning business of their own. Then Roy Pearson, a lawyer, judge and dissatisfied customer, sued them for $54 million over a lost pair of pants. Now the Chungs are reportedly contemplating a move back to Korea, where Mr. Chung worked in a charcoal factory. Perhaps he prefers the charcoal pits of Seoul to the courtrooms of Washington. The saga continues this morning. My colleague, Metro columnist Marc Fisher -- he's the one who broke this story -- will be reporting from the trial today. You can check on the latest developments at his blog, Raw Fisher....

By Emil Steiner | June 13, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (118)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners: Day 1 Wrap-Up

Well, Roy Pearson has mercifully wrapped up, and Day One of the trial is over. Tomorrow will begin with his cross-examination, which should prove interesting. After close to eight hours of courtroom antics, however, two things are clear: Pearson is a fastidious litigator, and Judith Bartnoff is a patient judge. But the temperaments of plaintiff and judge are not at issue here. The case is about a pair of lost pants. And from where I was sitting, it seemed pretty clear that no judge in his or her right mind -- with the possible exception of Pearson, who is a former administrative law judge -- could find that Pearson deserves $54 million for them. We'll know soon enough. One colorful courtroom personality I forgot to mention earlier was a flack for the the American Tort Reform Association, who showed up in a seersucker suit with a green lapel button reading:...

By Emil Steiner | June 12, 2007; 04:30 PM ET | Comments (65)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners: The Plaintiff Testifies (Continued)

After a five-minute break to dry his eyes, Roy Pearson came back to the courtroom. A hush came over the crowd, though it was probably due more to fatigue than to suspense. When the trial resumed, Pearson continued to describe how this incident occurred. Then he began to break down again. Then he paused and collected himself. Then, clearly having difficulty speaking, he asked if he could submit this part in writing. Defense counsel objected, and the judge assured Pearson he was doing fine. Pulling himself together, Pearson continued with his exhaustive description of how he -- or, in his telling, Custom Cleaners -- lost his pants. He testified that he is not a person given to threats, and so gave a lot of thought to this lawsuit. He did not want to litigate, he said, but he felt that D.C. consumer protection laws gave him no choice. At 3:55...

By Emil Steiner | June 12, 2007; 03:35 PM ET | Comments (32)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners: The Plaintiff Testifies (and Breaks Down!)

If I had $54 million in my pocket, I'd almost give it to Roy Pearson to end this thing. Pearson took the stand this afternoon in his trial against Custom Cleaners, and it wasn't exactly spellbinding. Pearson went into seemingly every minute detail of life: his history of community service, his weight gain as a middle-aged man, his financial woes and his painful divorce. Even the opposing defense counsel was rubbing his eyes and suppressing yawns. But the judge let Pearson tell his story, taking occasional notes, always with a somewhat bemused expression on her face. I could almost see the thought bubble over her head: Take as much time as you need to orchestrate your circus. (Though if circuses were this slow, Barnum & Bailey would be out of business.) Then, just before 3:30, Roy L. Pearson broke down, appeared to almost cry, and quickly requested a break. Would...

By Emil Steiner | June 12, 2007; 03:23 PM ET | Comments (47)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners, Witnesses 7 & 8

The seventh and eighth witnesses gave fairly quick testimony. First was Samuel Adinew, a salesman at Nordstrom who confirmed that he sold the kind of Hickey Freeman suits that brought rise to this lawsuit in the first place. Befitting his position, Adinew was well appointed, wearing a dapper gray striped suit, white striped shirt with double button cuff and pink/purple tie. Under cross examination, he testified that the most expensive pair of pants he sold cost $395. Next was Lewis Burnett, who works with Pearson as a D.C. administrative court judge. Pearson was his mentor, he said, and they had similar interests. But he and Pearson had not been able to spend much time together on weekends lately, he said, because Pearson was too busy working on the case. We'll see what kind of questions defense counsel asks Burnett during cross. Stay tuned....

By Emil Steiner | June 12, 2007; 02:43 PM ET | Comments (28)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners, Witness 6

Blogging Live From This Year's Most Frivolous Lawsuit After a one-hour lunch break, the trial resumed at approximately 2:15. For his sixth witness, Pearson called his son, a caterer. He testified that when he first started in the food-service industry, he didn't have enough money to buy a suit, so he often "shopped" in his father's closet, borrowing suits as necessary. He also testified that he was surprised when he heard his father was suing Custom Cleaners. "I know you don't like litigation," he told his father from the stand. "You had talked me out of one at one time."...

By Emil Steiner | June 12, 2007; 02:29 PM ET | Comments (7)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners, Witness 4

Pearson's fourth witness, Grace Hewell, was the most entertaining thus far. Instead of taking the witness chair, the 89-year-old wheelchair-bound veteran of World War II was placed next to Pearson. When asked if she would tell the truth during her oath, she asked the court officer to please speak up, explaining she doesn't hear well in her left ear. She then briefly recounted how and when she lost her hearing. Pearson began his examination by asking her to give her background; she responded that it may be too long to fully enumerate. During her long career, she said, Hewell had worked on a congressional committee for education and labor during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations -- a point which she brought up repeatedly and in varying depth over the course of her testimony. Judge Bartnoff commended her on her service but explained that she had been called to testify about...

By Emil Steiner | June 12, 2007; 02:08 PM ET | Comments (28)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners, Witness 3

Blogging Live From This Year's Most Frivolous Lawsuit For his third witness, Pearson called Rhonda Johnston, an employee of the Postal Service whose office was just a few storefronts from Custom Cleaners. She is the youngest witness thus far, with cornrows and a loud voice. During a long and colorful examination of her background, defense counsel objected that it was irrelevant. Discussion then moved on to her complaint, during which Ms. Johnston spoke in a vivid "Asian accent" and said she lost a $40 sweater. Custom Cleaners, Johnston said, claimed not to have damaged the sweater because it claimed never to have cleaned it. "'You not bring here,"' the Chungs told her, Johnston testified. "And I said, 'Yeah, I did bring."'...

By Emil Steiner | June 12, 2007; 01:44 PM ET | Comments (5)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners, Witness 2

Blogging Live From This Year's Most Frivolous Lawsuit Pearson's second witness, Lisa Hutchins, M.D., seems reluctant and is soft spoken. But it could be the courtroom's terrible acoustics. She stopped patronizing Custom Cleaners, she said, when one of her dresses was damaged. Ms. Chung claimed it had been damaged beforehand, Hutchins said, and pretended not to understand her. She testified that she told the Chungs they might lose a customer and they appeared not to care. Under cross-examination, Hutchins testified that her interpretation of "satisfaction guaranteed" would be reimbursement for the dress: "Yes, that would satisfy me." She went on to say, however, that "I don't believe in bait-and-switch practices, which I feel happened here." Custom Cleaners, she said, "should be counted on to uphold the law."...

By Emil Steiner | June 12, 2007; 12:38 PM ET | Comments (4)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners, Pearson Witness 1

Blogging Live From This Year's Most Frivolous Lawsuit Talk About Being Taken to the Cleaners (AP) After a break, Pearson called his first witness, Nora D. Faison. The rather stale testimony was punctuated by a moment of laughter when Pearson asked the senior citizen to hold up a 4-foot-by-4-foot map of the District of Columbia and describe her neighborhood of Fort Lincoln. The awkward dimensions made it difficult for her to do so while sitting and turning so the judge could see. Nevertheless, she managed to do so, taking several minutes to indicate in painstaking detail what several pins on the map indicated. After about 10 minutes of this, defense counsel objected, saying it was "a monumental waste of time."...

By Emil Steiner | June 12, 2007; 11:40 AM ET | Comments (1)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners Opening Statements

Opening statements were a contrast in styles. Pearson, who is serving as his own lawyer (make your own joke here about about the mental capacity of his client), went into great detail about how, under the D.C. consumer protection act, every litigant becomes a private attorney general, fighting for fair business practices but with limited resources.The lead defense counsel, Christopher C.S. Manning, said the case is simple: It's about people. He said Pearson was coming off a rough divorce and was under financial hardship, and the result is "a terrible example of American litigiousness." Throughout the opening statements, the judge had a subtle smile. I took it to mean that she was well aware of the ridiculousness of the proceedings, but she was willing to hear this case out, either because it was the fair thing to do or because it would be fairly entertaining. Or perhaps both....

By Emil Steiner | June 12, 2007; 11:12 AM ET | Comments (2)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners 2

Lawyers spent the first 40 minutes on pretrial clarification about whether the case should be about the pants or about the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign in Custom Cleaners. Although the defense, the judge and even Pearson seem to agree that this claim is not about the pants but about the sign, Pearson still wants to present evidence about the pants. Pearson has added so many complicated motions and such an intricately detailed pretrial brief that it appears he may be able to present evidence about the lost pants. Pearson goes through what the judge called "excruciating detail" to explain what seems blatantly obvious; it gets to the point where the Judge Bartnoff makes a wry joke that "hope springs eternal" that this case will wrap up today ... but it seems doubtful....

By Emil Steiner | June 12, 2007; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (22)

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners

9:40 a.m.: The trial kicks off. There are more press than family. Courtroom 415 of D.C. Superior Court is standing room only. Soo and Jin Chung arrived an hour ago, sitting to the left, both wearing glasses and headphones (presumably to get a translation). Roy Pearson showed up at 9:15 wearing a well-pressed blue pinstriped suit and purple tie. He greeted the press and joked: "A lot of you have wanted to speak with me."...

By Emil Steiner | June 12, 2007; 10:02 AM ET | Comments (8)

Justice Served (Finally): Genarlow Wilson Sentence Voided

Georgia Ends National Farce Over 10 Year Oral Sex Sentence Genarlow Wilson To Pick Up The Pieces Of His Life (AP) Unlike the final episode of The Sopranos, the tragedy of Genarlow Wilson has, at last, come to a very satisfying conclusion. The 17-year-old sentenced to a decade in prison because he had consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old, today was granted his freedom after almost 28 months behind bars. A Georgia appeals court judge called it "a grave miscarriage of justice," and reduced his aggravated child molestation charge to "a 12-month misdemeanor sentence with credit for time already served." For those who haven't been following the story, here is the background of the case: "In 2003, Wilson was a 17-year-old senior at Douglas County High with a 3.2 GPA and football skills that had caught the attention of a several Ivy League schools. He was popular among students and...

By Emil Steiner | June 12, 2007; 09:43 AM ET | Comments (299)

Sunshine Project Uncovers US Military "Gay Bomb"

Pentagon Examined Sexual Warfare Proposal From Air Force's Wright Laboratory The don't ask, don't smell bomb (twp) In my job I come across a lot of strange stories, but this is one is almost too wild to believe. In December 2004, The Sunshine Project, a watchdog group based in Austin, Tex., and Hamburg, Germany, that opposes biological weapons, uncovered a "U.S. military proposal to create a hormone bomb that could purportedly turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals and make them more interested in sex than fighting." The story got some press in early 2005, but quickly vanished into that great internet junkyard of forgotten URLs, the only memory being a lonely wikipedia entry. There it lay, all but dead until one week ago when The Huffington Post resuscitated the tale with a tongue-in-cheek entry asking: "[i]sn't it always the best ideas which fall by the wayside?" A CBS news affiliate in...

By Emil Steiner | June 12, 2007; 07:59 AM ET | Comments (48)

Friday Fun Poll: Should Amputee Oscar Pistorius Be Allowed To Sprint In The Olympics?

Can a Disability Give You Too Much Ability? Oscar Pistorius and his "Cheetah Flex Foot" blades (AP) South African Oscar Pistorius can run faster than just about anyone on earth which is pretty amazing considering that he doesn't have legs. Due to a congenital condition, the 20-year-old from Pretoria was born without any fibulae. Before his first birthday, his parents were faced with two choices: he could either spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair, or have both legs amputated from the knee down. They chose the latter, outfitting their son with prosthetic legs that allowed him to walk like anyone else, and it turns, to run even faster. Flash-forward to 2007 and Oscar Pistorius is training for the 2008 Olympics. Not the 2008 Special Olympics or a Paralymics, but the able-bodied 2008 Games in Beijing. Having already shattered the 100 and 200 meter world records for...

By Emil Steiner | June 8, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (18)

D.C. Judge Pearson Cuts $67 Million Pants Suit

Updating This Year's Most Frivolous Lawsuit Talk About Being Taken to the Cleaners (AP) Good news for the Chungs, owners of Custom Cleaners in Northeast Washington. Roy L. Pearson Jr., the D.C. Administrative Court judge who was suing them for $65 plus million over a pair of lost pants, has decided to reduce his claim. Now he only wants $54 million for the lower half of the suit, which cost him the sum total of $1,100. And you thought he was unreasonable! As I reported last month, Judge Pearson successfully took advantage of the District's bizarre consumer protection laws to unleash such a bevy of legal action against Custom Cleaners that they were virtually torted into bankruptcy. So vexed were they, in fact, by his punitive onslaught that the Chungs offered to settle for as much as $12,000 and contemplated a move back to Korea. Lucky for them, Pearson has...

By Emil Steiner | June 7, 2007; 11:44 AM ET | Comments (80)

Perverted Justice: Updating The Genarlow Wilson Tragedy

The Time Has Come For Georgia To End This National Farce Monroe County To Hears Genarlow's Appeal (AP) Though America's history is littered with tales of perverted justice, few have captured the national spotlight like that of Genarlow Wilson, the 17-year-old sentenced to ten years in prison because he had consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old. Today, amid intense criticism from human rights groups, the media, even former presidents, a Georgia appeals court is examining whether this promising young man, who has spent the last 27 months behind bars, deserves his freedom. And come Monday, if reason somehow manages a shocking comeback in the Peach state, he could be released, but I'm not holding my breath. Here is the background of the case: "In 2003, Wilson was a 17-year-old senior at Douglas County High with a 3.2 GPA and football skills that had caught the attention of a several Ivy...

By Emil Steiner | June 7, 2007; 12:25 AM ET | Comments (54)

Supermodel Gisele Slams Catholic Church

Gisele Dukes It Out With the Vatican at Brazil Fashion Week Victoria's Secret Angel, Gisele Bundchen (center) thinks virgin wives are so last century (AP) A supermodel is not going to change Vatican doctrine. But that didn't stop Gisele Bundchen from speaking out Tuesday against the Catholic Church's positions on abortion and contraception.The Brazilian supermodel told a Sao Paolo newspaper that the church's policies were concocted centuries ago, when women often were virgin brides, but that "[t]oday no one is a virgin when they get married." She went on to ridicule the church's ban on contraception, saying: "You only have to think of the diseases that are transmitted... I think it should be compulsory to use a contraceptive." And given that she has denied being pregnant with Tom Brady's baby, she's probably speaking from the heart.Not only is Gisele the world's most wealthy model, she also hails from the world's...

By Emil Steiner | June 6, 2007; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (17)

Singapore Radio 987FM Fined for FHM Bra Show

What's Worse: Women Removing Their Bras or the Suppression of Free Speech? "Two cups in the front, two loops in the back. How do they do it?" (Getty Images) In Singapore's latest battle to blot out obscenity, local radio station 987FM has been fined for hosting a contest in which models raced to remove their bras without taking off their shirts. The affluent southeast Asian city state felt such behavior was not merely inappropriate and offensive, but actually unfit for public consumption. As a result, MediaCorp Radio, the station's broadcaster, will have to fork over $9,800 for what Singapore's Media Development Authority characterized as "contravening a broadcast code." The rather juvenile three-part program, called "No Bra Day," on 987FM's Muttons in the Morning Show was sponsored by FHM Singapore and featured "Girl Next Door models" from a popular men's magazine. Further enraging officials was the video recording of that segment,...

By Emil Steiner | June 5, 2007; 10:26 AM ET | Comments (16)

Illinois School Denies Diplomas For Enthusiastic Cheering

Was Galesburg High Justified in Withholding Five Students' Diplomas Because of Parental Over-Exuberance? Honor Student's Achievement Superseded by Audience's Lack of Decorum (AP) When it comes to offbeat news topics few sources have been so rich as the American education system. The latest in what is already an embarrassingly long list of stories I've covered comes out Galesburg, a former factory town in northwestern Illinois, where five high-schoolers had their diplomas withheld because the audience cheered when their names were called during graduation. How could this be legal, you ask? Last month, Galesburg High School asked students and parents "to sign a contract promising to act in [a] dignified way. Violators were warned they could be denied their diplomas and barred from an after-graduation party." As a result, five students, including honors student Caisha Gayles, had what should have been a moment of celebration transformed into "one of the worst...

By Emil Steiner | June 4, 2007; 11:34 AM ET | Comments (73)

Friday Fun Poll: Is BNN's "Big Donor Show" Offensive?

Holland Tests the Limits of Ethics, Good Taste & Reality TV BNN Transplants Reality (Reuters) In just a few hours, Dutch TV network BNN is planning to air a reality show called "The Big Donor Show," in which a terminally ill woman will donate a kidney to one of three desperate contestants.Here's how it works: Lisa, the 37-year-old donor, will interview each potential recipient, review their histories and profiles, and speak with their family and friends over the course of an 80-minute show. Based on what she learns, she will decide which one gets a new lease on life, and which two go back on the seemingly endless donor list.Of course, no reality show could be complete without viewer interaction, and "Donor" is no different. Unlike "American Idol," fans can't affect the outcome by voting, but they can send in text messages to Lisa with advice on whom they like,...

By Emil Steiner | June 1, 2007; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (36)

Catholic Parish Cans Organist For Selling Sex Toys

Wisconsin Parish Says Sexual Consulting Inconsistent With Vatican Teaching This Organ Don't Bump Or Grind (Michael Temchine) From a teacher losing her job because of a Myspace photo to a professor being fired for discussing the Virginia Tech shooting, 2007 may become known as the year of wrongful termination. The latest victim appears to be a church organist from Wisconsin who lost her job for moonlighting as a sex toy sales rep. Linette Servais had played the organ and directed the choir at St. Joseph Catholic Parish in rural New Franken, near Green Bay. Much of that work she did as a volunteer, and she was by all accounts an active member in the church community. And so when Father Dean Dombroski called her into his office, Servais says, she had been expecting a "thank you," not an ultimatum. However, the 50-year-old organist was told to either quit working for...

By Emil Steiner | May 31, 2007; 11:40 AM ET | Comments (56)

Aussie Gay Pub Bans Heterosexuals

Is It Discriminatory for the Homosexual Peel Hotel to Exclude Straight People? Could Tom McFeely Be the Pioneer of "Heterophobia"? (AFP) In what may be the most ironic interpretation of anti-discrimination law since Plessy v. Ferguson, an Australian tribunal has granted a gay bar the right to ban heterosexual males and women under the country's equal opportunity act. The Peel Hotel in Melbourne won exemption from Victoria's state segregation prohibition by arguing that "it was needed to prevent 'sexually based insults and violence' aimed at the pub's patrons." According to hotel owner Tom McFeely, the ruling provided "gay men with a non-threatening atmosphere to freely express their sexuality." Beyond homophobic threats, the Peel was apparently also plagued by a zoo-like atmosphere where large groups of women, often on "hen" or bachelorette parties, would come to stare at the spectacle in a "dehumanizing" manner. In her opinion, deputy tribunal president Cate...

By Emil Steiner | May 30, 2007; 11:07 AM ET | Comments (25)

Ewa Sowinska Flip-Flops On Gay Tinky Winky Claim

Poland Retreats After Homosexual Teletubby Battle Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa & Po Dance To The Beat of a Different Drum (AP) Perhaps driven to reason by her "OFF/beat Idiot of the Year Nomination," Ewa Sowinska, Polish watchdog for children's rights, has backed off her previous contention that Tinky Winky of the BBC's "Teletubbies" could promote homosexuality, because he carries a purse. On Tuesday, her spokesperson announced that Sowinska "hasn't asked and won't ask" psychologists to investigate whether "Teletubbies" promote homosexuality in young viewers. Much like Jerry Falwell's 1999 battle against the colorful, rotund creatures, Sowinska was essentially laughed into defeat after suggesting mental health professionals should analyze the sexual orientation of what is essentially a puppet. As the roars of laughter and criticism, (even from her own party) poured in Sowinska was forced to make a hasty retreat which came in the following statement: "They are fictional characters, they have...

By Emil Steiner | May 29, 2007; 07:07 PM ET | Comments (12)

Poland To Examine Teletubby Homosexuality

Ewa Sowinska, Gay Children's Programing And Catholicism Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa & Po Dance To The Beat of a Different Drum (AP) Less than a fortnight after Jerry Falwell's death, a child-rights advocate in Poland has resurrected one of the evangelical leader's most controversial causes: Determining the sexual orientation of Teletubbies. Ewa Sowinska, a government-appointed "watchdog" over her nation's kiddie purity, has taken it upon herself to investigate the possibility of homosexuality in the BBC toddler show. Specifically, she is looking into the notion that one of the four colorful, rotund creatures (hint: purple Tinky Winky) could be a harbinger of a gay male lifestyle and, if so, what impact that may have on pre-pre-school viewers. Here's her thinking: Tinky Winky has a purse. Therefore she is a girl. But Tinky Winky is also the tallest character. Therefore he must be a boy. Something doesn't compute! As she told the...

By Emil Steiner | May 29, 2007; 11:23 AM ET | Comments (18)

BBC v Scientology: A YouTube Story Starring John Sweeney

When Reporters Attack L. Ron Hubbard Attention South Park writers looking for their next episode! (Comedy Central) While the verdict may still be out as to whether Scientology is a brainwashing cult or not, after a recent run-in with the BBC, two things are abundantly clear: Scientologists can't stand being called cult members, and they have the power to drive even seasoned journalists absolutely insane. BBC reporter John Sweeney, whose documentary "Scientology and Me" ends in a 40-second shouting match between him and Church spokesman Tommy Davis, has apologized repeatedly for his unprofessional outburst. But in this YouTube age, no mea culpa can undo an embarrassing viral video, which supporters of the Church were quick to excrete and smear across cyberspace. Still, a review of his documentary, which aired Monday on the British news show Panorama, reveals another side of what led up to the Springeresque moment. During the 30...

By Emil Steiner | May 25, 2007; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (474)

Free Speech, Employment Law and The Hooksett 4

Can You Be Fired For Gossiping About Your Boss? Sandra Piper, Joann Drewniak, Jessica Skorupski and Michelle Bonsteel Defend Our Right to Gossip (AP) Perhaps inspired by the Bush Administration's domestic privacy standards, officials in Hooksett, New Hampshire hired a "fact-finder" whose job was to "root out chatterboxes" within the town hall. As a result of that snooping, four female employees of the rural New England town were fired because they admitted to having a conversation about their boss's rumored affair. While on the surface, firing small-town workers for gossiping seems about as logical as expelling high school boys for telling fart jokes, sometimes it takes a shot of absurdity before people can see that logic... and in this case, several shots. According to the "fact-finding" report, it all began with whispers about a tryst involving Town Administrator David Jodoin and another employee identified only with the Kafkaesque moniker "A."...

By Emil Steiner | May 24, 2007; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (19)

Afternoon Teaser: Are U.S. Muslims Cool With Suicide Bombing?

Pew Detects "Hair-Raising" Islamic Ideology Within Our Borders Not Many U.S. Muslims Blame al Qaeda (AP) Forget fighting terror abroad, new research indicates there may be bigger problems in our own backyard! According to a study released today by The Pew Research Foundation, around 25% of U.S. Muslims under 30 say "suicide bombings to defend their religion are acceptable at least in some circumstances." About the same precentage of respondents feel that the U.S. war on terrorism is "a sincere attempt to curtail international terror."While this first-ever, nationwide, random sample survey of Muslim Americans found them to be largely assimilated and "happy with their lives," it also found that a majority of Muslim Americans believe it has "become more difficult to be a Muslim in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Most also believe that the government "singles out" Muslims for increased surveillance and monitoring." Still more bizarre...

By Emil Steiner | May 23, 2007; 03:13 AM ET | Comments (281)

NEE Party Attempts to Blow Belgian Election

Mysterious Mouthpiece Mocks Parliament With Sexy Ads Belgium: Where "No" Means "Oh Yeah!" (courtesy of NEE) There are campaign promises, there are dirty campaign promises and then there is Belgium's NEE party, which is offering voters something well beyond the bounds of decency, politics and, by some estimations, human capability. According to their Web site, Tania Derveaux, the "leading NEE party senate candidate in Belgium," is promising oral sex to 40,000 men in order to get voters to write the word "nee" ("no") on their ballots June 10th. The genesis of the 40k fellatio comes in response to ads by several of Belgium's more traditional parties promising "new job opportunities in ridiculous amounts." NEE, a self-proclaimed "impartial protest movement," responded with a parody campaign in which "candidate Tania" posed naked and promised voters "400,000 new jobs." As you might imagine, such provocative advertising "resulted in international media attention," and NEE...

By Emil Steiner | May 22, 2007; 10:18 AM ET | Comments (14)

Hong Kong Offended By Holy Bible?

China's Revelations of Religious Indecency Rock Judeo-Christian Belief Should Bibles Be Sold with a Warning Label? (iStockphoto) People have been debating what constitutes a racy book since before Moses was wearing short pants, but in its storied history the Bible has rarely been put on the "to be censored" list. Now, however, a decency watchdog group in Hong Kong has been "flooded with obscenity complaints" about its content, raising the question: Is "the greatest story ever told" appropriate for human consumption? Reports out of the former British colony confirm that "The Television and Entertainments Licensing Authority (Tela), which oversees the publishing industry," received "1,406 complaints" as of Wednesday that text within the holy book was "indecent." Those complaints cited instances of "violence, incest, rape and cannibalism" in both the Old and New Testaments. As a result, some municipal officials are contemplating the notion of regulating sales of the "Good Book"...

By Emil Steiner | May 18, 2007; 06:56 AM ET | Comments (38)

Richard Gere, Shilpa Shetty & India's Supreme Court

The Smooch Heard Round the World Hollywood and Bollywood meet in obscenity. (Reuters) In what might be the biggest no-brainer since Tyson v McNeely, India's high court today suspended all legal proceedings against Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty for kissing in public. Despite outrage from hard-line Hindu groups, the pair's indecency charge, which had become the bane of many Indians' national pride and the butt of many comedians' jokes, may now, finally be put to bed. For those keeping score, it all began back on April 15th, when Gere appeared at an AIDS awareness rally in Jaipur, India. During his onstage plea to promote condom use among truck drivers, the American actor affectionately grabbed and pecked Bollywood superstar Shilpa Shetty three times on the cheek. As a result of that seemingly innocuous gesture, a local court ordered the arrest of Gere and Shetty, finding them in violation "public obscenity" laws....

By Emil Steiner | May 16, 2007; 05:29 AM ET | Comments (91)

Islam, Hijabs & Taekwondo

Commonsense vs. Political Correctness or Anti-Muslim Rhetoric? Which is More Dangerous? (AP) What started as a minor dispute over karate headgear has degenerated into an international incident that could tear apart an Olympic sport. On Monday, amid pugnacious rancor, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) upheld a ban on Muslim hijabs during sanctioned matches, fueling cries of religious intolerance.The fashion feud started at a tournament in Quebec last month when "five Muslim girls, ages eight to 13... were told they could not compete... unless they removed their headscarves." Though the official rules state that "[w]earing any item on the head other than the head protector shall not be permitted," the ultimatum sparked a flurry of outrage across Canada with protesters claiming unfair treatment and inconsistent application. Taekwondo officials, however, maintained that the policy exists for safety concerns, not discrimination, since the WTF recognizes no religion. However, the debate over "reasonable accommodation"...

By Emil Steiner | May 15, 2007; 10:01 AM ET | Comments (16)

Al Sharpton, Mitt Romney & Bigotry

Is Hypocrisy Protected by the First Amendment? Hypocrisy: America's purest form of irony. (AP) When Al Sharpton publicly harpooned Don Imus for his "nappy-headed hos" remark, a lot of American's wondered: "is the pot calling the kettle black?" Confirmation of that question may have come during a debate, Monday, when the Reverend said the following about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney: "As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways, so don't worry about that; that's a temporary situation." And a contented "I told you so" echoed from sea to shining sea. Why? Because let's face it, America loves catching a hypocrite, and never has there been one better positioned than Al Sharpton. The set up was perfect, the delivery impeccable. There he stood on high moral ground chastising a comedian for stepping over the line and then, less a month...

By Emil Steiner | May 10, 2007; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (278)

Cocaine, Marketing & The Food & Drug Administration

Energy Drink Pulled Because of Addictive Sounding Name The politics of branding fear(AFP) Under pressure from the Food and Drug Administration and local politicians, Redux Beverages LLC is pulling their energy drink Cocaine, from shelves nationwide. "Why?," you ask. . . Because regulators felt kids might be getting the wrong idea. In a letter sent to Redux last month, the FDA "issued a warning... that said Redux was illegally marketing the drink as a street drug alternative and a dietary supplement," a contention the company jokingly dismissed. "Of course, we intended for Cocaine energy drink to be a legal alternative the same way that celibacy is an alternative to premarital sex," partner Clegg Ivey mused. "It's not the same thing and no one thinks it is."Yet Attorneys General across America seem to believe the drink is far from safe and they have teamed up with judges and organizations like the...

By Emil Steiner | May 9, 2007; 12:47 PM ET | Comments (19)

Thailand to Sue YouTube for Insulting King Bhumibol

Google Searches Solutions Beyond Censorship King Bhumibol Adulyadej to YouTube: Shall we dance... in court? (Bloomberg) If America is the undisputed champion of frivolous lawsuits, Thailand may soon become the number one contender for that crown. According to reports, the south-east Asian nation is considering taking legal action against video-sharing site YouTube for airing "insulting" clips of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, including some where his head is shown near feet. You read right, feet, which despite their relative banality in much of the world are considered dirty and offensive in Thailand. (And you thought being a podiatrist was rough here!) When the tootsy-trailers began airing last month, the military-backed government began blocking access to YouTube within its borders. The country-wide censorship came just days after a Swiss citizen was sentenced to 10 years in jail for defacing an image of the king (who later pardoned him). It should be noted that...

By Emil Steiner | May 8, 2007; 10:37 AM ET | Comments (59)

Free Speech, Presidential Politics & The DMV

The One Place on Your Car Where You Can't Write "Impeach Bush" Does The First Amendment Cover Vanity Plates? (AP) Bumper stickers on hybrids are about as common as flags on pick-ups, but for one Prius driver in South Dakota, slapping on a politically charged sticker just wasn't enough. Heather Moriah, of Rapid City wants President Bush to be impeached, and what's more, she wants everyone tailgating her to know it. So the conservation organizer for the West River Office of the Sierra Club installed a set of vanity plates reading "MPEACHW" on her silver, 2005 Prius. Unfortunately for her someone did not agree with that position and filed a complaint with the state. A few days later, Moriah received a letter stating that the South Dakota Department of Motor Vehicles was recalling her plates. She was given 10 days to turn them over or state troopers might be sent...

By Emil Steiner | May 7, 2007; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (14)

Republican Presidential Debate Queries

No Clear Winners, No Clear Losers, Clearly Not Many Viewers The Candidates Praise Reagan In His Library (AP) On Thursday night, 10 Republican hopefuls traded sound-bites in the second "debate" of the 2008 presidential race. Much like the opening round of a boxing match the candidates seemed to be feeling each other out, no one willing to throw any huge punches or risk getting knocked down. Still, a couple things stood out to me as particularly offbeat. First of all, The Ronald Reagan National Library, which played host to last night's proceedings, must be the only library on earth that has a full-size airplane hanging from its ceiling. There probably is a good reason for it being there, but I'm guessing literacy isn't it.Second, if you did a shot every time someone evoked the name of Ronald Reagan you'd have been staggering drunk within a few minutes. Equally staggering, perhaps,...

By Emil Steiner | May 5, 2007; 11:15 AM ET | Comments (46)

D.C. Judge Wants $65 Million for Lost Pants

Panel Considers Reappointing Judge Roy L. Pearson Jr. Talk About Being Taken to the Cleaners (AP) It began innocently enough. A dry cleaner losing a pair of pants, an enraged customer seeking justice... just like that episode of Seinfeld. We've all been there, we've all wanted revenge, but what can we do? What indeed. Unfortunately for the Chungs, owners of Custom Cleaners in Northeast Washington, this pair of misplaced pants belonged to Judge Roy L. Pearson Jr., who unleashed an avalanche of legal absurdity so perverse Kafka would blush. The administrative judge -- whose job, mind you, entails determining civil infractions and penalties -- claimed that he deserves $65,462,500 in damages for the "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort" caused by the loss of his suit pants. To put that figure in some perspective, at his current salary, it would take Judge Pearson just under 650 years to earn that kind...

By Emil Steiner | May 4, 2007; 10:58 AM ET | Comments (259)

Florida Senator Battles Sagging Fashion

Democratic Senator Gary Siplin Wants To Ban Low Riding Pants Florida's 'Battle of the Britches' Continues Despite Absurdity In what may be the biggest waste of a state legislature's time since Texas congressman Edmund Kuempel fought to get guns in the hands of blind people, Orlando Senator Gary Siplin has finally dropped his "pull up your pants bill" but not before lecturing members of the gallery on the evils of low-riding trousers. In his words: "We want the kids to focus in on educating themselves, so they can matriculate through the education process and get a job and be a taxpayer, not a tax burden," (which baggy-pants-wearers are?). A number of students in attendance to protest the state education committee's lack of funding for cyber bullying were not impressed. One sixth grader summed up the situation aptly by pointing out "I think what we're here for is more important." Under...

By Emil Steiner | May 2, 2007; 11:07 AM ET | Comments (12)

MySpace Photo Costs Teacher Education Degree

Teacher Sues For Diploma And Damages What You Put On MySpace Could Cost You Your Job (Bloomberg News) The ongoing debate over how much an educator's out-of-school behavior should affect his or her job has taken a decidedly youthful turn.Teacher in training Stacy Snyder was denied her education degree on the eve of graduation when Millersville University apparently found pictures on her MySpace page "promoting underage drinking." As a result, the 27-year-old mother of two had her teaching certificate withheld and was granted an English degree instead. In response, Snyder has filed a Federal lawsuit against the Pennsylvania university asking for her education diploma and certificate along with $75,000 in damages. So what, you're probably asking yourself, could have been in this picture that was so abhorrent as to make Stacy Snyder unworthy of teaching children? Was she force-feeding a 6-year-old bourbon from a bottle or spiking a middle school...

By Emil Steiner | May 1, 2007; 12:10 PM ET | Comments (196)

Illinois Honor Student Arrested For Creative Writing

The Civil Liberties Civic Protection Tug-of-War Intensifies Allen Lee's Creative Writing May Have Been Too Creative For The Law (AP) Fallout from the Virginia Tech shooting continues as a marine honor student sees his future jarred apart after writing a "disturbing" essay for a high school creative writing class.Allen Lee, a senior at Cary-Grove High School in suburban, Illinois was arrested on his way to school because his principal determined the paper to be so vile it merited police involvement. As a result, the 18-year-old with a 4.2 GPA has been charged with "two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct," his personal computer was seized and his freshly inked marine contract torn up. This baffling turn of events all started from a seemingly innocent assignment in his 9th period English class called of all things, Free Writing. Among the helpful instructions students were told to: "write whatever comes into your mind,"...

By Emil Steiner | April 30, 2007; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (66)

Facebook, Guns & the Virginia Tech Fallout

SUNY Student Sent to Mental Hospital for Posting Gun Photo What You Post On Facebook Could Cost You Your Freedom (Business Wire) In the latest blow-back from the Virginia Tech shooting, State University of New York at Cobleskill suspended a student and sent him to a mental hospital for five days after he posted a photograph of himself posing with a shotgun on his Facebook page. According to reports, somebody found that image along with an away message that read, "I'm tired of people talking sh*t about my school." As a result, last Friday Tharindu Meepegama (Thar), "a junior majoring in computer information systems, was escorted by the sheriff's department to a psychiatric center in Oneonta, N.Y., where he was held until Wednesday."In the interim, friends and classmates have spoken out on his behalf, protesting the suspension through a Facebook group called The Worldwide Release Tharindu Meepegama aka Thar. They...

By Emil Steiner | April 26, 2007; 03:15 PM ET | Comments (31)

John McCain Takes On Jon Stewart

Arizona Senator Goes On Daily Show Comedic Offensive John McCain Showcases His Dark Sense of Humor (AP) Did you catch John McCain joke about putting an IED under Jon Stewart's desk and fantasize about kicking a pet dog on yesterday's Daily Show? Did you see the Senior Arizona Republican display his double karate chop when Stewart attempted to arm wrestle him? If not, catch all the mayhem over on my sister blog Punchline Politics, and just remember, he could be President some day!...

By Emil Steiner | April 26, 2007; 02:18 AM ET | Comments (10)

Arkansas Dad Sues Library Over Lesbian Book

Christian Values Against Homosexual Literature Does Lesbian Literature Belong in Our Public Libraries? (Reuters) In today's internet age, books are almost a forgotten commodity in public libraries, but if you look hard enough you can still find some gems. For example, two teenage boys in Bentonville, Arkansas unearthed a hefty tome entitled "The Whole Lesbian Sex Book" while "browsing for material on military academies" -- or so they told their father. Although the sex guide by Felice Newman has been "deemed suitable for all public libraries, according to the Library Journal," the dad, Earl Adams, was so perturbed by its contents that he is suing Bentonville for $20,000. According to Adams, his two sons, ages 14 and 16, were "greatly disturbed" by their discovery and apparently underwent "many sleepless nights" as a result. In a letter faxed to Mayor Bob McCaslin, Adams himself wrote that the book pushes "an immoral...

By Emil Steiner | April 25, 2007; 10:23 AM ET | Comments (67)

Emmanuel Prof Fired For "Discussing" Virginia Tech Shooting

Will Academic Free Speech Be Cho Seung-Hui's 34th Victim? Do Our Rights Change During National Mourning? (Reuters) Nicholas Winset, a professor at Emmanuel College in Boston, was fired last week for a "controversial" discussion he had with his students about the Virginia Tech shootings. The incident though has sparked a national debate about how and to what extent academics can express their points of view in the classroom. It all started last Wednesday during Dr. Winset's financial accounting class in which the adjunct professor used a "dry erase marker" as a mock gun to dramatize the massacre, walking around his class and saying "pow" to five or six students. He then signaled to "a student he had prepped before class," who drew his own marker, pointed it at him and "fired." According to Winsett, this demonstration was meant to encourage discussion about three ideas: First, that if you are confronted...

By Emil Steiner | April 24, 2007; 10:54 AM ET | Comments (30)

Of Mental Health, Gun Control & Virginia Tech

What Civil Liberties Would You Trade For Protection? Cho Seung-Hui's Actions Shake a Nation to Its Core (NBC) This time last week, many of us were tuning in to the first grisly details of Cho Seung-Hui's massacre at Virginia Tech. Since then I've gotten hundreds of comments, notes and e-mails -- some expressing contrition or confusion, others anger -- that this one "psycho" could have destroyed the lives of some many. Just as a point of clarification, the term psychopath is different from psychotic, though in common use there seems to be some justified confusion. Psycho, is usually short for psychopath, an anti-social person who feels little pain or empathy for others though I have also seen psycho used in reference to psychotic (Hitchcock's "Psycho" fits this example) -- that is, someone who is experiencing a psychotic episode, hallucinations or delusions, which is one of the key symptoms of schizophrenia....

By Emil Steiner | April 23, 2007; 11:11 AM ET | Comments (38)

Kansas Jail Charging Inmates Rent

Who Says Crime Doesn't Pay? Don't Do the Crime If You Can't Pay the Rent (The Washington Post) Two counties in Kansas are considering charging inmates for serving time while a third has already started. Marion County, in the center of the state, launched this creative take-on rehabilitation a couple of weeks ago in an effort to curb recidivism. Inmates now pay $9.50 per day for their cell, $2.00 for their linens and $.25 for the privilege of using those ever-so-pleasant showers. Additionally, prisoners get "billed the full cost of medications and health care, and $25 to $40 an hour for transportation services" to and from the facility.County Sheriff Lee Becker thinks such charges will "send a message that it's no longer a free ride." Inmates who do work for the county while locked up can shave five bucks off their bill, but those who do work-release programs for other...

By Emil Steiner | April 19, 2007; 11:02 AM ET | Comments (12)

"Ismail Ax" The VT Gunman's Final Message?

The Would-Be Clue Sends The Blogosphere Spinning Could "Ismail Ax" Be A Part Of This Picture (NBC) "Ismail Ax." Eight letters scrawled in red ink across the inside arm of Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung-Hui; possibly the last thing he wrote before taking his own life. As soon as police revealed that detail, search engines flew into a frenzy as bloggers hunted every inch of the world wide web for some meaning. The phrase surged into Technorati's top ten most popular searches by yesterday afternoon and soon conspiracy theories began popping up as fast as goosebumps on windy April day.Boing Boing led the charge with a measured explanation: "Ismail is an Islamic prophet. AX may also stand for the Alpha Chi Omega women's fraternity." But comments followed which began converting "Ismail" to "Ibrahim" a Muslim prophet who according to the Koran entered an idolater temple and "with his axe he...

By Emil Steiner | April 18, 2007; 02:21 PM ET | Comments (107)

Do Sex Workers Deserve Workers Compensation?

Frivolous Lawsuits or Fair Labor Law? Injuries Can Happen In Any Workplace (AP) Heavy blogging and digging on an eight-year-old OSHA legend raises interesting questions about workers' compensation. The story goes like this: Back in 1999 Marci Lyn Deutsch, a Florida phone sex operator, supposedly won a workers' compensation settlement alleging "she was injured after regularly masturbating at work." Her lawyer Steven Slootsky had claimed, according to reports, that she developed carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands because of repetitive self-gratification while speaking on the phone to customers as often as seven times a day. Deutsch had asked her employer CFP Enterprises for "$267 a week, based on her salary of $400, plus $30,000 to cover her medical bills after neurosurgery to relieve the pain in her hands." However, the case was settled for a "minimal" amount because "mediator Joseph Hand, a retired workers' comp judge, told her she'd have...

By Emil Steiner | April 17, 2007; 10:57 AM ET | Comments (42)

Al Sharpton, Don Imus & A Distracted Nation

CBS Fires Shock Jock But Who Really Loses? "Nappy-Headed" Comment Costs Him Job (AP) The show's over for Imus. America's most maligned shock-jock has been terminated by both CBS and MSNBC, after his three dirty words blew up into the biggest PR Humpty-Dumpty since Marv Albert's underwear. But even before those venerable stations gave him the ax, Mr. Imus had already been tried, tortured and humiliated in the court of public punditry. And as deplorably insensitive as his words may have been, it seems like many Americans were comparably sickened by the media circus which followed his utterance, and its "ring leader" Al Sharpton. During what will now be his final show, Imus even brought up the point that he repeatedly apologized to the Rutger's Women's basketball team while Al Sharpton is yet to do so to the Duke lacrosse players falsely accused of rape. Instead of haggling over which...

By Emil Steiner | April 14, 2007; 02:01 AM ET | Comments (154)

Laura Mallory v. Harry Potter 3

This Time It's Idiotic! The Deathly Hallows Of Ignorance (AP) Like a demented Phoenix rising from the ashes of idiocy, Laura Mallory has returned once again to battle her old foe Harry Potter (and commonsense). The suburban Atlanta mother and OFF/beat's 2006 Idiot of the Year will soon resume her quest to "protect" America's children from the dark arts by banishing all J.K. Rowling books from school libraries. On May 29th Gwinnett Superior Court will hear her appeal of the Georgia Board of Education's decision that Harry Potter is, in fact, safe for juvenile consumption. The hearing will serve as a review of that ruling from last December, which effectively determined that the books' merits (such as encouraging kids to read) far out-weighed any perceived thaumaturgy. Mallory, despite never reading the books herself, still vigorously contends that Harry Potter literature is an "evil" attempt to indoctrinate youngsters in witchcraft. During...

By Emil Steiner | April 12, 2007; 12:09 PM ET | Comments (52)

Thomas Wimberly: Three Strikes, Two Hot Dogs & No Sense

Thomas M. Wimberly, an elderly veteran living on social security, spent 71 days in jail because he forgot to pay for two hot dogs at a convenience store. The 75-year-old from Wichita, Kansas is the latest in a long line of farcical cases which illustrate how poorer citizens get lost in the illogical inconsistencies of our criminal justice system.

By Emil Steiner | April 11, 2007; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (13)

Don Imus Calls 'Nappy-Headed' Suspension 'Appropriate'

MSNBC and CBS Suspend Don Imus For Two Weeks Shock Jock Blasted For Racism, Sexism (AP) In the five days since he referred to members of the Rutgers Women's Basketball team, as "nappy-headed hos," Don Imus has apologized so many times I've lost count. For some people, in particular Al Sharpton, no amount of "sorries" can make up for what he said. Sharpton along with Jesse Jackson and number of others want the aging shock jock fired for what they feel were racist comments. They took to the airways and the streets, Sharpton pummeled him on his nationally syndicated radio show and MSNBC and CBS suspended him for two weeks. Imus, seemingly humiliated this morning, called his comment "a stupid, idiotic mistake," and his punishment appropriate. Through the fog of this media war I've heard ample debate about whether Imus should or should not be fired, and little to no...

By Emil Steiner | April 10, 2007; 12:22 PM ET | Comments (248)

Florida Preacher Fights Hip Hop Fashion

For Christ's Sake, Pull Up Your Pants! Does Style Cause Crime, or Does Crime Cause Style? From zoot suits, to greaser jackets, to bell bottoms and beyond, teens have always dressed in ways that adults have found offensive. You might even say that the more offense the fashion causes, the more likely they are to wear it. Inevitably though, those very teens will grow up, become parents and somehow believe that their kid's outspoken outerwear crosses a line they never dared approach. I suppose in some ways that's how "the whole durned human comedy perpetuates itself." But in spite of this oft-repeated folly, one preacher in Jacksonville, Florida is so steamed about baggy pants and low-hanging waistlines that she has launched a campaign to crucify the look. According to Pastor Diane Robinson, "every time she sees a young man wearing sagging pants, she is personally offended." So, to counter the...

By Emil Steiner | April 9, 2007; 11:08 AM ET | Comments (20)

God vs. Satan: A Biblical Body Count

Who Killed More, God or Satan? Horns Blaze for Good and Evil (AP) 'Tis the season for religious disputes, and just like the pollen count, tensions seem particularly high this year. In rural Connecticut, for example, a simple zoning dispute blew up into a full-on battle of good vs. evil. It started when Claudette Soden, owner of Photos Onto DVD, who openly proclaims that "her business partner is Jesus," decided to celebrate the Holy Week of Easter by putting up a sign in a parking lot outside her store urging motorists to "Beep for Christ." But Phil Young, proprietor of a neighboring tattoo parlor, felt the sign promoted "religious intolerance for non-Christians." In order "to present an alternate view," he put up his own sign, which encourages drivers to honk twice for Satan. As ludicrous as this story may be, I got tipped to it in the midst of Passover,...

By Emil Steiner | April 5, 2007; 11:12 AM ET | Comments (21)

Perverted Justice: Updating the Genarlow Wilson Tragedy

Georgia Legislature Snoozes and a Promising Teen Loses Map of Georgia The travesty continues. Despite a national outcry to help Genarlow Wilson, the Georgia teen sentenced to ten years in prison for engaging in consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17, the state legislature recessed last week without addressing the issue. Even though that body has already changed the law to make his "crime" a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year, and even though Wilson has already served more than double that time, the Senate failed to push through a measure allowing judges to retroactively adjust earlier sentences. And so, Wilson will continue languishing in the Burruss Correctional Training Center for as many as eight more years. For those not familiar with the case, in 2003, Wilson was a 17-year-old senior at Douglas County High with a 3.2 GPA and football skills that had caught...

By Emil Steiner | April 2, 2007; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (45)

Is Marijuana Kosher For Passover?

This Year it Could Be a Pot-Free Pesach Don't Smoke Mara-juanic-ah! (New Line Cinema) In Israel they won't be passing many dubbies this Passover. The country's pro-pot Green Leaf Party ("Aleh Yarok") has sent a mass e-mail to its members warning that hemp-related products may be a no-no for those who keep Kosher during Pesach. According the party's spokeswoman, "we are considering announcing a ban on everything containing hemp just to be on the safe side. We are going with the rabbis on this. People should remove all cannabis and hemp from their homes." Oy Vey! Pesach, starting Monday at sundown, is the seven-day Jewish holiday (eight days outside Israel) commemorating Moses's Exodus from Egypt which, as the story goes, was made in such haste that the Israelites did not have time to let the bread rise. Therefore, traditionally during this early spring festival, observant Jews avoid eating leavened breads...

By Emil Steiner | March 30, 2007; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (5)

Connecticut School Censors Iraq Play

Free Speech Tested at Wilton High It Can Be Hard Work Finding Balance In Iraq (Reuters) While the Supreme Court ponders its "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" decision, another first amendment conflict has arisen from a Connecticut high school, questioning the extent to which students can express themselves on stage. Wilton High's performance of "Voices in Conflict," an original work of collected Iraq war stories, was canceled because of questions about the content's "political balance." But members of the advanced theater arts class, who spent this semester compiling the work from veterans' interviews and letters -- including those of a 2005 graduate who was killed in Iraq -- are claiming their play was unjustly censored. Principal Timothy Canty originally green-lighted the project when approached by theater teacher Bonnie Dickinson earlier this year. Her goal had been to showcase people around the students' age who were "experiencing very different things in their...

By Emil Steiner | March 28, 2007; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (27)

Of Mormons, Angels & Marketing

Can the LDS Trademark Angel Moroni? Is it Red Bull or Coffee that Gives Angels their Wings? (TWP) There is a line of thinking in marketing that goes something like this: Come up with the most funny and offensive logo you can think of, and stamp it on all your products. Most customers will laugh, some won't care, and some will be so enraged that they'll cause a stink, which will then generate a buzz. The louder they yell, the more you sell. I jokingly refer to this as the "Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics" approach, and just like it helped sell rap music in the suburbs, it also helps sell coffee in Utah. The Just Add Coffee store in Taylorsville, Utah sits next to a Starbucks. Co-owner Ed Beazer knew they would have to come up with something special to compete with the industry giant, and so he commissioned local...

By Emil Steiner | March 27, 2007; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (27)

Tony Dungy Tackles Gay Marriage

Are Dungy's Religious Beliefs Discrimination? Super Bowl Champ Can't Stomach Same Sex Marriage (Getty Images) Last week, Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy voiced his support for banning gay marriage during a speech at the Indiana Family Institute, a socially conservative organization associated with James Dobson's Focus on the Family. Dungy accepted the "Friend of Family" award remarking "I embrace that stance... we're trying to promote the family -- family values the Lord's way." Jerry Falwell has come out in support of the 51-year-old, who became the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl this February, calling his remarks "constructive," while gay advocates have, not surprisingly, voiced strong opposition. Though Dungy's position may not constitute "gay-bashing" per se, it certainly implies that homosexual Americans are not entitled to the same rights as heterosexual citizens, much the same way as conservatives have in the past condemned mixed racial marriages...

By Emil Steiner | March 26, 2007; 12:19 PM ET | Comments (266)

Middle Schooler Suspended Over Winnie the Pooh Socks

"Parents Sue Over Irrational Suspension" Dress-Codes That Make You Go Pooh! (ABC) In yet another Kafkaesque moment for America's public school system, a 14-year-old girl from Napa Valley, California, was suspended after she wore a denim skirt and Winnie the Pooh socks to school. Redwood Middle's dress code mandates only "solid colors in blue, white, green, yellow, khaki, gray, brown and black," and denim is a definite nish-nish! As a result, Toni Kay Scott, a seventh-grade honor roll student, "was escorted to the principal's office by a uniformed police officer" and then banished to an in-school suspension program dubbed "Students With Attitude Problems." I guess not being able to get your nose out of a honey pot is a problem, but isn't that more about honey addiction than attitude? In response, her parents -- with the help of the ACLU -- have filed suit against the Napa Valley Unified School...

By Emil Steiner | March 22, 2007; 09:58 AM ET | Comments (21)

McDonald's Has Beef with the Oxford English Dictionary

"Can the Fast Food Giant Deep Fry the Definitive Record of the English Language?" If McDonald's Can Reshape the World, Why Not the World's Tongue? (AP) If a dictionary gives a fast food company indigestion, is that poetic justice?Call it a definitive duel or a war of words, but the McDonald's Corporation has launched an all-out branding campaign to rewrite the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). This linguistic game of chicken between the world's largest fast food company and the world's foremost authority on English stems from the definition of just one little five-letter word: "McJob." The venerable OED defines this slang parlance as "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, especially one created by the expansion of the service sector." It further states that that usage was first coined a couple of decades ago, right here in The Washington Post, and gained popularity thanks to Douglas Copland's 1991 classic "Generation...

By Emil Steiner | March 21, 2007; 11:42 AM ET | Comments (12)

High Court Takes "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Case, Toke Three

"Free Speech or Half Baked Lawsuit?" Can Schools Censor "Non-Disruptive" Jokes? (Dudley M. Brooks) When a joke is taken seriously, that's irony, but when it's taken so seriously that the Supreme Court is called upon to determine how future jokes can be made, that's meta-irony. And yet, there it was, a Borat-like moment in the most hallowed of judicial halls: the Morse V. Frederick case. At question in the narrow interpretation: Was it wrong for an Alaska high school principal to tear down her student's banner during an off-campus field trip because it read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus?" And, despite the absurdity of hearing justices parse the minutia of that "sophomoric" prank, what was at stake in the wider scope could not have been more serious: the regulation of free speech within America's public schools. Further heightening the irony, though, is that no clear solution presented itself. In reviewing the...

By Emil Steiner | March 20, 2007; 11:42 AM ET | Comments (198)

High Court Takes "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Case, Toke Two

"Free Speech or Half Baked Lawsuit?" Can Schools Censor "Non-Disruptive" Jokes? (Dudley M. Brooks) Rehashing one of my more popular articles from last year, the Supreme Court, today, takes up the case of Morse v. Frederick. Considered by some to be the "most important student free-speech conflict to reach the Supreme Court since the height of the Vietnam War," it could decide how and to what extent schools can regulate their students' jokes. The case first sparked controversy in 2002, when high school senior Joseph Frederick unfurled a 14-foot banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" during a field trip to watch the Olympic torch pass through Juneau, Alaska. By his own admission, he did it for the juvenile, albeit innocent, reasons that it was funny and it would get him on TV. His principal at the time, Deborah Morse, did not see the humor, but probably noticed the TV cameras...

By Emil Steiner | March 19, 2007; 12:23 PM ET | Comments (273)

Federal Court Vetoes Marijuana For Dying Mom

A Terminal Illness Is No Excuse For Smoking Pot Angel Raich Holds Her Miracle Drugs (The Washington Post) A wiser man than I once wondered whether stiffer sentences for suicide bombers might reduce the number of terrorists who blow themselves up. With that perhaps in mind, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, Wednesday, that even if doctors say marijuana is the only thing keeping you alive, it is still illegal for you to smoke it. The case was brought by Angel Raich, an Oakland mother of two who suffers "from at least 10 serious medical conditions, including an inoperable brain tumor, a seizure disorder, life-threatening weight loss," scoliosis and chronic nausea. The 41-year-old had sought an injunction to prevent the government from prosecuting her for using marijuana, without which, her doctors say, she would starve to death. But according the decision "Federal law does not recognize a fundamental...

By Emil Steiner | March 15, 2007; 11:01 AM ET | Comments (192)

Illinois Sex-Ed or 'Porn 101?'

How Much Information is too Much Information? Should the Kama Sutra Be Required Reading in Health Class? (iStockphoto) With students rallying outside and parents debating within, a Suburban Chicago school board decided to remove a teacher whose sex-ed class was a little too spicy for some members of the community to stomach. It all began last week, when Scott Groff, a second-year health instructor at Wolcott School in Thornton Illinois, gave his 8th-graders "sexually explicit" question and answer sheets downloaded from a British charity that fights HIV and AIDS. These salacious study aides included information about how to masturbate, find the g-spot and perform oral sex, along with vivid descriptions and helpful tips which students then read aloud. Not surprisingly, this level of "in-depth" tutelage aroused anger among some parents who began to complain. As one mother adroitly pointed out, "[t]his is not Porn 101. This is school." Another father...

By Emil Steiner | March 14, 2007; 11:18 AM ET | Comments (31)

Of Star Trek, Politics & Finland

Politicking to Trekkies Move Over Carville, Rove and Brazile! If you're looking for a candidate who "boldly goes" where no politician has gone before, then say hello to Finland's Jyrki Kasvi. The Green League member of parliament from the Uusimaa constituency is hoping to beam-up re-election by campaigning to a much maligned and often belittled minority known throughout the world as Trekkies.Kasvi, who believe it or not holds a PhD in Engineering (didn't see that one coming, huh), is hoping that translating his Web site into Klingon will inspire Star Trek fans, and perhaps their spouses (it's possible), to get out there and rock the Enterprise -- by which I mean, of course, the vote. Fortunately, his site also includes a Finnish and English language version for those unfamiliar with Klingon, or as Kasvi calls them, "non-warriors."According to reports though, the translation process wasn't as simple as the Vulcan death...

By Emil Steiner | March 13, 2007; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (4)

Florida Teacher Canned for "Full Monty" Performance

The High Price We Pay for Propriety Full Monty Censorship Costs Students Their Teacher (Craig) Here we go again! Another teacher fired for using his butt in an after-work art project. Administrators at a Florida high school have placed one of their music teachers on a forced leave of absence for performing in an amateur production of "The Full Monty" -- a hit Broadway musical that features partial nudity. Jason Brenner, who has taught music and theater for the past three years at Lemon Bay High in Englewood, was sent a letter giving him a three-choice ultimatum: "stop doing the show; continue the show but take yourself out of the last scene so that you're not naked on stage, or continue doing the show at full capacity but hand in a letter of resignation." Brenner chose option three, and he is expected to turn in his resignation this week. For...

By Emil Steiner | March 12, 2007; 02:04 PM ET | Comments (50)

State Dept. Backs Borat, Bashes Not So Glorious Nation Kazakhstan

From The White House To The Outhouse, He's Everywhere You Wanna Be Relax Borat, Condi's Got Your Back (REUTERS) Among the many serious violations cited in the U.S. Department of State's newly released Global Report on Human Rights Practices in Kazakhstan, one stands out as well, a little "wawaweewa." As if to coincide with his DVD release, on Tuesday, Borat, the bumbling bane of all things lame, was alluded to in that weighty report as a victim of Kazakh suppression. It's right there, below prison torture and politically motivated assignations, the creator's name: Sasha Baron Cohen, a Jewish comedian from England whose joke has gone so far I can't tell if I'm laughing or crying anymore... most likely both. What started out as a clever spin on the Tom Green Show has mushroomed into a powerful voice that is shaping international diplomacy. As John McEnroe once said: "You cannot be...

By Emil Steiner | March 8, 2007; 01:53 PM ET | Comments (12)

NY Students Suspended for Reading "Vagina Monologues"

Censorship, Bureaucracy & American Education "V" is for a Very Dirty Word (David Appleby) In the latest jaw-dropping educational idiocy, three honors students at a suburban New York City high school have been suspended for saying "vagina" during an in-school performance of "The Vagina Monologues." The trio of 11th-grade girls from John Jay High were warned prior to the "open mic session" that it would be "inappropriate" to utter that word while performing Eve Ensler's "feminist play." But, rather than infringe upon Ensler's creative work, they decided as a team to disobey, reciting the "naughty" three syllables of anatomy in unison. As a result, Megan Reback, Elan Stahl and Hannah Levinson each received "separate, one-day, in-school suspensions," starting today. Despite their punishment, the girls appear steadfast in their recalcitrance, stating they were "proud to say it," and others, including their parents, agree. Supporters have circulated e-mails and started a protest...

By Emil Steiner | March 7, 2007; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (50)

No More Pot for Swiss Dairy Cows

Government Tells Farmers to Cut the Grass Do Laughing Cows Ever Get the Munchies? (AP) The party's over for Switzerland's stoner cows. The alpine nation's Ministry of Agriculture has called on farmers to stop feeding their bovines cannabis or face prosecution! Although the practice was officially outlawed in 2005 after trace quantities turned up in dairy products, farmers continued to use weed fodder since it is both cheap and easy to grow. This ramped-up war on livestock drug use comes in the wake of a much publicized ad campaign promoting the benefits of feeding animals pot. Some farmers believe that the active ingredient THC makes cows happy, and, as a result, causes them to produce more milk. But government officials are claiming that stoned cows produce weed-laced milk, which poses a health threat to consumers. Before you buy out all the Jarlsberg though, be aware that they did not...

By Emil Steiner | March 6, 2007; 12:19 PM ET | Comments (6)

A Case of German Incest

Siblings Take Forbidden Love to High Court Germany Questions Morality and Genetics He was a 23-year-old locksmith. She was a 16-year-old student. It was love at first sight. The one problem: They were brother and sister. Now, after seven years together parenting four children, at least two of whom were born with disabilities, Susan and Patrick are battling to overturn one of the western world's last remaining taboos -- incest. Separated at birth, the couple first met in 2000 when Patrick set out to find his birth mother. Upon discovering his long lost genetic family, he claims to have had an instant and mutual attraction to his sister Susan. The two shared a room together and, soon enough, they began to have children. But, unlike many countries in Europe, Germany still considers incest a crime, and Patrick was eventually sent to jail for 25 months because of their relationship...

By Emil Steiner | March 5, 2007; 12:42 PM ET | Comments (16)

The Marriage of Homophobia & Free Speech

Is the Right to Insult Others Protected? A Court Battle May Determine How Kids Can Use the Word "Gay" in School "Dude, that's so gay!" Is using that parlance discrimination, or is it protected by freedom of speech (or both)? Eminem and Elton John could argue till they hug it out, but the question still remains. I don't profess to know the answer, but an ongoing lawsuit in California Superior court may offer up some guidance. Kathy and Elden Rice, members of the "ultra conservative Eagle Forum," are suing the Santa Rosa School District, claiming their daughter suffered discrimination and harassment because of her high school's "pro-homosexual" policies. In 2002, Rebekah Rice was written up by her humanities teacher after she said "that's so gay" in response to students taunting her Mormonism by asking whether she had "10 moms." The Rices maintain that their daughter had been "singled out...

By Emil Steiner | March 1, 2007; 12:19 PM ET | Comments (23)

Do Pennsylvania Schools Prefer Pagans to Christians?

Discriminating Against the Majority No Halloween Candy for Jesus! Few bureaucrats can subvert a well-intentioned principle like the separation of church and state with the hypocritical bombast of school administrators. But when they actually succeed in making religious fanatics seem rational, well now that's an achievement worthy of an OFF/beat Idiot of the Year nomination.Donna Brewer, of Willow Hill, Pennsylvania, is suing Abington School District, claiming that her 10-year-old son's "rights to religion and free speech were violated" because he was not allowed to wear a Jesus costume during his school's Halloween parade. The federal suit was filed on her son's behalf by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group that believes in spreading the Gospel through "traditional family values." It further claims that since costumes were mandatory and many students chose to dress as "witches and ghouls" (i.e., pagan costumes), Willow Hill Elementary violated the fourth-grader's equal...

By Emil Steiner | February 28, 2007; 10:55 AM ET | Comments (50)

Cop Gets Off After Masturbating on Stripper

Blind Injustice? Have You Heard the One About the Stripper and the Cop? (Marvin Joseph) In what may go down as one of the strangest verdicts in recent memory, David Alex Park, a former police officer who pulled over a stripper and proceeded to ejaculate on her, was acquitted earlier this month after a nearly all-male jury decided the sex was consensual.This tawdry O.C. tale went down in the wee hours of a December night back in 2004. Lucy (her last name was not disclosed) had left a shift at Captain Cream Cabaret early following a dispute with management related to cocaine use with a customer. Park, a married patrolman at the time, pulled her over for what he claimed was erratic driving. Prosecution later contended that he stalked her BMW until she had reached a secluded area of Laguna Beach and then turned on the siren. Either way...

By Emil Steiner | February 15, 2007; 11:59 AM ET | Comments (9)

Guns, Roses & India's V-Day

Valentine's Day Massacre? Cupid Better Pack Some Extra Arrows If you thought Americans went crazy with their Valentine's Day brew-ha-ha, wait 'till you hear about the insanity that may go down in India's Madhya Pradesh. According to reports, the right wing Hindu group Bajrang Dal is so opposed to Western tradition that they are threatening to force couples caught fooling around into on-the-spot marriages. Rolling around town in their "vivah rath (marriage chariot) manned by activists," they hope to discourage the celebration of Hallmark's February festival through intimidation and shame. Couples who refuse marriage will be forced to "tie a rakhi (a thread on the wrist establishing brother-sister relation)." Does that make it incest? Their efforts will be opposed by two women's groups planning to arm themselves with batons and mace (Lord Hanuman's weapon of choice) "to take on those threatening to oppose Valentine's Day." Gun-toting police will also...

By Emil Steiner | February 14, 2007; 07:59 AM ET | Comments (30)

School Mistress by Day, Vampire Mistress by Night

Can Teachers Practice Porn? Got a Taste for Knowledge? (iStockphoto) Normally it's students, not teachers, who get in trouble for inappropriate content on their MySpace pages, but I suppose there's a first time for everything. British newspapers are reporting that Samantha Goldstone, a drama and English teacher at St Christopher's Church of England High in Lancashire, has been banished from school because of "complaints that she operates erotic vampire websites." The 41-year-old has also written a book under the pen name Paigan Stone, which includes scenes of a "female student drugging a vampire male student before they have sex." Her MySpace page, which has since been removed, contained "provocative images and videos," and her Gothic writing involves "adult content with vampire eroticism, violence and blood lust." Although this may make her uniquely qualified to teach Marquis de Sade, the revelations have outraged parents, and a full investigation is now...

By Emil Steiner | February 13, 2007; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (60)

Long Island Terrorist Mock-u-Mentary

Free Speech Flies South for the Winter No Ducks Were Harmed During the Making of This Video It was an ominous scene performed to maximize outrage. Five men in ski masks surround a helpless "hostage," named Pete, screaming threats in crude, often unintelligible Arabic. They invoke the Prophet Muhammad and demand payment in exchange for his release. No, this wasn't the latest beheading video to circulate al Jazeera, but rather a two-minute prank produced by five students at Long Island University's C.W. Post College. Their "hostage" was a rubber ducky mascot whose life, they seemed to say, could only be saved through payment of doughnuts and pastries. While their film may have been a joke, the outrage it has provoked is nonetheless real. Since its release last week, they have all been fired from their jobs as residence hall advisers, and Muslim groups have spoken out to condemn their...

By Emil Steiner | February 12, 2007; 12:39 PM ET | Comments (12)

Does Bush Want Kids To Smoke Pot?

Half Baked Spending Fighting Greens With Green (Joel Richardson) President Bush is asking Congress to increase funding for an anti-drug campaign, which studies say "is at best useless and at worst has increased drug use among some teens." In 2003, the Office of Management and Budget evaluated the $1.4 billion program "and determined it showed virtually no results." With no solution in sight, a $47 million study was launched by the Governmental Accountability Office, which determined the campaign actually increased "the perceptions that others use marijuana" and "led to higher rates of first-time drug use" among white teens. Now the White House wants another $130 million to make more commercials and possibly expand the scope of their content. So, the question remains, why would our Government want to throw money at something which has been found to be counter-productive to their supposed motive? For me to write that the...

By Emil Steiner | February 8, 2007; 01:44 PM ET | Comments (14)

Did Jews Drink Blood?

Giving Proof To Blood Libel? Roots of Antisemitism Dug Up (AP) According to a new book by history professor Ariel Toaff, medieval Jews not only sacrificed Christian children, they also used their blood as an ingredient in baking matzo (unleavened bread). In Bloody Passovers: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murders, Toaff, son of Rabbi Elio Toaff, describes "the mutilation and crucification of a two-year-old boy to recreate Christ's execution at Pesach" near the northern Italian city of Trento. Not surprisingly his allegations have outraged quite a few people in Italy and across the world including 12 of Italy's chief Rabbis who stated in response "the only blood spilled in these stories was that of so many innocent Jews, massacred on account of unjust and infamous accusations." Toaff, a professor at Bar Illan University, near Tel Aviv, bases his claims on confessions "extracted by torture" during a "medieval trial"...

By Emil Steiner | February 8, 2007; 11:29 AM ET | Comments (25)

So Much For Black History Month

February's Festivus Shopping Carts On The Mountain Top? (AP) Move over Black History Month, there's another American cause that's got its eye on February. The United States Census Bureau is proudly declaring February Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month. The concept behind this month-long public awareness project "is for consumers to avoid the increased food prices that result when store owners have to replace stolen equipment." Returned milk crates and bread trays are given equal -- but not separate -- representation throughout the month as well, so don't forget to celebrate by helping America's 6,600 supermarkets serve you better!And for those looking for festivities beyond shopping carts and black history, here is a hand-picked list of alternate February Holidays to suit all tastes: Bake for Family Fun Month (they couldn't mean?) International Boost Self-Esteem Month (Doggone It, People Like Me!) Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month (as opposed to ordinary...

By Emil Steiner | February 7, 2007; 10:54 AM ET | Comments (6)

Does Darwinism Cause Terrorism?

Creationism Makes Strange Bedfellows When Evolution Attacks? (AP) America's Evangelicals may have a scored a most unlikely ally in their crusade for creationism! Over the last fortnight, thousands of schools across France have been mysteriously receiving copies of a "lavishly illustrated" Turkish book attacking Darwinism. Titled The Atlas of Creation, the 768-page, large-print tomes attempt not only to debunk Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, but also to paint it as "the true source of terrorism." French education officials were baffled by the question of the book's source, but emphasized that such teachings "have no place in our schools."More mysterious than the source or the reasoning, perhaps, may be the book's author, Harun Yahya. Some claim that's the pen name of "a reclusive Islamic teacher named Adnan Oktar," while others think it is more likely a consortium of fundamentalist authors. Either way, "Atlas" seemingly blames "survival of the fittest" for just...

By Emil Steiner | February 5, 2007; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (19)

Aqua Teen Bomb Scare

Shake, Meatwad and Frylock Scare Beantown We Were Da Bomb! (Turner Broadcasting) Is there such a thing as bad publicity? On Wednesday, a misinterpreted marketing stunt, funded by Turner Broadcasting, created a terror scare in Boston. As many as nine "light-screen devices" were planted around the city to promote Aqua Teen Hunger Force, an animated show on the Cartoon Network. Though similar packages had appeared in other cities, Bostonians flipped, calling in bomb squads, shutting down the "T", closing roads and basically paralyzing downtown Boston. But after the smoke and mirrors cleared, it turned out to be nothing more than a devilish guerrilla marketing hoax perpetrated by a couple of messy-haired 20-somethings on behalf of the Adult Swim cartoon. The duo then gave a hilarious press conference after posting bail, at which time they ignored questions about the bomb scare and instead discussed hair-styles of the 1970s. Boston Mayor, Thomas...

By Emil Steiner | February 1, 2007; 05:06 PM ET | Comments (50)

Bush Bans Kim Jong-Il's Toys

Now Go To Your Room, And Think About Disarmament! Carrots, Sticks and Courvoisier? (AP) "Clean up this mess or I'll take away your iPod!" How many times has that threat been uttered in American homes? Well, it now appears that the Bush administration has taken a page from Parenting 101 and applied those same adolescent motivational tools to its international diplomacy efforts. On Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department put a ban on the exportation of iPods and luxury goods to North Korea in an effort to pressure Kim Jong-Il to give up his nuclear weapons program. Banned items include designer clothes, cognac, jet skis, pimp rides and bling of any kind (nsfw). Psychologists call this form of discipline negative punishment. Parents take away their children's toys in order to encourage them to behave appropriately. It is a fairly basic tool of parenting, preferred because it leaves the onus on the...

By Emil Steiner | January 30, 2007; 10:46 AM ET | Comments (4)

Science Teacher Booted For Anatomy Drawing

Commonsense Lost In Yonkers? Anatomy of a crime? (Evan Abramson) In yet another glowing moment for America's public schools, a Yonkers health teacher has been removed from his classroom and placed on administrative duty because he asked seventh-grade students to draw male genitalia during a sex-ed. class. Jeffrey Kirby is now facing termination for his lesson ice-breaker, which involved students coming up to the blackboard and rendering phalluses in chalk. Apparently the exercise made some pupils at PEARLS Hawthorne School uncomfortable, and they complained to their parents who, in turn, complained to school officials. On Friday, it was announced that Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio would ask trustees to fire Kirby, who's methods were characterized as "not appropriate." Of course, sex education has always been a touchy subject in American schools -- a delicate endeavor requiring sensitivity for all parties involved. That being said, the actions of the Hawthorne School's administration raise...

By Emil Steiner | January 29, 2007; 11:01 AM ET | Comments (14)

Perverted Justice: The Genarlow Wilson Story

A Georgia Tragedy Map of Georgia America's history is littered with instances when laws have been misused -- their intended purposes subverted and lives destroyed. However, no case in recent memory can compare to the tragedy of Genarlow Wilson, a promising Georgia high schooler sentenced to 10 years in prison because of an overzealous prosecutor who decided the letter of an antiquated law was more valuable than a young man's future. Wright Thompson of has written a really great in depth piece about it, but here are the broad strokes. In 2003, Wilson was a 17-year-old senior at Douglas County High with a 3.2 GPA and football skills that had caught the attention of a several Ivy League schools. He was popular among students and teachers and had been voted Homecoming King. That all changed after a New Year's Eve party during which he received oral sex from a...

By Emil Steiner | January 25, 2007; 03:59 PM ET | Comments (21)

The Yo-Yo Economics Of Women & Diets

According to a new study, British women spend up to 31 years of their adult life, or six months per year, on a diet.

By Emil Steiner | January 25, 2007; 12:20 PM ET | Comments (4)

Qantas Boots Passenger Over Anti-Bush Shirt

Has the word "terrorist" become so dangerous that airlines are more interested in stopping its appearance than finding the actual perpetrators of terror?

By Emil Steiner | January 23, 2007; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (8)

Top 5 Political Brawls

Democracy Gone Wild Political Shoes Drop in Taiwan. (AP) On Friday, the Taiwanese Parliament dissolved into chaos after lawmaker Wang Shu-huei threw a shoe at Speaker Wang Jin-pyng. The shoe missed its intended target, instead striking the face of a lawmaker next to Jin-pyng, and soon enough Taipei's Legislature had degenerated into a Jerry Springer episode. Of course, "the boot-brawl" is only the latest in a long history of governmental throw-downs, not just in Taiwan but around the world. Legislators it seems, have been attacking each other for as long as there have been legislatures. Who could forget the stabbing of Julius Caesar on the floor of the Roman Senate? Or Congressman Preston Brooks' (D-SC) brutal canning of Sen. Sumner (R-MA) in the US Capitol? On the shoulders of those giants, I've gathered together for you Monday viewing, footage of the 5 Strangest Political Brawls in recent memory. 5) The...

By Emil Steiner | January 22, 2007; 11:29 AM ET | Comments (3)

The Politics of Sex

Which Party Knows How To Party? If this dome's a rockin'... Were you aware that: "Republican men prefer the woman on top; Democrats prefer doggy style." & "Republicans prefer their partners... all natural, while Democrats prefer a trim. " These are just a couple of the fascinating conclusions drawn in a new survey commissioned jointly by Esquire and Marie Claire magazines. The data, collected online from 1,738 randomly selected respondents between the ages 21 and 49, uncovered some shocking information such as "32% of men and 14% of women have looked at porn at work" (glance around your office and maybe you'll catch them), and some less remarkable information such as men masturbate more than women. And while the survey found that "Republicans use text messaging to initiate sex more often than Democrats," (no Foleying!) it somehow neglected to ask the fundamental political question: Which party is better in bed?...

By Emil Steiner | January 19, 2007; 12:54 PM ET | Comments (5)

Harry Potter v. Laura Mallory, 2

This Time It's Magical! I'm Telling You It's Not Wicca! (AP) She's Back! Laura Mallory, OFF/beat's 2006 Idiot of the Year, appears undeterred in her quest to banish Harry Potter books from school libraries. The suburban-Atlanta mother announced, Wednesday, that she plans to appeal a Georgia court's dismissal of her contention that the best-selling novels are "evil" propaganda aimed at indoctrinating youngsters into witchcraft. Despite having never read the books herself, Ms. Mallory persistently maintains that she is "tak[ing] a stand for truth."While she is entitled to her opinion, Ms. Mallory's Potter purge is in the minority -- at least according to reader comments on this blog. Moreover, the courts appear unlikely to ever decide in her favor, since doing so would force the removal of all witch-related literature. Now, without going so far as calling her an idiot (oh wait), it certainly shows a high level of ignorance to...

By Emil Steiner | January 19, 2007; 02:31 AM ET | Comments (111)

Of Germany, Obedience & Global Positioning Systems

Germany's automatons blame GPS for causing accidents.

By Emil Steiner | January 16, 2007; 12:01 PM ET | Comments (5)

Jesus Fish Comes Out Full Circle

Conservative Catholics are up in arms over the L.A. Archdiocese's endorsement of the rainbow Jesus Fish, accusing them of endorsing sin.

By Emil Steiner | January 11, 2007; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (19)

Va. Teacher Fired For "Butt Painting"

Stephen Murmur, a "popular" art teacher at Monacan High School, in Virginia, has been fired because his private artwork was, to say the least, a little cheeky. Working under the pseudonym "Stan Murmur," he produced pictures by smearing his undercarriage with paint and then sitting on canvas.

By Emil Steiner | January 10, 2007; 01:49 PM ET | Comments (36)

Bangkok Bans Buddha-Porn

Buddhists are know for their open-mindedness, but apparently that tolerance doesn't extend to the marriage of faith and porn, atleast not in Thailand, where the Government of 55 million followers is up in arms over an American porn site that uses an image of "Lord Buddha" as its logo.

By Emil Steiner | January 10, 2007; 10:52 AM ET | Comments (13)

Welsh "Jackass" Admits TV Was To Blame

Welsh "Jackass" staples hand to table after watching "Jackass"

By Emil Steiner | January 9, 2007; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (12)

Obesity Epidemic Strikes Man's Best Friend

Don King's famous catch phrase "Only in America!" took on new meaning, Friday, when the Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever canine anti-obesity drug.

By Emil Steiner | January 8, 2007; 03:01 PM ET | Comments (10)

Of Aliens, UFOs and Existence

Where do you stand on the existence of extraterrestrial life?

By Emil Steiner | January 5, 2007; 12:13 PM ET | Comments (14)

Mannequin Fetishist Facing Life

Ronald Dotson could get life in prison for essentially attempting to woo an inanimate object dressed as a maid.

By Emil Steiner | January 3, 2007; 01:26 PM ET | Comments (14)

South Korea Encourages Prostitute-Free Holidays

Seoul's Ministry of Gender Equality is giving away free movie tickets to workers who pledge not to hire prostitutes.

By Emil Steiner | December 27, 2006; 12:05 PM ET | Comments (17)

British Government Contemplates Robot Rights

According to the British Government, in as little as 20 years with the continued growth of artificial intelligence and the possibility of robotic procreation, our planet could be facing a civil rights movement of bionic proportions.

By Emil Steiner | December 22, 2006; 01:01 PM ET | Comments (6)

Of Gender, Identity & Running

Was it fair to strip Santhi Soundarajan of her silver medal in the women's 800 meters after failing gender test?

By Emil Steiner | December 19, 2006; 12:01 AM ET | Comments (22)

State of Michigan v. Eternal Love

84-year-old charged with kidnapping for breaking his wife out of her nursing home and moving her to Florida where they lived together for almost a year.

By Emil Steiner | December 18, 2006; 12:28 PM ET | Comments (3)

Va. Teacher Suspended For "Butt Painting"

Stephen Murmur, a "popular" art teacher at Monacan High School in Virginia, has been placed on administrative leave because his private artwork was, to say the least, a little cheeky. Working under the pseudonym "Stan Murmur," he produced pictures by smearing his undercarriage with paint and then sitting on canvas.

By Emil Steiner | December 13, 2006; 11:01 AM ET | Comments (10)

Blind Texas Gun Laws

Will equal protection shoot down personal protection?

By Emil Steiner | December 12, 2006; 03:00 PM ET | Comments (63)

Pre-K Hug Exposes Bureaucracy

Is a 4-year-old capable of sexual harassment? In Waco, Texas the answer apparently is yes.

By Emil Steiner | December 12, 2006; 11:44 AM ET | Comments (12)

Evangelical Gay Sex Redux

For the second time in as many months a prominent conservative Christian leader is embroiled in a gay sex scandal.

By Emil Steiner | December 11, 2006; 04:49 PM ET | Comments (18)

How Porn Past Can Affect Career Future

How being in dirty movies is a mistake for some careers and a resume builder for others.

By Emil Steiner | December 11, 2006; 01:43 PM ET | Comments (3)

House Condemns French Cop Killer Blvd.

After naming one of their streets after convicted cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal, here are 10 ideas things the French could do make Americans hate them even more.

By Emil Steiner | December 7, 2006; 03:35 PM ET | Comments (10)

Freedom Turns Latvia Into Toilet

A court in Riga, Latvia has fined a young Englishman $1,600 for micturating on a highly beloved national treasure while intoxicated (watch out Liberty Bell!).

By Emil Steiner | December 7, 2006; 11:22 AM ET | Comments (14)

Thursday Breakfast Bender

From pig tossing to man purses, here's your round-up of OFF/beat news for Thursday, December 7th.

By Emil Steiner | December 7, 2006; 07:55 AM ET | Comments (3)

Art, Taxes & Strippers

A Norwegian court rules stripping a form of art, opening the door for all sorts of fun scenarios.

By Emil Steiner | December 6, 2006; 08:03 AM ET | Comments (4)

High Court Takes "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Case

What do Jesus, Kenn Starr, The Olympics and bong hits have in common? They're all part of the Supreme Court's latest 1st Amendment test, Morse v. Frederick, which could decide how and to what extent schools can regulate their students' speech

By Emil Steiner | December 4, 2006; 11:19 AM ET | Comments (12)

Quebec Schools May Ban Cell Phones Because of YouTube

Quebec school officials ban cell phones and digital cameras after a teacher is bated into a tirade for YouTube. With it's unique ability to publicly shame anyone's momentary indiscretion, some may wonder if our voyeurism has created a valuable tool or a cooperative Big Brother?

By Emil Steiner | November 28, 2006; 11:15 AM ET | Comments (2)

Gay Marriage, Animals, Evolution, Oh My!

With so much more than DNA in common, could interspecies love become this century's same-sex marriage? Hello, Dolly! (AP) Earlier this week I wrote a piece about zoo keepers in Thailand showing panda-sex videos to a married, but celibate, couple of pandas in order to get them in the mood. Whether it will work is yet to be seen, but the very notion that this "married couple" with sex issues could become aroused through voyeurism indicates a certain level of self-awareness that makes them seem a lot more human than some people might be comfortable with. The Thai zoo experiment comes on the heels of a controversial exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in Oslo displaying photographs of a variety of animals, from penguins to whales, engaged in homosexual activities. The question is how will the discovery of these sexual similarities between humans and animals impact our biological...

By Emil Steiner | November 16, 2006; 06:00 PM ET | Comments (7)

German Court Orders Doctor To Pay Child Support

Don't let deadbeat doctors get away with not paying for your unintended pregnancy. He wasn't the daddy, he didn't even have relations with the kid's mother, but a judge says he needs to pay child support for up to 18 years. On Tuesday, Germany's Karlsruhe-based Federal Appeals Court ruled that a gynecologist owes $768 per month to his patient after the contraceptive patch he inserted failed to prevent pregnancy, (could Trojan Man be next?). The hormone-releasing device was supposed to protect her for three years, but according to the court, half a year after the operation, it could no longer be found in her body. Fearing a flood of similar suits, many in Germany's medical community have spoken out against the controversial decision which not only let the biological father off the hook, but actually compensated him for what he'd paid to date. While it may be reassuring to...

By Emil Steiner | November 15, 2006; 06:57 PM ET | Comments (3)

Spain Rages Against Sexism With "Gender Bender" Road Signs

Have traffic signs become the latest "visual reminders of a commercial, idealized feminine image?" Spanish feminists rejoice, your traffic signs are going co-ed! In an effort to fight sexism, the town council of Fuenlabrada has decreed that half of all signs in the Madrid suburb must have female silhouettes. What makes silhouettes female, you ask? Why they're the ones with cute pony tails and ribbons, wearing skirts instead of pants (since girls don't have short hair and never wear slacks, silly!). The effort to battle "machismo" by enforcing stereotypical gender imagery is the brainchild of the ruling Socialist and United Left parties who have also added a clause to civil marriage contracts requiring men and women to share the housework and childcare (does this include breastfeeding?) . As far as the street signs go, about the best thing you can say is that perhaps now male motorists will actually...

By Emil Steiner | November 13, 2006; 01:24 PM ET | Comments (2)

Re-Branding Church: Queer Eye For The Big Guy

What could Fabulous Five do for organized religion? (Craig Blankenhorn -- Bravo Via AP) From the color of the leaves, to the balance of power in Congress, the buzzword this season is "change," and it's not just politicians and Mother Nature who are jumping on the bandwagon. This week, Canada's largest Protestant church announced a $9.3 million image makeover that targets 30-45 year-olds with ads featuring suggestions of whipped cream sex and gay marriage. Though some may find it encouraging that The United Church of Canada is taking such an open stance on sexuality, it remains to be seen what kind of parishioners they'll attract with their bobble-head Jesus dolls or how many will stay when they discover there's no Jello wrestling in the pulpit. Still, they aren't the only religious group making some changes (Ted Haggard aside). In Britain the interdenominational Churches Advertising Network is attempting to fill...

By Emil Steiner | November 9, 2006; 03:03 PM ET | Comments (4)

Sex Offender Fashion

Convicted sex offender gets modern day Scarlet Letter.

By Emil Steiner | November 8, 2006; 12:03 PM ET | Comments (2)

Kerry "Joke" Bad For Elections Good For Education

Could this be America's future Secretary of Education (From While strategists, pundits and comedians spent most of last week harping on how John Kerry committed the ultimate of political party fouls -- disparaging the troops -- they neglected to consider that his 10 second comment may do more to improve American education than nearly five years of No Child Left Behind. Since Pentagon figures suggest that our volunteer military is increasingly populated by lower income, rural Americans, with little education, it's possible his gaffe will actually motivate U.S. high schoolers to study, instead of say, watch him on YouTube. Yes, Kerry seems capable of starting a knock-knock joke with a doorbell but how many students cracked the books on Halloween rather than hitting the parties because of his attempted humor? John Kerry certainly didn't help his party's chances in Tuesday's elections, but his educational "Scared Straight" message may...

By Emil Steiner | November 6, 2006; 03:37 PM ET | Comments (25)

Haggard: Yes To Meth, No To Gay Sex

Ted Haggard, the recently resigned president of the National Association of Evangelicals, admitted today that he bought methamphetamine and received a "massage" from a gay prostitute but denied having sex with him.

By Emil Steiner | November 4, 2006; 12:01 AM ET | Comments (70)

Of Elections, Evangelicals, Gay Marriage & Sex

At New Life Church, Rev. Haggard may not have practiced what he preached. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) Who said clergy sex scandals were only for the Catholic Church? On Thursday, Rev. Ted Haggard, President of the 30 million-strong National Association of Evangelicals, and vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, resigned amid allegations that he had a three-year fling with a male prostitute, (is that a sin?). Supposedly the Colorado pastor, and father of five, began the affair after responding to an internet ad under the alias "Art". The ad had been posted by a 49-year-old escort named Mike Jones who claims "Art" paid him to have sex once a month for the past three years. Jones also accused "Art", who has been named one of America's most influential Evangelicals, of snorting methamphetamine to heighten the sexual experience. I'm guessing that's not part of your typical Sacrament.These allegations come just days before...

By Emil Steiner | November 2, 2006; 09:47 PM ET | Comments (80)

Israeli, Lebanese War Burns Pot Smokers

Mid East conflict is killing Israel's buzz. (Andy Clark -- Reuters) War, uh, what is it good for? Well, apparently not Middle Eastern pot smokers, who've now become the latest victims in the Israeli, Hezbollah conflict. According to reports, this past summer's war has forced an "eight-fold" spike in Israeli weed prices. The sky rocketing rates are believed to be a direct result of marijuana supply shortages forced by tightened security on Israel's northern boarder. Other cannabis transport routes such as the Sinai Desert corridor have been squeezed off by security patrols hunting for Palestinian gun runners. As a result, Israel now finds herself in something of a pot panic, with smokers shelling out dizzying sums of green to get their greens. In the words of one unnamed dealer, "They don't realize that all their wars are hurting the only thing that can bring a little quiet to the...

By Emil Steiner | November 1, 2006; 03:21 PM ET | Comments (15)

Fighting Underage Drinking With Phone Sex?

Who knew squealing could be so "exciting?" (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Bill Waugh) In what could be the funniest political blunder since Dan Quayle's sixth grade "spelling lesson," Mayor Saundra Naifeh of Edmond, Oklahoma, and a team of volunteers recently handed out 22,000 fliers aimed at discouraging underage drinking with a "helpful" phone number at the bottom for ratting out drinking parties. It was all part of her town's contribution to Make A Difference Day, a national campaign "to help neighbors and the community," and what a difference they made. You see, the number that actually got printed on the fliers was for a phone sex line offering callers "exciting live talk" for 99 cents to $2.99 per minute. As exciting as reporting underage drinking can be, I don't think that was her intention. But, if the mayor wasn't trying to get squealers to have phone sex, who was? According...

By Emil Steiner | November 1, 2006; 08:22 AM ET | Comments (12)

Mayor Fights Underage Drinking With Phone Sex

In what could be the funniest political blunder since Dan Quayle spelled "potatoe" for a class of sixth graders, Edmond, Oklahoma mayor Saundra Naifeh and a team of volunteers recently handed out 22,000 fliers aimed at discouraging underage drinking. It was all part of her town's contribution to Make A Difference Day -- a national campaign "to help neighbors and the community" -- and the fliers even had a "helpful" phone number for concerned citizens interested in ratting out underage drinking parties. But it would seem no good deed goes unpunished because the actual number printed on the fliers was for a phone sex line promising callers "exciting live talk" if they called a second number costing 99 cents to $2.99 a minute. As exciting as reporting underage drinking can be, I don't think that was her intention. Nairfeh told reporters that identifying the nature of the wrong telephone number...

By Emil Steiner | October 31, 2006; 03:53 PM ET | Email a Comment

Lord of the Flies

These were not the pig heads in question. (Marc Kaufman - The Washington Post) Just in time for Halloween, a truck carrying two tons of pigs' heads spilled its cargo on a road in Germany. According to reports, it took firefighters an hour and a half with a forklift to get all the heads back in the truck (pleasant image). Why folks would need 4,000 pounds worth of pigs' heads is anyone's guess, and here's mine. Would it be outlandish to assume that they were used in some sort of macabre ritual to help the dead win elected office? After all, on Friday, Katherine Dunton won a seat on the Aleutian Region School District Board in Alaska by a coin toss. Ms. Dunton died of cancer on October 3rd, but won the run-off when her opponent chose -- are you ready for this -- heads. What, do I need...

By Emil Steiner | October 31, 2006; 11:25 AM ET | Comments (6)

Breakfast Bender

Could Mark Foley become this year's Tickle Me Elmo? (Ray Lustig - Ftwp) Welcome to Thursday October 26th! Here's what's happening in OFF/beat news: For the second time this week, bestiality leads off the Breakfast Bender, (full moons maybe?) as yet another man is in trouble for getting busy with a dog. Today's suspect is Ronald Kuch of Saginaw, Michigan, who was charged with "crimes against nature" after police caught him allegedly engaging in sexual acts with a black Labrador retriever that had been dead around four or five days. If convicted, the 44-year-old could face 15 years in prison. (So what're you in for?) Understatement of the day: "I think it's fair to say the customer did not meet the required criteria." -- An Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles spokesman on a 20-year-old lady who crashed her car into the license building during her driving test. If you're...

By Emil Steiner | October 26, 2006; 08:35 AM ET | Comments (2)

Singapore Slings Censorship

If you're going to violate Singapore's Draconian guidelines, why not do it in hi-def? (Courtesy of Gateway Inc.) Talk about your all-time wardrobe malfunctions. StarHub Cable Vision of Singapore is being fined $6,350 for showing footage of lesbian sex and bondage during episodes of the reality program "Cheaters." According to Media Development authorities, the country's lone cable provider breached "guidelines which disallow the promotion, justification and glamorization of lesbian lifestyles and their explicit depictions" by airing footage of a pixelated woman tied to a bed in a "bondage session" with two other women. (Maybe it would have been less glamorous without the pixels?) In Singapore, voluntary "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal," can still be punished by life in prison. Chewing gum is also illegal in the repressive city state, though it is unclear if airing footage of people chewing, enjoying or...

By Emil Steiner | October 24, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (33)

Recess Restrictions

Not It! An elementary school in Attleboro Massachusetts has just approved a ban on the beloved schoolyard game "tag." Do such new provisions put children at an even great risk?

By Emil Steiner | October 18, 2006; 11:25 PM ET | Comments (11)

Green China?

With Starbucks, Lamborghini dealerships, and millionaires cropping up from Beijing to Shanghai, communist China isn't looking so red anymore. But a new collegiate golfing requirement leaves little doubt capitalism is in full swing.

By Emil Steiner | October 18, 2006; 10:40 PM ET | Comments (2)

Turkmenistan Is For Lovers (Of Cults)

Turkmen President, and personality cult leader, Saparmurat Niyazov, is trying his hand at romantic poetry. This is his fifth work if you don't include his rewriting of Turkmenistan's history or his renaming of days and months of the calendar.

By Emil Steiner | October 16, 2006; 01:46 PM ET | Comments (12)

The Birds & The Bees, Don't Ask Don't Tell

The animal kingdom may be a lot gayer than people realize.  According to a new exhibit at Oslo's Natural History Museum human homosexuality cannot be viewed as "unnatural" because just about all other creatures from giraffes to penguins swing that way too. 

By Emil Steiner | October 16, 2006; 09:21 AM ET | Comments (236)

New Life On Death Row

A convicted Vietnamese heroin dealer dodges the death penalty thanks to an unexpected pregnancy.

By Emil Steiner | October 12, 2006; 03:08 PM ET | Comments (4)

Academics For God

Professors may be absent-minded, but what they aren't by and large is anti-God, at least according to a new joint sociological survey conducted by Harvard and George Mason universities. The research found that only 23.4% of academics surveyed "are either atheists or agnostics," while 35.7% of respondents said, "I know God really exists and I have no doubts about it."

By Emil Steiner | October 12, 2006; 02:38 PM ET | Comments (3)

When In Rome, Puff, Puff, Pass Legislation?

Adding new meaning to "I didn't inhale" a political satire show in Italy has apparently uncovered rampant drug use among members of parliament. Of the 50 lower house deputies who fell for the trick, 32% appeared to have taken drugs in the previous 36 hours, with 12 testing positive for cannabis and four for cocaine

By Emil Steiner | October 10, 2006; 12:38 PM ET | Comments (3)

Of Blackmail, Body Paint, & Politics

Talk about being caught with your pants down.  West Virginia state senator Randy White (D) is considering dropping out of this November's race after a local news channel aired photos of him and at least two other guys wearing nothing but body paint

By Emil Steiner | October 4, 2006; 12:50 PM ET | Comments (1)

Fox Fixes Foley

It could have been a typo, but on Fox News's O'Reilly Factor, disgraced former congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) was labeled as a Democrat.  Foley resigned last week amid allegations he sent inappropriate e-mails to male Congressional pages under the age of 18.

By Emil Steiner | October 4, 2006; 08:46 AM ET | Comments (26)

Help Control Juvenile Crime, Have Your Parents Spayed or Neutered

On Monday, Larry Shirley, a city councilman in Charleston, South Carolina, apologized for suggesting that unfit parents should be sterilized maintaining he was just trying to "start the dialogue

By Emil Steiner | October 3, 2006; 03:52 PM ET | Comments (4)

Clown In City Hall?

A 42-year-old professional clown has announced he's running for mayor of Alameda, California.

By Emil Steiner | October 3, 2006; 08:44 AM ET | Email a Comment

Terrorist Puppies

In what be the worst marketing decision since "New Coke" Paula Young,  director of Mount Vernon's animal shelter attempted to put 4 rat terrier pups up for adoption with a two-week, three-line ad that read, "Twin Rat Terrorists; 11 months, adorable, full of fun."

By Emil Steiner | October 3, 2006; 08:05 AM ET | Comments (2)

Iraq's Police Academy Tanks

"Mission to Moscow" may have some stiff competition for worst police academy ever.  On Thursday, U.S. investigators declared Baghdad's $75 million Police College a "disaster" and a "failure." 

By Emil Steiner | September 28, 2006; 12:31 PM ET | Comments (3)

How To "Legally" Kill The Scottish

There's an ancient by-law, still on the books, in York, England, which "legally" allows people to kill any Scotsmen found within city walls by bow and arrow.  People looking to satiate their blood-lust should do so ASAP as recent "peace treaty" may force lawmakers to repeal York's hallowed homicidal rights.

By Emil Steiner | September 28, 2006; 08:02 AM ET | Comments (4)

Bangkok Bans Tank Strippers

The bloodless Thai coup isn't all smiles after all.  On Wednesday, military leaders issued a ban on go-go dancers performing for troops on or near tanks.

By Emil Steiner | September 27, 2006; 03:06 PM ET | Comments (5)

Think About The Children!

In what might be the most ridiculous fooforaw since Marge Simpson brought Michelangelo's David to Springfield, an award-winning Texas art teacher has lost her job after a fifth grade field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art ended with parental complaints that kids had seen a nude sculpture.

By Emil Steiner | September 27, 2006; 11:54 AM ET | Comments (48)

Smiling Coup

Thai military leaders ousted the government Tuesday, revoked the constitution, Wednesday, and over the weekend issued a standing order that all soldiers must smile.

By Emil Steiner | September 25, 2006; 08:02 AM ET | Comments (2)

The Chavez Book Club

Less than 36 hours after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, hype Noam Chomsky's "Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Domination" has leaped onto Amazon's top 5 list.

By Emil Steiner | September 21, 2006; 02:28 PM ET | Comments (94)

Psychic HR

Colombia's chief federal prosecutor hired psychic, Armando Marti, to improve human relations around the office and help his staff deal stress.  Marti spent the next few months hypnotizing workers to determine loyalty and even performed a candlelit exorcism over a voodoo doll.

By Emil Steiner | September 20, 2006; 02:59 PM ET | Comments (3)


The Chairman of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has resigned after making comments about bestiality and the joys of deification.

By Emil Steiner | September 20, 2006; 12:17 PM ET | Comments (6)

Big Brother Is Talking To You

Law enforcement officers in Middlesbrough, England have fitted downtown security cameras with microphones that yell humiliating reprimands at anyone seen committing anti-social crimes.

By Emil Steiner | September 18, 2006; 02:07 PM ET | Comments (4)

Dining A La Chimp

Forget seeing eye-dogs, a Missouri women has filed a request under the Americans With Disabilities Act to allow her to bring her, panic-attack-preventing-monkey to restaurants and other public places.

By Emil Steiner | September 18, 2006; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

Trial By Oil

Village elders in India ordered 150 men to plunge their hands into boiling oil to prove their innocence after food was swiped from a local school.

By Emil Steiner | September 18, 2006; 09:52 AM ET | Comments (3)

Austrian Fecal Census

You've heard of bean-counters, but dung-counters?  On Thursday, organizers of the Vienna Dog-Dropping Initiative urged residents to spend 5 minutes counting turds on the streets of Austria's capital city, as part of an impromptu census.  The anti-fecal activists are planning to compile the figures and present them on Monday in an effort to pressure city officials to clean up Vienna's poopified promenades....

By Emil Steiner | September 15, 2006; 01:20 PM ET | Comments (5)

Foamy Jesus

A decline in Christmas attendance has prompted the Churches Advertising Network of Britain to launch a new campaign featuring a foamy image of Jesus in the waning suds of a pint glass.

By Emil Steiner | September 14, 2006; 02:57 PM ET | Comments (5)

Feline Jihad

A Chattanooga man, angered by an outbreak of cats and frustrated by the Humane Society's inaction, has launched a Feline Jihad, in an effort to rid his neighborhood of strays.

By Emil Steiner | September 13, 2006; 12:39 PM ET | Comments (4)

Peace For Sex

The wives of Colombian gang members have issued an ultimatum: stop killing each other or we'll stop having sex with you.

By Emil Steiner | September 13, 2006; 11:50 AM ET | Comments (5)

Minus-Sized Models Not Wanted

Madrid's ban on rail thin models has sent shock waves through the fashion world and may be the final hit for heroin chic.

By Emil Steiner | September 12, 2006; 12:50 PM ET | Comments (10)

French Presidential Love

On Sunday, French President Jacques Chirac called Finland's Prime Minister "the sexiest man in Finland."

By Emil Steiner | September 11, 2006; 01:19 PM ET | Comments (5)

British MP's Cannibal Gaffe

British MP, Boris Johnson was forced to issue a public apology after characterizing the inhabitants of Papua New Guinea as cannibals.

By Emil Steiner | September 10, 2006; 09:39 PM ET | Email a Comment

Basque Double Jeopardy

A Basque separatist on trial for threatening a judge told the presiding judge he would shoot and skin him alive.

By Emil Steiner | September 8, 2006; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (3)

Turning High Oil Prices Into Black Gold

Taking a cue from the record profits posted by oil companies, Steve Jordan of Lake Charles, Louisiana, is drilling his own oil well in his front yard.  Watch out Exxon!

By Emil Steiner | September 7, 2006; 03:50 PM ET | Comments (2)

Nature Vs. Nudity

Following up on the delightful tale of Brattleboro VT, where summer heat and naked teens aroused the ire of certain prim residents and caused one reader of this blog to insinuate that I thought civil unions were to blame: On Tuesday, the town's Select Board decided to take no action on an anti-nudity ordinance, hoping the upcoming Vermont winter would put the issue on ice.  The Green Mountain State has no laws against public nakedness and Brattleboro has long been a birthday suit friendly town, with clothing optional swimming ponds and the annual Breast Fest.  Still this summer's heated escalation of nudity (which in my opinion was caused more by global warming than civil unions) brought unwanted global attention to a vibrant New England town, where most of the 12,000 citizens prefer seeing teens naked than wearing gang colors.Source: Vt. Town to Let Nature Deal With Nudity...

By Emil Steiner | September 6, 2006; 01:12 PM ET | Comments (2)

Xenophobes Goof

This week's award for clueless racism goes to "Bürgerbewegung Pro Köln" (Citizen Initiative for Cologne) a group of ultra German nationalist who attempted to lure angry young men to their cause the old fashion way, with sex.  Their sleek ad campaign featured a young "Aryan" girl posing suggestively under the catch-phrase: "German is Hot!"  Unfortunately for them the girl they selected was in fact a Czech lingerie model.  Boing Boing reported yesterday citing German paper Der Spiegel that the group may now face copyright infringement for stealing the images from a porn site.Sources: German racists use Slav net-porn model in ad. Duhh. & Far-Right Poster Girl Turns Out to Be Czech Erotic Model...

By Emil Steiner | September 5, 2006; 08:37 AM ET | Comments (10)

Nude Teens Arouse Ire

Brattleboro, Vermont, home of America's first same-sex civil union (which incidentally ended Wednesday), has seen a massive upsurge in public, teenage nudity this summer.  The quaint New England town of 13,000 has no laws against parading naked, and until August everyone, including police, just looked the other way.  But after a series of naked hula-hoop contests, resident Theresa Toney went Helen Lovejoy, imploring town officials to please think of the children.  As a result attorney's began drafting a birthday suit ban, prompting the anti-sartorial teens to stage an impromptu nude sit-in.Source: Nude Teens Raising Eyebrows in Vermont...

By Emil Steiner | August 25, 2006; 12:21 PM ET | Comments (23)

China's School of Doping

If you thought doping couldn't get any weirder than a juiced Mennonite getting busted after winning the Tour De France, think again.  On Wednesday, it was revealed that Chinese anti-doping agents had uncovered a massive doping regime at a prestigious track and field high school.  According to reports,  teachers were caught injecting students as young as 15 with EPO and testosterone, and a cache of hypodermics and drugs was discovered in the headmaster's office.  With Beijing's Summer Olympiad fewer than two years away, this scandal is seen as a major setback for China's Olympic Committee, which vowed to eradicate doping by 2008.  On the other hand, perhaps it's time for sports to stop fighting this seemingly unwinnable battle and allow athletes to compete by whatever drugs necessary.  After all, if everyone cheats then at least it's fair....

By Emil Steiner | August 24, 2006; 04:14 PM ET | Comments (16)

Are Civil Liberties Collateral Damage In The War on Drugs?

Next time you go for a drive, you might wanna leave your wallet at home.  Last Friday, the Eighth Circuit court of appeals ruled that police can confiscate large sums of cash from motorists without any other evidence of wrongdoing.  The decision in "United States of America v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency" found that "possession of a large sum of cash is strong evidence of a connection to drug activity."  In this particular case, a man neither accused or convicted of a crime lost his life savings because a Nebraska State Trooper found him suspicious.  Despite how suspicious he may or may not have been, this precedent seemingly shifts the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused.  It also reinforces American Express's long standing tag line: "Don't leave home without it."Sources: United States of America v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency & Federal Appeals Court: Driving With Money is a Crime...

By Emil Steiner | August 23, 2006; 11:31 AM ET | Comments (11)

Church's Values Up For Interpretation

After firing Sunday school teacher, Mary Lambert, August 9th, because of her gender, Rev. Timothy LaBouf rebutted criticism, Saturday, by stating "that women can perform any job and fulfill any responsibility they desire" just so long as they do so outside of church settings.  The minister of Watertown, New York's First Baptist church dismissed Lambert, after 54 years of service, because the church board's newly adopted interpretation of bible passage 1 Timothy 2:12 forbids women from teaching men.  In an interesting mix of church and state, LaBouf also happens to be a member of Watertown's city council though not its school board.Source: Church Fires Teacher for Being Woman...

By Emil Steiner | August 21, 2006; 02:13 PM ET | Comments (30)

Once, Twice, Three Times a Divorce

For some Muslims, divorce is as easy saying 3 words, but reconciliation can take 3 months of infidelity--at least that is according to a recent decision by clerics in east India, who ruled Ershad, a local rickshaw driver, divorced by his wife when he said "talaq" (divorce) three times while drunk.  Now his wife must remarry someone at least 70 years of age, for a period of no less than 3 months, and then obtain a divorce from him, before she can remarry Ershad.  The decision is an extension of a precedent set earlier this year in neighboring West Bengal, where religious leaders ordered a couple to separate after the husband uttered "talaq" three times in his sleep.Source: Woman told to remarry after ‘drunken’ divorce...

By Emil Steiner | August 21, 2006; 10:20 AM ET | Comments (2)

Psychotic Filipino Judge Fired

On Friday, the Philippine Supreme Court upheld its termination of Judge Florentino Floro, finding him mentally unfit for the job.  Floro, who had presided over a suburban Manila court until March 31st, claimed to conduct healing sessions in chambers with his imaginary dwarf friends, Armand, Luis, and Angel.  He also told investigators evaluating his mental state that he could read the future, be in two different places at the same time, and "recharge his psychic powers" by switching his blue judicial robe to black on Fridays.  Despite his contention that his personal beliefs had no bearing on his office, the Supreme Court felt they might "erode the public's acceptance of the judiciary as the rational guardian of the law, if not make it an object of ridicule."Sources: Filipino 'dwarf' judge loses case & Seven dwarfs more famous than US judges: poll...

By Emil Steiner | August 18, 2006; 09:57 AM ET | Comments (5)

The Politics of Divorce

As if elections weren't nasty enough, divorced couple Frank and Leah Berlanga are running against each other for city council in Daly City, CA.  The two dissolved their 16 year marriage in June but according to Leah, co-founder of the Domestic Violence Survivors Network, Frank has now found "legal ways to (mentally abuse me.)"  Frank, who has already served 10 days in jail for violating a restraining order against her, was arrested again Friday, (one day after filing papers to run), on charges of violating his probation.  During a press conference, Monday, Leah made it clear her ex-husband's candidacy is nothing more than harassment, and warned residents of Daly City, to gear up for "the rockiest race that we have ever witnessed."Source: Divorced Couple Face Off in Council Race...

By Emil Steiner | August 16, 2006; 11:13 AM ET | Comments (1)

Dead Candidate Running

It says a lot about America's electoral process that a dead person can not only run for office but actually defeat a living candidate (remember John Ashcroft in 2000?).  At today's primary in Nevada Republicans have an opportunity to leave yet another macabre mark on political history by electing Kathy Augustine state treasurer.  The 50-year-old had been in a three-way race when she died July 11th of mysterious causes, and officials did not have time to take her name off the ballot.  If elected, she would be the first dead person in Nevada history to win a primary for statewide office.Source: Dead Candidate Remains on Nev. Ballot...

By Emil Steiner | August 15, 2006; 12:49 PM ET | Comments (4)

Breast Implants Save Life?

The safety debate over breast augmentation took an unexpected twist, Tuesday, when Israeli doctors confirmed that a 24-year-old woman's silicone implants may have saved her life.  During a Hezbollah rocket attack, the unnamed female caught shrapnel in her chest puncturing the implants but stopping short of her heart.  A spokesman from Nahariya Hospital said, "she was saved from death."Source: Breast implants save Israeli woman...

By Emil Steiner | August 15, 2006; 09:04 AM ET | Comments (6)

Court Says No To Porn-At-Work Privacy

Americans who enjoy porn on their work computers (look around the cubicle, you may see some) were dealt another set back, Tuesday, when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that employees have no legal expectation of privacy on those machines.  The decision was a defeat for Jeffrey Ziegler, of Montana, who had argued the government violated his Fourth Amendment rights when they seized the kiddie porn stash from his office hard drive without a warrant.  But according to judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, "social norms suggest that employees are not entitled to privacy in the use of workplace computers, which belong to their employers and pose significant dangers in terms of diminished productivity."Ah... blog reading on the other hand tends to increase workplace productivity.Source: Court rules against man in porn-at-work case...

By Emil Steiner | August 9, 2006; 12:44 PM ET | Comments (7)

Do You Believe in WMD?

50% of Americans still do.  A recent Harris poll found that despite a 16-month, $900-million-plus search which found nothing, half the country (see if you can guess which half?) still thinks Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction when U.S. troops invaded in March 2003.  To what does President Bush, who after all originally used WMD to sell his invasion, owe this deep and enduring faith?  Media experts blame misinformation circulated by conservative bloggers, Fox News, talk radio, and reinforced by the Administration's ongoing, stay-the-course, don't cut and run rhetoric.Source: Half of U.S. Still Believes Iraq Had WMD...

By Emil Steiner | August 7, 2006; 03:21 PM ET | Comments (25)

Schwarzenegger To Play Pingpong For Cash

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has accepted a challenge from 80-year-old pingpong champion, Byng Forsberg who only agreed to donate money after they squared off at table tennis.  According to reelection campaign spokesman Matt David, if Schwarzenegger loses, he may challenge the octogenarian to "a weightlifting contest afterward, so the governor can redeem himself." Source: Schwarzenegger to Play Pingpong Champion...

By Emil Steiner | August 4, 2006; 07:51 AM ET | Comments (1)


Two recent incidents have pushed the rationale of zero tolerance from questionable to bombastic.  The first took place in Carlisle, PA where Derek Randall Pittman, 26, was charged with DUI because while sitting shotgun he held the wheel steady so his designated driver could take a bite of a sandwich.  Then 3,812 miles away, in Oslo Norway, Jarle Torgeir Kjoerren was sentenced to 15-days in jail (suspended) for driving 6.5 feet while intoxicated.  The 46-year-old had turned on his car to illuminate the glove compartment, and when he reached over inadvertently released the handbrake.  While most people agree drunk driving laws should be policed, at what point does wasting time and resources with mindless enforcement actually endanger the society those laws were intended to protect? Sources: Man in Passenger Seat Fights DUI Charge & Man punished for 2m drunk 'drive'...

By Emil Steiner | August 3, 2006; 01:07 PM ET | Comments (2)

Samaritans Not Wanted In Vegas

In Sin City, gambling's legal, prostitution's ok in the suburbs, but as of July 19th giving food to a homeless person can land you in jail... seriously, so far 5 people have been arrested.  In response, the Nevada branch of the ACLU has brought a federal suit against Las Vegas claiming the ordinance not only violates free speech and free assembly but also the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.  As it stands now, people caught feeding indigents face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.  While loving thy neighbor has not yet been banned some cynics fear helping blind people cross the street may soon become a capital offense.Source: Las Vegas Sued Over Homeless Feeding Law...

By Emil Steiner | August 3, 2006; 09:51 AM ET | Comments (3)

Mexican Women Besiege TV Studio

On Tuesday, 500 Mexican women, armed with kitchen spoons, took control of state-run Channel 9 Oaxaca, to protest Governor Ulises Ruiz's 2004 election victory.  The latest reports indicate the women are still occupying the TV studio with another 1,000 guarding outside.  At 7:00pm, yesterday, Channel 9 went back on air with a static filled program featuring the women and their lawyer, seated in front of a Marxist protest banner, and declaring "we are in the struggle."Sources: Oaxaca’s State TV Station Under Popular Control & Class struggle deepens in Oaxaca, Mexico...

By Emil Steiner | August 2, 2006; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (3)

The Chuck Norris Bridge?

Over the years there have been many ridiculous public works projects--Ted Steven's bridge to nowhere, Boston's Big Dig, Springfield's Matlock Expressway, and coming in 2008, Budapest's Chuck Norris Bridge.  Yes, it appears that rather than naming their $290 million project themselves, Hungarian officials left the decision up to the prudent minds of online voters, who in there infinite wisdom have given "Walker Texas Ranger" three times as many votes as the country's founder, Stephen The Great.  If he wins, and with an 11% lead it looks about as probable as violence in his movies, Norris would join such historical figures as Count Istvan Szechenyi, St. Margaret, and revolutionary poet, Sandor Petofi in having a bridge named after him.Source: Chuck Norris leads the way in Budapest bridge-naming vote...

By Emil Steiner | August 1, 2006; 03:52 PM ET | Comments (6)

PA Race Turns GOP Green

If politics makes strange bedfellows, Pennsylvania's senatorial race is a regular old key party.  With Republican incumbent Rick Santorum trailing Democratic challenger Bob Casey Jr., the GOP has poured thousands of dollars into the campaign of Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli, in the hopes of siphoning away votes from Casey.  This so-called "Ralph Nader Technique" has obviously been done before, but what makes this so unique, is how vast an ideological difference there is between not just Santorum (pro-life) and Romanelli (pro-choice) but also between Romanelli and Casey (pro-life).  The political gamble, which experts say will help shrink Casey's double digit lead, comes with a risk for conservative Republican's who might, by their own funding, foist a pro-choicer into Santorum's seat.Source: GOP Aids Green Candidate Carl Romanelli...

By Emil Steiner | August 1, 2006; 10:32 AM ET | Comments (4)

Indian Pres. Says No To Bollywood

Rising ticket prices and $5.00 Sour Patch Kids have forced all of us to cut back on movies, but that's nothing compared to Indian President Abdul Kalam.  The 72-year-old, chief executive of Asia's most prolific cinematic state, claims to have not seen a movie in 50 years.   Kalam's excuse?  He's been busy studying scientific literature and building India's first nuclear missile.Source: Books are Kalam's best companions...

By Emil Steiner | July 31, 2006; 01:33 PM ET | Comments (10)

NC Politics Enters The Twilight Zone

For years now political campaigns have used television ads to rake muck, but in North Carolina's 13th congressional district, things are little more macabre.  Republican candidate and advocate of "traditional American values," Vernon Robinson recently put out an ad that may be as memorable since LBJ's "Daisy Girl" of 1964.  The ad portrays contemporary America, where flag burning, abortions, and homosexuals run rampant, as an episode of "The Twilight Zone" complete with ominous music and black and white photography (including a mugshot of Jesse Jackson). Robinson, an African American, and son of a Tuskegee airman, proudly displays a link to the commercial on his website under the quote "Watch the Ad Everyone is Talking About...then help me put more ads on the air!" Now, where's my wallet? Sources: Twilight Zone Commercial & Bush Re-Enters Gay Marriage Fight &

By Emil Steiner | July 27, 2006; 01:41 PM ET | Comments (4)

Zombie Dancers Arrested On WMD Suspicion

Over the weekend, Minneapolis police arrested a group of six dancing "zombies" on suspicion of toting "simulated weapons of mass destruction."  The six adults and one juvenile were dressed in typical undead fashion--pale face makeup, torn garments, fake blood, backpack stereo systems--and claim they were just hosting a standard "Zombie Dance Party" (once again solidifying Minnesota's reputation as coolest dance scene on earth). According to police though the group had intimidated passersby with their "ghoulish" makeup and been uncooperative when questioned about the stereo wires sticking out of their backpacks.  And so, frustrated by mindless zombie antics, the police responded in kind, dragging them off to jail because the portable stereos supposedly looked like simulated WMD.  Though none of them were charged with any crime, they did get to spend almost 48 hours locked up, during which several officers appeared to make fun of them, according to "zombie" Kate Kibby.Source: 'Zombies' Booked for Carrying Fake WMDs...

By Emil Steiner | July 26, 2006; 05:03 PM ET | Comments (5)

Congressman Jokes About Hookers & Blow

Once again Stephen Colbert's relentless interview style has pried a rare nugget of "truth" from a member of Congress.  The latest victim was Rep. Robert Wexler (D) of Florida's 19th district who stated  on Friday's show: "I enjoy cocaine because it's a fun thing to do," and "I enjoy the company of prostitutes for the following reasons ... because it's a fun thing to do. If you combine the two together, it's probably even more fun."  The priceless sound-bites came after Colbert prompted him to say things that would "really lose [him] the election" this November's if he had an opponent, (Wexler is running unopposed) and were clearly part of a joke.  Of course a joke isn't funny when you have to explain it, and with close to 50% of his district over 45 that's exactly what the Congressman has spent the last 4 days doing.Sources: Congressman Jokes About Cocaine on TV & 19th District & The Interview...

By Emil Steiner | July 24, 2006; 08:17 PM ET | Comments (10)

Hungry For Tourists Hungary Sells Adultery

What happens on Lake Balaton stays on Lake Balaton, at least that appears to be the message behind a new x-rated promotional cartoon from Hungary's tourism authority.  The colorful video, set to near-porn music, shows a male tourist at the resort anxiously checking his watch and chugging martinis before a moonlit rendez-vous with a blond woman in a row boat on the lake.  After some eye-popping full frontal nudity, they are shown, in silhouette, expressing their love physically.  Then lying in post-coital bliss, the man appears to hide his wedding ring under the covers, before the final shot of him driving home all smiles.Lake Balaton, a popular destination during Communism, has fallen on hard times now that Hungarians are free to travel elsewhere for vacation.  In response the government seems willing to do, (or show) whatever it takes to spice up the place.  According tourism officials, this cartoon "is aimed at selling Balaton as a travel destination primarily for the young generation."  What animated adultery has...

By Emil Steiner | July 21, 2006; 03:57 PM ET | Comments (5)

Bush Gropes German Chancellor?

Apparently President Bush's use of the s-word was not the most inappropriate thing he did at last weekend's G-8 Conference in St. Petersburg.  Video footage has surfaced and circulated YouTube which appears to show our Commander and Chief groping German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  Though the two share similar viewpoints on many issue, it seems from her reaction that they may not see eye-to-eye on public massage.Source: TV networks tune in to the appeal of internet video clips...

By Emil Steiner | July 20, 2006; 01:54 PM ET | Comments (23)

Under Covers Cop

An unnamed New Zealand police woman was censured Thursday, for moonlighting as prostitute.  Facing financial difficulties the officer had decided to turn tricks for some extra cash, which although not illegal had not approved by her department.  It is not uncommon for Kiwi cops to work two jobs, but in light of this incident MP Ron Mark said what may be the front runner for understatement of the year: "police secondary employment rules need tightening."   Sources: Police officer moonlighted as prostitute & MP Demands Tougher Controls on Outside Work  ...

By Emil Steiner | July 20, 2006; 10:02 AM ET | Email a Comment

Think About The Children!

On Tuesday, President Bush used something he's never used before, (NB Jay Leno: insert zinger here), his veto power.  Flanked by more moms and babies than the casting call of "Gospel Road" Bush announced he would strike down The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which not only passed the Republican Congress but is supported by Nancy Reagan.But with midterm elections less than 4 months away, it's time to rally around your base, and Bush's base cares a lot more about family than science.  Therefore today's photo-op, which appeared as contrived as his use of mother/child props (all the kids were born from embryos), skillfully, if not subtly, characterized human embryonic stem cell research as a heartless alchemy which "would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others."  This position should come as no surprise to his critics, who often claim Mr. Bush only supports the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding oil, and never...

By Emil Steiner | July 19, 2006; 05:01 PM ET | Email a Comment

The Truth Behind Oprah's Denial

On Monday, Oprah denied having a lesbian affair with her best friend Gayle King but probably ended up convincing more people she was coming out than anything else.  For the handful of Americans who have never wondered about Oprah's orientation, seeing the story plastered across the news inserted the possibility she's gay into our heads.  For everyone else, the fact that she had to issue a denial may have been all the proof they needed.  In today's court of public opinion, the quickest way to be convicted of an anything is to deny it publicly, and with good reason.  Here are some of the more memorable public denials:"I did not have sex with that woman... Monica Lewinsky." - Bill Clinton"I'm not a crook." - Richard Nixon "Read my lips, no new taxes." - George H. W. Bush "I'm not a junkie." - Kurt Cobain"I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period." - Rafael Palmeiro"I don't know of anybody in...

By Emil Steiner | July 18, 2006; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (7)

Bush Curses Hezbollah Attacks

On Monday, during a luncheon at the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia a microphone caught President Bush muttering, "get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s---."   The unscripted profanity came between bites of a buttered roll as the President and Tony Blair discussed sending UN peace keepers to the embattled Israeli/Lebanese boarder.  His curses were not enough however to convince the G-8 Leaders who instead agreed on a politically worded statement essentially telling both sides to stop doing this s---.Sources: Bush Utters Expletive on Hezbollah Attacks & Leaders Work Out Plan For End to Mideast Crisis...

By Emil Steiner | July 17, 2006; 01:23 PM ET | Comments (21)

Don't Thank God In Court

It may be cool to thank Jesus after winning the NBA finals, but doing so in a court of law can land you behind bars.  Take for example the case of Honolulu native Junior Stowers who celebrated his June 29th acquital by raising his arms and screaming: "Thank you Jesus!"  The judge responded by throwing him in jail for contempt of court.   Whether it was a separation of church and state issue or not remains unclear but Stowers, a devout Christian, did end up spending 6 hours in the clink for what amounted to a non-secular ululation.Full Story: Thanking Jesus in Court Lands Man in Jail...

By Emil Steiner | July 17, 2006; 08:55 AM ET | Comments (3)

Garbage Chief Caught Littering

On Friday, George A. Finnerty III, litter control coordinator of Youngstown, Ohio, was charged with littering on his own property.  The 58-year-old, who has headed up the city's trash since 1985, admitted he "had some violations," but blamed the citation on a long standing beef against him.  He wouldn't elaborate, but if HBO has taught us anything, it's that disputes in the waste disposal industry seldom end cleanly...Full Story: Litter chief ticketed for litter offense...

By Emil Steiner | July 15, 2006; 06:58 PM ET | Comments (1)

Putin Pecks Boy

In America we are used to our Presidents kissing babies, typically on the cheek, and almost exclusively during a campaign, but in Russia things are little different.  A peculiar video has surfaced showing Russian President Vladimir Putin grabbing a young boy, pulling up his shirt, and kissing his stomach despite his teacher's attempt to remove him.  Whether zurbert or raspberry, it came from Russia with love, but can you imagine what would happen if Bush tried this at home?Video: Kiss...

By Emil Steiner | July 14, 2006; 12:27 PM ET | Email a Comment

Sex Workers Demand Rights

Protesting prostitutes and strippers blanketed the steps of Downtown Las Vegas courthouse, Thursday, demanding respect and rights for the world's oldest profession.  With an increasing number of sex workers seeking political office many were hopeful (perhaps naively so) that America will join most of the rest of the civilized world in decriminalizing prostitution.  The rally in Sin city capped off a 3-day conference (after all, what else is Vegas if not sex workers and conferences?) which organizers claim to be the largest gathering of academics, advocates and prostitutes in nearly 10 years, (not including Founder's Day at Vassar?).Full Story: Vegas Sex Workers Demand Rights, Respect...

By Emil Steiner | July 14, 2006; 09:43 AM ET | Comments (2)

In GA, Vote Early & Often

Next Tuesday's Georgia Primaries could become an exercise in ballot stuffing, as Wednesday U.S. District Judge, Harold Murphy, ruled that voters will not have to show a government-issued photo ID to vote.  If it isn't overturned, the ruling will extend to the November 7th general elections, meaning this year it will be easier to commit election fraud in the Peach State than to purchase alcohol.Full Story: Ga. Judge Blocks Voter ID Law Enforcement...

By Emil Steiner | July 13, 2006; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (11)

VA Witch Pardoned

It took over 300 years, but on Tuesday, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine officially pardoned Grace Sherwood, for "cursing Tidewater Farms" in 1706.  The so-called Witch of Pungo had been convicted on the grounds she floated after being tossed in Lynnhaven River with her thumbs tied to her feet--the only successful ducking conviction in VA history.  It is yet unclear whether Kaine's pro-witch stance will be characterized by critics as soft on crime, or pandering to the Goth vote.Full Story: After Toil and Trouble, 'Witch' Is Cleared...

By Emil Steiner | July 12, 2006; 09:48 AM ET | Comments (2)

Kentucky Fried Politics

In the latest twist to the already twisted 2007 Kentucky Gubernatorial race, a judge Friday disqualified Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo (D) from trying Governor Ernie Fletcher (R), on conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination.  The Governor was indicted in May of illegally rewarded political supporters with state jobs but has accused Stumbo, his probable opponent in 2007, of "selective and vindictive prosecution."  Full Story: Ky. AG Disqualified From Governor's Case...

By Emil Steiner | July 8, 2006; 02:12 PM ET | Email a Comment

Unilateral State of the Union

The President stressed optimism during his hour-long State of Union Address, Tuesday night. By presenting simple choices such as freedom vs. terror, competition vs. complacency, criticism vs. defeatism, and then bolstering them with heroic, if not analogous historic parallels, he confidently communicated a "my way or the highway" attitude, long on imagery but short on substance. The big surprise however came at 9:47 EST when Bush said: "America is addicted to foreign oil." He went on to propose cleaner alternatives like zero emission coal and ethanol cars to break the dependency. Hurricane Katrina only got one sentence, most likely because it isn't the most optimistic subject.Full Story: Bush Warns Against Shrinking Global Role...

By Emil Steiner | February 1, 2006; 12:39 AM ET | Email a Comment


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