‘A man who died near downtown when he jumped from the cab of his moving 18-wheeler was apparently trying to stage a wreck early Tuesday morning to collect from his insurance company, Houston police said. [..]
The victim, whose name has not been released, had head injuries. No other injuries were reported.
Police said the man’s business partner told investigators the trucker was staging an accident to file a fraudulent claim with his insurance company. [..]
The truck was traveling at about 50 mph, police said. The driver was alone in the cab and was not pulling a trailer.’
‘The operator of the Australian discussion forum ZGeek has been named as a defendant in a defamation suit for material posted by ZGeek users to a thread about a 9/11 conspiracy theory. Another forum is apparently also named as a defendant in the claim.
The plaintiffs are apparently seeking $42 Million in consequential damages, claiming that they lost a film deal as a result of criticism of the conspiracy theory in the discussion fora.
What makes this claim stranger is that the owner of the site states that he complied with earlier takedown notices sent by the plaintiffs’ lawyers about the alleged defamatory material.
These types of claims are very worrying for the high levels of uncertainty that they impose on forum operators. In the US, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act essentially immunises forum operators from defamation claims like this one, but no such strong protection exists in Australia. This lack of certainty effectively provides an incentive for those who feel aggrieved by posts on a public forum to seek damages against the operators of the forum, even where the operators have complied by removing the allegedly defamatory material.’
‘When his wife needed a kidney transplant, Dr. Richard Batista gave her one of his, attorney Dominic Barbara said.
Now that Dawnell Batista has filed for a divorce, Richard Batista wants his kidney back as part of his settlement demand. Or, Barbara said Wednesday, his client wants the value of that kidney: An estimated $1.5 million.
The case is being heard in Supreme Court in Mineola.’
‘ A group of people claiming to be the heirs of the legendary Knights Templar are suing Pope Benedict XVI, seeking more than $150 billion for assets seized by the Catholic Church seven centuries ago.
They also want to restore the order’s good name. Founded in 1119, the Knights Templar was a secretive order of Christian warriors who protected pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem during the Crusades. They fell out of favor years later, and members were accused of denying Christ, worshipping the devil and practicing sodomy. Many Templars were tortured and burned at the stake.
In 1307, Pope Clement V accused the order of heresy and officially dissolved it. [..]
Last fall, the Vatican published secret documents about the trial of the Templars in a book called Processus Contra Templarios, Latin for “Trial Against the Templars.” The volume included a parchment apparently showing that, contrary to historic belief, Clement had absolved the order of heresy.
Now, a group called the Association of the Sovereign Order of the Temple of Christ has filed suit in a Spanish court, asking for an apology from the pope and recognition that land and property worth about $150 billion today was seized from the Templars.’
‘A lawsuit filed Monday in California seeks class action status alleging that Apple denied technical staffers required overtime pay and meal compensation in violation of state law.
Filed in the US District Court for Southern California, the complaint claims that many Apple employees are routinely subjected to working conditions resembling indentured servitude.
Lead plaintiff David Walsh was employed by Apple as a network engineer from 1995 until 2007. His complaint says he was often required to work more than 40 hours per week, miss meals, and spend his evenings and even entire weekends on call without any overtime pay or meal compensation. He fielded technical support calls that often came after 11 pm.’
‘Up to 20 heavy vehicles and large pieces of equipment are stolen from NSW construction sites every week and sold on black markets as far away as South America and South Africa.
Thieves are making off with equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
They are helped by the extraordinary fact that a universal key operates most of the machinery.
There were 1174 heavy vehicle thefts in the year to June 30, with only a 68 per cent recovery rate, the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council found.
The trafficking of stolen heavy equipment is two-way between Australia and the world.
The Australian buyer of a second-hand backhoe from Britain found a 9mm pistol and ammunition secreted in the dashboard. British police found the backhoe, tractors and excavators had been stolen and shipped to Australia.’
‘On the last day of his life, Dallas Carter sat down in his apartment and addressed a letter “TO Whom it my concert.”
He was not a good speller and he could not read well, but the 44-year-old father stitched together, on green construction paper, the last will and testament of a poor man. It ran three pages, 380 words, and it began with the formality of a legal document.
I, Dallas D. Carter, …
This was before the police arrived, before gunshots lit the night and the children fled apartment B28.
… buy the time you get this letter I will be gone or dead. it’s not a good letter. sometime people do dump thing I’m not really a bad person Just life gets away from me sometime …
Before that Saturday night, no one would have expected Dallas Carter to do what he did.’
‘An Orlando man has traded the naming rights to his unborn son for a $100 gas card.
David Partin recently heard that a local radio station was giving $100 worth of free gas to the listener who called in with the most interesting item to trade. Central Florida radio hosts Richard Dixon and J. Willoughby were quick to take Partin up on his offer, The Orlando Sentinel reports.
When the baby is born this winter, he will be named Dixon and Willoughby Partin — with the “and” included.
Partin’s girlfriend, Samantha, says at least her son will have an interesting story about how he got his name.’
‘Of all the careers available to a devout Christian couple, revamping an urban pub and winning over its hardcore regulars was always going to be a gamble.
Sure enough, Krista and John Fleming found they were preaching to the unconverted – and the regulars had every intention of staying that way.
Now the Flemings, who banned swearing and gambling on horseracing, have been sacked after takings plunged. [..]
She said: ‘They should have built pews in here rather than chairs. I have no problem with their religion but… a pub is a pub. They started having a quiz and loads of the questions were on the Bible.
‘They took down the dart board… and now there’s some kind of calligraphy up there. [..]’
‘When President Bush announced his economic stimulus in January, he bragged that his package was the “right size” and would “boost” the economy [..]
It sure has led to “higher consumer spending,” but not where Bush had probably hoped. The adult pornography industry reports that has seen a huge uptick in business thanks to Bush’s package. According to a press release from the Adult Internet Market Research Company:
An independent market-research firm, AIMRCo (Adult Internet Market Research Company), has discovered that many websites focused on adult or erotic material have experienced an upswing in sales in the recent weeks since checks have appeared in millions of Americans’ mailboxes across the country.
According to Kirk Mishkin, Head Research Consultant for AIMRCo, “Many of the sites we surveyed have reported 20-30% growth in membership rates since mid-May when the checks were first sent out, and typically the summer is a slow period for this market.”‘
‘A Washington woman said she filed a federal lawsuit accusing a Miami hospital of “anti-gay animus” after workers refused to let her see her dying partner.
Janice Langbehn and her partner Lisa Marie Pond, both aged 39, intended to enjoy a vacation cruise with three of their four children, marking the women’s 18 years as a couple in February 2007, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Thursday.
The trip abruptly ended when Pond had a massive stroke as the ship was preparing to leave port, the newspaper said.
She was taken to Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, where Langbehn said workers would not let her see her ailing partner.
A social worker allegedly said the couple was in an “anti-gay city and state.”‘
‘I’m sitting in a fast-food restaurant outside Boston that, because of a nondisclosure agreement I had to sign, I am not allowed to name. I’m waiting to visit Apollo Diamond, a company about as secretive as a Soviet-era spy agency. Its address isn’t published. The public relations staff wouldn’t give me directions. Instead, an Apollo representative picks me up at this exurban strip mall and drives me in her black luxury car whose make I am not allowed to name along roads that I am not allowed to describe as twisty, not that they necessarily were.
“This is a virtual diamond mine,” says Apollo CEO Bryant Linares when I arrive at the company’s secret location, where diamonds are made. “If we were in Africa, we’d have barbed wire, security guards and watch towers. We can’t do that in Massachusetts.” Apollo’s directors worry about theft, corporate spies and their own safety. When Linares was at a diamond conference a few years ago, he says, a man he declines to describe slipped behind him as he was walking out of a hotel meeting room and said someone from a natural diamond company just might put a bullet in his head. “It was a scary moment,” Linares recalls.’
‘Under the gleam of blinding lamps, engulfed by banks of angrily frothing flasks, Makoto Watanabe is plotting a slimy, lurid-green revolution. He has spent his life in search of a species of algae that efficiently “sweats” crude oil, and has finally found it.
Now, exploiting the previously unrecognised power of pondlife, Professor Watanabe dreams of transforming Japan from a voracious energy importer into an oil-exporting nation to rival any member of Opec. [..]
Professor Watanabe’s vision arises from the extraordinary properties of the Botryococcus braunii algae: give the microscopic green strands enough light – and plenty of carbon dioxide – and they excrete oil. The tiny globules of oil that form on the surface of the algae can be easily harvested and then refined using the same “cracking” technologies with which the oil industry now converts crude into everything from jet fuel to plastics.’
‘A dying man who literally gambled on his own life plans to spend his bookie’s winnings on booze, fags and death-defying theme park rides!
“Well, why not?” said pragmatic Jon Matthews who has been living on borrowed time ever since he was diagnosed with an untreatable asbestos-linked cancer more than two years ago. [..]
He walked into Fenny Stratford’s William Hill Bookmakers last September and told surprised staff he wanted to take out a £100 bet against the doctors’ prediction that he’d dead by Christmas.
“I thought it would be a bit of fun and I thought it would give me an incentive to battle this horrible illness and survive a bit longer. The people at William Hill checked all the facts and gave me odds of 50-1.”‘
‘Last June, Matthew Lincoln was attending an evening service at his nondenominational Tennessee church when he approached the altar where a visiting minister was offering individual prayers for parishioners. Assigned “catchers” were present on the altar in case congregants fainted, fell, or otherwise lost control. When the minister, Robert Lavala, slightly touched his forehead, the Knoxville-area man “received the spirit and fell backwards.” Except nobody was there to catch him, Lincoln charges in a $2.5 million lawsuit filed yesterday against Lakewind Church and its pastors. Lincoln, 58, claims that he fell backwards, striking his head against the “carpet-covered cement floor,” according to the Circuit Court complaint [..]
Lincoln alleges that Lakewind and its pastors were “negligent in not supervising the catchers to be sure that they stood behind the person being prayed for…should they have a dizzying, fainting, or falling in the spirit as had occurred on many occasions before.”‘
‘Bethlehem Police arrested a man Wednesday after they say he followed two female teenagers in his car and offered them money to allow him to smell their feet.
Police say John Robinson, Jr., 32, of Selkirik, trailed the teens in his gold and brown 1989 Chevrolet pick-up truck on Glenmont Road sometime on Wednesday.
Robinson approached the teens, according to police, and offered them 20 dollars for the chance to smell their feet in order to satisfy a sexual gratificaation.
Robinson was arrested Thursday and charged with harrassment and endangering the welfare of a child.’
‘Two Australian burglars broke into a house – only to find it full of police officers staging a drugs raid.
The pair jemmied open a window to get into the house in a midnight raid in Melbourne, reports the Herald Sun.
But they had been beaten to it by police officers who had just burst through the door to search for drugs.
The property was allegedly being used for growing hydroponic cannabis, and the detectives were on a raid to arrest the resident, a man in his 20s.
The startled burglars fled, but were caught a couple of days later, said Det Sen-Sgt Paul Cassidy, of Melton detectives.
“It is unusual,” he said, but declined to comment on whether the burglars had been after money or drugs.’
‘[..] Largent fulfilled the pop-culture dream that was popularized in such movies as Office Space and Superman 3 – stealing a large sum of money, $50,000 to be exact, a few pennies at a time.
Largent used a massive fraud scheme to trick Google Checkout and online brokers like E-trade and Schwab to send him the sum, a few cents at a time. The fraud was made possible by a common practice relatively unknown to the general public. When users open up accounts with these sites, the site sends a tiny payment from a few cents to a few dollars to the user. The payment is meant to verify that the user has access to the account and that it’s active.
By opening 58,000 such accounts, Largent funneled money through the channels into a few private bank accounts. Largent raked in $8,000 from Google’s Checkout alone.’
‘A bullied office worker has been awarded £5,000 after her boss raised his right buttock from his chair and broke wind in her direction.
Humiliated mother-of-three Theresa Bailey, 43, was the only woman on a sales team where “laddish” behaviour made her life a misery, and continued despite complains to senior managers.
After she objected to sexist banter a beach ball was thrown at her head – and when she had problems working her computer was ordered to wear a badge saying “I’m simple”.
Now an employment tribunal has ruled that Mrs Bailey was sexually discriminated against while working for direct marketing firm Selectabase, in Deal, Kent, and awarded her £5,146.’
‘At 2:25 P.M., I happened to be down on the street, smoking a cigarette with a co-worker. Out of the blue, I hear “Splat,” followed by piercing, vivid screams of fear and nauseous anxiety.
Suddenly, I saw two girls running down the side of the street with blood and muscle tissue covering their faces. And I just walked around, asking myself what the hell was going on.
In the confusion, my buddy told me to turn around. I did, and there it was: [..]’
‘A 13 year old from Texas who stole his Dad’s credit card and ordered two hookers from an escort agency, has today been convicted of fraud and given a three year community order.
Ralph Hardy, a 13 year old from Newark, Texas confessed to ordering an extra credit card from his father’s existing credit card company, and took his friends on a $30,000 spending spree, culminating in playing “Halo” on an Xbox with a couple of hookers in a Texas motel.
The credit card company involved said it was regular practice to send extra credit cards out as long as all security questions are answered.
The escort girls who were released without charge, told the arresting officers something was up when the kids said they would rather play Xbox than get down to business. [..]
Ralph’s ambition is to one day become a politician.’
‘Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) stepped in front of a group of tech executives in Washington this morning to deliver a caffeinated and surprisingly sharp defense of network neutrality. Pledging to use “every ounce of my energy to protect network neutrality,” Wyden had a message for ISPs who might be pondering new charges for various forms of access: “think twice.” If ISPs start down that road, they might soon find that they lose key legal protections including “safe harbors” and tax freedom.
Wyden delivered his ultimatum at a Computer & Communications Industry Association conference in DC, where he cast the entire network neutrality debate in terms of a legislative compromise. Years ago, Congress began protecting ISPs from the twin threats of regulation and taxation; in return, ISPs were expected to deliver an unimpeded connection to the Internet. A move away from a neutral ‘Net would undermine the “very philosophical underpinnings of what we fought for for the last 15 years,” according to Wyden. If that happens, he sees no reason for Congress to continue sheltering ISPs.’
‘The war in Iraq has become “a major debacle” and the outcome “is in doubt” despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon’s premier military educational institute.
The report released by the National Defense University raises fresh doubts about President Bush’s projections of a U.S. victory in Iraq just a week after Bush announced that he was suspending U.S. troop reductions.
The report carries considerable weight because it was written by Joseph Collins, a former senior Pentagon official, and was based in part on interviews with other former senior defense and intelligence officials who played roles in prewar preparations.
It was published by the university’s National Institute for Strategic Studies, a Defense Department research center.
“Measured in blood and treasure, the war in Iraq has achieved the status of a major war and a major debacle,” says the report’s opening line.’
‘America’s mortgage crisis has spiralled into “the largest financial shock since the Great Depression” and there is now a one-in-four chance of a full-blown global recession over the next 12 months, the International Monetary Fund warned today.
The US is already sliding into what the IMF predicts will be a “mild recession” but there is mounting pessimism about the ability of the rest of the world to escape unscathed, the IMF said in its twice-yearly World Economic Outlook. Britain is particularly vulnerable, it warned, as it slashed its growth targets for both the US and the UK.
The report made it clear that there will be no early resolution to the global financial crisis.
“The financial shock that erupted in August 2007, as the US sub-prime mortgage market was derailed by the reversal of the housing boom, has spread quickly and unpredictably to inflict extensive damage on markets and institutions at the heart of the financial system,” it said.’
‘The teen accused of masterminding a videotaped “animalistic” attack against a fellow teenage classmate is out on bond, and she has celebrity talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw to thank for it, according to a bail bondsman.
The bondsman told media gathered at a Polk County jail Friday that Dr. Phil posted Mercedes Nichols’ $30,000 bond.
When Nichols was released from jail, a man arrived and idenfitied himself as a Dr. Phil producer and ordered local media to leave the area because the Dr. Phil Show had exclusive rights to the story, according to reporters on scene.’
‘Chicago Police say no one could make this story up…
18-year-old Ruben Zarate, entered a muffler shop in the 2600 block of North Laramie Avenue yesterday and declared a robbery. He allegedly waved a gun around and demanded money, according to police.
When he was told the money was in a safe and that the manager who knew how to open it was not there, the suspect had a brilliant idea; at least he thought it was brilliant.
He gave the shop employees his cell phone number and asked them to call him when the manager arrived so he could open the safe for him.
He left and the employees opted to call 911. Authorities stationed plain clothes officers in the shop and called the would-be robber back.
Zarate, showed up again, and waved his gun around again, but this time was shot in the leg by an officer.’
‘Katie Holmes has told friends she feels like a “prisoner in my own home”.
The former Dawson’s Creek actress reportedly made the comments after her husband, Tom Cruise, announced plans to have a $1.3m security system installed at their $40m Los Angeles home – dubbed ‘Cruise Castle’ by friends.
A source close to the actress – who fears the star will have no personal space away from domineering Tom, said: “Because of his high profile, his children and his Scientology connections, Tom believes his family is vulnerable to potential kidnappers, stalkers and crazed fans.
“Katie will barely be able to move around her own home without being monitored by cameras and electrical devices.”‘
‘A Portland teen has been charged with stealing a pet bunny and trying to extort money from the bunny’s owner.
The 17-year old, who’s being held at the Long Creek Youth Development Center, is accused of breaking into another teen’s apartment and stealing the gray pygmy rabbit. Police say he then telephoned the rabbit’s owner demanding repayment of a $100 debt or else the rabbit would be hurt.
Police Lt. Tony Ward says officers recovered the rabbit in good condition. They charged the 17-year-old with burglary and theft in connection with the break-in.
The juvenile is also charged with robbery, assault and terrorizing following a confrontation last Friday in which he allegedly stole another teen’s skateboard, backpack and pocket money.’
‘A Macedonian court has convicted a bear of theft and damage for stealing honey from a beekeeper who fought off the attacks with thumping “turbo-folk” music.
“I tried to distract the bear with lights and music because I heard bears are afraid of that,” Zoran Kiseloski told top-selling daily Dnevnik after the year-long case of the bear versus the beekeeper ended in the beekeeper’s favour.
“So I bought a generator, lit up the area and put on songs of (Serbian ‘turbo-folk’ star) Ceca.”
The bear stayed away for a few weeks, but came back when the generator ran out of power and the music fell silent, Kiseloski said, adding, “it attacked the beehives again”.
A court in the city of Bitola found the bear guilty, and since it had no owner and belonged to a protected species, ordered the state to pay the 140,000 denars ($3696) damage it caused to the hives.’
‘Having failed to stop piracy by suing internet users, the music industry is for the first time seriously considering a file sharing surcharge that internet service providers would collect from users. [..]
“It’s monetizing the anarchy,” says Peter Jenner, head of the International Music Manager’s Forum, who plans to join Griffin on the panel.
Griffin’s idea is to collect a fee from internet service providers — something like $5 per user per month — and put it into a pool that would be used to compensate songwriters, performers, publishers and music labels. A collecting agency would divvy up the money according to artists’ popularity on P2P sites, just as ASCAP and BMI pay songwriters for broadcasts and live performances of their work.’