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October 20, 2009

Heather Ellis' story tells us why the justice system is broken

Heather Ellis' story tells us why the justice system is broken | Opinion | theGrio Read this.
Heather was shopping at a Wal-Mart in Kennett, MO with her cousin. The two were searching for the shortest line, so they split up. When Heather's cousin found the shorter line, she joined him. That's when things got strange. Heather was accused by a Wal-Mart employee of cutting the line, and an argument ensued. This led to the manager and security guard being called, and ultimately police intervention. Somehow Heather, an honors student who has only gotten two traffic tickets her entire life, ended up being charged with disturbing the peace, trespassing and two counts of assaulting a police officer. After Heather rejected his plea deal, prosecutor Stephen Sokoloff became set on pushing for a felony trial against her next month. The young college student faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, in spite of the fact that she has a clean criminal record and a good reputation in the community. Her family believes that the plea deal (a small misdemeanor count) was offered to keep them from suing the police department for arresting her without just cause or for police brutality. (Her father says that Heather's knees and head were severely hurt from being slammed by the police officers.) With the pending felonies on her record, Heather is having a difficult time finding work and was not able to get into medical school. She has been scouring the country trying to bring attention to her situation, and says she didn't take the plea deal because she did nothing wrong. The Ku Klux Klan tried to intimidate Heather and her family when a rally was arranged to show support. Family and friends accuse the police department of witness and attorney intimidation. (All of the attorneys ran and hid after speaking with the prosecutor, who is apparently very powerful in this small town.) And Heather's father told me that Wal-Mart refuses to release the surveillance tapes of the incident. He also argues that the prosecutor, Sokoloff, has told the family that they should have taken the plea offer because they "can never win in this town."
* via Jeff Lester*

Privileged Little Artiste Writing Something Oh-So-Precious Into His Moleskine Notebook

Privileged Little Artiste Writing Something Oh-So-Precious Into His Moleskine Notebook | The Onion - America's Finest News Source Love it.
SAN FRANCISCO—After gently unfastening the elastic strap keeping his dearest musings safe from prying eyes, little literary artiste Evan Stansky penned a few more darling thoughts into his clothbound Moleskine notebook Wednesday. "These are much higher quality than the notebooks you find at CVS," lilted the auteur, who couldn't be bothered to use—dare it be said—a journal of lesser craftsmanship or pedigree, or one not famously used by such legendary artists as van Gogh and Hemingway. "They're a little more expensive, but I try to write on both sides so I don't go through them as quickly." At press time, the princely scribe was seen finishing his apricot jasmine tea, asking a mere mortal sitting nearby to watch his literary accoutrements, and then prancing off to the Starbucks powder room, light as a feather.

The (New) Daily Mail Oncological Ontology Project

The (New) Daily Mail Oncological Ontology Project
The (New) Daily Mail Oncological Ontology Project – tracking Daily Mail’s classification of inanimate objects into two types: those that cause cancer, and those that cure it.
See also: the Daily Mail Headline Generator! I clicked, and mine was, "HAS FILTH ON TELEVISION HAD SEX WITH TAXPAYERS?" *via Kevin Church*

An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All

An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All | Magazine This whole thing is well worth a read.
So what has this award-winning 58-year-old scientist done to elicit such venom? He boldly states — in speeches, in journal articles, and in his 2008 book Autism’s False Prophets — that vaccines do not cause autism or autoimmune disease or any of the other chronic conditions that have been blamed on them. He supports this assertion with meticulous evidence. And he calls to account those who promote bogus treatments for autism — treatments that he says not only don’t work but often cause harm. As a result, Offit has become the main target of a grassroots movement that opposes the systematic vaccination of children and the laws that require it. McCarthy, an actress and a former Playboy centerfold whose son has been diagnosed with autism, is the best-known leader of the movement, but she is joined by legions of well-organized supporters and sympathizers. This isn’t a religious dispute, like the debate over creationism and intelligent design. It’s a challenge to traditional science that crosses party, class, and religious lines. It is partly a reaction to Big Pharma’s blunders and PR missteps, from Vioxx to illegal marketing ploys, which have encouraged a distrust of experts. It is also, ironically, a product of the era of instant communication and easy access to information. The doubters and deniers are empowered by the Internet (online, nobody knows you’re not a doctor) and helped by the mainstream media, which has an interest in pumping up bad science to create a “debate” where there should be none.