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July 20, 2009

Lawyer jailed for contempt freed after 14 years

Lowering the Bar: Lawyer Jailed for Contempt Is Freed After 14 Years This guy was in prison three times longer than most child molesters or manslaughterers. He was there because he claimed he couldn't pay his ex-wife as much as she demanded, and the judge believed her.
Pennsylvania lawyer H. Beatty Chadwick either could not or really did not want to hand over the $2.5 million his ex-wife was awarded after their divorce, and he was prepared to go to jail for contempt rather than do so. That was 14 years ago. Chadwick has consistently claimed that he could not and cannot pay because he lost the money in "bad investments." But the judge that jailed him did not believe that, and neither did the judge who let him go last week. Judge Joseph Cronin said he agreed with previous rulings that Chadwick had the ability to comply with the order to pay but had "willfully refused to do so." He released Chadwick, though, because he found that continued imprisonment would be legal only if there was some likelihood that ultimately he would comply with the order; otherwise, the confinement would be merely punitive instead of coercive. Apparently 14 years of incarcerated non-compliance - believed to be the longest sentence served for contempt of court in U.S. history - is enough to support a finding that future compliance is unlikely. Albert Momjian, the ex-wife's lawyer, was not happy with the ruling. "Here's a guy who thumbed his nose at a court order for 14 years," he was quoted as saying. "There should be some kind of sanctions for doing that." Good point - the guy should serve some jail time, or something. Momjian said he still thought Chadwick had the money to pay, pointing out that if he was broke, "how does he pay all these lawyers?" (The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Chadwick's attorney has been working pro bono for the past six years, though Momjian's question might be relevant to the first eight.)

Sudanese women publicly whipped for wearing pants

BBC NEWS | Africa | Sudan women 'lashed for trousers'
Several Sudanese women have been flogged as a punishment for dressing "indecently", according to a local journalist who was arrested with them. Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, who says she is facing 40 lashes, said she and 12 other women wearing trousers were arrested in a restaurant in the capital, Khartoum. She told the BBC several of the women had pleaded guilty to the charges and had 10 lashes immediately.

July 19, 2009

No Michael Jackson Sculpture in Butter at the Iowa Fair

The People Speak - No Michael Jackson Sculpture in Butter at the Iowa Fair - NYTimes.com
“We started hearing concerns from the public that he wasn’t an Iowan and didn’t have a connection to the fair,” said Lori Chappell, the fair’s marketing director, explaining why organizers ultimately put the question to a public vote.

July 18, 2009

On Henry Ford's failed attempt to build a utopia in the Amazon

Book Review - 'Fordlandia - The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City,' by Greg Grandin - Review - NYTimes.com
In 1927, Ford, the richest man in the world, needed rubber to make tires, hoses and other parts for his cars. Rubber does not grow in Michigan, and European producers enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the rubber trade because of their Asian colonies. So, typically, the car magnate decided to grow his own. The site chosen for Ford’s new rubber plantation was an area of some 2.5 million acres on the banks of the Tapaj�s River, a tributary of the Amazon about 600 miles from the Atlantic. It took Ford’s agents approximately 18 hours to reach the place by riverboat from the nearest town. Ford’s vision was a replica Midwestern town, with modern plumbing, hospitals, schools, sidewalks, tennis courts and even a golf course. There would be no drink or other forms of immorality, but gardening for all and chaste dances every week. Fordlandia would not just make car production more efficient. By applying the principles of rational organization to turn out goods at an ever faster pace, Ford would also be improving the lives of those who worked in the new town, bringing health and wealth to American managers and Brazilian laborers alike. In Grandin’s words, this outpost of modern capitalism was to be “an example of his particular American dream, of how Ford-style capitalism — high wages, humane benefits and moral improvement — could bring prosperity to a benighted land.” . . . Instead of a miniature but improved North American city, what Ford created was a broiling, pestilential hellhole of disease, vice and violence, closer to Dodge City than peaceable Dearborn.

Recommended Viewing: The Five Obstructions

I mentioned The Perfect Human last month, and have just...

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