January 09, 2007
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters Life!) - A U.S. college student imprisoned for three weeks for trying to take flour-filled condoms onto an airplane has settled her lawsuit against Philadelphia for $180,000, a city spokesman said on Friday.
Janet Lee, 21, a student at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, was arrested at Philadelphia International Airport in 2003 after police and security officials thought the flour was an illegal drug.
She was held in Philadelphia on drug-trafficking charges and released only when tests proved the substance in the three condoms was flour.
The condoms, which are sometimes used to smuggle drugs, were a joke among the students, and Lee was taking them home to Los Angeles.
Her civil rights case against Philadelphia, which had been set to go to trial on Thursday, was settled for $180,000, said Ted Qualli, spokesman for Philadelphia Mayor John Street.
I don't understand why Philly settled this case.
Obviously, I do not support the "war on drugs" at all, but that's not the issue here. The issue is whether or not it's ok to pretend like you're a criminal and expect the police to ignore you. I contend that it isn't.
This woman was in possession of articles that under casual inspection appeared to be illegal contraband. The police, logically, detained her and upon finding out that it wasn't actually contraband, they released her.
Some news stories report that this woman claims that she didn't know drug dealers sometimes use condoms to transport drugs. Some say she also claimed that they were a toy that students squeeze to relieve stress during exams and she thought they were funny. Others say that the condoms were a joke. Is it a joke or a stress toy?
Her ignorance and naivete do not erase the fact that it appeared she was committing a crime. How else are the police supposed to react?
Further, the police's initial tests actually showed that there were drugs in the condoms, not flour. It was later testing that revealed that it was merely flour.
I couldn't find any news stories that give any indication about why the woman was suing. I am of the mind that the police would have been within their rights to press charges for leading everyone to believe she was commiting a crime -- although I would argue that after 3 weeks in jail, such charges would be excessive.
The settlement seems completely absurd to me. Why do the police owe her anything? In what way was she treated unjustly?
This looks to be more moral cowardice on the part of the state.
January 03, 2007
Scientific American: Back to the Future: How the Brain "Sees" the Future
Neuroscientists for the first time have identified regions of the brain involved in envisioning future events. Using brain imaging, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that the human mind taps into the same parts of the brain while imagining the future as it does when recollecting the past. This means that the brain apparently predicts the course of future events by imagining them taking place much like similar past ones.
What in the name of Aristotle's sandals did you THINK was going on?
How could it be possible to predict future events without some reference to similar, past experiences?
Let's imagine try our best to accurately predict what will happen next Thursday. Since I've had several Thursdays before, I predict that next Thursday will be much like the one tomorrow and the average of Thursdays past in recent months. Even if I "predict" that next Thursday will be nothing like, or radically different from, previous Thursdays, I still have to first think about Thursdays past.
Now, let's predict what it would be like to meet baby Jesus at the grocery store. That has never happened to anyone, so you have no idea how it will go. All you can do is remember what it was like to meet other infants and add to it some strange magical happenstance, like being struck my lightning or swarms of locusts descending upon the cracker aisle or maybe the baby turns water into HI-C. I don't know, but in order to imagine that I had to refer to my past experiences.
If I had no experience, upon what information could I possibly make ANY predictions. Guess what. Terri Shiavo is not very good at palm reading. The reason is pretty much the same.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm glad these scientists have plotted out which parts of my brain are doing what, but I want folks to stop with vapid conclusions like this one. Next thing you know someone is going to spend millions to observe that liquid water turns solid at sufficiently low temperatures.
PARIS (Reuters) - A French court ruled Tuesday that an organization with far-right links can continue offering pork soup to the homeless, rejecting police complaints that the food distribution was racist.
Police banned the soup kitchen last month, arguing that the handouts discriminated against Jews and Muslims who do not eat pork on religious grounds.
The administrative court said the distribution was "clearly discriminatory," but could not be stopped because the organizers offered to feed anyone who asked for help.
The mayor of Paris condemned the ruling and urged the police to appeal the ruling.
"Faced by this initiative which stinks of xenophobia, I want once again to express city hall's desire to fight all forms of discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism," mayor Bertrand Delanoe said in a statement.
The food handouts are organized by a nationalist group called Solidarity of the French (SDF). It says its "pig soup," which uses pork fat for stock, is country fare much loved by French traditionalists.
"No-one has ever been able to prove that anyone has been refused soup or clothes on the grounds of their religion or race," SDF lawyer Frederic Pichon told France Info radio after Tuesday's court decision.
If those people are racists, it's pretty clever of them to choose something that the people they hate will refuse so that they don't have to refuse them. AND if someone tries to force them to change, they can just stop giving the handouts on account of the fact that people tried to force them to do something they didn't want to do with their charity. Then, everyone starves thanks to stupid multiculturalists.
That's what kills me about this: it's CHARITY.
But apparently, in France, people think that beggars can be choosers.
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