Quote of the Day - Money cannot buy health, but I'd settle for a diamond-studded wheelchair.
Only in IowaI don't get the chance to write about Iowa very much. It's not because I don't want to, it's just that there's not a lot going on there. I really like the state, and it's a great place to live (and go to school). In the summer, anyway.
Winters really suck. In Iowa, snow comes down sideways, with the wind. Where I was born in New England, that's where they take those winter wonderland postcard photos. The snow there falls ever so gently and piles up white. Oh, the memories. Enough of that, though. Back to Iowa. That's what started this whole article.
In Iowa, 14-year old Bryce Wiley is wheelchair bound in a little town 150 miles northwest of Des Moines.1 Unfortunately for Bryce, none of the sidewalks have cut-outs at the curbs, according to this article.
So, he drives his motorized wheelchair on the road. It doesn't go over well with the police, and the State of Iowa bans wheelchairs from the road.
Obviously, a conundrum.
Never fear, though. The police and Bryce worked out a deal, brokered by the Mayor and Bryce's dad. As long as he obeys the traffic laws and put a safety light on his wheelchair, all is fine in Mudville once again.
1 Everyone uses Des Moines (mockingly pronounced dez moyne ez by locals) as the measuring stick. I don’t know why, because no one other than Iowans really know where Des Moines is. But, it’s the capital, so they figure that those of us who memorized the 50 capitals as kids at least have heard about it.back
ChevronTexaco Consent Decree PostedLast week, I wrote about the ChevronTexaco consent decree. Now, the actual paperwork is here to view in Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V.
It runs in toto over 200 pages. Not too bad for spending over $275 million to resolve this air-quality lawsuit.
Box Cutters Can't Cut Through Red TapeRecently, the United States Inspector General's investigators carried knives, a bomb and a gun through Boston Logan International Airport's boarding procedures without being detected.
In comparison, 20-year old Nathaniel Heatwole placed box cutters, molded clay and bleach on two Southwest Airlines flights that went undetected for a month. Even despite the fact that Heatwole sent an email detailing the who, what, where and how of his "civil disobedience" action.
Guess who's facing charges, though? Heatwole, and 10 years in jail, to be sure.
Heatwole seems like a regular guy. Earlier this year, he won a $1,000 ham radio scholarship. According to other articles, he also won a similar scholarship from his college radio station for writing.
Heatwole said, "I have a ton of stuff I'd like to say, but ... I have to work with government before I work with the media," in an interview from his home in Damascus, Md. to a newspaper, according to CBS.
The September 11 hijackers used box cutters to take over the planes that day.
No doubt what Heatwole did was wrong - but he did nothing to hurt anyone, only prove a point. It seems to me that we ought to thank him for pointing out these problems instead of punishing him.
But that's just one guy's opinion.
Smukers May Get SmackedLast week, Smuckers got smeared with a lawsuit over its claim of 100% fruit in its jams.
Smuckers itself advertises "Simply fruit" both on its website and jars.
But, tests revealed that the spread contained less than 30 percent actual strawberries and the blueberry version contained just 43 percent berries, the lawsuit said. The suit was filed by a woman, Stephanie Schwebel, with a "sensitive palate."
I couldn't find where Smucker's website lists the ingredients, but it invites you to send an email to find out. The article cited above says the website lists the ingredients as fruit syrup, lemon juice concentrate, fruit pectin, red grape juice concentrate and natural flavors.
I just went down to the kitchen and couldn't even find a jar of it.
Guess I have to brave the picket lines and go to the grocery store to get some jam. I've heard it goes real well with ice cream, too.
The Merry Wives of Email TheftDivorce battles can be especially ugly. This one, however, could have ended up with jail time.
According to CNN, a woman (Angel Lee) frauduently obtained her husband's ex-wife's email user name and password. No, you don't need a consanguinity chart to figure out that relationship. I probably just should have said "the former wife," or just her name: Duongladde Ramsay, which would have been a lot easier to understand.
After Angel got Duongladde's email password, she went into the ex-wife's account and read 215 emails. Had to be tremendously interesting stuff to have read that many.
Stating that "privacy is still a cherished value," U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch sentenced 28-year old Lee of El Mirage, Arizona to 60 days of home imprisonment.
The Judge thought Angel should stay home with the kids rather than go to jail. Too bad he didn't take away her computer, too.
EPA Chases More Air Pollution SettlementsThis article announced that multinational corporate melgoconglomerate ChevronTexaco will pay $3.75 million in fines and invest $275 million in plant upgrades at five refineries.
All to settle an air-quality lawsuit filed last month in .San Francisco federal court by State and Federal regulators. The lawsuit allged that C-T "did not immediately notify federal authorities and local fire departments of mishaps that led to hazardous emissions releases of hydrogen sulfide, sulfuric acid, nitric oxide, sulfur dioxide and other hazardous substances" at it El Segundo plant.
C-T's website sports a Social Responsibility page to tell us all about the company's good deeds, but a check of its press release site doesn't address this settlement.
The USEPA's press site has this to say, and claims the settlement will eliminate almost 10,000 pounds of NOx and SO2. Although the consent decree is not yet posted, it will be here, and open for a 30-day comment period.
This action is the ninth in a series of air pollution suits filed by the USEPA.
According to the Find Law article, however, "Nicole Hodgson, a ChevronTexaco spokeswoman, said the company disputes 'the underlying allegations.' She said ChevronTexaco settled so it could focus on reducing emissions 'rather than on costly legal proceedings.'"
And maybe clean up the environment a little more.
How Not To Pay for Environmental ContaminationThe absolute pollution exclusion has been clarified once again. This time, however, it's been narrowed.
Environmental response costs are supposedly not covered under this insurance provision, according to the Sixth Appellate District out of San Jose. Perhaps not much of a departure from the California Supreme Court's Foster Gardner decision (free registration required to view), it's nonetheless a blow to insureds, and not good public policy.
In this case, the California Water Quality Control Board ordered CDM Investors to test its property for contaminants. CDM hired an environmental consultant to perform the work, and ultimately proved that the contaminants did not come from CDM's property.
CDM then asked its insurer, American National Fire Insurance Company (part of the Great American family - they even have a ballpark named after the company) to pay for the response costs. ANFIC refused, citing the absolute pollution exclusion as a bar.
The case is procedurally convoluted and that complicated posture plays a part in the court's decision, but suffice it to say that response costs cannot be covered by insurance unless there would have been a lawsuit by the Water Board against CDM.
So, in order to trigger coverage, insureds have to rebuff the government and wait for a lawsuit to be filed - instead of cooperating with the goverment and saving money all around. Sounds like great public policy to me. Let's spend more money, employ more lawyers, waste more time and raise hackles - all to get an insurance company to pay an otherwise legitimate claim.
California Appeals Court Curtails Internet SpeechIn a stark conflict with the Fourth Circuit Court of appeals, the First Appellate District held an ISP or an individual liable for defamatory postings. The first of its kind ruling is an amazing reversal of a trend toward absolute immunity for ISPs.
The court's decision focuses on the intentional republishing of defamatory content. Surprisingly, the opinion spends several pages disagreeing with the Fourth Circuit's opinion. It remains to be seen whether yesterday's California ruling will be challenged. Lawyers on the case are still analyzing their clients' strategies.
The broader impact of this ruling will likely mean that speech on the internet will be chilled, and opinions stifled for fear of running afoul of this ruling. We'll see whether it stands.
In the meantime, watch what you republish out there.