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Friday, February 27, 2015

Weird news: Swim in your own pool, go to jail

Sometimes when you read the headline, the news can feel so weird. The headline was about a person probably going to be sentenced for swimming in his own pool; and that seems so weird. It obviously could not be a case of a person breaking into somebody else's house, nor could it be a case of violating the conditions of a public pool.
But it turns out to something simple, and yet so typical of the way Government works. A former footballer, a hero who was part of the World Cup winning side of 2006, had constructed a house in Naples, and the problem  - the problem was that the house violated local norms and had not taken the requisite permission; something that can get a person into a lot of trouble when the laws are strictly applied. In his case, the law was applied, and the house and property was sealed and taken over. Once this was done, he was denied access to the house, and that is what he refused to do - since he apparently broke in along with wife and family and went swimming. And it is for this that he is sentenced to a 10 month jail term, currently suspended (link to article):
The retired footballer, who captained Italy to World Cup glory in 2006, had been ordered to stay out of his Naples address after prosecutors claimed that elements of the property breached planning regulations. They said that Cannavaro hadn't properly applied for planning permission for development of the house and surrounding grounds, which was seized by authorities. Prosecutor Luigi Cannavale said that Cannavaro, along with his wife, Daniela Arenoso and brother Paolo, who is a professional footballer in Italy's top division, broke a seal restricting entry to the property and went swimming in the pool. His sentence, along with jail terms for his wife and brother has been suspended pending appeal.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Weird news: In South Korea, you can now have an extra-marital affair

When living with the practices of the modern world, the presence or absence of love in a marriage is a private affair between the married people, and it cannot be a criminal offence if one of them decides that the love between them is lost and strikes out for an extra-marital affair. The only one who has a right to feel affected is the spouse who has been cheated, and he/she is the one who can take further steps - such as filing for separation, seeking alimony, etc. However, when nations and laws get guided (or forced) by religious considerations, then society steps in and decides what is wrong and what is right, and specifically this case of extra-marital affairs is deemed adultery, and there can be numerous punishments.
In the case of societies run on strong Islamic laws, there are severe laws against adultery, which can be extremely barbaric such as the one followed by the Taliban, and more so by the recent terror Islamic State, where a woman could be accused of adultery and sentenced to be stoned to death (with lashes happening before that), and men can also be accused and sentenced for the same 'crime'. However, it was surprising that a country seen to be extremely developed, such as South Korea had a similar law on its books, with the sentence for adultery being 2 years in prison. Even though being sent to jail was rare, there were numerous people charged with the law. Finally the courts have realized that an affair is not a criminal act, and has decided to drop the law. (link to article):
A South Korean court on Thursday abolished a 62-year-old law that criminalized extramarital affairs, and the stock price of a prominent condom maker immediately shot up 15%. The Constitutional Court's ruling that the law suppressed personal freedoms could affect many of the more than 5,400 people who have been charged with adultery since 2008, when the court earlier upheld the legislation, according to court law. Any current charges against those people could be thrown out and those who have received guilty verdicts will be eligible for retrials, according to a court official who declined to be named, citing office rules. Under the law, having sex with a married person who is not your spouse was punishable by up to two years in prison. Nearly 53,000 South Koreans have been indicted on adultery charges since 1985, but prison terms have been rare.
The co-relation was interesting though. With the striking down of this law, the share price of a leading condom maker shot up significantly.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Weird news: Man sentenced to centuries for multiple rapes

Rape is treated as a very serious crime, being treated as a heinous crime, and because of the horrific effect it has on the woman (in terms of actual physical injuries as well as the effect on the psyche of the woman). Sentences for this crime can vary, but a sentence of 10 years to life is typical in a number of countries (and in some Islamic countries, it is possible that execution may result in case of conviction).
However, inspite of the heavy sentencing due to this crime, it is also seen as a method of punishment for the woman, as well as a way of subduing the lady in question. And in many cases, it is weird where people have been convicted for multiple such crimes, as if the criminal had got used to the idea of doing this crime and then getting a high, which led to doing this crime again. But, what do you when a person is convicted for a large number of such crimes. The sentencing for rape does not lead to a sentence of death in many countries, so when a person is convicted for many rapes, what can the judicial system do ? You can maximum hold the person in jail for their entire lifetime (and for such a person, their mental make-up may be such that it is not safe that they be let outside).
However, when you sentence a person for many centuries, with each punishment being added, then it also becomes a farce to some degree. For example, when this person was convicted for 30 counts of rape, and sentenced to 1535 years, it is weird. (link to article):

A 35-year-old serial rapist has been jailed for 1,535 years by a South African in Johannesburg for sexually assaulting as many as 29 women over a period of five years, media reports said on Friday. Albert Morake's reign of terror in the Tembisa area of Gauteng province began in 2007 and ended with his arrest in 2012. He was sentenced by the Johannesburg high court on Thursday to 1,535 years of imprisonment including 30 life terms for 30 counts of rape, 360 years for robbery and several hundred more for crimes including attempted murder, kidnapping and robbery.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Weird news: Widow wants to sue herself for accident that killed husband

When something as weird as this happens, it is necessary to try and figure out why a person would want to file a case against herself. One can think of this as something emotional, since this lady wants to file a case to force a trial for negligence; after all, it was a road accident where her husband was thrown from the vehicle and died of his injuries, and it would be simple to think that she wants compensation as well as some kind of action for this negligence. But where it gets weird is that she herself was the driver. She has been trying to file this case for some time, and it got rejected in a court, but then she got permission for this case from the Utah Court of Appeals.
One possible reasoning for this case is that it will provide a path for some kind of financial settlement - as mentioned in the article, it could be because this action will provide a way for a jury to decide on a financial settlement for this negligence, against herself, which in turn will be provided by her insurance companies. Obviously, a lot of people anyhow suspect such kind of motives behind the case, and there are efforts to prevent this kind of case from proceeding, but how successful such efforts will be, will need to wait and see. (link to article):


Bagley's attorneys say she is advancing this lawsuit for the benefit of her husband's estate because creditors will have to be paid before the widow can receive any money as her husband's only heir. But other lawyers are looking to once again dismiss the suit, saying if it is allowed to continue, a jury would then be called upon to figure out if Bagley's negligence caused her own trauma. "The jury would be asked to determine how much money will fairly compensate Barbara Bagley for the harm she caused herself," attorneys Peter Christensen and Kathryn Tunacik were quoted as saying. "The jury will be highly confused -- it cannot order a person to compensate herself," they said. John Holcomb, professor in the Department of Business Ethics and Legal Studies at the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business, said the lawsuit is "quirky and also clever."
If this case does proceed and come to some kind of financial award, it could act as a precedent, and not a very nice precedent.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Weird news: Plane crashes because the pilot was taking selfies

Selfies are all the rage now. You can see selfies everywhere, whether these be in the street, in parties, on top of tall buildings, in dangerous places, anywhere people can carry a phone (and sometimes have a selfie stick for this purpose). At the same time, the obsession with selfies can sometimes get too much; when a person is thinking about the location and the timing of taking a selfie, all other thought gets suppressed during this time. This can get dangerous when the person involved is doing some task that needs a lot of attention. This is similar to the dangers involved when a person has been wearing headphones and listening to music, and does not care about whether there are vehicles moving around and so on.
What can you say when a pilot, somebody who needs to focus entirely on his machine, suddenly apparently is busy trying to figure out how to take selfies, and endangers the entire flight and the lives of other people on board (link to article):
A pilot who died when he crashed his small aircraft was distracted because he was taking cell phone selfies in the cockpit, likely contributing to the fatal accident, US investigators have said. The 29-year-old and a passenger were killed instantly when his Cessna 150K smashed into a field on May 31 last year. A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) probe, using GoPro video taken in the cockpit, on Tuesday indicated that the pilot repeatedly took selfie photos with his phone leading up to the accident. "The evidence is consistent with an aerodynamic stall and subsequent spin into terrain," said an NTSB report.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Weird news: Snowman declared anti-Islamic by Saudi cleric

Building a snowman is an activity much liked by children and even adults. After all, when there is snow falling and a lot of snow on the ground, what can be more interesting than building a snowman and decorating the snowman with hat, muffler and other items to make it more lifelike. What can be more innocent ? So what would you say if people in Saudi Arabia, who managed to get some snow, decided to ask a religious cleric about whether it was within religious principles to make a snowman ? Sound a bit off, doesn't it ? After all, what would be the need to get religious approval for this ? Well, if this was not weird enough, the religious cleric came back with the advice that since Islam does not approve the creation of the human form (only God is allowed to make the human form with a soul), and hence the advice was that this is not allowed as per Islamic principles. (link to article)

Asked on a religious website if it was permissible for fathers to build snowmen for their children after a snowstorm in the country's north, Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Munajjid replied: "It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun." Quoting from Muslim scholars, Sheikh Munajjid argued that to build a snowman was to create an image of a human being, an action considered sinful under the kingdom's strict interpretation of Sunni Islam.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Weird news - Passengers removed from flight after tossing noodles at crew

After the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, the concept of flight security has become much more serious. It's not just hijacking (increased security measures ensures that it is more difficult to hijack a plane nowadays, and the penalties are much more significant), but even tantrums by passengers that were tolerated earlier, when airlines did not want to get some sort of action against misbehaving passengers are not tolerated now. At the minimum, when there is some sort of misbehavior by passengers, the crew and pilots would land at the closest airport possible, deplane the passengers who are involved, and in many cases, the local police would get involved and charges would be filed against the misbehaving passengers.
This is even the case when passengers have not really misbehaved, but have made some sort of joke about terrorism or bombs (acting weirdly since it would be clear that in an enhanced security environment, making such jokes is likely to get them into more trouble, as has happened once in a while). But when passengers take actions against cabin crew, there is very little tolerance for such actions and passengers are quickly offloaded. Consider this case where the passengers asked for some seat arrangements that was not possible by the cabin crew, an argument occurs and the passengers throw water on the crew and also throw hot noodles. In the current environment, pilots would typically try to deplane such passengers (link to article):
Chinese authorities vowed to severely punish Chinese travelers who threw hot water and noodles on a Thai flight attendant and threatened to bomb the plane after they became enraged over sitting arrangements. A Chinese passenger berated a crew member of the budget airline Thai AirAsia before pouring hot water and throwing noodles at her during a charter flight to Nanjing last Thursday. The flight returned to Bangkok and the pilot asked the passenger and her entourage of three others to disembark. They were reportedly upset after being told they couldn't sit together and even after a flight attendant helped them change the seats. In footage aired by China's state television CCTV, a male passenger loudly threatened to bomb the plane. He later said the attendant was scalded by accident during a tussle over a bill they had requested for the hot water.

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