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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Doing circumcision the hard way

Circumcision is a practice in which the foreskin is removed, and is prevalent in many religions and cultures. At the same time, the skin is very sensitive at that point, and the removal needs to be done with care. The removal is normally done early on when the person is a young boy, and with due care. So, how do you account for this chap, who wanted to do the circumcision using nail clippers, without any form for anesthesia ? Maybe, a few drinks were enough to get the person to try out this new way of doing circumcision (link to article):

A medic at Lister Hospital in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, has advised men against attempting DIY circumcision with nail clippers, after a young man who'd decided this was the best way to go roundhead was admitted for emergency treatment.
Hinting at what had provoked the patient to treat his foreskin in such a cavalier fashion, the medic concluded: "Using a pair of nail clippers must have caused excruciating pain, even if he had had a few drinks beforehand."

Seems fairly obvious advice ! Doing this by yourself in such a sensitive body location would surely have been very painful.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pilot dies, but jet lands safely

This can be a bad situation, given that the pilots on modern planes have a huge amount of training before they are ready to fly modern planes. The dependence on pilots being fully aware when they are flying is pretty high, which is why if a pilot is caught drinking before a flight, it is taken very seriously. So, if a pilot is incapacitated during a flight or dies, it could become a problem. There is a co-pilot, but it is still risky. So it was a wonder that things went very smoothly on this Continental flight when the pilot died of natural causes during the flight (link to article):

The pilot of Continental Flight 61 died Thursday as the plane flew from Brussels, Belgium, to Newark, New Jersey, the Federal Aviation Administration and Continental Airlines said. The 60-year-old Newark-based pilot died of "apparently of natural causes" about halfway through the flight, the airline said. He had 32 years of service with Continental, it said. Passengers told CNN that they were not informed, and that the only indication of a problem was that an announcement for a doctor was made during the flight.
The airline said the crew on the flight included an additional relief pilot who took the place of the deceased man, and "the flight continued safely with two pilots at the controls." The Boeing 777 landed safely at Newark International Airport at 11:49 a.m. ET Thursday, the airline said.

Good that things went well, and the passengers were not notified during the flight so there were no panic situations.

Man dressed as his dead mother to continue claiming benefits

Fans of suspense movies might remember the movie 'Pyscho' and the character of Norman Bates. However, that character was dealing with murder, while in a recent arrest, a man was convicted of impersonating his dead mother in order to continue claiming her benefits (Social security, loans, state housing subsidies). Irene Prusik, the mother of Thomas Prusik Parkin, died in 2003, and he started dressing up as her when required, and sought the help of another accomplice in maintaining this charade. The interesting fact in this was that he was able to continue this for as long as 7 years before the law finally caught up with him (link to article):

A 49-year-old Brooklyn man faces up to 25 years' jail for allegedly dressing as his dead mother to scam $1m in benefits and loans, the New York Daily News reports. Thomas Prusik Parkin (pictured) adopted Irene Prusik's identify following her death in 2003, the Brooklyn district attorney's office claims. Dressed in "wig, makeup, nail polish and long, red dresses", he and alleged accomplice, 47-year-old Mhilton Rimolo - who posed as his nephew - managed to collect "$62,000 in Social Security payments and $65,000 in state rent subsidies".
The elaborate scam finally came to an end when Parkin was arrested after attempting to renew his mother's driving licence at the Brooklyn Department of Motor Vehicles. A security camera captured him and Rimolo red-handed (see pic). When he was cuffed on Monday, investigators presented Parkin with clear evidence he was not his mother, in the form of a photograph of her grave.

He will be facing a trial for grand larceny and forgery, and could face upto 25 years in jail.

Fined a huge amount for downloading songs

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been fighting a battle against people indulging in music-sharing across the internet. For the past many years, the music industry has seen a reduction in the number of music sales through the physical medium (CD's, DVD's, etc.) and this reduction is being blamed on the amount of file swapping that happens (file swapping gained prominence with Napster, and when the RIAA shut down Napster through a court case, other, more difficult to control file sharing methods such as P2P and torrents have gained prominence).
The music industry and the RIAA have been fighting against these, although fighting against a much widely dispersed enemy in the form of torrent sites and servers is more difficult. The music industry also started attacking the actual users, getting their details from ISP's, and then serving them notices with huge amounts of damages. The RIAA also had some hugely embarrassing mistakes, suffering from targeting people such as single mothers, children, and so on, all of which were huge Public Relations disasters. In some cases, they have successes, with people settling with the RIAA out of court. However, in another case, they have won huge damages (link to articles):

A federal jury Thursday found a 32-year-old Minnesota woman guilty of illegally downloading music from the Internet and fined her $80,000 each -- a total of $1.9 million -- for 24 songs. Jammie Thomas-Rasset's case was the first such copyright infringement case to go to trial in the United States, her attorney said. Attorney Joe Sibley said that his client was shocked at fine, noting that the price tag on the songs she downloaded was 99 cents.
This was the second trial for Thomas-Rasset. The judge ordered a retrial in 2007 after there was an error in the wording of jury instructions. The fines jumped considerably from the first trial, which granted just $220,000 to the recording companies.

Not sure about whether this will be a success, given that the accused is a single mother who works for an Indian tribe. Also, the RIAA has mostly given up fighting these cases, so this would be one of the few such cases that are still existing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Crushing house based on wrong GPS coordinates

GPS (Global Positioning System) is a satellite based system of providing the coordinates of any point on earth, and is used for a number of different applications such as being able to plot destinations, traffic mapping, city planning, races, etc. GPS is also being used more and more for offensive tactics such as positioning for cruise missiles, bombs, and other targeting. GPS has seen to be seen as a major solution accelerator for many industries, however, the dependence on GPS to the exclusion of any other factor caused this man to lose his house (link to article):

A Georgia man is none too happy that his memory-filled family home, lovingly hand built "brick by brick" by Pop, is now a scene of rubble-strewn desolation after a demolition firm used a GPS to identify its victim and moved in for the kill. Al Byrd of Sandy Springs got a bit of a shock earlier this month when someone called to let him know the Carroll County house was no more. Byrd had lived there with his nine brothers and sisters, and the house still contained precious heirlooms including "mom’s dining room set … her hutch with her dishes in there"
“I said, ‘What address did you have?’ and he said, ‘They sent me some GPS coordinates.’ I said, ‘Don’t you have an address?’ [and] he said, ‘Yes, my GPS coordinates led me right to this address here and this house was described.’”

A great problem, imagine demolishing a house just because the technology used for GPS erred; but this was also true in some cases where drivers have been reported as having been guided down wrong roads while using their GPS trackers. It would have been good for the firm to have got a confirmation for the address before demolishing it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mother cut open to take unborn baby

Sometimes you come across crimes so bizarre and horrible that one does not know how to react. One cannot easily determine whether the crime was conducted when the person was of sane mind, or whether the person was insane at that time, and laws normally do not easily allow people who are insane to be prosecuted for crimes that they committed (it is a different matter that it can be fairly difficult to determine whether the person was insane when they committed this crime).
Consider the following case where investigators found a dead woman and a dying baby inside the home of a woman who had earlier claimed to be pregnant, but who was not pregnant (link to article):

An Oregan who was killed last week was cut open by her killer so that the baby could be removed from her womb, an autopsy revealed. Authorities also said Heather Snively’s accused killer, Korena Elaine Roberts, who was arraigned on Monday, told her boyfriend and her family members she was pregnant, even though she wasn’t, The Portland Oregonian reported on Tuesday.
Roberts did not speak during her court appearance, the newspaper reported. Her court-appointed attorney did not enter a plea on her behalf. She is charged with the death of Snively, not her baby because the unborn child must have taken a breath to meet the legal standard of being alive, Washington county prosecutor Bob Hermann said. “The issue is - was the child alive at all, at any point in time?” he said. “That’s the legal issue we’ve got to try and resolve.”

In such a case, jury members have a tough task of determining whether the crime was conducted by a person in full control of their mind (and one can expect that the defense attorney will try to present a defence based on temporary insanity).

Pregnant man gives birth for second time

This is not a medical miracle the way you think about it. In this case, there was a woman, who got a sex change operation to become a man. The 'man' married (but obviously does not have the full set of equipment to become a natural father) and then became pregnant (not sure how he became pregnant, but could have done so through medical intervention) once last year and gave birth. The idea of a bearded man giving birth would have seemed strange to those who did not know the full details, and he has done so again, giving birth to a second child through natural childbirth (link to article):

LOS ANGELES: Thomas Beatie, the transgendered man who created history last year by giving birth to a baby girl, has done it again. ABC News reported that Beatie gave birth to a son early Tuesday in Bend, Oregon, and that the child would be nursed by his wife, Nancy.
ABC News quoted sources close to the couple as saying that it was a natural childbirth and not via Caesarean section. Beatie revealed last year that after giving birth to his first child he did not start again taking male hormones to allow him to get pregnant.

Doctors take 1 Kg of hair out of a girl's stomach

Wonder how many people have heard of Rapunzel's syndrome ? People would have heard of the fairy tale of Rapunzel who had very long hair and it was with the help of this hair that her price managed to rescue her from her prison on the top of a tall tower. However, in medicine there is an ailment called Rapunzel Syndrome where girls under the age of 15 are known to swallow hair. This is a condition that requires psychiatric treatment since in many cases, the girls deny that they eat hair. In a case in India, the doctors admitted a girl who had trouble eating, who used to vomit; they found a lump in her cancer that turned out to be a lump made up of 1 Kg of hair (link to article):

VADODARA: When this 13-year-old patient walked in the hospital complaining of abdominal pain and vomiting, doctors thought that she was suffering from some routine stomach disorder. Post-diagnosis, the rare ailment left the doctors stumped. Her reports revealed that the patient had a big lump of hair in her stomach measuring 50 cm.
This syndrome is usually observed in girls below 15 years and in such cases the patient has to be operated upon to remove the lump from the stomach. "The patient came to us with pain in upper abdomen, vomiting and was unable to eat anything. We investigated her, got a CT scan and endoscopy done. The diagnosis revealed that the patient had a big ball of hair in the stomach, giving impression of hard lump," said a paediatrician Samir Brahmbhatt.

A strange ailment, but it is good that the doctors were able to remove the hair, it will be even better if they are able to prevent the girl from swallowing more hair.

Man kills a teenager for making noise

People are on a much shorter fuse nowadays, with the patience level having drastically reduced. And with the easy availability of weapons, the chance of this rage translating into something deadly has increased drastically. Consider this case where an elderly French man fired on a group of teenagers who were making a lot of noise (maybe too much noise for the gentleman) who killed one of them. The gunman was eventually caught by police (link to article):

Police said the man started shooting at “a group of teenagers who were talking loudly” in the eastern village of Guemar at around 1:00 am (2300 GMT Thursday) before taking refuge in his house. One of the youths who spoke to him was shot three times and later died from a wound to his shoulder, said police.

Giving away $1 million worth of savings in a mattress

Sometimes good tasks can also result in harm. What else are the results you can draw from the below story ? A daughter sought to do good to her elderly mother, and bought a new mattress for her to replace the old that the mother was using. She also wanted to make this a surprise, so she took the effort of throwing out the old one and replacing with the new one. However, this surprise turned into a huge shock for everybody concerned when it was disclosed that the old mattress contained nearly $1 million, the life savings of the mother. And the mattress had been taken away by trash (link to article):

A woman in Tel Aviv, Israel, gave her elderly mother a new mattress as a surprise gift, throwing out the old tattered bed her mother had slept on for decades. The gesture ended up bankrupting Annat's mother, who had stuffed her savings of nearly $1 million inside her old bed for decades, Annat told Israel Army Radio. A massive search is under way at the city dump, where security has been beefed up to keep out treasure-seekers who have heard Annat's story in Israeli media.
Annat alerted the two major dump sites in the Israeli city in an effort to locate the bed, but so far she has had no luck. Yitchak Burba, one of the dump site managers, told Army Radio that he and his men are working relentlessly to try to help Annat find the million-dollar mattress among the tons of garbage at the landfill. The publicity has triggered a wave of people also trying to find the mattress and its contents for themselves. Burba has increased security around the dump to keep them out.

Such news is very traumatic to read. It almost reminds of that saying that I heard once: "No good deed goes unpunished".

Friday, June 12, 2009

2 men cook body, being tried

A new mechanism to get rid of evidence. For a lot of murder trials, having a body is an important part of the overall evidence presented at the trial, and this is the reason why people try hard to get rid of the body - this could include tossing the body into water, burying it, burning it, or whatever. In this particular case, a person was owed $70,000 for a drug deal, and there was no intention to pay. So what better way to avoid paying and to also get out of the problem of leaving a body behind than to eat the body (link to article):

Prosecutors say two men killed a drug dealer to clear a debt, then dismembered his body and cooked the remains. Forty-seven-year-old Daniel Bradley and 48-year-old Paul Moccia pleaded not guilty Monday to murder in the death of 37-year-old Angel Antonio Ramirez.
The two were ordered held without bail. Authorities say Moccia owed Ramirez $70,000 from drug deals. They say Moccia shot Ramirez in March and Bradley helped him destroy the body.

Cannibalism is particularly repugnant to humanity, and brings about a feeling of disgust in most people when they get to know.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

2 good people return huge amount of money they found

Did you know that if a security truck carrying money dropped money onto the road by mistake, then you cannot legally pick up the money. The money is meant to be returned to the truck company, and it is a felony to actually take the money. However, in reality, how often would you come across people who find huge sums of money lying on the road, and return the entire money they found ? Would you be the one who would return this money if you found it ? Is your conscience clear ?
Well, in this case where an armored truck (the truck whose business it is to carry money safely and away from people who would want to steal the money) dropped bag of money from a side open door and continued merrily on its way, there were some good people who actually collected most of the money (including persuading others who had the money) to return the money (link to article):

Two good Samaritans returned more than $275,000 that tumbled out of an improperly secured armored truck in Syracuse, New York, last week. But some not-so-good Samaritans seem to have walked away with another $60,000 that fell onto the street. A Brinks armored truck inadvertently strewed more than a dozen bags of money on the ground in front of the Syracuse Antiques Exchange on Friday, according to Sgt. Tom Connellan of the Syracuse police department.
As word spread that hundreds of thousands of dollars lay in the street, people streamed out of passing cars and adjacent businesses. For the most part the gatherers cooperated in the recovery effort. Herring attributed the crowd's willingness to turn over the money -- rather than run away with it -- to his imposing stature. "Had I not been the size I was, it might have went a different way."

How easy it is to think of not returning the money, well these people withstood all those inducements and simply did their duty.

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