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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Weird news - Minor Girl in Maldives to be flogged for having sex

The concept of punishing somebody for having sex outside of marriage is something that seems very strange to most people in the world. The right or freedom to have sex can be considered outside the cultural mores of many cultures, but punishing it as part of the legal framework seems weird. It is one of the most fundamental of individual rights and is also a sign of progress in terms of the right of women and their freedoms.
In this case, it is even more strange that this punishment is being levied on a girl who is not even of age. In most societies of the world, any such sexual behavior by a minor is condemned as being caused by those around her, she is not held responsible for her actions, being of an age where she can be influenced by others around her. In fact, anybody who enters into sexual relations with her is accused of committing the crime of rape, and would be prosecuted accordingly. Unfortunately, in this case, the legal system, influenced by a specific interpretation of Islamic criminal code, the minor girl is held guilty and is sought to be given a barbaric punishment. 
During a police probe into allegations that the girl had been raped by her stepfather, investigators uncovered evidence that she had had consensual sex with another man. "Though she has been sentenced she will be lashed once she turns 18," the court official, who asked not to be named, told AFP. "But the sentence will be enforced immediately if she wants it to be carried out now." Premarital sex is illegal under the Indian Ocean nation's strict Islamic law. The premarital sex charge against the teenager has been condemned by rights groups and the government has urged leniency towards the girl, saying she had been traumatised by the repeated rapes by her stepfather.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Weird news - Man gets kicked off plane for taking photos

Nowadays security on planes is getting very strict. When people make a nuisance of themselves on planes, there have been recent cases where the captain of the plane has deplaned them, and there has never been any action against the crew of such planes, even when there has been a lot of hue and cry about the actions of the crew. This has positively gone up manifold since the events of 9/11, and at this point, with the security situation as it is, you could just make a joke on a plane and if somebody misreads the joke, then you could be pointed out as a security concern, and would be evicted from the flight.
Consider this case, whereby an avid airline blogger and photo enthusiast was taking some photos on a flight. It was standard policy that nobody should take photos on the plane, but this was one of those policies that were there on the list and nobody followed, and in most cases, the crew on the flight would not have insisted. However, in this specific case, when the person was taking a photo, the crew objected and he stopped taking flights. However, later he did point out to the crew member that he was not a terrorist and used to take such photos for the blog earlier; and apparently this was enough for the crew to decide that they did not want him on the flight, and got him evicted (link to article):

I looked at the FA, smiled, but said nothing, putting my iPhone away. To be clear, I did not take any more pictures—not a single one. Meanwhile, another passenger was taking pictures behind the curtain and the FA ran over to him and demanded that he stop as well. This passenger had a lively discussion with the FA, though I did not hear the resolution. Naturally, the FA's warning bothered me and I felt the need to explain myself. I signaled for her to come back and asked her to hang my coat. I then said this verbatim— "I want you to understand why I was taking pictures. I hope you didn't think I was a terrorist. Here is my business card [offering her one]. I write about United Airlines on an almost-daily basis and the folks at United in Chicago are even aware of my blog." She took my jacket but refused to take my business card saying, "No, that's okay," then saying, "I did not know that" after I explained my reason for taking pictures. I again emphasize, I took no more pictures.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Weird news - Family defy no-smoking warnings on plane, forced to get off

There was a time when smoking was considered fashionable, and there were very few restrictions on smoking. It was only in the past few decades that the health problems of smoking became clear, and the restrictions on smoking started growing. Of particular concern was the impact of smoking on those who did not smoke themselves, this being called as 'second hand smoking', and more restrictions implemented to ensure that people who did not smoke did not get affected by those who did so. As a result, there were more laws passed to ensure that if people did smoke, they were prevented from doing so in a way that the smoke would impact others; one of these was about ensuring that smoking is totally banned on planes.
Given the closed environment of an aircraft, there was no way to ensure second hand smoking prevention, unless smoking was totally banned on a flight. Now it is strictly enforced, and there are warning messages that come on in aircraft, calling out that people cannot even smoke in the bathrooms (and in fact, there would be smoke detectors meant to prevent people from smoking there). Combine this with the fact that in this age of aircraft security, any unrest or disturbance on a plane is treated as a security problem and if the situation gets out of hand, then the plane can even land and the concerned people handed over to security (link to news article):
A family of three -- a father, a mother, and a son -- were arrested after they refused to stop smoking inside a plane, forcing the aircraft to land in the island nation of Bermuda. The flight from Halifax in Canada to the Dominican Republic landed in Bermuda, and police boarded the plane and arrested the three passengers, the Daily Mail reported.
Such a diversion can be pretty bad for the schedule of everyone concerned, since this causes delay in the transit of everyone, and if the time takes longer, then people may even need to stay overnight.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Weird news - In Britain, man banned from speaking to women strangers for 10 years, will face prison if he does

Sometimes one comes across strange court judgments, which do not make sense from a layman's perspective. A typical judgment from the court typically would involve either a person getting exonerated by a court, or being sentenced to some sort of community service, or to probation, or to a prison term. These are the sort of court judgments in criminal matters that we have come to expect, and if something deviates from such a judgment, it seems weird. What would you say to a court judgment where a man is sentenced to a prison term if he speaks to a unknown woman in public, unless it is an emergency. This was a strange case where a man walked up to a lady in her mid 20's, kissed her on the cheek and told her that he was a sex offender.
You can imagine the shock that this lady would have felt, including the fear that she would have felt. The only reassurance that she would have felt was that they were in public; the problem is that such a situation is so odd that one does not know whether such a man is safe in public. At the same time, since the offence conducted was not one to jail him for a long period of time (in a sort of preventive custody), there was not much that the judge could do; and hence the unusual judgment. But how does one make such a judgment effective ? How do you determine whether the man spoke to an unknown lady, or just replied back. Similarly, how do you determine what is an emergency ? Read this news article (link):

A 56-year-old Briton has been banned by court from speaking to women for 10 years after he told a woman he was a rapist who had just been freed from prison. David Delahunty, 56, faces up to five years in jail if he just says hello to a woman he does not know, The Sun reported. A judge imposed the ban after the man admitted sexual assault. The order bans him from speaking to any woman he does not know in a public place for the next 10 years, except in an emergency. He said he walked up to a woman stranger at a bus stop, kissed her on the cheek and told her she was a "bonny lass".

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Weird news - Finally found remains of man 27 years after disappearing - in a chimney

Sometimes one comes across a whodunit that can defy comprehension. You find a body after so long and no more know who it was, and given the position in which it was found, it will take a large amount of police work just to find out who the person who died was; forget about being able to find out why the person died, and even more important, if the death was not natural, who was the person behind the death. Consider this case, where a person was found dead in the chimney of a bank in Louisiana. The body was only found when the bank decided to do some renovation on the second floor of the building, the floor having been used only for storage space till now. Consider the shock to the people actually doing the renovation when they discover that there are the remains of a person in the place that is being renovated; everything needs to stop while the police is called. Also consider the feeling of employees who suddenly learnt that somebody probably died a very miserable death, dying after being a few days in the chimney.
And then DNA records find the identity of the person, and the family learns that the person who has been missing for 27 years had actually died soon after disappearing, being in the chimney of the local bank. What does the police do in such a case, and can they even suspect that this was a homicide ? (link to article):

A man missing for 27 years has finally been located, according to police reports. The remains of Joseph Schexnider, lost for 27 years, were finally discovered lodged in a brick chimney in the Abbeville National Bank in Louisiana. The bones were found in May, when the bank was making renovations on the second floor, which had been long used for storage, to make more office space. The identity of the body was confirmed this week through DNA.

Weird news - Man discovers that his wife was actually a man (married for 19 years)

It can be the most shocking news for a person to bear. When you get married to someone, there can be many things that you learn in the marriage about the person whom you have got married to, but there is pretty much a limit to the extent of surprise that you can get and still bear. Now combine this with the concept of an increasing acceptance in society of people being homosexual, transvestite, or even those who have been diagnosed as actually needing to have a sex change. When such a person does have a sex change operation, what does this mean for their future life ? Can they have a relation with somebody else now, without telling the other person about their past. Would you want to be in a relationship where you discover that the spouse of so many years was actually the same sex as you, and then had a sex change operation ? Would there not be anger at not being told this information; that this seems like some sort of trickery.
Well, it happened to this man in Belgium, and he was devastated, when after 19 years of marriage, he learnt that his wife was actually a man before having a sex change operation; he now wants a divorce (or rather wants an annulment). This is a tricky case, with no easy solutions. The lady in question also deserves to have a future, especially since the law recognizes a sex change operation, and one can be sure that there are really no laws in place to deal with such cases (link to article):

A man was devastated when he discovered that his wife whom he had loved for many years was born a male, who has later in life undergone surgery to become a woman. The woman chose not to tell her husband about the sex change, since she is now a full woman. The man is asking a judge to annul their marriage after discovering that his wife of 19 years was born a man. The couple, who got married in 1993 is referred to as Jan 64, and Monica 48, they had a good marriage for most of their 19 years together. In recent weeks the husband was shocked when he discovered that his wife is a transgender man who had undergone a sex change. "I feel I've been assaulted," he said.

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