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Dollars

Atheists, government square off over clergy tax break

© Todd Richmond / File / Associated Press
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation
The federal government wants to give Annie Laurie Gaylor a clergy tax break for leading an atheist group.

Gaylor, head of the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation, wants to stop it - and she's asking a federal judge for help.

The standoff is the latest twist in a court battle over the parsonage exemption for clergy, a tax break that allows "ministers of the gospel" to claim part of their salary as a tax-free housing allowance. Gaylor's organization says the exemption gives religious groups an unfair advantage. That makes it unconstitutional, the foundation's lawsuit contends.

But government lawyers say atheist leaders can still be ministers, because atheism can function as a religion. So leaders of an atheist organization may qualify for the exemption after all.

No thanks, says Gaylor.
Bizarro Earth

Montana judge defends handing down 30-day sentence to teacher in rape of student

© Billings Police Department
Stacey Dean Rambold is shown in this booking photo.
A Montana judge who sentenced former teacher Stacey Rambold to 30 days in the rape case of a 14-year-old student is defending his decision as outrage grows over his comments that the girl was "older than her chronological age."

In 2010, the girl killed herself at age 16 as the case was pending, and her mother told District Judge G. Todd Baugh Monday her relationship with Rambold was a "major factor" in her suicide.

Baugh handed down the sentence Monday after former Billings Senior High School teacher Rambold, 54, was terminated from a sexual offender treatment program that was part of a deal to have his prosecution deferred. The judge said he wasn't convinced that the reasons for Rambold's termination from the program were serious enough to warrant a 10-year prison term recommended by prosecutors.

In handing down the sentence, Baugh also said the 14-year-old victim was "older than her chronological age" and "as much in control of the situation" as the teacher. The girl's mother, Auleia Hanlon, stormed out of the courtroom yelling, "You people suck!," the Billings-Gazette reported.
Eye 2

Fairfax, Virginia boy steps on copperhead snake in doorway

A Fairfax Station boy is undergoing emergency life-saving treatment at Inova Children's Hospital after he stepped out his door and into the fangs of a copperhead snake.

Michael Alford, 12, ran out of his house around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday wearing sandals. He says he stepped on something and when he lifted his foot, a snake tore into it.
© Kara Allan
This snake bit the boy in Falls Church.
"[I] opened the door and I stepped on a snake, a copperhead. I don't know whether I stepped on his tail or his head, but I took my foot off and he bit me."

Alford's mother asked him to run to the car to get a token. What he came back with left her frightened and frantic.

"He just ran up the steps and looked at me and was like 'A snake just bit me!' so I was a little freaked out," Kara Allan says.

The family came to Inova Children's, which is equipped to administer the series of anti-venom shots. Dr. Minal Amin says copperhead bites can be serious. They have seen several in the past few weeks at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

"We would recommend for someone to get away from the snake and elevate the extremity and come to the nearest hospital," Amin says.

Meanwhile, Alford watches the swelling, which is slowly receding.

"I'm doing better. The anti-venom is pushing it back to where it started," he says.
Eye 2

Woman finds large snake in her apartment's shower fan


A young woman taking a shower inside her Westland apartment this week was shocked to find a large snake in an overhead exhaust fan.

"She screamed and I was like, 'what's the problem?'" said Reggie Johnson, the woman's boyfriend. But when he entered the bathroom, he immediately knew. Staring down at them was a 4-foot snake believed to be either a python or a boa constrictor.

Johnson was frightened for his girlfriend and her kitten Clyde, who happened to be in the bathroom at the same time. "It was probably wanting to get him," said Johnson. "I just took him out and put him in his cage."

Johnson says he called friends and they pulled the snake out and security at the Hunters West Apartments, near Wayne and Warren, released it into the nearby woods.

It turns out, the snaked belonged to a neighbor and it had escaped. But no one bothered to tell Reggie, his girlfriend or Clyde the kitten.

"It was a big surprise to us," said Johnson. "We're just happy it's gone."
Sheriff

Double amputee sues Nebraska city and the police he says brutalized him

Police forced an innocent, double-leg amputee to get out of his car at gunpoint, with hands up, then beat and ridiculed him as "a cripple crawling around," the African-American man claims in court.

Leroy Duffie claims Lincoln city police handcuffed and beat him and left him lying on the street for half an hour before they finally "removed the handcuffs and allowed the plaintiff to crawl under the van to retrieve his prosthetic legs." Duffie sued the City of Lincoln in Lancaster County Court.

Duffie describes himself in the lawsuit as "an African American ... with a diagnosis of depression and post traumatic stress disorder and ... a double amputee with prosthetics." He says Lincoln police pulled him over for no discernible reason on Sept. 3, 2011.

The complaint states: "When plaintiff was stopped, he was confronted by LPD officers with their service revolvers drawn and pointed at him and he was immediately ordered to raise his hands and get out of the van. Plaintiff politely responded that he couldn't raise his hands and get out of the van at the same time due to his being a double amputee and needed his hands to help lift his improperly fitted prosthetic legs that were only duct taped to the upper remaining portions of his legs.

Comment: No amount of money can compensate Mr. Duffie for what these pathological police officers put him through, and whatever monetary award, if any, he receives will be paid by working class taxpayers, not the cops who assaulted him. The psycho police who committed this heinous act have not been disciplined and continue to swagger around wearing badges that entitle them to commit crimes any ordinary citizen would be imprisoned for.

Question

Man stole father's body from Detroit cemetery 'to bring him back to life'

Vincent
© Associated Press
Vincent Bright pleaded guilty to stealing his father's body from a Detroit cemetery in exchange for avoiding a jail sentence.
A man accused of stealing his father's body from a Detroit cemetery with the hope of bringing him back to life has pleaded guilty in exchange for avoiding prison.

Vincent Bright, 49, stole the body of 93-year-old Clarence Bright from Gethsemane cemetery on 14 January and stored it in a home freezer.

Police, acting on a tip from other family members, found the corpse in Bright's home on Detroit's east side. Police said Bright took the body in the hope his father would be resurrected.

Bright pleaded guilty on Monday to a charge of disinterring a body and faces sentencing on 24 September.

"He seems to be doing well," his defence lawyer Gerald Karafa told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

A conviction on the charge of disinterring a body could have brought up to 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors sought a mental health examination for Bright, which found he was competent to stand trial.

Source: Associated Press
Crusader

Bald eagle crashes into window as crowd chants 'USA! USA!'


A special spirit day at Oral Roberts University took a tragicomical turn last week when a bald eagle released into the school's Christ Chapel by a professional handler crashed into a window just as students began chanting "USA! USA!"

The eagle was unharmed, but many of the students could be heard screaming at the sight of America's national animal wiping out in metaphorical fashion.

The bird had apparently become disoriented from the crowd's patriotic hollering.

"It was a bit shocking to see, but we're thankful the eagle is OK," an ORU spokeswoman told Tulsa World.

After the eagle's trainer recovered the bird, university president Dr. William M. Wilson continued with the service, at one point urging students to become "eagles for Christ."

In other words, get led astray by the mindless repetition of an arrogant conviction until you eventually crash into an invisible construct.
Newspaper

Independent news as vehicle for character assassination

Gilad Atzmon Oxford

Gilad Atzmon
Common decency demands that when someone slanders you in a public forum that you should have the right to respond in that same forum.

TRNN is an independent news network that provides thought-provoking news, analysis, and commentary. TRNN is much more than news headlines. For the greatest part, news events are reported in context and with relevant background information. This distinguishes TRNN very much from state and corporate media news. In addition, TRNN senior editor Paul Jay is very adept at playing devil's advocate, laying out the corporate media/government line whereby guest analysts can probe and expose propaganda and disinformation.

Since criticizing the corporate media is very much like flogging a dead horse and because getting the real news out there is so important, I tend to focus my media criticism on TRNN. For instance, I criticized TRNN for parroting a corporate-state media message about North Korea (without providing relevant background information).1 Its US electoral coverage in 2008 and 2012 was fundamentally anti-democratic because of its inordinate focus on the evilist parties rather than alloting equal coverage to all parties (albeit third party coverage did increase from 2008 to 2012).

Recently TRNN has been presenting a series called "Reality Asserts Itself." Some fine insight has been provided by Chris Hedges, Vijay Prashad, and Max Blumenthal. However, in a recent installment of the show, Blumenthal engaged in, what can best be described as, character assassination. Blumenthal's target was the jazz musician/author Gilad Atzmon. 2
Shopping Bag

Bank former CEO admits to using bailout money to buy a luxury condo in Florida

water front apt
© Wikimedia Commons/ Euku
Darryl Layne Woods, the former CEO of a Missouri bank, admitted in court yesterday to using financial crisis bailout funds to purchase a luxury waterfront condo in Florida, Dealbook's Peter Lattman reports.

In November 2008, Woods, 48, who was the head of Mainstreet Bank and the bank's holding company Calvert Financial Corporation, applied for TARP money on behalf of his bank, a press release states.

In January 2009, his bank received $1,037,000. A month later, he used $381,487 of it to buy a place in Fort Myers, Florida.

He pleaded guilty to misleading federal investigators about how he used the TARP money.

Woods is no longer allowed to work in the banking industry, according to the release. He also faces a sentence of up to one year in federal prison without parole and a fine of up to $100,000 plus restitution.
Pistol

Man killed by Brooklyn Center police was shot in chest while handcuffed, according to witnesses

Edmond D. Fair was fatally shot in the chest by police during a traffic stop and struggle in Brooklyn Center last week, authorities said Tuesday. The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the shooting, said it couldn't comment on the case. Michael Padden, an attorney hired by Fair's girlfriend, said he had separate interviews with the four passengers in Fair's van. They told him that Fair was handcuffed when he was shot and that he wasn't resisting arrest, he said.

© Richard Sennott, Star Tribune
This is the scene at the west bound ramp to 694 where there was an overnight fatal police officer involved shooting on Shingle Creek Pkwy in Brooklyn Center, Minn.
Fair, 24, died about 2:20 a.m. Friday after being shot in the chest during an encounter with police near Shingle Creek Parkway and the entrance ramp to Interstate 694, the Hennepin County medical examiner's office said.

© Richard Sennott
This is the scene of a fatal police officer involved shooting on Shingle Creek Pkwy in Brooklyn Center, Minn.
The officer involved in the shooting - Ryan Soliday - was placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure. Since being hired by the department in January 2010, Soliday has had no disciplinary action taken against him and has received five Chief's Certificates of Commendations and a Merit of Achievement award.

Elizabeth Fair, Edmond's mother, said Tuesday that she's upset that no police official notified her about her son's death. She learned about it from a relative who was a passenger in Fair's van at the time of the shooting.

"Somebody took away my son," she said. "They took something you can't get back, and that's not right."

Kelia Gregory dated Edmond four months after having met him at church in 2007. She described him as a wonderful person who loved playing with their new kitten and pit bull, and he treated her seven children like his own.

"I'm in a lot of grief right now," she said.

Fair, of Minneapolis, was driving Gregory's van the night he was killed.

Padden plans to file suit Wednesday in an attempt to get her van back from police custody. The vehicle has no relevance in the shooting investigation, Gregory told him, because all four passengers heard officers say "van all clear" after they searched it for contraband.

To prove his case, Padden interviewed all the passengers separately and recapped their accounts in the lawsuit to come, he said.

But on Tuesday, he was told by a representative of the Sheriff's Office that authorities have now found a narcotic and weapon in the van and will not release it.

After the shooting, all the passengers were arrested and interviewed by deputies, Padden said. They were asked questions about the shooting, but nothing about contraband in the van, he said. They were held in jail for nine hours.
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