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Bizarre scenes at Westmeath rape trial

Ireland - There were bizarre scenes in the Central Criminal Court today during the conviction of a Westmeath man for rape and false imprisonment.

The 46-year-old was found guilty on all counts despite protestations by his defence counsel that the jury foreman had lost control of the jury and didn't understand questions asked by the court registrar.

The defence counsel also expressed concern about a question asked by a jury member after they had returned three out of the four guilty verdicts.

The juror, who was not the foreman, asked the judge about the count of making threats to kill. He asked whether the prosecution had to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt or whether they should decide the case based "on what we believe."

Defence counsel Bernard Condon SC said it was concerning that the jury had asked such a question after already finding the accused guilty of rape, sex assault and false imprisonment because they may have approached those verdicts on the basis of a lack of understanding of the requirement to prove guilt "beyond reasonable doubt."

After being told they must believe the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury resumed their deliberations and returned shortly afterwards with another guilty verdict.

It is highly unusual for a juror other than the foreman to ask questions of the court but the juror said he had been delegated to ask it.


Zombie nation: Man shoots girlfriend because she 'didn't believe in zombies'... after watching TV show about zombies


Who needs zombies when we've got psychopaths and a raft of other seriously character-disordered people crawling all over the planet like a virus?
Jared Gurman allegedly shot his girlfriend, Jessica Gelderman, with a .22-caliber rifle on Monday over an argument over the AMC television show 'The Walking Dead' (video below).

Gurman was angry at Gelderman because she would not take the possibility of a real zombie attack seriously, reports WPIX-TV.

Nassau County Police Detective Lt. Raymond Cote told a press conference: "He feels strongly about the possibility that some military mishap could occur causing some tragic consequence. She felt that it was ridiculous."

Gelderman drove Gurman back to his home and then returned to her home in Long Island, New York.

Comment: Once again we see how the heavily promoted zombie meme is bringing about some pretty freaky consequences. It's interesting that the zombie gunman specifically pointed to the possibility of a zombie apocalypse arising from a military accident. The suggestion being made here is that a weird bio-sociological development such as the sudden appearance of hoards of disfigured zombies on every street corner would arise from man-made causes.

But what if the same natural cosmic forces responsible for all the other Earth Changes phenomena we've been cataloguing here at SOTT could somehow affect the genetic blueprint of certain types to produce such cannibalistic 'walking dead'?

Is Solar and Cosmic Radiation Playing Havoc With Life on Planet Earth?

Alternately, this trending zombie obsession could be humanity's 'group unconscious self' sending itself messages, particularly regarding something horrific, widespread and impending... like a return of the Black Death?

New Light on the Black Death: The Viral and Cosmic Connection


Death Stars and Stripes: Americans sign petition to build killer 'Star Wars' space station

Death Star
© Wookieepedia
Marijuana, secession and now Star Wars: Thousands of Americans have signed yet another bizarre online White House petition, this one to "secure funding and resources" to build the 'Death Star' space station from the popular sci-fi film.

­"By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense," the petition on the White House website reads.

The document, created on November 14 by a resident of Colorado, has already collected over 5,000 signatures. The petition needs around 20,000 more by December 14 for it to be formally reviewed by the White House staff.

The Death Star is the planet-destroying space station built by the Galactic Empire in the wildly popular sci-fi movie saga Star Wars, directed by George Lucas. The franchise is adored by millions of fans around the world.

Che Guevara

Countering the virus of 'Western Civilization': Cuba cracks down on vulgar 'reggaeton' music

© Str/AFP/Getty
Puerto Rican singer René Pérez, aka Residente, of hip-hop and reggaeton duo Calle 13, performs in Havana, Cuba. The island is to outlaw public performances of music styles it views as cheap and demeaning to women.
It's a hip-thrusting mix of hip-hop, reggae and Latin beats, but for officials in Cuba the increasingly popular reggaeton is a threat to proper music and the purveyor of a cheap, aggressive sexuality that demeans the revolutionary island's "sensual" women.

A crackdown on reggaeton and other unnamed musical styles that are threatening the revolutionary country's traditional musical culture will punish artists and fine those who programme it, according to Cuban Music Institute boss Orlando Vistel Columbié.

"We are not just talking about reggaeton. There is vulgarity, banality and mediocrity in other forms of music too," Vistel told the official Granma newspaper. "But it is also true that reggaeton is the most notorious.

"On the one hand there are aggressive, sexually obscene lyrics that deform the innate sensuality of the Cuban woman, projecting them as grotesque sexual objects. And all that is backed by the poorest quality music."


George Zimmerman claims NBC News portrayed him as a 'racist and predatory villain' to boost ratings: lawsuit

George Zimmerman
© The Associated Press/Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/Pool
George Zimmerman, center, is directed by a Seminole County Deputy and his attorney Mark O'Mara during a court hearing Thursday April 12, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of the 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The neighborhood watch volunteer accused of killing Trayvon Martin slapped NBC News with a lawsuit Thursday, charging it portrayed him as a "racist and predatory villain" to boost ratings.

George Zimmerman's lawyers blasted the network for using "the oldest form of yellow journalism" in coverage of the racially charged case.

"They knew this tragedy could be, with proper sensationalizing and manipulation, a racial powder keg that would result in months, if not years, of topics for their failing news programs, particularly the plummeting ratings for the ailing Today show," charged the defamation suit, filed in Seminole County, Fla., Circuit Court Thursday.

But NBC said it would contest the suit "vigorously" in court. "There was no intent to portray Mr. Zimmerman unfairly," the network said in a statement.

Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the case, claims he shot and killed the unarmed black teen in self-defense.

Moments before the Feb. 26 shooting in a Sanford, Fla., gated community, Zimmerman, a member of his neighborhood watch group, called 911 to report a "guy" lurking around houses in the rain.

The lawsuit charges that NBC reporters "maliciously edited" the 911 recording to make it appear that Zimmerman was "racially profiling Martin."

Black Cat 2

When felines attack: Do house cats ever kill people?

Scary Cat
© Anna Sematkina/iStockphoto/Thinkstock
An Illinois man planned to kill a rival for his wife's affections by electrocuting him and then framing the victim's cat for the murder. Brett Nash was arrested for the bizarre plot in January and pleaded guilty on Tuesday. Do cats ever kill people?

Not grown-ups. Rabies deaths notwithstanding, the Explainer is unaware of any incidents in which a house cat has killed its able-bodied adult owner. Cats can, however, inflict a pretty gruesome mauling. In 2010, a postpartum cat in Idaho bit her owner 35 times, going back for a second round of scratches and bites after the owner washed off the blood.

Last year, a Cleveland man was airlifted to a hospital after a brawl with his tabby cat. Fights with humans usually don't end well for felines. The New York Times reported a dramatic scene in 1921, when a pet Angora clamped down on the finger of a Manhattan woman who was riding in the tonneau of her husband's car. The husband responded by strangling the cat to death, although that didn't stop an arriving police officer from drawing his weapon against the lifeless feline. It wasn't the last time the NYPD had to face down a house cat: A year later, after being bitten by a cat on Columbus Avenue, a police officer shot the animal dead with his revolver.

Cats occasionally kill infants, but the deaths are accidental. In the early 1980s, a Norwegian father discovered his cat sleeping on the face of his 5-week-old baby. Although the father administered CPR, the child eventually died from the aftereffects of asphyxiation. (A doctor's report suggested that cats might be responsible for some cases of sudden infant death syndrome.) In 1931, a Connecticut cat took a nap on the chest of a 4-month-old child, smothering him. There were several reports of similar incidents in the 19th century.


Another TSA agent accused of iPad theft

Sean Henry, TSA
© Port Authority Police Department
Transportation Security Administration baggage screener Sean Henry is shown in this police booking photo.
A TSA agent was arrested this week and charged with stealing from passengers traveling through New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, adding to the long list of TSA officers accused of theft of passenger belongings.

TSA baggage screener Sean Henry, 32, was arrested on Tuesday after a sting operation conducted jointly by the TSA and the Port Authority Police Department caught Henry leaving the airport with two iPads that had been planted as part of the sting, as well as numerous other electronics devices he had allegedly stolen from passengers. Just as in a recent ABC News investigation of thefts by TSA agents, the sting used the iPads' own tracking capabilities to follow the stolen tablets' movements.

Transportation Security Administration spokesman David Castelveter told ABC News that the TSA has "taken the steps to begin processing [Henry] for termination."

"TSA holds its employees to the highest ethical standards and has zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace," said Castelveter in a statement.

In September, an ABC News investigation revealed that 381 TSA officers had been fired for theft between 2003 and 2012, including 11 up to that point this year.


New York village bans front yard clotheslines, punishable by up to $1,000 and 15 days in jail

© clipart.com
Great Neck, New York - Officials in Great Neck don't want you airing out your dirty laundry - or clean laundry for that matter.

The village board has banned the hanging of laundry on front lawns, making it a violation punishable by up to $1,000 and 15 days in jail.

Some residents say they never realized it was a problem.

"The whole time I've been here, I've never seen that. That's a surprise," said Martha Curtis.

But village officials say it was becoming a problem, and next they'll take up another growing problem - living room couches on front porches.

"I've never seen couches on front porches," Curtis told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs. "This is funny to me."

Christmas Tree

Christmas tree banned: 'Religious symbol'

© Andy Holzman/Daily News
Residents of The Willows senior apartment complex in Newhall gather around a Christmas tree that the owners ordered staff in a memo to take down.
California - Residents in a Newhall senior apartment complex are protesting an order from management to remove their beloved Christmas tree from the community room because, they were told, it's a religious symbol.

On Tuesday, Tarzana-based JB Partners Group Inc. sent a memo to staff at The Willows senior apartment building demanding they take down Christmas trees and menorahs in communal areas.

The company has owned The Willows for four years, but this is the first time it's given such a directive to staff.

On Wednesday, two dozen residents in the 75-resident complex gathered in the lobby to place a neon green sign that read: "Please Save Our Tree."

"We're all angry. We want that tree," said Fern Scheel, who has lived at the complex for nearly two years. "Where's our freedom? This is ridiculous."

The Willows staff and JB Property supervisor Wethanie Law declined to comment.

JB Partners Group owns apartments in California, Oklahoma and Colorado.


Orange County parents offer $1,000 to find daughter's bully

Los Alamitos, California - Kaylie Castillo, 16, says she's been bullied to her breaking point.

The Los Alamitos High School student told CBS2's Stacey Butler Wednesday she was bullied all last year and the harassment started up again two days ago.

"I just want it to stop," said Kaylie, who's afraid to go to school.

Last year, someone allegedly vandalized her locker and left a mouse in it, wrote obscene things about her in the school bathroom and spray-painted "slut" on her driveway. The culprit also left excrement at her front door and covered her mom's car in baby powder. Then, promiscuous texts were sent to a boy at school as if it were coming from Kaylie's phone.

On Monday, Kaylie said, "it all started happening again."