Category Archives: Dispute
Conspiracy theories are as American as apple pie. A national poll released this week by Public Policy Polling (PPP) found that some popular conspiracy theories in the United States have persisted for years, like the belief that a UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.
Meanwhile, new theories have gained believers, such as the ideas that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks and that Osama bin Laden is still alive.
Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the ideas in the new poll are based on a misunderstanding of science—or a stubborn refusal to acknowledge it.
Here’s a reality check on some of the science-related conspiracy theories from the survey:
1. A total of 37 percent of American voters believe global warming is a hoax. Most (58 percent) of the people who believe this identified themselves as Republicans. Of those who don’t believe global warming is a hoax, 77 percent are Democrats.
Reality Check: Numerous scientific studies have confirmed that the Earth is warming and that the rate of warming is increasing. Average temperatures have climbed 1.4°F (0.8°C) around the world since 1880. Much of the temperature increase happened in recent decades, coinciding with a spike of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere as a result of human activity.
The effects of global warming on the natural world are equally well documented: Arctic sea ice is now thawing at historic rates, flowers are blooming earlier, and the migration patterns of birds and other animals are changing.
2. A total of 29 percent of voters believe aliens do exist. Another 21 percent believe the U.S. government covered up a UFO crash near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.
According to PPP, more Americans who supported Mitt Romney for president last year (27 percent) than those who supported Barack Obama (16 percent) believe in the UFO cover-up.
Reality Check: It hasn’t always been the case, but many astronomers today are open to the idea of life existing elsewhere in the universe—and even to the possibility of intelligent alien life. That’s thanks in large part to the relatively recent discoveries of hundreds of so-called exoplanets—worlds beyond our solar system—and thousands of planet candidates. Most scientists think it’s only a matter of time before a habitable, rocky, Earth-like twin is discovered.
Even our own solar system might contain evidence of alien life. NASA’s Curiosity rover recently discovered tantalizing evidence of clays and minerals that scientists say could only have formed in water. The implication: Ancient Mars had the conditions and ingredients necessary to support life.
As for UFOs, most sightings are eventually linked to more mundane causes. For example, a recent video by actor Russell Crowe purportedly capturing a UFO outside his office was likely reflected sunlight from a plane passing near sunset.
3. Some 20 percent believe childhood vaccines are linked to autism. These voters believe that childhood vaccines against mumps and other diseases could increase the risk of developing autism.
Reality Check: A recent government study confirmed what many scientists have been saying all along: There is no connection between the number of vaccines a child receives and his or her risk of developing autism.
The study, published last month in The Journal of Pediatrics, also found that even though kids are getting more vaccines these days, those vaccines contain fewer substances that provoke an immune response.
4. The poll revealed that 14 percent believe that Bigfoot is real. Another 14 percent said they were not sure, while 72 percent said they do not believe Bigfoot is real.
Reality Check: Despite several attempts to prove Bigfoot exists, no one has presented evidence that has withstood scientific scrutiny. Indeed, many such “proofs” have turned out to be outright hoaxes. In 2008, two men claimed to have found a seven-foot (two-meter) tall, 500-pound (230-kilogram) Bigfoot corpse in the woods of northern Georgia, but the body was later revealed to be a rubber ape costume.
Last November, another group claimed they had done DNA tests that proved the “North American Sasquatch is a hybrid species, the result of males of an unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens.” The researchers touted the fact that their study was published in a scientific journal called DeNovo—but it seems the publication was created especially for that Bigfoot study.
While Bigfoot is likely just a myth, that’s not to say that no new, close relatives of humans have ever been found—it’s just that all of them are long extinct. For example, in 2010, scientists announced that a 40,000-year-old pinkie bone found in a Siberian cave belonged to a previously unknown species of ancient human called Denisovans.
5. Some 9 percent believe the government adds fluoride to drinking water for “sinister” purposes.
Reality Check: The latest evidence that fluoridated water has dental health benefits comes from a 2013 study published in the Journal of Dental Research. The study found that fluoride in drinking water prevents tooth decay in adults regardless of age, whether or not they drank fluoridated water as children.
Other recent evidence of the dental benefits of fluoride came from an unlikely source: A survey of more than 23,000 skeletons from medieval archaeological sites in Britain showed that people who lived near the coast—and presumably consumed a lot of fluoride-rich fish—had fewer cavities.
6. A total of 7 percent of voters believe the moon landing was faked. Another 9 percent said they weren’t sure whether the Apollo moon landing really happened.
Reality Check: Believers of this particular conspiracy theory have painstakingly dissected video and photos from the Apollo 11 moon landing looking for evidence that it was faked. For example, some have pointed out that the American flag Neil Armstrong planted on the moon appears to be flapping “in a breeze” in videos and photographs.
But, as spaceflight historian Roger Launius of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., explained on the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, “The video you see where the flag’s moving is because the astronaut just placed it there, and the inertia from when they let go kept it moving.”
A class action filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday claims The Fat Cow, which is located in an up-market shopping centre, paid below the Californian legal minimum of around $8 an hour.
It also alleges that the gastropub did not provide statutory meal breaks or overtime pay.
Although Ramsay created the menu of his ‘favourite dishes’, which include lobster mac & cheese and shepherd’s pie, he was not responsible for the day-to-day running of the restaurant. A spokesman for the chef, who holds 11 Michelin stars, said: ‘We are aware there was a problem with previous management, which has since been changed, but this is totally unacceptable if there is any truth to it.’ In February, Ramsay’s contract for the restaurant in London’s Claridge’s hotel was not renewed, and he has also had to close restaurants in Prague, South Africa, Dubai, Qatar, Montreal and Melbourne.
“There’s no Cheese in Hamburger!”
We have a new catch phrase people! And a new crazed customer video. Just days after the crazy lady in Florida, Taylor Chapman, recorded herself abusing a cashier at Dunkin Donuts over a missing receipt, now we have this guy who walked up to the Wendy’s drive thru complaining that he got cheese on his hamburger. The video was taken by Jacob Donnelly who was in a car behind this customer.
“I need my money back and I want it fast,’ the angry man screams. ‘Is there cheese in hamburger? There is no cheese in hamburger. When you have a cheeseburger you have a cheeseburger, when you have hamburger you have a hamburger.”
WARNING: Not Safe For Work language.
NBC San Diego reports that Carie Charlesworth, a second-grade teacher at Holy Trinity School, was placed on indefinite leave and then let go because school officials feared her ex could put students and other staff in danger.
After a domestic violence incident in January, Charlesworth’s ex showed up outside the school, which was put on lockdown, the station reports. Charlesworth was “put on indefinite leave” according to a message sent to students and staff after the incident. She was officially fired in April. Her four children, who were students at the school, have also been forbidden from returning.
In a letter explaining her termination, schools director Tom Beecher, and human resources director Bobbie Espinoza told Charlesworth:
We know from the most recent incident involving you and Mrs. Wright (the principal) while you were still physically at Holy Trinity School, that the temporary restraining order in effect were not a deterrent to him. Although we understand he is current incarcerated, we have no way of knowing how long or short a time he will actually serve and we understand from court files that he may be released as early as next fall. In the interest of the safety of the students, faculty and parents at Holy Trinity School, we simply cannot allow you to return to work there, or, unfortunately, at any other school in the Diocese.
Though the letter made clear Charlesworth and her children were no longer welcome at Trinity School, it also noted that Beecher and Espinoza would “continue to pray” for her and her family.
A request for comment from the Diocese was not returned.
In an email, Rita Smith, Executive Director for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, told The Huffington Post that the Diocese in San Diego made the “wrong decision.”
“Victims of domestic violence need support, and when they are punished for the behaviors of their abuser, it only reinforces the message that no one will help them and no one cares,” Smith said. “It would have been so much better for them to work with her to determine increasing safety plans at her current school, or to look at options to move her and the children to another location so she could continue to support them and the children could continue their education.”
Smith also said the decision to fire Charlesworth could leave her more susceptible to another attack.
“Carie Charlesworth did everything she could to protect herself, and losing her job makes her so much more vulnerable to future violence,” Smith said. “Communities must stand up to these bullies and say No More!”
Statistics sent to The Huffington Post by the YWCA of San Diego County indicate that Charlesworth’s ordeal is not especially uncommon:
A 2011 study by the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center’s Project SURVIVE found that nearly 40 percent of survivors in California reported either being fired or fearing termination due to domestic violence.According to a 2006 report authored by Legal Momentum Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, up to one half of domestic violence victims report that they have lost a job due, at least in part, to the violence in their lives and 50 percent of sexual assault victims report losing jobs in the aftermath of the crime.
A Sarnia couple who set out to build a fence dug up more than they bargained for recently when they unearthed a 400-year-old skeleton and got stuck with a $5,000 bill from the province.
The archeological misadventure began two weeks ago when Ken Campbell came across some bones while digging post holes in their backyard.
He put them aside, thinking they must have belonged to an animal. The following week, his wife, Nicole Sauve, asked about the bones, which sat unceremoniously atop a bucket of earth
What they found was the rest of the skeleton of an aboriginal woman.
The OPP, who taped off the couple’s backyard, called in forensic anthropologist Michael Spence to examine the site.
Spence told the Star that the skeleton was that of a woman who was about 24 years old when she died, probably in the late 1500s or early 1600s.
The condition of her teeth led him to suspect she was part of hunting, gathering and fishing society.
The couple lives by the Blue Water Bridge, an area that once was the centre of an Ojibwa trade network. Spence said the woman is probably a descendant of those merchants.
After Spence determined there was no recent foul play involved, the Registrar of Cemeteries was contacted. They told Sauve she had to hire an archeologist to conduct an assessment in her backyard — at her own expense.
Under Ontario’s Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act, property owners are responsible for the costs of an archeological assessment if human remains are found on their land.
Sauve, whose final bill is for $5,000, has appealed to the mayor of Sarnia to pay the archeologist. She’s steadfast in her belief that it doesn’t matter what level of government steps in to pay, as long as she doesn’t have to.
“I did the right thing by her . . . and this is what’s happening,” she said.
Sauve said she’s heard that people from the nearby Aamjiwnaang First Nation are raising money to pay the bill, but they haven’t approached her directly. No one from the band council office was available Friday to confirm those efforts.
Bob Bailey, the MPP for the area, saw her story in the local newspaper and his staff did some research into the couple’s predicament. He found out that Sauve can make a request to the Registrar of Cemeteries to determine if paying for the excavation would be considered an “undue financial burden.” The registrar will then either reimburse her or pay the bill directly.
Bailey said he has spoken to the minister of consumer services (the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act falls under her purview) and her staff, and intends to make sure Sauve won’t have to pay.
Sauve originally wanted to keep the skeleton of the woman — whom she named Sephira, after her granddaughter — where she was, but found out her land would have to be re-surveyed and another deed issued stating there’s a cemetery on the land.
She reluctantly agreed to have the bones disinterred and reinterred at the cemetery on the Aamjiwnaang First Nation. The woman is likely distantly related to the residents of the reserve nearby.
They performed a traditional ceremony at her house when they first found the bones, and then again after they moved her. The cemetery has a space specially designated for repatriated remains, where the skeleton now rests.
Sauve said people have been telling her that if they end up in a similar situation, they won’t alert authorities and risk having to fork over the cash to pay the bill.
“That is awful,” she said. “God forbid you have a murder victim, and you cover them up. Never will that person be brought home; never will their family have closure.”
Shorts ban introduced, so train drivers wear skirts to work instead
What’s the best way to get around bureaucracy? Follow the rules.
A group of male train drivers in Stockholm, Sweden, have rebelled against a ban on wearing shorts to work by wearing skirts instead.
13 drivers working the Roslagsbanan commuter train services have been wearing skirts to keep cool as it gets so hot in the train cab, especially in summer.
According to the Local.se, one driver, Martin Åkersten, told the local newspaper Mitti: “It can be over 35 degrees celsius in the train cab on hot summer days.”
He went on to say: “Of course people stare at you a little when you are on the platform, but you just have to put up with it.”
Employer Arriva banned the drivers from wearing shorts after taking over the running of the line in January.
But the company has given the men its blessing to wear skirts, according to local newspaper Mitti.
“Our thinking is that one should look decent and proper when representing Arriva and the present uniforms do that. If the man only wants [to wear] a skirt then that is OK,” Arriva communications manager Tomas Hedenius told the paper.
“To tell them to do something else would be discrimination.”
Today, by unanimous vote (434-0), Russia voted on a bill supported by President Vladimir Putin, which makes it illegal to tell children that gay people exist.
Gay pride fines will now be issued against homosexuals in Russia who spread “gay propaganda,” a decision many activist groups believe could essentially ban all public displays of homosexuality.
The bill also prohibits telling them that being LGBT is equal to heterosexuality. For those who violate the law, they can face fines, jail time and people visiting outside of the country will be deported.
Russia has struggled to accept homosexuality, which was only decriminalized in 1993. Anti-gay sentiment remains high, as was seen in a recent attack on a gay man.
The victim of a serial rapist has filed a civil-rights lawsuit against Lynnwood police for violating her rights by discounting her story, ignoring evidence that supported it, and charging her with making a false statement to police when she continued to insist it was true.
In August 2008, a stranger broke into the apartment of an 18-year-old Lynnwood woman, gagged her, bound her hands with a shoelace and raped her.
When the woman reported the attack to Lynnwood police, she says detectives Jerry Rittgarn and Sgt. Jeff Mason didn’t believe her. Claiming police coerced her into recanting her story, the woman was charged with false reporting and fined $500 when she later tried to insist the rape did happen.
It wasn’t until 2½ years later, when former Washington state resident Marc O’Leary was arrested for several rapes in Colorado, that Lynnwood police reopened their investigation. Among the items Colorado detectives found in O’Leary’s possession were photographs of the woman and her ID card.
O’Leary was convicted of three rapes in Colorado and two in Washington, including the Lynnwood attack and the rape of a 63-year-old Kirkland woman, and is serving a 327-year sentence in a Colorado prison.
The victim of the Lynnwood attack last week filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the city of Lynnwood, claiming detectives disregarded evidence of the assault, bullied her into saying it didn’t happen and then threatened to have her thrown out of her apartment when she insisted it did. Also named in the suit are Rittgarn, Mason and Lynnwood Police Chief Steven J. Jensen.
The woman, identified in the lawsuit by the initials D.M., says she was forced to undergo counseling when Lynnwood police told managers of the at-risk youth program where she was living in 2008 that they didn’t believe she’d been raped, according to court documents.
The lawsuit alleges that the woman was required to stand up in front of other program participants and say that she had lied about being raped or risk being evicted, according to the lawsuit.
D.M.’s lawsuit also names as defendants the agency that runs the program, Cocoon House, and two of its employees.
In a statement, Cocoon House CEO Cassie Franklin said “our hearts go out to D.M. and her family … We strongly believe that Cocoon House and its employees acted appropriately on behalf of the client.”
Jensen, the Lynnwood police chief, said he could not comment because of the litigation.
Rittgarn, who has left the Lynnwood Police Department and works as a private investigator in San Diego, said he was unaware of the lawsuit. At first he could not recall the case, except that he thought it involved “that guy from Colorado.”
Mason is still with the Lynnwood Police Department.
D.M., who now lives in Wyoming, declined to comment for this story, said her attorney, H. Richmond Fisher.
According to the suit, Rittgarn and Mason had D.M. charged with making a false report in Lynnwood Municipal Court when she tried to take back a statement in which she had recanted her story of being raped. The woman claims she signed that statement under duress after having been questioned for hours without an attorney.
She was fined $500 in 2009 after entering into a diversionary agreement. After O’Leary’s arrest, the city returned the fine and the court struck the case from its files.
According to police reports and statements filed with the lawsuit, D.M. was living in a small Cocoon House-sponsored apartment after having spent her youth moving among as many as 20 foster homes. She spoke to a friend on the phone for several hours early Aug. 11, 2008, finally going to bed around 5:30 a.m. She said she left the sliding-glass patio door ajar.
She said it was about 7 a.m. when she woke to find a man standing over her bed with a butcher knife and wearing latex gloves. He tied her hands behind her back with a lace from her tennis shoe, blindfolded her and gagged her.
He then raped her. He also told her he had taken photos of her and knew her name, and left.
D.M. called a neighbor, who called police. Police gathered evidence from the house, including stained sheets, the shoelaces, blindfold and gag.
At the hospital, a doctor noted injuries to both her wrists and abrasions on her genitals. Doctors also collected DNA specimens, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges police ignored or disregarded this evidence once they convinced themselves she was not telling the truth.
Their suspicions were based on comments from three people who said that they doubted her story, according to the suit. One was her former foster mother, with whom D.M. had been arguing, and the other a friend who had spoken to D.M. on the phone that night, before the alleged attack. The third doubter was an anonymous caller.
None of them had any firsthand knowledge of what had happened, the lawsuit says.
However, based on those statements, three days after the assault, officers picked up D.M. in a police car and took her to the station, where Rittgarn told her there were inconsistencies in her story. She claims the officers interrogated her and “put words in her mouth.”
D.M., the detective wrote in a police report, would not look him in the eye, repeatedly said she “believed” she had been raped and, when initially asked if people should be worried that a rapist was on the loose, she reportedly said no.
Rittgarn wrote that, “Based on her answer and body language it was apparent that D.M. was lying about the rape,” according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.
The lawsuit alleges that, as soon as the detective concluded she was lying, the investigation ceased.
“They ignored all the objective evidence collected by the Lynnwood Police Department and Providence Hospital on the day of the rape,” the lawsuit alleges.
On Aug. 18, D.M. returned to the police station with Cocoon House representatives and asked to withdraw the denial and insisted that she had been attacked.
“She began crying and said she kept seeing visions of ‘him’ on top of her,” the lawsuit says.
Rittgarn told her that if she was lying she would go to jail and that he “would not” recommend Cocoon House keep her, the suit alleges.
After O’Leary’s arrest in Colorado in February 2011, Lynnwood police Cmdr. Steve Rider told The Herald of Everett: “Suffice it to say, certain pieces of information just led investigators to the wrong conclusion.”
Man arrested with guitar, sword, throwing knives & flask of cocaine after hassling customers at a gas station
Police responded to a call at 11:21 p.m. at the Kum & Go in Tiffin for a complaint of a man outside with a guitar. Deandre Lamar Ronald Irby, 21, was spotted outside the gas station. A handle was sticking out the back of Irby’s shirt, according to the police report, and when police asked Irby what it was, he stated it was a sword.
Police say they took the “samurai-type” sword from Irby, who also had two throwing knives and a flask with a white powder substance that he told police was “probably coke,” according to the complaint.
Irby faces charges for possession of a controlled substance, a serious misdemeanor, and carrying weapons, an aggravated misdemeanor.