Indian court asked to rule on whether Hindu guru dead or meditating: Since January 29 of this year, Sri Ashutosh Maharaj, founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan religious sect, has been residing in a freezer in his ashram in Punjab. His followers claim he is in a "deep meditative state (samadhi)." Doctors, however, have declared Maharaj clinically dead and his family have sued to have his death be investigated and to have his body released for cremation. The guru's son also alleges that Maharaj was murdered and that his followers are trying to gain control of his estate, said to be worth $170 million. While traditional yogis have claimed extraordinary powers, including the power to stop one's heart, the evidence for these claims has been lacking.
A couple's final journey. "Chris MacLellan and Bernard Richard Schiffer never exchanged “for better or for worse” vows. As a gay couple, marriage wasn’t an option in Florida. Instead, they lived together and loved each other for 11 years."
The Murders at The Lake. "In the summer of 1982 the city of Waco was confronted with the most vicious crime it had ever seen: three teenagers were savagely stabbed to death, for no apparent reason, at a park by a lake on the edge of town. Justice was eventually served when four men were found guilty of the crime, and two were sent to death row. In 1991, though, when one of the convicts got a new trial and was then found not guilty, some people wondered, Were these four actually the killers? Several years after that, one of the men was put to death, and the stakes were raised: Had Texas executed an innocent man?" [more inside]
Bearing Arms: [New York Times] Articles in this series examine the gun industry’s influence and the wide availability of firearms in America. [more inside]
Beate Sirota Gordon, Long-Unsung Heroine of Japanese Women’s Rights, Dies at 89: a NYT obituary relates the fascinating story of a young woman who was just the right person in just the right place at just the right time and managed to strike a blow for gender equality. [more inside]
"A blue cloud of smoke wafted over the Famous Five statue that sits just east of the Senate doors. No one seemed to be going insane or looking like they were about to personally invade the United States. There were people of all colours in the crowd, but if any of them were members of The Ring, they hid it well. The peaceful demonstrators were, however, breaking the law, smoking a banned substance that could in theory have landed any one of them in prison." Emily Murphy’s legacy lives on in more ways than most care to remember.
The British Columbia Supreme Court has struck down a ban on physician-assisted suicide, in a whopping 1415-paragraph decision. [more inside]
In 1991, Troy Davis was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of policeman Mark MacPhail in a Savannah, Georgia parking lot. Since then, seven of the nine prosecution eyewitnesses have recanted all or part of their testimony, with some citing pressure from the police to make false statements. An exception is Sylvester "Redd" Coles, who made the initial report of Davis’s guilt, and is regarded by the defense as the chief suspect. New witnesses have sworn affidavits that Coles confessed the crime to them. An array of figures have called for a stay of execution, including death-penalty supporters Senator Bob Barr and former FBI director William S. Sessions. Today, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency; barring action from the District Attorney, Davis is set to be executed by lethal injection tomorrow at 7pm. [Previously]
Start a home business, get rich quick, win financial freedom! If you watch late-night TV, you've heard it all before. But what's the story behind these slick pitchmen and their dubious schemes? Enter The Salty Droid, your ornery metal guide to the corrupt underworld of scam-marketing scum. This charmingly acerbic bot (owned and operated by mild-mannered Chicago dog-lover Jason Michael Jones [inter-view, long talk + transcript]) is a valiant crusader against the vile con-men who bankrupt the elderly and the desperate with beautiful lies. Exposed so far: A shadowy "Syndicate" of frauduct-pushing personality cults polluting the media with blogspam and woo-woo talking points. Boiler rooms in the Utah desert where telemarketers farm credit from easy targets with cunning, probing scripts [PDF]. Powerful politicians bought wholesale. Believers left to die in fraudulent new-age vision quests. It's a soul-crushing beat, enough to make one feel like a regular catcher-bot in the digital rye. But somebody's got to do it -- preferably someone with plasma nunchucks and titanium skin.
"There are no national standards or regulations regarding forensic pathology and practices vary widely from place to place."
The Hardest Cases: When Children Die, Justice Can Be Elusive A joint investigation by PBS Frontline, ProPublica and NPR has found that medical examiners and coroners have repeatedly mishandled cases of infant and child deaths, helping to put innocent people behind bars. (Via. (Article contains descriptions of children that have been killed by abuse. May be disturbing / triggering to some readers.) [more inside]
British "super-injunctions" goes one step further: "A High Court judge has issued an injunction which bans publication of information on Twitter and Facebook." [more inside]
Public gatherings restricted? Check. Shutdown of independent businesses? Check. Lockdown on traffic and transportation in the area? You bet. Lawmakers in Baltimore trying to curb the city's homicide rate (already 108 this year) have come up with some "desperate measures" of questionable constitutional legality, including heightening police presence in order to lockdown streets in "emergency areas." It has been called, "partial martial law" by some, and one has to wonder if the city of Baltimore may not do better to take a page from The Wire's Hamsterdam for a solution to their inextricably linked drug and homicide issues.
Eighth grader Anthony Soltero shot himself on Thursday, March 30, after the assistant principal at De Anza Middle School told him that he was going to prison for three years because of his involvement as an organizer of the April 28 school walk-outs to protest the anti-immigrant legislation in Washington. The vice principal also forbade Anthony from attending graduation activities and threatened to fine his mother for Anthony's truancy and participation in the student protests." Anthony was learning about the importance of civic duties and rights in his eighth grade class. Ironically, he died because the vice principal at his school threatened him for speaking out and exercising those rights," ...
The Australian media is calling them the 'Bali nine'. Nine young Australians are being held in Bali under suspicion for attempting to smuggle 8.3 kg (or 11.25 kg depending on what you read) of heroin through Bali's airport. They were caught with the drugs allegedly strapped to their bodies while accomplices were apprehended at a nearby hotel. Most of the nine Australians are now cooperating with police enquiries even though they fear doing so will further endanger the lives of their families (e.g. drug lords punishing them for talking). Don't get this latest case mistaken, however, with the other high-profile Australian drugs case in the Australian media right now. Beauty therapist Schapelle Corby, 27, is also being held in Bali for the 4.1 kg of top-notch marijuana found in her bodyboard bag some months ago. Prosecutors in that case have asked for a life sentence to be handed down to Corby. She has supposedly escaped death by firing squad. Her legal team and family, though, say she was a victim of dodgy baggage handlers and an Australian interstate drug smuggling operation that uses unknowing interstate Australian travellers as drug mules. Most Australians are worried about this, too. Of course, the strain of the case on Corby is beginning to show. But getting back to the 'Bali nine'. What will their fate be? Another Australian was just given an execution order in Vietnam for also smuggling Heroin. It's all nasty stuff, hey. News reports indicate that Australian officials will seek clemency for those involved in the latest Bali bust. Yeah, but how much good will that do? Indonesia is well known for enforcing strong anti-drug laws. And who can blame them?
An Objective Legal Look (and more) on Schiavo-- As a Florida law blogger, I have created this page to help people understand the legal circumstances surrounding the Terri Schiavo saga. In my view, there continues to be a need for an objective look at the matter. There is an unbelievable amount of misinformation being circulated. Links to all court decisions, timelines, questions and answers (some shocking)...you name it. All the info available on this tragic situation.
Little Jesse Koochin remains hooked up to a ventilator at Primary Children's Medical Center, oblivious to the controversy that has erupted around him. Doctors at the Salt Lake City hospital pronounced the 6-year-old cancer patient brain-dead this week and want to remove life support. Jesse's parents, Steve and Gayle Koochin, insist their youngest child is alive and believe they can bring him back to health with alternative medicine. Hospital officials maintain the boy is dead and has begun decomposing.
In 1948 Caryl Chessman was awarded two death sentences on two counts of attempted rape. He was probably innocent, yet he was executed in 1960 for more or less "being a smartass." In the years between his sentencing and death, he wrote three memoirs and a novel, which sold well. After the first memoir the prison forbade him to write about anything other than the legalities of his case, so he developed an elaborate code to get his work out to his lawyer. His spirit never broke, as strange as it was. This is his story.