October 27, 2007

Article on Celiac Disease

AlterNet has a great article about Celiac Disease. Newsweek also had a good write-up in honor of Celiac Awareness Month.

Articles like these make a huge difference: over the last five years, I've been seeing more and more gluten-free foods in my local Publix. I still make trips to health food stores, but I'm no longer having to get quite as much there as I used to, and my wallet feels the difference!

October 24, 2007

Miami Herald Drops the Ball; Police Department Caught LYING. UPDATED Nov 16

Well, the Miami Herald screwed the pooch, big time.

Jeff Weinsier was arrested Tuesday outside an area High School. And that's about the only fact that the Herald got right.

It starts with the sensationalistic headline:
"TV reporter carrying gun at school is arrested"
I have a couple of problems with this headline: first, Weinsier was in front of the school, not AT it. Second, it implies that the gun was a factor in the arrest; and it was not.

How can I know this? I've seen the video tape; the raw, unedited tape that shows the entire incident right up to Weinsier's arrest.

Go and watch the tape, then continue reading.

All right? Up to speed? Let's dissect the article:

WPLG-ABC 10 reporter Jeffrey Weinsier, a loaded .38 revolver tucked in his waistband, was arrested Tuesday at Miami Central High after he was repeatedly warned against trespassing on school property, police said.
First, he wasn't warned about trespassing, because he wasn't trespassing. He was on a sidewalk. He was ordered to move across the street. No reason given. After he was taken into custody, it was revealed that he was indeed carrying a concealed weapon - and a concealed weapon permit. More on the gun later.

Weinsier, 40, was charged with trespassing on school property with a weapon, possession of a firearm on school grounds and resisting officers without violence.

Other reporters had been at the school to report the story of a Central High School math teacher who was arrested for attacking Homestead Air Reserve Base in a failed ''suicide-by-cop'' attempt.
All this is true. Of course, he wasn't on school grounds at the time, so that charge is bogus, but that's what he was charged with. Moving on.

Schools police say Weinsier -- an investigative reporter -- repeatedly ignored warnings to not step on the school's grass, said Detective Ed Torrens, a spokesman.
and further down:
Torrens said he believed other TV stations' cameramen only filmed Weinsier being arrested on the sidewalk, but failed to show footage of him stepping on the grass.
As we see in the video, at no time was Weinsier on the grass: in fact, it would be impossible for him to get on the grass without climbing a pretty thick hedge, first. He wasn't on the grass when the cops approached him, and he wasn't on the grass when they finally arrested him.

And if, as the Police Department claims, he was standing on the grass, why didn't the police tell him that's why he was being asked to move across the street? Weinsier asked for a reason; the cops refused to give one. At no time did they cops say "we saw you on the grass, that's trespassing." Not once did they say that; all they would repeat is "We kindly ask that you move across the street!"

Weinsier was clearly on a public sidewalk, he clearly wasn't on the grass when the police asked him to leave, and he clearly wasn't on the grass when they arrested him.

No, he was on a sidewalk. And in fact, he was on a side walk full of PEOPLE. Hundreds of people, and only one person was arrested: the TV reporter.

And do you know what? Weinsier DID cross the street. It was after the cops demanded that his camera man turn off the camera. The cops are filmed grabbing the camera, and taking Weinsier's microphone away. The camerman starts moving across the street, and Weinsier points to the mic and says "You need to give that back. The cop does so, and Weinsier and his crew move across the street. We can hear Weinsier call the station while the camera rolls tape of the school letting out.

A few minutes later, Weinsier and the camera head back across the street, having been in contact with their station and the school's Public Information Officer. Again, the cops intercept him and tell him he must go across the street. Weinsier reports that his station manager just confirmed with Police Information Officer Ed Torrans that the crew could be on the sidewalk.

We just spoke to your public information officer, he says that we can be here. It's all right for us to be here..

Fat Cop:
My sargent is going to be here in a moment...you just

your officer, Ed Goren, said that we could...

Fat Cop:
I don't know any Ed Goran, Ed Goran's not the public information officer..

Yes, he is

Fat Cop:
...our p.i.o. is Ed TORRAN-

yeah, THAT guy.

The cops start pushing Weinsier, telling him that he has to go across the street. The reporter told the cops to stop touching him, that they didn't have the right to touch him and push him around.

You do realize, the camera's getting all of this.

Fat Cop:
do you know what Custodial touch is? I don't care about cameras, custodial custody, I can get you off my block if I want. ....I am telling you, ON THAT CAMERA, YOU are within 500 feet of a school, and I am giving you a lawful order to get off this sidewalk.

After FatCop blathers on for a few more minutes, Weinsier flatly states "I am not going." And the cops arrest him at that point.

Again, I must point out that at no time did the cop mention grass, or standing on it. He said a lot of other stuff; why not "Hey, you were on the grass, and that's trespassing!"

The only reason I can think of is that it was because Weinsier was never on the grass at all. Makes sense, doesn't it? None of the evidence puts him on the grass, so he wasn't on it. So much for the 'grass story.'

Now, about the gun: Weinsier had a carry permit. He got it after getting death threats in the aftermath of a story he covered earlier this year.

So what does the Herald say about it?

Weinsier holds a concealed weapons permit, but state law prohibits anyone from carrying a gun on school grounds, Torrens said.

''Miami-Dade Schools Police is a very effective force and they take any incident of anyone bringing a weapon to campus seriously,'' said Miami-Dade schools spokesman John Schuster.

Let's get back to the tape, because this is a serious charge: hmm, no, Weinsier was never on School Property at any time. Funny, the Herald doesn't point that out. You know what else we never see? The gun. We never see it, and the cops never once mention it.

No, instead of addressing the facts, they quote Schuster. And THAT quote makes it look like the School Cops caught Weinsier bringing a gun onto school grounds; neither of which is true: he wasn't on school grounds, and they didn't take him into custody because of the gun. The FACT is that they only found the gun AFTER they arrested him.

The Herald has been unforgivably sloppy with their work on this story. Frankly, I think it borders on slander.

And the cops? Wayyyy out of line.

A late update; all charges agains Weinsier were dismissed. Assistant State AttorneyMaggie Gerson reached the same conclusion as I did, upon viewing the tape.

"...due to the fact that the defendant was not on school property, it cannot be said that the defendant was trespassing. Since the defendant was not trespassing, anything that was found after he was arrested will be suppressed as a matter of law."

She also waved off a bunch of lesser charges the school cops had laid on Weinsier; since the orders he was given to go across the street were not lawful, he can't be charged with failure to obey a lawful order. The sidewalk isn't school property, and even though it's in the 500 foot safety zone, Weinsier had a legitimate reason to be inside of it. And even if the school police HAD a reason to keep him across the street (which they didn't), the fact that they weren't keeping EVERYONE across the street negates their action. Most damning: school had been dismissed by the time the cop illegally arrested Weinsier.

No mention in the Herald's coverage of this action about the "facts" they reported earlier.

October 20, 2007

Army Corps Of Engineers; Can they really be this stupid?

Much of the US has been suffering drought, including Georgia. Water levels are down, and severe restrictions are in place. It's so bad that cattle farmers are on the verge of culling their herds. Lakes are drying up. And I mean COMPLETELY drying up.

The State of Georgia believes that the severe problem requires drastic measures. They want the Army Corps of Engineers to stop releasing water from Georgia's primary resevoir, Lake Lannier. The lake, which is FIFTEEN FEET below its normal capacity is being drained by 3.2 billion gallons a day. The water serves two purposes; to meet the flow needs of a Florida hydroelectric power plant, and to maintain an adequate water levels for endagered species of fish and wildlife.

The Governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue, has requested that the outflow be reduced to stem the crisis. The Army Corps of Engineers response: what crisis? Apparently the Corps doesn't speak to the US Geological Service. Apparently, the Corps isn't even reading its own website. According to its own data, the levels are tailing off at an alarming rate.

Major Daren Payne of the Army Corps of Engineers wrote a letter to the Governor, stating that Georgia was "not going to run out [of water] any time soon." He's the deputy commander for the district that oversees the lake and the dams in the area. And he seems to be some kind of idiot.

Hey, Major Moron, here's a reality check for you:

On the left is a picture of the East Point Reservoir, taken about a year ago.*

On the right is a picture of the SAME reservoir, taken last week.
Notice something? Like the LACK of WATER? I'd certainly classify it as "running out of water."*

It's one thing for the Corps to claim that they are required to send a certain amount of water downstream to meet the needs of certain mandates; it's quite another to actually LIE about the problem. There IS a drought, and Georgia IS losing water at an alarming rate. If Major Payne can't admit that, it's time to toss his ass out and put someone in charge who, at the very least, isn't living in a state of denial.

Suddenly, the devestation in New Orleans makes more sense: after all, it was no secret that the city was below sealevel. It was no secret that the levees were old, and needed maintainence. But with men like Major Payne in command, nothing gets done because they simply deny that the documented problems exist.

There may be reasons not to stem the flow of water bleeding out of Georgia; the lack of a drought or false claims about the water supply are not among them.

*photos in this post linked from the CNN website.

October 11, 2007

Eichhorn Wakes Up and Smells the Coffee.

I guess the fact that pretty much everyone in the country now hates her guts has caused Sgt. Andrea Eichhorn to reconsider her monumentally stupid lawsuit.

Not only was it a petty and vicious things to do to the Cosmillos, it has had a chilling effect on the public's willingness to use 911 to call for help. Eichhorn was responding to a 911 call from the Cosmillo family when she was injured.

Sgt. Andrea Eichhorn (October 11, 2007)

According to the Sun-Sentinel, "City Manager Barbara Lipscomb, in a prepared statement, said she wanted to encourage Casselberry residents to continue to call 911 when there is an emergency." So not only did she heap stress and humiliation on a family who is caring for a child in a vegetative state, she's made people afraid to call for help in emergencies. Nice move, "sarge."

The Sun-Sentinel also reports that Eichhorn has been placed on administrative leave. Which is a good thing; at this point, I suspect that her effectiveness as a law enforcement officer is zero. Who'd want her to show up at their emergency? And does the city really want to risk sending out a litigious maniac out into the public? And once people found out who she was, there'd be a real risk of a riot.

No, Eichhorn has pretty much ended her career as a police officer. This might well be the most publicized career suicide in history.

The Sleazy Lawsuit of Andrea Eichhorn

I learned of this story out of Casselbury, Florida, via STUCK ON THE PALMETTO. And while they cover it pretty well, I'm so steamed that I decided to write about it, too.

Back in January, one year old Joey Cosmillo fell into his family's swimming pool. His mother found him, dove in after him, and brought him into the house to revive him, calling 911 for help. One of the first respondents on the scene was Sgt. Andrea Eichhorn. She slipped on a puddle of water from the boy, causing her to fall and break her knee.

Little Joey is permanently brain damaged; he's physically alive, but cannot walk, talk, or swallow. He eats and breathes through tubes.

Sgt. Eichhorn was covered by worker's comp. She missed two months of work. According to a statement released by the Casselbury PD:

"She returned to work in a light duty capacity for approximately a month thereafter. Eichhorn received full medical benefits, worker’s compensation care, her salary and accumulated sick and vacation time during her absence. Eichhorn was ultimately released for full duty.."

So she sued the Cosmillos. According to Eichhorn's shyster lawyer, workers comp and disability checks 'helped with medical bills, but wasn't enough.'
"It's a situation where the Cosmillos have caused these problems, brought them on themselves, then tried to play the victim," says David Heil.

Newsflash, Mr, Heil; they ARE the victims. Read the police report.

First, Eichhorn doesn't need any money to pay for her work-related medical bills. Worker's comp covers all of them. That's the law. You'd think a lawyer would know that.

Second, she works in a high-risk profession. As the saying goes, "you knew the job was dangerous when you took it!"

Third, this greedy cop and sleazy lawyer are suing based on negligence. They maintain that if the Cosmillos had cleaned up the water, Eichhorn wouldn't have slipped. Never mind the fact that they were trying to save the life of their child; the sleazebag lawyer responds that if the pool had been baby-proofed, the police would not have been called, and Eichhorn would not have slipped.

So what does the Casselbury police department have to say about this? Chief Jon Pavlis released this statement:
"I do not support the lawsuit filed by Sgt. Eichhorn and her attorney ... What happened to the Sergeant was an accident. She has been compensated for all time off the job due to this injury."

But the statement from the Police Department goes further:

"She discussed the possibility of filing legal action against the homeowners with Casselberry her police supervisors and the Chief of Police. The departmental supervisors and the Chief of Police recommended to Sgt. Eichhorn that she not file legal action against the homeowners since her on the job injury would be fully covered by the City’s workers compensation coverage that is provided to all employees. Eichhorn chose to file suit against the homeowners in this incident as a private individual"

Sgt. Eichhorn works in a dangerous profession, where grave injury and even death is a possibility at every moment of the day. She was injured in performance of her duties, and was compensated for her injury. She had a month of disability pay, and then went back to work.

Joey Cosmillo is in a nursing home, and will never have what anyone would consider a life.

I am outraged that this so-called police officer would inflict further suffering on this family. She isn't stuck with medical bills; she isn't facing huge expenses for care: all her medical expenses for this injury are covered. She must have dug through the gutters of the worst part of town to find a lawyer who thought she had a case.

Sgt. Eichhorn isn't driven by need: she's greedy. She's selfish. And those are two qualities we can't tolerate in our police.

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October 8, 2007

SPIRIT Airlines Screws The Pooch

The Miami Herald reports that Spirit Airlines stranded hundreds at Fort Lauderdale Airport; Spirit's not going to be able to blame this one on the weather:
"Spirit Airlines canceled the flight without a clear explanation. The Federal Aviation Administration is not reporting any delays."
According to CBS4:
"To make matters worse, passengers say the flight crew charged them for water and tea."

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