Monday, July 30, 2012

The Sky Is The Limit

Can some one make a claim for the sky or is the sky truly the limit?   A "Texas judge rules atmosphere, air is a public trust," according to the Boston Globe.  As the Midwest continue to suffer from a major drought, the Texas legal system is dwelling on more important issues.  In 2007,  University of Oregon Professor Mary Wood pontificated "The trustee must defend the trust against injury. Where it has been damaged, the trustee must restore the property in the trust." In 2010 Wood and Julia Olson, executive director of Our Children's Trust organized a group of attorneys, youth, and media to address climate changes as "a whole system." Subsequently suits in 13 states have been filed arguing the atmosphere is a public trust.

Borrowing from English Common Law concerning public trust, the suits argue that public resources are owned by and available to all citizens equally for the purposes of navigation, fishing, recreation, and other uses. The owner cannot use that resource in a way that interferes with the public interest. The public trustee, usually the state, must act to maintain and enhance the trust's resources for the benefit of people.  In Texas, the Texas Environmental Law Center sued on behalf of a group of children and young adults asserting that the State of Texas had a fiduciary duty to reduce emissions.  "The atmosphere, including the air, is one of the most crucial assets of our public trust... Global climate change threatens to dry up most of these waters, turning them from gorgeous, life-giving springs into dangerous flash-flooding drainage when the rare, heavy rains do come. The outdoors will be inhospitable and the children will have few places to recreate in nature as the climate changes. They will be living in a world of drought... and restrictions..."

Judge Gisela Triana, of the Travis County District Court ruled on July 12, 2012: "[t]he doctrine includes all natural resources of the State... the public trust doctrine ... is not simply a common law doctrine but is incorporated into the Texas Constitution, which (1) protects "the conservation and development of all the resources of the State," (2) declares conservation of those resources "public rights and duties," and (3) directs the Legislature to pass appropriate laws to protect these resources." However, Judge Triana upheld the TCEQ decision not to exercise its authority. Yet, a few days later, Judge Sarah Singleton of the New Mexico District Court denied the state's motion to dismiss a similar case.

The Texas court decision to support the possibility that the "public trust" doctrine may justify the creation of an atmospheric trust. Consequently there may be a boom in climate change litigation.  In other words, if society chooses to leave global warming up to the lawyers,  there may be no need for future meteorologists predictions.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lyric Cook and Elizbeth Collins Are Missing...

Lyric Cook, 10, and her cousin Elizabeth Collins, 8, are both missing. The Iowa girls were last seen by their grandmother more than a week ago when they left on a bike ride. While in a typical case one may suspect that the girl have been killed, the FBI has an opinion to the contrary. "We believe these girls are alive and we are not discouraged by the passage of time since their disappearance," said FBI spokeswoman Sandy Breault. Breault declined to add what makes her think the children are still alive.

In the interim law enforcement has suggested that there has been a lack of cooperation from a few family members and a couple of close friends. The girls' bicycles and a purse were found near Meyers Lake hours after they were reported missing July 13. A search of the 25-acre lake failed to turn up any clues. (The girls are both good swimmers and their shoes weren't found.) Black Hawk County Waste Disposal, which handles trash collection in the local area, was requested to dump trash from Evansdale homes and businesses in a separate area of the county landfill.  The landfill had been searched but apparently no evidence was found.

Authorities are calling the children's disappearance an abduction. 

A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the successful recovery of the girls.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Batman Movie Inspires Insanity or Part of Republican Conspiracy?

It's murder, not a game.  Nor is it an attempt to win an Oscar or Emmy.  Unfortunately, some people can't distinguish fact from fantasy. An armed 24 year-old man opened fire in the Aurora Colorado Century 16 theater at the Midnight premiere of the new Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises." 12 people are confirmed dead and as many as 50 others were wounded. (Police had earlier reported 14 deaths, but only 12 fatalities were confirmed.) The youngest reported victim is a 3-month-old, who is said to be doing fine at University Hospital, which is treating 20 patients.  Nine of the patients are in critical condition. A 6 year-old victim is being treated at Children's Hospital.  Five other victims are at Children's hospital. Victims were taken to a total of six hospitals in the area.

Theater 9 has a capacity of around 300 people. The gunman, who was wearing a gas mask, set off a smoke canister in the theater and opened fire upon the crowd.  Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates did not release the name or motive for the shooting in his news conference. However, Legal Pub has learned that the suspect is believed to be James Holmes, a 24-year-old American. Holmes is in police custody, and the FBI says there is no indication of terrorist ties. After Holmes allegedly opened fired, pandemonium erupted and the crowd fled for the exits.  Some of the bullets also went through the walls of an adjacent theater, injuring patrons next door.

Hundreds of police officers, ambulance and emergency crews responded to the frantic 911 calls. The 24 year old suspect was found by his car and arrested. The man was dressed in black, carrying a knife, rifle and a handgun.  The suspect was also wearing a bulletproof vest. Ironically, the suspect surrendered to police without a struggle.Police subsequently searched the suspects North Aurora home after he spoke of "possible explosives in his residence." There is no evidence of additional shooters. Rush Limbaugh had predicted that the victim in the movie Bane would be used as campaign rhetoric against Mitt Romney in the campaign Romney had worked for venture capitalist Bain (same pronunciation) in the past.  Seems the use of this reference to Romney working with a villain during campaign rhetoric may now be a dead issue.  Conspiracy?  We think not. Holmes appears to have acted alone.

The theater attack took place just about 25 miles from Columbine High School, where two students shot and killed 13 people in 1999.

Holmes, like any other suspect is presumed innocent unless otherwise proven in a court of law.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Jason Moss May Have Just Wanted To Sound Tough But He Apparently Scared The Bullies Too Much

It sounds like part of the script for American Pie Class Reunion.  Everyone loves a good underdog story. Revenge of the nerds comes to mind.  Its a great turn about nerd turned hero: unfortunately, reality tends to lead to different results.

Jason Carroll Moss, 38, allegedly made posts on Face Book indicating that he was harassed and bullied throughout high school and therefore he might take vengeance on his tormentors at his 20-year reunion.  Did the Texas man really intend a Columbine High School type massacre at the San Antonio's John Marshall High School's Class of 1992 reunion?

Police think that Moss stayed away from his high school graduation two decades ago because he "would have started the Columbine shootings early." They apparently think that Moss may be harboring deep resentments.  Moss allegedly posted: "I was picked on and bullied by a bunch of you when I went to school and I wanted to kill everyone that hurt me. I'm still seeking vengeance on all those who bullied and harassed me when I was growing up or went to school. You people do not know what you did to me."

Other alumni on the Face Book page called attention to Moss's posts to authorities according to KHOU.  Jason Moss was arrested Friday before 150 members of the '92 gathered for the reunion. There does not appear to be any proof that Moss actually planned to hurt anyone.  But he did apparently author the posts according to the Express News. Apparently Moss authored the comments because he didn't want to be picked on at the reunion.  VIDEO.
Moss is now charged with a misdemeanor for the threats. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail. It is not believed that Moss has any criminal record.  Furthermore, Moss is to be presumed innocent of all charges and accusations until otherwise proven in a court of law.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Don't Monkey Around With Wild Animals; Chimp Critically Injures Human

Most have seen at least one Planet of the Apes movies. They are scary because they foreshadow the damages that can be inflicted by wild animals.  South African conservationist Eugene Cussons is an expert on ape attacks. Cussons even hosts Animal Planet show "Escape to Chimp Eden."  Unfortunately, the most recent chimp attack was at his own Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden in South Africa. The victim is Andrew F. Oberle, a University of Texas at San Antonio graduate student who was studying the chimps.

Twelve tourists tried to separate the chimps from Oberle. Cussons, was himself attacked by a chimp as he tried to pull it off Oberle.  Cussons had to actually fire a shot into the air to scare the chimps away.  Oberle was bitten and dragged for nearly a half mile. One of the chimps was also injured in the incident. Male chimps can be 5'6" and weigh up to 150 lbs. The exact size of the two chimps that attacked Oberle is not known. But regardless of their size, Oberle had been trained to keep a safe distance from the animals. Oberle was in South Africa to study chimps. He had also previously worked for several years as a camp counselor at the St. Louis Zoo.

However, Oberle apparently broke the rules by going through the first of two fences that separate humans from the chimps. The chimps pulled him under the second fence.  Mediclinic Nelspruit hospital said Saturday that the 26-year-old Oberle remained in critical condition after Thursday's surgery.  Amadeus and Nikki, the two chimps involved in the attack, have been isolated.   Amadeus, was orphaned in Angola and brought to South Africa in 1996, where he was kept at the Johannesburg Zoo until the sanctuary opened. The other, Nikki, came from Liberia in 1996 and also was held at the zoo until becoming one of the first chimps at the sanctuary. The sanctuary has been closed to the public since the attack.