Archive for August 6, 2008

Cute Photo of Kitty Adopted from Animal Shelter

Hundreds of kittens are destroyed at animal shelters every week. Nursing kittens and their mothers are usually killed as soon as they come in. Pregnant queens are also destroyed immediately. If the kittens are weaned, they may be lucky enough to be adopted before they succumb to feline respiratory diseases.

If you don’t have a place for a kitten or cat, you may be able to foster a nursing mother and her kittens until they are old enough to be adopted. They can sure find a place in your heart to latch on to, though.

Not me, though. After years of having kitties that have moved in and taken over the place, I find that my eyes swell shut and I have mild asthma symptoms (and sometimes not so mild symptoms) from being around them. I will not, of course, give up my two remaining geriatric companions, but the doc says it would be best if I didn’t take in any new kitties. (Other possible asthma triggers include bermudagrass which would be my yard and pastures.)

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BOLO for William Steele, Escaped Columbia County Prisoner

The escaped prisoner is 36 years old, 5’7″ tall, 176 lbs, and has several tattooes. He is suspected of being in the company of Kimberly Reigner in a silver Jeep with Florida tag W215J6. If you have any information as to his whereabouts, please call the DOC at 1-850-922-6827.

Source: FirstCoastNews.com

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What Was Going to Happen to That Woman?

A “police officer” in Jacksonville had a woman pulled over, told her she was being arrested for driving with a suspended license, handcuffed her, and was then spotted by a JSO officer driving by.

The equipment looked legitimate to a bystander. There was a good reason for that. Robert Browne, a resident of the Miami area, stole the police accountrements from his wife, a former police officer, in a faked burglary.

So, what was this south Floridian doing in our area making a false arrest? It will be interesting to see what turns up in his background and whether any missing women might be connected to him.

For more information, see FirstCoastNews.com.

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Telecommuting Growing in Popularity?

The number of employees working off site is expected to increase as more people dial — not drive — into work, according to senior executives at the nation’s largest companies.

More than two-thirds (69 percent) of executives say it is common for their employees to work off site, according to the survey of 150 senior executives by Menlo Park, Calif.-based OfficeTeam.

And 82 percent of managers said they expect the number of employees who work remotely to increase in the next five years.

“Rising fuel prices are causing people to look for alternatives to lengthy commutes, and working from home or at locations closer to home are attractive options,” says Dave Willmer, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Technology has also made it easier for employees to work remotely when traveling for business.”

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal

I telecommuted for five years as an independent contractor and then as an employee. At the beginning, it was great. I set my own hours and worked when I was most productive. If the U.P.S. man came by and I had to sign for a delivery at my office, no problem, I’d make up the work later, as I was paid by the job, not by the hour. All in all, due to fewer interruptions, I was more productive in my own home office than I was at an office in town. I did take a pay cut in order to work from home, though, which to my mind was offset by the lack of parking hassle and working barefoot in shorts and a T-shirt.

Over time, though, things changed. The office that I’d been hired at and worked from was eliminated. Extra “managers” were brought in that did not know the business or employees they supervised but whose purpose was to “manage” the people in the field. We were no longer able to work our schedule around our most productive time, but schedules were assigned to us on a 24-hour day, regardless of whether some of the employees could work that type of schedule. Pay was cut further, as were benefits, but that was “made up” by the opportunity to make bonuses and pay differential when we had to work crazy shifts. Oh, well, at least we did not have to commute.

Very rigid scheduling then became the norm. No longer was it possible to even contemplate picking up a sick child from school or going to the hospital in an emergency. All time off had to be scheduled 30 days in advance, no exceptions. Requests for vacation had to be made 45 days in advance, often without even getting any type of notification back as to whether it had been approved or denied. Vacation time, which used to be carried over, was now cut off at the end of the year. Many people lost their accrued vacation time because the manager would not approve them for vacation. The rules varied by region and by manager, seemingly being made up as they went along. The excuse used was “you would NEVER be able to get time off at a moment’s notice in an office environment, so you cannot do it when you work from home.” Actually, I never had had any problem at all if I got a call when I worked in an office environment that I had to go to school or a day care to pick up a sick child.

Of course, just when I think it couldn’t get worse, it did. I was working a split shift of morning/afternoon and late night/early morning. The rationale was that they needed people with my expertise at both times of the day. Time off got even harder to schedule. The bonuses for good performance were removed, effectively cutting pay still further. “Managers” monitored computer activity remotely and called if there were so much as a 5-minute break.

There was even more stupidity occurring than I listed in this post; I decided to go back to work at a “regular” job where I had better benefits, paid time off, could take off for an hour or two in the middle of the day for a doctor’s appointment, and was able to contract an illness without scheduling it 45 days in advance.

Another point to ponder: If you are able to telecommute to your job, so can somebody in another country. They are willing to do it for much less money.

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Mexican Gang Member that Raped, Tortured, Murdered Teenage Girls Executed by Texas

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Texas executed Mexican-born prisoner José Medellín late Tuesday night for the 1993 rape-torture slayings of two teenage Houston girls.

“I’m sorry my actions caused you pain. I hope this brings you the closure that you seek,” Mr. Medellín said to witnesses in the death chamber. He was pronounced dead a few minutes before 10 p.m.

The execution was delayed for several hours while the U.S. Supreme Court considered his appeal. He had claimed that he was denied treaty-guaranteed help from the Mexican Consulate when he was arrested.

The Supreme Court denied the appeal 5-4. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that to permit the execution would place the United States “in violation of international law and breaks our treaty promises.”

Source:  Dallas News

More from CNN:

The International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that the United States had violated the rights of the prisoners, in part because officials and prosecutors failed to notify their home country, from which the men could have received legal and other assistance. Those judges ordered the United States to provide “review and reconsideration” of the convictions and sentences of the Mexican prisoners.

The world court again last month ordered the United States to do everything within its authority to stop Medellin’s execution until his case could be further reviewed.

Based in The Hague, Netherlands, the International Court of Justice resolves disputes between nations over treaty obligations. The United States is a signatory to the 1963 Vienna Convention, which lays out rights of people detained in other nations. The appeal the Supreme Court ruled on in March turned on what role each branch of government plays to give force to international treaty obligations.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for a 6-3 majority that the international court’s judgments cannot be forced upon individual states. The president also cannot “establish binding rules of decision that pre-empt contrary state law,” he said, and the treaty itself does not specifically require states to remedy any treaty violations.

The chief justice added that the international court “is not domestic law,” thereby restricting the president’s power over states. “The executive’s narrow and strictly limited authority to settle international claims disputes pursuant to an executive agreement cannot stretch so far as to support the current presidential memorandum” that would force Texas to conduct a new state trial, he wrote.

The Mexican government filed an appeal with the international court against the United States in January 2003, alleging violations of international law. Medellin filed his own federal and state appeals based on similar complaints, as well as a claim of ineffective counsel. Medellin has the support of the European Union and several international human rights groups.

Bush said he disagreed with the international court’s conclusions, but agreed to comply with them. In a February 28, 2005, executive order, he said, “The United States will discharge its international obligations … by having state courts give effect to the decision in accordance with general principles of comity in cases filed by the 51 Mexican nationals addressed in that decision.”

The Bush White House typically backs states in their power to carry out executions, but Justice Department officials said that in these instances, the president’s power to conduct foreign policy outweighed states’ interests.

From Fox News:

Medellin’s execution, the fifth this year in the nation’s busiest capital punishment state, attracted international attention after he raised claims he wasn’t allowed to consult the Mexican consulate for legal help following his arrest. State officials say he didn’t ask to do so until well after he was convicted of capital murder.

Medellin, 33, was condemned for participating in the 1993 gang rape, beating and strangling of Elizabeth Pena, 16, and Jennifer Ertman, 14. He and five fellow gang members attacked the Houston girls as they were walking home on a June night, raped and tortured them for an hour, then kicked and stomped them before using a belt and shoelaces to strangle them.

Their remains were found four days later. By then, Medellin already had bragged to friends about the killings.

…..Gov. Rick Perry, Texas courts and the Texas attorney general’s office all said the execution should go forward and that Medellin has had multiple legal reviews. State officials noted Medellin never invoked his consular rights under the Vienna Convention until some four years after he was convicted.

It is interesting how many stories one has to wade through to try to get the basic facts in the case. I suppose it all depends on what the ideology of the organization is.

For example, the first story quotes the minority opinion on the Supreme Court about violating international law. The CNN story (surprisingly) cited the majority opinion “the international court’s judgments cannot be forced upon individual states. The president also cannot “establish binding rules of decision that pre-empt contrary state law,” he said, and the treaty itself does not specifically require states to remedy any treaty violations.” The Fox story brought out that there really wasn’t any question of his guilt as he had boasted about the murders to his friends. There was never any question of an unfair trial and, as the Governor pointed out, he had already had multiple reviews of his case.

My view of the matter is that of an ambitious organization trying very, very hard to expand their influence into American domestic matters and this should have been rebuffed immediately by the President. Failing that, the governor of Texas did the job.

I would like to see the countries around the world that have citizens sneak over here and behave badly be charged for their citizen’s legal fees, the cost to maintain that badly behaving citizen in jail or prison, and then reimburse the U.S. for the cost of their ticket home.

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