Category Archives: Legal

Senator sues God

It had to happen eventually.

Nebraska state Senator Ernie Chambers sued God last week. Angered by another lawsuit he considers frivolous, Chambers says he’s trying to make the point that anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody.

Chambers says in his lawsuit that God has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents, inspired fear and caused “widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants.”

The Omaha senator, who skips morning prayers during the legislative session and often criticizes Christians, also says God has caused “fearsome floods … horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes.”

He’s seeking a permanent injunction against the Almighty.

The lawsuit that sparked this one was filed against a judge who barred words such as “rape” and “victim” from a sexual assault trial. The accuser felt this violated her right to free speech. Chambers considered it a frivolous suit because the Supreme Court had already considered the case. A district judge has already voiced doubts that the accuser’s case has a legal basis.

Still, Chambers has some balls going up against God. He’s the first person I’m aware of who did so in real life. But I guess if you’re going to make a statement you might as well aim for the biggest target you can think of.

Sharif's short stay

Nawaz Sharif arrived back in Pakistan promising to challenge Pervez Musharaff. He was arrested on corruption charges and deported back to Saudi Arabia.

His stay in his native country, from which the former prime minister was ousted in the Musharaff coup eight years ago, lasted four hours. Knowing his return could spark trouble, Pakistani authorities detained more than 2,000 people the day before.

Sharif had promised to bring “a final push to the crumbling dictatorship” but it would appear said dictatorship will stay in place for some time to come. I’m not at all surprised by his failure to get past the airport. Allowing him out could have been the final nail in Musharraf’s coffin — an ex-leader of high standing openly campaigning against him. There are opposition groups within Pakistan but Sharif would at least have had the advantage of previously running the country (twice).

The move could backfire on Musharraf. Sharif’s supporters knew he was there and were charged by police. This, combined with their figurehead’s deportation, will only make the general/president even more unpopular.

What I fear is that this increasing unpopularity will foster a more brutal military regime. As I’ve noted in the past, Musharraf has been reaching out to opposition politicians in a bid to shore up his rule. If he is unsuccessful —  and this could either be failure to come to an agreement or undermining a deal by reneging on a promise to leave the army — he may have to take drastic steps to maintain power.


There are times when I’d love to absolutely dissect rubbish journalism in various newspapers, but that kind of thing would get me fired so I hold back. However, in this one instance I will point you to a headline that troubles me. If you have any experience in the media you’ll understand.

UPDATE: Since this post was written the headline was changed from a wholly inaccurate, libelous one to something safer.

Pervy priests

The Catholic Church in San Diego is to pay 144 clerical sex abuse victims a total of $198m (€143m).

This is the second biggest settlement of its kind in US history, the largest being the $660m the LA diocese agreed with 500 victims.

San Diego Bishop Robert Brom said he hoped the settlement would give closure:

The diocese has always been committed to resolving this litigation in a way that fairly compensates these victims of abuse and would still preserve the ongoing ministries and programs of the church.

We pray that this settlement will bring some closure and healing to the years of suffering experience by these victims.

The San Diego diocese filed for bankruptcy protection so it could meet the required compensation. It and four other dioceses filed in the face of civil lawsuits — although a judge had threatened to throw out San Diego’s protection if it didn’t agree sums with the victims.

The settlement comes after four years of talks.

Victims as quoted by the Associated Press:

“We shouldn’t have had to go through all this,” Betty Schneider, 62, of Temecula, told reporters in front of the federal courthouse. She said she was molested as a 10-year-old member of her church choir.

“I have grandkids the same age I was, and I hope all this helps kids to be protected better than we were protected,” she said.

Michael Bang of Atlanta said no settlement could be considered fair.

“They knew all along that I’d been molested, so to put me through this is unconscionable,” he said.

A court will decide exactly how much each person receives, but the average payout will be $1.3m. I really don’t think that’s enough, do you?

What would Jesus do?

Malaysia has banned a Tamil-language paper for one month for printing a picture of Jesus with a cigarette in one hand and a can of beer in the other.

Makkal Osai printed the caricature last Tuesday on its front page with a caption quoting Christ as saying: “If someone repents for his mistakes, then heaven awaits them.”


The paper’s editor apologised, saying the caricature had been taken from the internet, but a local politician filed a police report, calling it a “threat to national harmony”.


Periasamy said the graphic artist who downloaded the picture of Jesus had overlooked the fact that the picture had been altered to insert a cigarette in one hand and another object, possibly a can, in the other.


The artist had since been suspended, he said.

Most church groups were, understandably enough, a bit miffed by this. However, they accept apologies from the paper.

Christians make up about 9% of Malaysia’s population, with 60% Muslim, 19% Buddhist and 6% Hindu. The government previously closed two publications for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad (you no doubt remember the controversy over those Danish cartoons). Officials from the largely Hindu Malaysian Indian Congress, which forms part of the government, have demanded Makkal Osai’s editor be sacked and the paper closed.

I can’t find the image the paper used, but a trawl through the interweb has thrown up several along the same lines. Do these pictures offend you?





Interesting stories I’ve read in the past few hours (Una does this style of post more regularly and far better than I): Ancient Egyptian may have had the world’s first prosthetic toe. (With pic!)

San Francisco Chronicle: Hackers crack all models of electronic voting machine in California. More reasons the system will never get going in Ireland. Michael Moore served with a subpoena while backstage at the Jay Leno show. Architect Shigeru Ban builds a bridge out of cardboard tubes. It’s in France and can hold the weight of 20 people at any given time.

Catholicgauze: The future of mapmaking. Points to two excellent articles on how customised dynamic maps are transforming cartography.

Associated Press: YouTube’s system to stop copyright-infringing videos.

Reuters: Dumbass shoplifter leaves address with the shop assistant.