Daily Archives: April 27, 2014

News you can use: ordinary homeowner’s insurance won’t cover an exploding corpse


Oh just one more, exquisitely thin biscuit, Mr. Creosote - we're insured, I think

Oh just one more, exquisitely thin biscuit, Mr. Creosote – we’re insured, I think

Neighbor’s corpse ruins her apartment but court rules she has no coverage

A woman whose apartment was damaged when her neighbor’s corpse exploded in the unit above hers has been ordered to pay for her own repairs.

Judy Rodrigo lost her nearly six-year legal battle with her insurer on Wednesday, with the Palm Beach County court in Florida ruling that her insurance policy didn’t cover damage caused by bodily explosions.

Rodrigo claimed in her suit that Keystone Condominium Association staff failed to discover the elderly woman’s body for two weeks in 2008, causing it to burst.

By the time maintenance workers checked on the upstairs neighbor, who lived alone, her remains were being eaten by her pet dog.

Even though her apartment was gutted, Rodrigo said the smell never left.

When she asked State Farm, the insurer, to pay out the personal property damage coverage, they refused.

They claimed a decomposing body was not a “peril” that they covered. The appeals court agreed.

“The plain meaning of the term ‘explosion’ does not include a decomposing body’s cells explosively expanding, causing leakage of bodily fluids,” they court stated.

My advice if you’re worried about this sort of thing is to try Chubb. Besides their eponymous name, they offer an extensive list of coverages.


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No, the headline should read, “How seven minutes saved taxpayers from a multi-million-dollar fraud”

Take the slow route to the morgue

Take the slow route to the morgue

How seven minutes could cost NY trooper’s widow millions

On Dec. 7, 2009, New York State Police narcotics investigator Richard O’Brien fell off a ladder while fixing his mother’s roof.

He lived for only three more hours after the fall — but in that brief time, fellow troopers tried to have him retired on disability.

Now, Stephanie O’Brien, his widow, is fighting in court, saying a faulty fax machine and a measly seven minutes mean she and the couple’s daughter would get a $342,000 death payout — rather than lifetime benefits that could total in the millions.

Fellow troopers rushed to the emergency room at St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh, where O’Brien, 42, lay mortally injured and unconscious following his off-duty repair accident at 3:34 p.m. They immediately asked State Police Headquarters in Albany to send retirement forms — though it took the ER’s faulty fax machine several tries to receive them, causing the first in a series of delays.

The troopers helped O’Brien’s wife fill them out.

The form she signed checked off a payment option in which Richard would get 75 percent of his $90,000 salary for life. If he died, his beneficiary, Stephanie, would receive the same $67,500-a-year for life.

It then took 10 tries — an 18-minute delay — to fax the papers back to a State Police supervisor, who finally received them at 6:19 p.m.The supervisor took 11 minutes to review the application and formally file it by fax to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli at 6:31 p.m.

Meanwhile, O’Brien had died at 6:24 p.m.

At that point, the 14-year police veteran became ineligible for retirement. The state Comptroller’s Office offered Stephanie a death benefit — three times O’Brien’s last 12 months of pay. But the disability benefits could have amounted to much more — $3.3 million if Stephanie, now 36, lives to age 86.

Of course it’s a sad story, and it’s understandable that his fellow cops would want to help his widow and child, but in any other circumstance this would be fraud, and prosecutors would be involved. Unless, of course, it happened in Greenwich’s civil service ranks, where this goes on all the time.


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Another Columbine averted


Lewiston death gun

Lewiston death gun

Lewiston ME: Student suspended for ten days after bringing yellow “look-alike” squirt gun to school. 

“Some other schools would have expelled him,” School Superintendent Bill Webster said, “but we look at all the factors.”

What a guy, what an educator.



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So quit, already


I want to be respected for my mind

I want to be respected for my mind

Buffalo Bills cheerleaders feel underpaid and degraded, so they sue. Here’s how one plaintiff explains her plight:

I have always been a huge Buffalo Bills fan and it was always a dream of mine, since I was a little girl, to be a Buffalo Jill. I have danced my entire life and have also been a Zumba instructor for the past six years, so this was a huge accomplishment for me. What I had hoped was that it would open many doors, for this to be an experience of a lifetime.

But soon after joining I realized that it wasn’t what I expected — basically when I first saw the contract.

There were things in there that made you think, “Really?” Do they really think we don’t know this stuff? Just getting down to ridiculous detail about how we needed to act and talk and walk and dress.

So that’s when you walk out, girl. When I was 16 I decided to flip burgers at minimum wage and applied at MacDonald’s. As I sat in the back filling out an employment form I watched a kid report in and don a paper hat with “Trainee” emblazoned on it. Although that looked discouraging, I figured I could put up with the indignity for week or so, but then another kid came in, clearly past the trainee period, and his hat said “Hot Apple Pie”. I handed the uncompleted application to the manager and left to seek other employment.

Point is, no one has to be a Buffalo Tit Twitcher; it’s a part-time job, which I presume some girls want because they get to flounce around in front of crowds and maybe have a chance to date a tight end. Fine – but they don’t need the paltry wages, and they certainly don’t need the job. If they feel the position with its rules is beneath their dignity then good for them – I’m with them all the way, but the answer is, just don’t take the job to begin with or quit after you do.

It’s a free country.


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Who would hire a Dartmouth graduate?

Taylor Catchcart models his implanted sensitivity antennae

Taylor Cathcart models his implanted sensitivity antennae

In the race to the bottom for the title of the Laughingstock of the Ivies, Dartmouth has leapt ahead. It’s just cancelled a fund raiser because of the complaint of a single”Mexican born,woman [sic] of color”. 

This time, the fracas is over a fundraiser for cardiac care that the Phi Delta Alpha fraternity and the Alpha Phi sorority had planned to jointly sponsor, reports Campus Reform.

Problems arose because a single student, junior Daniela Hernandez, was offended by the party’s theme of “Phiesta.”

As a result, the soiree, which was scheduled for Saturday, has been canceled by the presidents of the respective Greek organizations.

Had the party happened, it would have included a live band as well as virgin piña coladas and strawberry daiquiris. There would also have been burritos, chips and salsa, and guacamole.

The cash raised at the event would have gone to benefit cardiac treatments.

However, Hernandez’s deep offense about racial insensitivity was enough to call it off.

The self-proclaimed “Mexican-born, United-States-raised, first-generation woman of color” declared in an angry email that “there are various problematic structures and ideologies regarding a Cinco de Mayo-inspired event,” according to Campus Reform.

Phi Delt president Taylor Cathcart explained why the Greek organizations folded.

“We felt that the possibility of offending even one member of the Dartmouth community was not worth the potential benefits of having the fundraiser,” he said.

Mr. Cathcart and his peers are clearly unsuitable for any employment except as human resources administrators, if they can be rolled so easily by a single feisty latina. They’re paralyzed by political correctness, shamed by their maleness, and will be soft, defenseless prey for the cynical and politically correct – the younger generation of people like myself, in other words. Too bad these kids weren’t around back in the day, because I’d be a rich man now.


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We don’t want their oil, but we’ll export our crazy legal system to them, gratis


Monkey in the Middle

Monkey in the Middle

Canadian driver sues parents of the boy she ran over for emotional trauma.

A woman who hit three teenage boys on bikes while driving, killing one and injuring the other two, is suing the dead teen for the emotional trauma she suffered.

Mother-of-three Sharlene Simon, 42, is also suing the other two boys and the dead boy’s family for $1.35 million in damages due to her psychological suffering, including depression, anxiety, irritability and post-traumatic stress.

The claim follows the accident which killed 17-year-old Brandon Majewski when Simon struck him from behind in her SUV as he rode along the Innisfil Beach Road on Oct. 28, 2012 about 1:30 a.m.

Majewski’s friend Richard McLean, 16, was seriously injured in the crash, breaking multiple bones including his pelvis. Another friend, 16-year-old Jake Roberts, was knocked off his bike but luckily escaped with only scratches.

In a statement of claim filed in a Canadian court, Simon blames the boys for negligence, the Toronto Sun reports.

“They did not apply their brakes properly,” the claim states. “They were incompetent bicyclists.”

Even the family’s lawyer is in shock.

“In all of my years as a lawyer, I have never seen anyone ever sue a child that they killed,” Barrie lawyer Brian Cameron said. “It’s beyond the pale. I just couldn’t bring myself to tell them on the phone.”

Oh Canada, you don’t know what you’re in for.


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And we’re doing this to ourselves

The enemy gathers

The enemy gathers

In a land that could be awash in abundant energy, this:

LA Times: electricity costs soar, likely permanently.

As temperatures plunged to 16 below zero in Chicago in early January and set record lows across the eastern U.S., electrical system managers implored the public to turn off stoves, dryers and even lights or risk blackouts.

A fifth of all power-generating capacity in a grid serving 60 million people went suddenly offline, as coal piles froze, sensitive electrical equipment went haywire and utility operators had trouble finding enough natural gas to keep power plants running. The wholesale price of electricity skyrocketed to nearly $2 per kilowatt hour, more than 40 times the normal rate. The price hikes cascaded quickly down to consumers. Robert Thompson, who lives in the suburbs of Allentown, Pa., got a $1,250 bill for January.

The electrical system’s duress was a direct result of the polar vortex, the cold air mass that settled over the nation. But it exposed a more fundamental problem. There is a growing fragility in the U.S. electricity system, experts warn, the result of the shutdown of coal-fired plants, reductions in nuclear power, a shift to more expensive renewable energy and natural gas pipeline constraints. The result is likely to be future price shocks. And they may not be temporary.

One recent study predicts the cost of electricity in California alone could jump 47% over the next 16 years, in part because of the state’s shift toward more expensive renewable energy.

“We are now in an era of rising electricity prices,” said Philip Moeller, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, who said the steady reduction in generating capacity across the nation means that prices are headed up. “If you take enough supply out of the system, the price is going to increase.”

In fact, the price of electricity has already been rising over the last decade, jumping by double digits in many states, even after accounting for inflation. In California, residential electricity prices shot up 30% between 2006 and 2012, adjusted for inflation, according to Energy Department figures. Experts in the state’s energy markets project the price could jump an additional 47% over the next 15 years.

The problems confronting the electricity system are the result of a wide range of forces: new federal regulations on toxic emissions, rules on greenhouse gases, state mandates for renewable power, technical problems at nuclear power plants and unpredictable price trends for natural gas. Even cheap hydro power is declining in some areas, particularly California, owing to the long-lasting drought.

“Everywhere you turn, there are proposals and regulations to make prices go higher,” said Daniel Kish, senior vice president at the Institute for Energy Research. “The trend line is up, up, up. We are going into uncharted territory.”

New emissions rules on mercury, acid gases and other toxics by the Environmental Protection Agency are expected to result in significant losses of the nation’s coal-generated power, historically the largest and cheapest source of electricity. Already, two dozen coal generating units across the country are scheduled for decommissioning. When the regulations go into effect next year, 60 gigawatts of capacity — equivalent to the output of 60 nuclear reactors — will be taken out of the system, according to Energy Department estimates.

Moeller, the federal energy commissioner, warns that these rapid changes are eroding the system’s ability to handle unexpected upsets, such as the polar vortex, and could result in brownouts or even blackouts in some regions as early as next year. He doesn’t argue against the changes, but believes they are being phased in too quickly.

At the same time, 30 states have mandates for renewable energy that will require the use of more expensive wind and solar energy. Since those sources depend on the weather, they require backup generation — a hidden factor that can add significantly to the overall cost to consumers.

Nowhere are the forces more in play than in California, which has the nation’s most aggressive mandate for renewable power. Major utilities must obtain 33% of their power from renewable sources by 2020, not counting low-cost hydropower from giant dams in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

But San Francisco-based Energy + Environmental Economics, a respected consultant, has projected that the cost of California’s electricity is likely to increase 47% over the next 16 years, adjusted for inflation, in part because of the renewable power mandate and heavy investments in transmission lines.

The mandate is just one market force. California has all but phased out coal-generated electricity. The state lost the output of San Onofre’s two nuclear reactors and is facing the shutdown of 19 gas-fired power plants along the coast because of new state-imposed ocean water rules by 2020.

“Our rates are increasing because of all of these changes that are occurring and will continue to occur as far out as we can see,” said Phil Leiber, chief financial officer of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. “Renewable power has merit, but unfortunately it is more costly and is one of the drivers of our rates.”

The push to wean California off fossil fuels for electricity could cause a consumer backlash as the price for doing so becomes increasingly apparent, warns Alex Leupp, an executive with the Northern California Power Agency, a nonprofit that generates low-cost power for 15 agencies across the state. The nonprofit was formed decades ago during a rebellion against the PUC and the high prices that resulted from its regulations.

“If power gets too expensive, there will be a revolt,” Leupp said. “If the state pushes too fast on renewables before the technology is viable, it could set back the environmental goals we all believe in at the end of the day.”

We can have cheap energy, jobs and posterity, or we can have a Green-Mandated new world of shortage and want. Liberals have voted for the latter.


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H. L. Mencken: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”


Do not enter

Do not enter

Greens take over Brighton; hilarity ensues

With the sun shining down on a shimmering sea, children playing on the beach and families thronging its cafes and boutiques, Brighton seems the perfect postcard portrayal of English serenity. Strolling down the cheerful promenade, the resort’s celebrated blend of raffish charm and Regency elegance appear little changed over the years. It is difficult to imagine this is the home of a civic revolution. Yet this is the greenest city in Britain, the launchpad for an attempt to reshape the nation’s political landscape – and the result is a dismal farce.

Starting with just one councillor in 1996, the Green Party’s rise to power in Brighton has been unprecedented and rapid. In 2010  there was the election of Caroline Lucas as the MP for Brighton Pavilion – the party’s first Westminster seat – and then came the capture of the city council just a year later. A clever mix of protest, pavement politics and promises of change proved popular with residents, many of them families forced from London by soaring house prices, students, or those attracted by the city’s liberal approach to life.

In 2011, the Greens ousted the Conservatives to become the largest group on the council with 23 seats. According to their leader Jason Kitcat, this was to be the future of British politics. It is hard to share his optimism. The party’s cuddly combination of middle-class idealism and municipal inexperience has hit the rocks of political reality as it grapples with a fast-growing city of 275,000 people in tough economic times.

‘Winning was the worst thing possible for them,’ said one opposition councillor privately. ‘You can see they still want to be popular the whole time and dislike responsibility.’ The Green honeymoon was short-lived. Take the surreal story of an elderly elm tree. First the Greens voted to upgrade a roundabout in the city called Seven Dials, but then found that there were protests to protect the 170-year-old tree beside the site. Eco-warriors camped out in the branches and pinned poems to the trunk. The national media showed an interest. So the Greens switched sides, joined the campaign to spare the 60 ft elm from the chop and then spent a small fortune altering their own traffic scheme.

Then there was its manifesto pledge for ‘Meat-free Mondays’, which would have banned bacon rolls and beef pies from council-run staff canteens. It led to complaints from manual workers and the proposal was ditched. Residents were similarly  surprised at Green plans to introduce livestock to one of the main routes into the city  as part of a ‘speed reduction package’. The scheme was deferred after protests.

There have been times when it seemed that the business of town hall administration was descending into absurdity on a daily basis. Brighton was declared a ‘no fracking zone’, even though there is no prospect of shale gas drilling in the city. Needless to say,  Green councillors have flocked to anti-fracking protests in nearby Balcombe, where Caroline Lucas was among dozens arrested last summer. She was cleared of public order charges last week. At last month’s council meeting,  a Green member accused a former Tory leader of wearing a swastika. She wasn’t. It turned out to be a traditional Irish emblem on her necklace.

Yet beyond the comedy lie serious consequences. After three years of political mismanagement, Brighton’s citizens face soaring charges for council services and increasingly scruffy streets. Yesterday, the Greens were under fresh attack after part of the seafront collapsed into a pub below. Even recycling levels have fallen to half those achieved by Tory-run Bournemouth.

As for the business community, one boss of a Brighton-based green business who was initially delighted when the party took control of the council told me: ‘Now it’s just embarrassing – they’re making a pig’s ear of everything.



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Even feminist biology can’t trump Darwin



Post mortem selfie

Woman killed when she crashes into a garbage truck while posting on Facebook.

A 32-year-old North Carolina woman is dead after slamming her car head-on into a truck while posting selfies and a Facebook update about how happy she was while listening to a Pharrell song.

Courtney Sanford, of High Point, crossed the center median of a busy road Thursday morning just after making the post, hit a recycling truck and died, police said. Further inspection of her phone revealed pictures posted online only minutes earlier.

The last words Sanford shared with her friends? ‘The happy song makes me HAPPY.’

Authorities said the post, visible only to her friends, was made at 8.33 a.m., the first 911 call received about the crash was one minute later.


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First they politicized climate science, now biology?


Can't we get behind this?

Can’t we all get behind this?

University of Wisconsin – of course – announces new post-doctorate degree program in”Feminist Biology”.

“The program is the first in the nation — and probably the world,” said Janet Hyde, director of the campus Center for Research on Gender & Women, on the university’s website. Dr. Hyde is a professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies who received her Ph.D. in 1972 from the University of California-Berkeley.

The first post-doctoral fellow, Caroline Van Sickle, also responded to Campus Reform’s inquiries about the program, saying via email: “We aren’t doing science well if we ignore the ideas and research of people who aren’t male, white, straight, or rich. […] Feminist science seeks to improve our understanding of the world by including people with different viewpoints. A more inclusive science means an opportunity to make new discoveries.”

The university’s program in feminist biology begins in September.

One of the (many) reasons communist countries lagged behind the west in science was that all research had to be conducted and interpreted according to the rules of Marx and the People’s dictatorship. Now, scientific research is to be judged by the extent to which it includes a gay or poor or “feminist” perspective? I can think of no private sector job that would accord any value to an extra year spent studying biology from a transgender or feminist perspective; on the other hand, it’s easy to envision such a program as a requirement for a government or academic position.

Just saying.


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