Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Beach Boys fan gets bad vibrations

By guest columnist Cleland Thom
God only knows what Beach Boys fan Edward Mierzwa was thinking.

After buying tickets from a kiosk outside Walmart in North Brunswick, Mierzwa got bad vibrations because they were for the ‘outer perimeter’.

Mierzwa sued both Walmart and Ticketmaster, claiming that he got poor seats because there was no Wal-Mart employer available to help him complete the purchase.

However, the judge at the Superior Court of New Jersey said it was the most frivolous case he had ever seen. So much for Fun, fun fun.

Cleland Thom is director of CTJT, who provide specialist journalism courses

Monday, August 25, 2014

New York prisoners living the life of Riley

They may be the most violent murderers in New York but that hasn't stopped them from being waited on hand and foot by prison guards.

An investigation by the New York Post reveals that correction officers in some of the city's jails are reduced to being personal servants to hardened criminals.

Nearly two dozen prisoners get to relax all day, watch TV and play chess in a little-known section of the Manhattan Detention Complex dubbed the “Silence of the Lambs” unit by guards — and the “VIP Room” by the inmates.

The guards are forced to act like waiters because the inmates are not allowed to walk around without officer escorts in the ninth-floor unit, which is officially called “9 South."

And the inmates take full advantage of their situation, demanding that coffee be served to them piping hot — sending it back when it’s lukewarm.

“We’re waiters and maids, basically,” a frustrated guard says.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Judge blasts "knucklehead" juror

By guest columnist Cleland Thom
In UK courts, judges use refined, public school language. Not so in St Louis, Missouri, where a judge recently told a man he was a "knucklehead".

The victim, Kevin Hink, wasn’t the defendant, or even a lawyer. He was a juror, just doing his civic duty in a sexual harassment case presided over by St. Louis circuit judge Timothy Wilson.

Hink and his fellow jurors had to fix damages in a sexual harassment case involving a St. Louis police officer.

The judge said they could award punitive damages, and Hink Googled the term to see who got the dosh. Then he suggested $7m. The information he found on Wiki information was, in fact, wrong.

The defence tried to get the case thrown out because of Hink’s misconduct.

The judge refused, but said: ‘Such knucklehead juror misconduct is in stark defiance of repeated admonitions by this court not to access Google concerning the case.’

Judge Wilson then halved the damages. It’s not clear whether the recipient called him a knucklehead in response.

Cleland Thom is principal of CTJT, who provide a New York tabloid internship in partnership with Manhattan News

Monday, August 18, 2014

Look who's back - squeegee men return to terrorise New York

Before crime-busting Mayor Rudy Giuliani cleaned up New York, the city's motorists were terrorised by squeegee men - determined vagrants who menaced drivers at traffic lights, applying their filthy rags to windscreens.

But just when drivers thought it was save to get back on the roads, the squeegee men are back in New York and they're as annoying as ever.

Maria Berrios, 49. who has lived in Midtown Manhattan for 30 years, is shocked at the return of the squeegee men.

"I hadn’t seen those guys in 20 years,' she said. 'I’m a grandma now — the last time I saw one of them, my kids were in the car."

"When I saw one today,  I was f- -king shocked," she added, noting he hides his squeegee gear and "pretends to direct traffic" whenever cops come by.

But one of the rogue men defended his craft.

"Doing it this way is better than going out and selling drugs, sticking people up," said the man, who wouldn’t give his name.

"I’d rather be doing this than to go back to what I was doing before Giuliani came into office: pimping . . . selling drugs, all that.

"I need to pay rent, and this is the best way to do it."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Diet drink TriVita fined by FDA over misleading ads

By guest columnist Cleland Thom
Has anyone every spiked your drink? It could have been worse. They could have used a cactus.

Dietary supplement company TriVita tried it.

TriVita are based in Arizona, which has a lot of cacti. And they use some of them to produce a ‘prickly pear’ fruit juice. They claimed it could improve breathing, reduce pain, and ease swollen joints.

Customers wrote rave reviews. And the company’s Chief Science Officer even claimed: “Over 200 articles published and archived at the National Institutes of Health demonstrate one thing: the Nopal cactus will reduce inflammation.”

But the Food and Drugs Agency got prickly about it. Especially when they discovered the testimonials were written by TriVita employees.

The FDA prosecuted the company, who agreed to pay customer refunds of $3.5m. They also accepted restrictions on their future advertising claims.

Which you could describe as a thorny problem.

Cleland Thom is principal of CTJT, who provide a New York tabloid internship in partnership with Manhattan News

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pets in space

Want to give your beloved pet a good send-off when he dies? Then why not blast him into space?

A Texas company is offering a unique service for pets by placing a portion of their cremated remains in a capsule and launching it off into space.

Celestis Inc, which has provided memorial space flights for human remains since 1997, will launch its first commercial pet memorial spaceflight in October 2014 with the remains of a blue merle Australian shepherd, named Apollo, the company said.

The pet services start at $995 and include having the pet’s remains flown into space on a commercial flight and returned to the owner.

The space send-off options go up to $12,500, which allows the pet’s remains to be launched into deep space or even to visit the moon.

Memorial service are available before blast off and families can witness most of the launches, depending on location, the company said.

"Our pet service flights are an idea that’s been a long time coming," Celestis Chief Executive Charles Chafer said.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Drunk driver with snake round her neck causes mayhem

Snakes alive! A New York woman who crashed her car into a firehouse with a stolen python wrapped around her neck, faces charges of reckless endangerment and larceny.

Drink driver Sarah Espinosa, 22, from Albany, plowed through the garage door of the New Hyde Park Fire House, damaging two fire engines, the Nassau County Police Department said in a statement.

"Fire personnel who were present at the time of the accident rendered aid to the victim, at which time they discovered a small ball python snake wrapped around the defendant's neck," police said.

Police were not sure if the snake had been strangling Espinosa and caused her to crash, or if her driving was impaired by intoxication.

Espinosa is accused of stealing the snake from a nearby PETCO store before the crash.

The snake has been returned to the pet shop.