Quick Law-Psyc Takes on the News

Jackson Manslaughter Trial

The manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, personal physician to the late Michael Jackson, is underway in L.A.  So far, we’ve heard opening arguments from both sides followed by testimony from the first few prosecution witnesses interspersed with some video and audio recordings of Jackson in the days leading up to his death.  So far, the prosecution has essentially been attempting to show that even a casual untrained observer, let alone a physician, should’ve seen that Jackson was a man in real danger.  (By the way, I think we’re seeing that Murray wasn’t the only negligent, possibly complicit, physician — as I’ve opined from the very beginning, it appears to me that Jackson’s plastic surgeon also continued to cater to Jackson’s requests for various “treatments” after the requested “treatments” had clearly become contra-indicated.)  The defense so far has appeared somewhat disorganized, but then again, Jose Baez successfully defended Casey Anthony, so…stay tuned.

Knox Murder Appeal

Meanwhile, an Italian appeals court is set to deliberate the fate of American Amanda Knox, who was convicted of participating in the murder of her British roommate but who has appealed her conviction based on alleged flaws in the Italian cops’ investigation.  As I’ve said consistently, there was enough behavioral evidence to convince me that Knox belonged behind bars even if the Italian cops did botch DNA tests on the murder weapon, and here’s perhaps the best example.  After Knox was arrested, she accused an innocent man of committing the murder.  He had air-tight proof, however, that he was nowhere near the murder scene at the time of the murder.  In my opinion, anyone who would intentionally falsely accuse another person of a crime should be locked up for at least as long as the innocent person could’ve been locked up if the false accuser had been successful in the attempted frame-up.  Knox’s verdict could come anytime, so stay tuned.

R.C. Terrorism Plot Foiled

My belief about giving false accusers punishment commensurate with their false accusations is kind of like my belief that a person who tries but fails to set off a bomb should be punished as if the bomb had gone off as intended, i.e. punished as if numerous people had been killed, not just endangered — why give a would-be murderer a break for being incompetent?  Speaking of that very situation, an apparent jihadist born, raised, and trained in physics here in the U.S. has been taken into federal custody for allegedly plotting to bomb the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon using remote-controlled airplanes packed with explosives.  This guy appears to embody precisely the profile that I wrote about back on 9/11/11, the “lone-wolf” terrorist who’s inspired by Al Qaeda but not connected, directed, or supported much, if at all, by that organization.  Due to their operational independence, these guys can be tough to detect, so it’s thanks to some terrific law enforcement work that this one didn’t get far enough for the safety of our government workers and buildings to have depended upon his also exhibiting the relative incompetence that we’ve fortunately also seen among individual would-be bombers.  The sobering truth, though, is that others like this guy are out there, and despite our continued vigilance, with enough attempts, there’s an ever-increasing statistical danger that even incompetent people will eventually have a success — after all, even a broken clock is right twice a day — which is why it’s so critically important that if we see something, we say something.

Mysterious Murders in Indiana

This doesn’t sound like “terrorism,” but five people are dead in Indiana, and authorities there are saying that at least one armed and very dangerous suspect is on the loose.  The victims are four members of a family and a neighbor, who very well may have just been in a very wrong place at a very wrong time.  A four-year-old girl was the only surviving member of the murdered family.  She was found wandering in the vicinity of the home, which is how the authorities ended up at the scene to make the tragic and gruesome discovery.  So I suppose, if you consider the effect on this poor little girl, this murder spree was “terrorism,” just not in the sense that we’ve come to use that word.

Connecticut Home Invasion Trial Drags On

On a similar topic, the trial of the second defendant in that horrific Connecticut home invasion case continues with one piece of gruesome prosecution evidence after the other and no real defense.  Once all of the gut-wrenching evidence has been presented, I predict a second death penalty verdict in this case in fairly short order.

Absurdity in Arabia

Shifting overseas for a moment, they’re getting “progressive” in Saudi Arabia.  How?  The king there has announced that he’s going to allow women to start voting, even holding some public offices.  The king has even gone so far as to commute the lashing sentence — that’s right, she was going to be whipped — for the serious crime of…driving…a car…without a man’s permission.  For now, though, the king has drawn the line at allowing all women in the country to drive, let alone travel outside of the country, without accompaniment or at least permission from a male “guardian.”  Now hopefully it’s obvious to anyone reading this that despite this recent “progress,” the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia is absurdly backward, but that’s not the only reason I’m pointing it out.  I’m pointing it out also because there are those here in our country (see the next story below for an example) who think that we should actually consult the United Nations, made up in large part of countries like Saudi Arabia, when we’re deciding whether and how to take military action in our own national interests/defense.  That’s insane.  Consulting free, civilized, capitalistic allies makes sense.  Consulting people who don’t think women should be able to drive cars without permission (or even people who just still think that monarchies are the right way to govern nations), on the other hand, is a little bit like visiting your local jail and asking the prisoners how they think you should live your life.

“American” Moron Back from Iran

And while I’m in this area, one of three American idiots who went hiking along the Iranian border, got arrested by the Iranians and charged with spying for the U.S., was held in an Iranian prison for months, and finally got released last week, after tireless efforts by the U.S. State Department, reportedly had the moronic audacity to say afterward that he hoped his release would lead to the releases of other “political prisoners in Iran and in the U.S.”  Okay, if this pathetic excuse for an American really thinks that the U.S. and Iran are equally unjust, then I say let’s do him a favor and let him find a new home, perhaps another one of the many “progressive” “republics” in the Middle East.

Casey Anthony’s Restitution Raised 

Back in the U.S., Florida specifically, let’s hear it for the judge in the Casey Anthony case — he sounds like he’s been listening to me!  Why?  Because he has concurred with me that the $100,000 which he originally ordered Anthony to pay back to the law enforcement agencies that investigated her bogus kidnapping claims was not enough.  He has since more than doubled the restitution order to $217,000!

Powell Children in Maternal Grandparents’ Custody

The children of that missing Utah mother of two who disappeared while her husband, the only person of interest in the case thus far, supposedly was camping with the toddlers in freezing temperatures on a work night will remain in the custody of the maternal grandparents for the time being.  After the paternal grandfather, in whose home they had been living, was arrested on child pornography charges, a judge ruled that the paternal home was not suitable for children.  Sounds to me like another judge got it right — with a grandfather alleged to be a pedophile, and a father who apparently may have both participated in the child porn viewing and murdered their mother, it sounds like these are kids in serious need of some safety and stability.  Hopefully the maternal grandparents can provide that.

Loughner’s Confinement and Medication Continued

Another judge, this one federal, apparently also got it right in ruling, once again, that federal corrections psychiatrists can continue to hold and even force-medicate Jared Loughner, the defendant charged with the Arizona shooting rampage that killed several and wounded several, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, back in January.  He’s supposedly “incompetent” to stand trial these days, but the clinicians involved believe that he could get competent if he wanted to, and I bet they’re right.

Health Care Question on a “Fast Track” to the Supreme Court

Speaking of judges, it looks like the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will make a final ruling on the constitutionality of the President’s health care reform legislation next summer, right in the middle of the upcoming presidential campaign season.  As I’ve said consistently, I think that the “individual mandate” (the general requirement that every adult American must obtain health insurance coverage one way or another) upon which the legislation hinges is unconstitutional.  Beyond that, though, I think there are psychological reasons why the mandate is the wrong approach to health care reform.  As I’ve said, we don’t need the government to mandate that we buy toilet paper, because when you really need something, and it’s really hard to get your fellow Americans to buy it for you if you don’t buy it for yourself, the need is generally enough to motivate you to buy it for yourself if you possibly can.  Likewise, if we made it harder, rather than easier, for people to drop their uninsured medical bills in the laps of their fellow American taxpayers, then the need for insurance would be the mandate for many currently-uninsured people.

A Reason to Feel Good About Coffee

And finally, study this:  It seems like one group or another has been trying to demonize coffee for one reason or another for my entire life, but a new large-study that followed 50,000 women over a ten-year period found that daily coffee consumption actually correlated negatively with depression, i.e. the women who drank coffee on a daily basis were significantly less likely to become clinically depressed.  So, maybe there’s a reason, at least for women, to feel good about coffee after all.  My coffee-drinking girlfriend will be happy to hear this, and even though I’m a guy, I think I’ll go brew myself a cup right now too.  Have a happy day.

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