Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Amateur Proctologists

Two white ex-Milwaukee police officers have been given $300 fines for their roles in a sordid string of illegal anal cavity probes inflicted on male suspects, all of whom were black.

Six months after ringleader Michael Vagnini was sentenced to just 26 months in prison for the crimes, Jeffrey Dollhopf and Brian Kozelek were given the small fine and ordered to perform 100 hours and 20 hours respectively of community service.

A fourth officer, Jacob Knight, took a plea deal in which he agreed to resign from the department and was sentenced to 20 days in jail, 60 hours of community service and a $300 fine.

The assaults happened over two years, and the stories are strikingly similar: The men allege that Vagnini stopped them, placed his hand down their pants and probed their anus or shifted their genitals, saying he was looking for drugs.

One victim said that an officer put a gun to his head while Vagnini administered a choke hold, touched his scrotum and put his fingers in his anus. Another man was probed so violently that he bled.

Wisconsin law specifically prohibits police officers from administering cavity searches. Only medical professionals may do so, and only when authorized by a warrant.  Vagnini even conducted the illegal search a 15-year-old boy, touching his anus and genitals during a traffic stop in December of 2011.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Telling It Like It Is

A series of emails between recently deceased hedge-fund manager Robert W. Wilson and Bill Gates revealed Gates' failed attempt to get Wilson to join the "Giving Pledge" effort championed by the Microsoft billionaire. 

Giving Pledge is a campaign started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to convince billionaires to commit to giving at least half of their fortunes to charity in their wills.  Wilson (who committed suicide last weekend, after giving away his final millions) told Gates that the pledge is essentially “worthless” and that he wanted to “stay far away” from his effort.  

Mr. Gates, I decided more than ten years ago to try to give away 70% of my net worth and have already given away one-half billion dollars. (I’ve never been a Forbes 400) So I really don’t have to take the pledge.

Your “Giving Pledge” has a loophole that renders it practically worthless, namely permitting pledgees to simply name charities in their wills. I have found that most billionaires or near billionaires hate giving large sums of money away while alive and instead set up family-controlled foundations to do it for them after death. And these foundations become, more often than not, bureaucracy-ridden sluggards. These rich are delighted to toss off a few million a year in order to remain socially acceptable. But that’s it.  I’m going to stay far away from your effort. But thanks for thinking of me.

The Microsoft founder was not to be so easily deterred, responding (in part):

What you are doing is fantastic. You are giving a high percentage and doing it in a very efficient way to causes you have thought deeply about. 

One of our goals with the Giving Pledge is to make it more common for people to consider their philanthropic plans at a much younger age. A number of people we have talked to about the pledge have said that they are thinking through their plans now instead of waiting because of the pledge.

But Wilson slam-dunks Gates with this on-the-money rebuttal:

Mr. Gates, thanks much for your email. But as my previous email indicated, I wouldn’t have much fun or add much value to this group. You, being a liberal, think you can change people more than I think.

But let me make one comment. When I talk to young people who seem destined for great success, I tell them to forget about charities and giving. Concentrate on your family and getting rich—which I found to be very hard work.  I and the world at large are very glad you were more interested in computer software than the underprivileged when you were young.  Don’t forget that those who don’t make money never become philanthropists.  When rich people reach 50 and are beginning to slow down is the time to begin engaging them in philanthropy.

I’d greatly appreciate just leaving it at that.

Monday, December 23, 2013

All That Is Needed To Be Said

“I don’t know how much lower we can go when you see Barbara Walters sitting with those toothless morons. Why should we even know about them? Why should we be intrigued by them? I’m not sure where we are headed.”

 -- Sandra Bernhard on the octogenarian newswoman's inclusion of the cast of "Duck Dynasty" on her "Most Fascinating People of 2013" special.

Friday, December 13, 2013

God Rest Ye Harried Gentlemen

A man who was fed up with his girlfriend's incessant Christmas shopping responded to her request for one more look around a mall shoe store by leaping seven floors to his death.

The 38-year-old, identified as Tao Hsiao, had been shopping with his girlfriend at the Golden Eagle International Shopping Center in Xuzhou, China, when she asked to check out one last shoe store.

Having been inside the mall for five hours, Tao had reached his limit, and reportedly insisted that they leave immediately. "He told her she already had enough shoes, more shoes that she could wear in a lifetime and it was pointless buying any more," according to an eyewitness. "She started shouting at him accusing him of being a skinflint and of spoiling Christmas, it was a really heated argument."

Surveillance footage shows Tao angrily hurling the shopping bags and jumping over the railing onto the cosmetics section below.

A spokesman for the shopping center says no one below was injured in December 7 incident, and that the man died instantly upon impact.  "This is a tragic incident, but this time of year can be very stressful for many people," the spokesman said.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Leader Is Lost

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

-- Nelson Mandela


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