Weekly News Nuggets

June 22, 2009

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James von Brunn

James von Brunn, who shot and killed a guard at the National Holocaust Museum, may face some additional charges.  When searching von Brunn’s computer, investigators found child pornography.  For the few of you out there who feel that von Brunn is an otherwise good man who simply had some radical political beliefs that got him into trouble, it’s time to jump off the bandwagon.  This man is not a kindly old grandfather – he is a criminal who derserves to be severely punished. Since von Brunn committed the crime in the District of Columbia, the federal government has jurisdiction.  That means that he could face the death penalty.  However, it is very unlikely that he will be executed.  By the the time that the case goes to trial, a jury renders a verdict, and von Brunn’s appeals have been exhausted, a lot of years are going to pass.  It’s much more likely that the 88 year old man is going to die in custody when his appeals are being heard.

While James von Brunn’s son Erik has offered his condolences to the family of security guard Stephen Johns, saying that “the wrong man died that day”, some von Brunn supporters feel that a conspiracy may have been at work, and that von Brunn might have been set up.  This appears to be rather unlikely.

Air France flight 447

It is beginning to appear that Air France flight 447 broken apart during flight on June 1.  Many of the bodies have had multiple broken bones, which is consistent with falling from a great height.  Very few have shown head injuries, which occur very often during crash landings.  The key question, of course, is WHY tha plan would have broken apart.

Air France is paying the families of victimes approximately $24,500 in initial compensation.  The key word is initial.  Certainly further compensation will be paid at a later date.

Illegal music downloads

A Minnesota woman was founded guilty of illegally downloading 24 songs and was fined $1.9 million by a jury.  The was actually a re-trial, as she was granted a new trial because of an error that was made jury instructions in her first trial.  She was also found guilty in the first trial, although the fine that was assessed by that jury was “just” $220,000.

The fine seems a bit on the high side, since stealing the same 24 songs from Wal-Mart (shoplifting 2 CDs) would be unlikely to draw a fine remotely in the same neighborhood.  I think that the fine will eventually be reduced, but there’s a lesson to be learned here.  Don’t mess around with illegal downloads.  Pay for your music.  The artists deserve to be compensated.  After all, you wouldn’t walk out of your favorite restaurant without paying.

Donte Stallworth

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth reached a plea agreement in his vehicular manslaughter case.  The plea deal calls for Stallworth to spend 30 days in jail (minus 1 day time served and 5 days off for good behavior).  Stallworth was drunk when he hit and killed a pedestrian.

To many people, the penalty seems absurdly light.  I agree that more jail time was warranted.  However, there are several factors that helped Stallworth.  First, it is possible that the victim was not in the crosswalk when he was hit.  However, for the sake of argument, I’ll assume that he was in the crosswalk.  After the accident, Stallworth did all the right things.  He called the cops and cooperated with the investigation.  He expressessed remorse.  He reached a financial agreement with the family of the victim (the family supported the plea deal).  Stallworth was also a first time offender.  Add up all these details, and clearly he is going to end up with less jail time than a repeat offender who flees the scene.

Some have compared Stallworth’s sentence to that of Michael Vick.  Vick’s situation was much different.  This is not simply the case of a man’s life vs. a dog’s life.  Vick engaged in intentional acts of cruelty against animals (whereas Stallworth intended to drink, but did not intend to kill) and continued a pattern of deceit after being arrested.  In short, Vick appeared to be the sort of person who needed a stiff prison term to rehabilitate him.

Sports wrapup

April 6, 2009

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Today is the official start of the baseball season (although most teams begin games tomorrow). I have been waiting for this day since October. While most of you are watching the NCAA championship game tonight, I’ll be watching baseball.

First, let me provide a link to my earlier post of some of the best baseball web sites, in case you missed it. If you didn’t see this when it was initially posted, do yourself a favor and take a look at it now.

My Colorado Rockies have decided to keep top prospect CF Dexter Fowler with the big club to begin the year. I’m a big fan of Dex. He will be a reserve outfielder to begin the year, but hopefully he can play his way into the lineup and stay there. Fowler was a 14th round draft pick in 2004. He would have gone much higher, but he had basketball scholarship offers, and teams were not sue if he would sign a contract if he was drafted (many baseball players are drafted out of high school, and a lot f them decide to attend college rather than sign a pro contract.) The Rockies gambled, drafted him in the 14th round, and offered a signing bonus of $925,000 – much more than the typically bonus for a 14th rounder. So far, this appears to be money well spent.

It appears that Rockies prospect Ian Stewart will not take over the third base job, as Garrett Atkins has not yet been traded. Look for Clint Hurdle to get Stewie’s bat into the lineup often, playing him at 3B, 2B, and OF.

Another guy to watch is catcher Chris Iannetta. If you look at he stat, Iannetta actually had a breakout year in 2008, but a limited number of at bats kept his numbers down. If he can avoid having Yorvit Torrealba vulture some starts, Iannetta could emerge as an elite offensive catcher.

One of my fantasy leagues dried up. This was a bit disappointing, as it was a keeper league, and I had drafted for the long term when the league was created in 2007. My team was looking like it would be a very strong contender for a decade. I suspect that some other GMs came to this realization, and that this is a reason why the league folded.

Other stories from around baseball:

Potential Hall of Famer Gary Sheffield was released by the Tigers with 14M and 1 year left on his contract. Baseball contracts are guaranteed, so Sheffield will make 14M even if he does not play this year. If another teams signs him, they would only have to pay him the league minimum, with the Tigers picking up the bulk of the contract.

Andruw Jones is going to stick with the Texas Rangers. I guess he and hitting coach Rudy Jaramillio have a good thing going. I’m hoping Andruw bounces back after a horrible 2008.

NCAA basketball

North Carolina will face Michigan State tonight in the NCAA title game. Many people expected UNC to be in the title game; few expected MSU to be. Tyler Hansbrough will try to cap off a tremendous career with a national title, while Michigan State will attempt to get revenge for a savage beating suffered earlier in the year against UNC

Baylor, the subject of an earlier article, fell just one victory short of a championship, falling to Penn State in the NIT title game. Sure, it’s just the NIT, but after everything Baylor has been through, they should be extremely proud of their post-season accomplishments. The coach of the year awards aren’t typically given to the NIT runner-up, but maybe we make an exception this year? Great job, Scott Drew.


The Jay Cutler fiasco is coming to a head. The Broncos were involved in trade discussions for Matt Cassell (Cassell ended up going to the Chiefs) and Cutler has been very upset ever since. The Broncos have now said that they are looking to trade Cutler.

The police officer who detained Texans player Ryan Moats while Moats’ mother-in-law was dying in a hospital has resigned. Yes, Moats ran a red light, but this could have been handled much better. The cop could have taken Moat’s information, told him to report to the police station in he morning, and let him go. Instead, he kept him away from hospital room, despite the pleading of nurses and another cop. During this time, Moat’s mother-in-law died.

Donte Stallworth was charged with vehicular manslaughter after he hit a man with his car. Stallworth says he flashed his lights to warn the man, who was allegedly outside of the crosswalk. Working against Stallworth is a blood alcohol level in excess of the legal limit.

NFL prospect BJ Raji, though to be a top 5-10 pick, will likely slide down the draft board after a positive drug test. This could potentially cost Raji tens of millions of dollars.