Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird
Beijing Genomics Institute scientists are closing in on a technology to allow parents to choose, from several embryos, the one most likely to yield the smartest offspring. London’s Daily Mail (in January, referencing recent work in Wired, The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker) explained that BGI will have identified high-potential mathematics genes (by mapping the cells of geniuses) so that researchers can search for those among a couple’s array of embryos. (Most embryos will yield gene arrays resembling their parents’, but one embryo is likely “better”—and maybe much better.) One Chinese researcher acknowledged the “controversial” nature of the work, “especially in the West,” but added, “That’s not the case in China.” The parental price tag on finding the smartest kid? Expensive, said a supporter, but less than upgrading an average kid via Harvard, or even a private prep school.
Can’t Possibly Be True
In February, a California Highway Patrol officer handcuffed and threatened to arrest a firefighter performing an emergency roadside rescue along Interstate 805 in Chula Vista, Calif., because the rescuer would not move his truck from the fast lane, where it was “impeding” traffic. Firefighters are required to block lanes during rescues, specifically to “impede” traffic for their own protection and that of victims nearby. CHP and the Chula Vista firefighters later jointly called the incident a “miscommunication.”
Unclear on the Concept
■ Oregon inmate Sirgiorgio Clardy, 26, filed a handwritten $100 million lawsuit in January against Nike for inadequately marketing its Air Jordans. Clardy, a convicted pimp, had received an “enhanced” penalty for using a “dangerous weapon” to maim the face of a john, i.e., he had stomped and kicked a man after accusing him of skipping out on a payment, and the “dangerous weapon” was apparently his shoe. Clardy said Nike bears at least some responsibility for his incarceration because it failed to label the shoe a “dangerous weapon.”
■ Ed Forchion sits in a jail in Burlington County, N.J. (where he will reside for a few more months), serving a term for possession of marijuana. However, for 10 days each month until his release, the same judge who sentenced him has promised to allow him to go smoke medical marijuana in California to relieve pain from his bone cancer. (Forchion was convicted of possession before New Jersey legalized medical marijuana.) (Update: Four days after a Trentonian columnist’s story about “Weedman” Forchion, and the subsequent Internet frenzy it wrought, Forchion’s judge commuted the remainder of his sentence and freed him.)
Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have made clear that only in the case of murder can a juvenile be given a life sentence “without possibility of parole” (and never a death sentence). Under-18s, the court said, must get a “meaningful opportunity” to mature and redeem themselves behind bars. The U.S. Constitution aside, apparently some Florida judges disagree and have subsequently sentenced juveniles to 50 years or longer for non-murders, in some cases assuring that the release date will be beyond the inmate’s natural life expectancy. In one case found by a Barry University law school program, a juvenile convicted of gun robbery and rape had his earlier life-without-parole sentence “reduced” to consecutive sentences totaling 170 years. Critics said the Supreme Court should recognize that some juveniles are already “thoroughly incorrigible.”
Least Competent Criminals
Perps Who Need to Be in a Different Line of Work: “Victim” Joseph Torrez, 27, was at home in Las Cruces, N.M., on New Year’s Day with his fiancée and young son when four men barged in (after threatening Torrez on the telephone with “I’m big Eastside,” “I’ll kill you and your family,” “I will go to your house”). Torrez is a mixed-martial arts fighter, and by the time it was over, he and his family were safe, but one home invader was dead, another was in the hospital and the other two (including the telephoner) were under arrest.
© 2014 CHUCK SHEPHERD