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Archive for August, 2011

Lawyers……Yeh Right!!!

Posted by Boghound on August 31, 2011

Couple sued by neighbour for £20,000

A hard-up couple from Prestwich, Manchester, are being forced to sell their home after a neighbour hired no-win, no-fee lawyers to win £20,000 in damages from them over a ”minor” accident outside their former council house.

Victim care worker Foroozan Panahandeh, 45, claimed she was floored by a two foot length of plastic guttering which fell three feet onto her as she put out her bins.

She then took out a negligence claim against next door neighbours Brendan Hodgkiss and his partner Cynthia Parker, both 52, who had bought their local authority property in Prestwich, Manchester under the right to buy scheme – four months after the incident.

In a misspelt letter to Mr Hodgkiss, solicitors for Essex-based Holmes and Hills said: ”It is alleged that the accident was caused my (sic) the negligence of yourself, your servants or agents. My client suffered an injury to her neck, left shoulder and knee.”

In a series of medical reports Mrs Panahandeh, an Iranian married mother of two who arrived in the UK in 1992 to complete a chemistry Masters degree then told how she suffered ”moderate to severe” pain over three years after the incident.

She said the injury meant she had problems working on a computer, was unable to go jogging or play volleyball again and had even been forced to abandon her weekly hobby of knitting.

She said she was unable to apply makeup or wash her hair a week after the accident and claimed she found it ”too much trouble” washing in the shower.

Mrs Panahandeh initially sued Mr Hodgkiss, Mrs Parker and also Salford City Council which owned the property at the time of the incident claiming negligence and ”breach of statutory duty.

The civil action was discontinued against the local authority for undisclosed reasons in May 2010 at Salford County Court but a judge later ordered the couple to pay damages and costs totalling £20,254.81 plus interest.

It is believed Mrs Panahandeh’s share of the legal payout will be no more than £3,000 under the terms of claim form submitted earlier to the court. The lawyers are thought to have pocketed up to £13,000 and the rest has gone in court costs.

Earlier this month Mrs Parker, a care worker and Mr Hodgkiss a roofer, who offered to pay the money at £50 a month got a warning letter from Jason Brady principal partner and head of the personal injury team at Holmes and Hills saying the matter would be referred to their civil litigation department unless the legal bill is paid.

A breakdown of the lawyer’s bill shows the firm which charged £220 an hour spent over 11 hours writing 112 letters and made 49 phone calls over a five hour period and reveals details of another 21 hours he spent on issues ”other than correspondence.”

The letter said: ”You have recently repeated an offer to discharge the Judgement and Orders for Costs at the rate of £50 per month although of course this would take some 34 years for the entire sum to be discharged.

”Clearly this arrangement is unacceptable and is not agreed by the Claimant. If further action is necessitated our client will look to you for the additional costs of taking such action.”

Mrs Parker said: "I just cannot believe that a two foot piece of plastic hitting this woman from just three feet above has cost so much money and leaves us on the verge of having to sell our house.

”We were told we would have to pay this money at the rate of £500 a month within three years or her lawyers were going to take it back to court for sale of the property.

”Brendan doesn’t get a regular wage, and mine just about covers the mortgage. He’s gone down from about 11.5 stone to 8.5 stone through the stress.

"It’s been over our heads now for six years and it’s making us very ill. I’m so stressed and I am now coming to work to escape the pressure and stress of home. We don’t know what to do about paying back this cash.

”I simply just haven’t got that kind of money they want from me and it’s inevitable we’ll have to sell our house pay it off."

Mrs Parker and Mr Hodgkiss, both 52, who have a daughter aged 17 had orginally begun renting their council property in May 1990. Mrs Panahandeh bought her house next door in 2004 and initially they got on well.

Mrs Parker said: "I went round and knocked on and asked her whether she needed any help. We gave her some bedding and curtains because she didn’t seem to have anything at all.

"She was quite friendly and very nice. Our kids used to play out the front garden. People are very close in our community and this was no different."

But problems began when a gate to a shared passageway separating their terraced homes fell down and Mrs Panahandeh urged her neighbours to fix it.

Then in November 14 2005 Mrs Panahandeh claimed she was hit by the falling guttering whilst walking along the passageway after putting out her bins.

In a statement said: ”I was hit on the head by a large object that fell from the storage shelving about this passageway. As I was hit on the head I fell to the ground.

”I fell onto my right knee and onto my right hand. I suffered from immedate pain in my neck and shoulder and in my right hand and I was also suffering from a headache. The main problems that I have are with my neck and right shoulder area and I have suffered from stiffness and pain in this area for sometime.”

Mr Hodgkis and Mrs Parker said they were unaware of the incident until after they bought their property under the council house right to buy scheme in March 2006 for £38,900.

They got their first letter the following October from a different legal firm acting for Mrs Panahandeh before the matter was taken up by Holmes and Hills in July 2008.

Mrs Parker added: "We had absoutely no idea about this incident at the time and had we known I’m sure could have sorted it out without the need for lawyers to be brought in. The first we knew about it was when we got a legal letter.

”In the ginnell there are two ledges on the top. Things have been stored there from before we even moved there.

”At the time of the accident the house was owned by the council and we didn’t have house insurance because we didn’t think we would need it at the time. We just had contents insurance.

"We got in touch with the solicitor and told them the plastic didn’t belong to us and inisting the property was owned by the council. We couldn’t afford a solicitor of our own at that time and we assumed it would all go away but then we kept getting more letters from a different firm.

”We kept saying the house was owned by the council at the time and it wasn’t our problem but we got confused about court dates.

”Unfortunately Brendan didn’t turn up for the hearing because he didn’t realise when it was taking place. The next thing we knew was we were getting letters saying the judge had ruled we were at fault and that we had to pay up.

”We eventually went to see a solicitor of our own but he said he would want £5,000 in legal costs to pay him and said all we could expect was a reduction in the damages payout.

”We tried to appeal by going it alone with the papework but her lawyers ran rings round us in court quoting all sorts of case law and we stood no chance. What adds insult to injury that the solicitors got so much money from it.

”There are people out there who have been the victim of serious accidents who get less than she has. There’s no justice in this world.

"People like me are struggling and can’t pay to get the legal help but the people making the claims get everything given to them because the solicitors know they will get thousands out of the claim. ”

Mrs Panahandeh has since moved out of her property and was unavailable for comment.

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Please don’t wear our clothes

Posted by Boghound on August 30, 2011

Abercrombie & Fitch has offered to pay Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino, a character in hit reality show Jersey Shore, to stop wearing its clothes, fearing its image is being tarnished.

The offer includes other members of the MTV show’s brash, foul-mouthed, spray-tanned Italian-American cast, and A&F is "urgently waiting a response", the US fashion retailer said in a statement.

The weight-lifting, tight-abbed Sorrentino could have walked straight out of one of A&F’s racy ads, which often feature well-toned young models, but the company wants nothing to do with him.

"We are deeply concerned that Mr Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image," an A&F spokesperson said in the statement, titled: A Win-Win Situation.

"We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans.

"We have therefore offered a substantial payment to Michael ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino and the producers of MTV’s Jersey Shore to have the character wear an alternate brand. We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response."

Jersey Shore first aired in 2009 and follows the adventures of eight young Italian-Americans on the Atlantic coast of the US state of New Jersey as they party all night, fight and drink themselves silly.

Sorrentino, a 29-year-old former model, often lifts his shirt to show off his six-pack in the show, flashing his underwear’s A&F logo.

The fourth season of Jersey Shore is currently being filmed in Florence, Italy with the first episode earlier this month pulling in a record 8.8-million viewers.

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PETA & Porn Site

Posted by Boghound on August 29, 2011

PETA to launch porn site

In another sensational attempt to draw attention to the plight of animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is planning to launch a porn site later this year.

A spokeswoman for the group says the site will feature adult content along with graphic images of animals that viewers may not expect to see.

“We are preparing to launch our own site, but instead of just showing people our iconic ads we then show them how animals suffer for entertainment,” PETA’s Ashley Byrne told Australia’s Herald Sun. The organization says its sexy side displayed in galleries and videos will quickly give way to the sinister world of animal mistreatment uncovered by the group’s hidden camera investigations.

PETA has raised temperatures — and controversy — over the years by employing porn stars like Sasha Grey and Jenna Jameson as well as scantily clad models and celebrities in TV commercials and advertisements to promote animal rights, veganism and vegetarianism.

Earlier this month, Hulk Hogan’s daughter, Brooke, participated in a provocative photo shoot for a PETA campaign. The 23-year-old was photographed lying naked in a cage as part of the Women In Cages exhibition.

"I hope it shocks [people] to see a human in the place of an animal," Hgan said. "It really shows how absurd that treatment is. … We’re all God’s creatures. Just because we don’t speak the same language doesn’t mean [animals] don’t have feelings too."

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Praise Indeed??

Posted by Boghound on August 28, 2011

China Praised UK Internet Censorship

One would know that their online censorship plan is too strict when China praises them for it. A few weeks ago, if someone saw a headline like that, they would think the author was insane, but it’s nothing but the truth.

A few days ago, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron claimed he wanted to stop citizens from communicating on social media if it is used to instigate violence. Today the majority of industry observers interpret this as meaning that the PM suggests to block social media sites altogether whenever civil unrest is suspected.

Unsurprisingly, blocking social media has caused lively debate, particularly in the United Kingdom. Today the discussions around possibly censoring the web have received international attention, which includes China. Today Chinese state media site “Global Times” suggested that “Western” countries were coming to realize that free speech couldn’t go unhindered online. It also said that the UK government’s wariness of the Internet and Blackberry Messenger, which are symbols of freedom of speech, was a forced reaction, which might have upset the Western world. However, the open discussion of containment of the web in UK had given rise to another opportunity for the entire world. Media in the United States and United Kingdom earlier criticized developing countries for curbing freedom of speech, but the new attitude of the UK would hopefully help appease the quarrels over the future management of the worldwide web.

Meanwhile, the Chinese advocates of an unlimited development of the web are recommended to think twice about their original ideas, because there are a lot of posts and articles inciting public violence online, which could cause tremendous damage when tweeted without control. In this case, the governments would have the only choice to shut down those sites and arrest the agitators.

The “Western” part of the world, however, believes that the UK Prime Minister should think twice how he is going to prevent rioting. Of course, any move to crack down on rioters will receive no resistance but help and support. At the same time, the attempts to control the web in any way are an extremely slippery slope with respect to free speech. In other words, there should be difference between Cameron’s policy and China’s policy at the very least.

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New Zealand Is Out?

Posted by Boghound on August 27, 2011

New Zealand Government Will Have to Disconnect Itself

With New Zealand “graduated response system” in place, some might wonder who could be one of the first victims of the regime. Surprisingly enough, it appears that it could be the New Zealand government itself! Facing copyright violation, the country’s Green Party claims that this could finally force the government to disconnect itself from the web.

The industry observers have repeatedly pointed out that the government of New Zealand simply didn’t think their “three-strikes” legislation through before enforcing it, and the latest development doesn’t quell such thoughts. The Green Party of New Zealand has claimed that the country’s government could face fines for copyright violation unless it disconnects itself from the web.

Of course, there doesn’t seem to be a plan for the government to deal with the new legislation. The law in question causes controversies because the holder of the account – Parliamentary Services – provides access to the Internet to several hundreds of users, any of whom could cause infringement notices to be sent. Actually, after the law passage, which is scheduled to come in to effect this September, there have been a lot of assumptions that this legislation could end all public Wi-Fi in New Zealand. Consequently, it appeared that the country’s own government isn’t immune to this either.

Aside from the government, schools, libraries and universities also run the risk of facing fines or disconnection from the web. One of the universities in Auckland has even claimed that they might cease providing online services for students because of the possible copyright liability.

Meanwhile, it is believed that the country’s government has a responsibility to ensure that public institutions are able to navigate around the new legislation and not face the risk of penalties.

However, by failing to provide information or advice to those institutions, the government has left them in a legal grey area. Moreover, after the law was passed in New Zealand, Wikileaks released some diplomatic cables proving that it was pushed and bought by the United States. This, of course, instantly raised concerns with the Green Party, which asked why Hollywood was writing their laws for New Zealand. Well, let’s see who will become the first victim of the “three-strikes” law.

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Canada Tries To Crack Down??

Posted by Boghound on August 26, 2011

Canadians Opposed Surveillance Legislation

The governing party of Canada – the Conservatives – was planning an omnibus crime legislation which was supposed to include surveillance provision. Although the bill is not yet tabled, opposition to this bill is already growing.

Recently the web was hit by the suggestions that the Canadian surveillance bill may be bundled in to omnibus crime legislation and tabled in the near future. That wasn’t exactly news for industry observers, but the news was that multiple experts, academics and organizations have stepped up to formally oppose the bill in question. They have recently sent an open letter to Prime Minister where they voiced their concerns about the proposed legislation. The opposers cited previous laws making up the surveillance legislation in the last government session and expressed their concerns about them. The particular concern is that three of the proposed bills would have serious negative implications for the privacy rights of the citizens. In addition, the controversial aspects would not receive the scrutiny they deserve if they were rolled into an omnibus bill.

The main focus of concern was the ease by which the country’s ISPs, social networks, and even their handsets and cars can be turned into instruments to spy on their activities, thus implicating fundamental rights and freedoms. In addition, the letter contains a very detailed list of other concerns, warning that the costs of enforcing such measures would finally be passed on to consumers, because it is a new cost of doing business for Internet service providers. Actually, it has precedent: in France, when the country’s government forced Internet service providers to adopt a “three-strikes” regime, the broadband providers just passed the costs of implementing the system on to their subscribers.

Although the letter was signed by a lot of people and organizations, there’s a difference between when the citizens were fighting dangerous bills in the past and today. The matter is that the Conservatives have a majority government, which means they are able to pass whatever bills they want without fearing an opposition. In other words, no evidence or reason would matter to the government, it will simply legislate how it likes, and this is the government the country is stuck with.

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A Bottle A Day?

Posted by Boghound on August 25, 2011

Moderate wine drinking may help promote weight loss

Drinking just a glass of wine a day may actually help weight loss, researchers now believe.

In a study that will raise the spirits of anyone driven to stick to soft drinks for the sake of their waistline, academics say previous assumptions about a link between alcohol and obesity have been inaccurate.

Their analysis of previous research shows that although heavy drinkers are likely to put on weight, those who just enjoy an occasional tipple are unlikely to pile on the pounds.

In fact, connoisseurs of less fattening drinks such as wine may even lose weight as well as being at lower risk of developing diabetes.

“Light-to-moderate alcohol intake, especially wine intake, may be more likely to protect against weight gain, whereas consumption of spirits has been positively associated with weight gain,” says the paper by researchers at Navarro University in Spain, which has been reviewed by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research.

The paper, published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, states that “alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain” as 1 gram of alcohol has an energy content of 7.1 calories.

But analysis of 31 studies published between 1984 and 2010 found they were “contradictory” and did not “conclusively confirm” a link between drinking and weight gain.

The papers that did find a link tended to involve studies of heavy drinking, so the Spanish researchers suggest: “It is possible that heavy drinkers may experience such an effect more commonly than light drinkers.”

They say more research should be carried out into the role of “different types of alcoholic beverages”. A pint of lager contains about 200 calories, twice as many as in a glass of wine.

“The type of alcoholic beverage might play an important role in modifying the effect of alcohol consumption on weight gain.”

Members of the forum, commenting on the new paper, agree: “While it is common for individuals, especially women, to state that they avoid all alcohol consumption because they ‘do not want to gain weight,’ data are very limited on this subject.”

They cite studies that show heavy drinking is linked to weight gain but regular drinking is not: “These results suggest that the frequent consumption of small amounts of alcohol is the optimal drinking pattern associated with a lower risk of obesity.”

Other research has suggested that moderate drinkers are at 30 per cent lower risk of developing diabetes, and that even obese people should not abstain from alcohol for this reason.

Moderate drinkers have also been found to be at between 16 per cent and 25 per cent lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which in turn makes them more likely to have a stroke or coronary artery disease.

Research on the effects of alcohol on weight has also been complicated by the fact that heavy drinkers have traditionally also smoked cigarettes, which lower the risk of obesity.

Few studies have looked at diet, previous weight gain or loss or “binge drinking” among subjects.

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An Expensive Pee!!

Posted by Boghound on August 24, 2011

Ferry runs aground after captain stuck in toilet

A Finnish ferry has run aground while its captain was stuck in the bathroom.

One member of staff managed to slow the island-hopping tourist ferry down, but the vessel, carrying 54 passengers, slammed onto a rock near the shore of Helsinki, the Finnish coastguard said Friday.

The captain got stuck in the bathroom because of a jammed lock and yelled for help, the coastguard said.

Some passengers were bruised and tableware was broken in the incident. The coastguard is investigating whether the captain’s actions amounted to criminal endangerment.

"He was stuck in the toilet. As soon as the staff member got the door open, it was too late," said Jan Sundell, head of investigation.

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A Cheap Army?

Posted by Boghound on August 23, 2011

Combat garden gnomes

A US serviceman has come up with an unusual sideline – selling combat garden gnomes.

US Naval Reserve officer Shawn Thorsson says he came up with the idea because he wanted a military presence in his garden.

The 34-year-old, from Petaluma, California, explains: "I have no formal sculpting training. I’ve always been fond of tinkering in my workshop though.

"While I was in Afghanistan someone sent me a package of those cheap plastic green army men as a gag.

"Some months later I was out at sea on a container ship and had a lot more down time. I was mulling over what else I could do with little green plastic army men.

"I was also thinking of sculpting out some comical garden gnomes. It didn’t take long before these two ideas merged and I started sketching out Combat Garden Gnomes."

Shawn is now selling his combat gnomes on online marketplace – £25 each or painted ones for £35.

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It Was A long Flight?

Posted by Boghound on August 22, 2011

US Olympic hopeful dismissed for urinating on 12-year-old

An Olympic Games hopeful has been booted from the US ski team’s development squad after urinating on a passenger during a cross-country flight.

18-year-old Robert Vietze was flying to New York on Tuesday when he stumbled into an 12-year-old girl on his way to the bathroom, inadvertently relieving himself all over his fellow passenger.

Police detained Vietze upon his arrival at JFK International Airport on a federal misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure, but the sportsman was later released.

Despite claiming that he did "not realise" where he was urinating, Vietz appears to have had his Olympic dream ended by the incident.

"Based on the information we have, Sandy Vietze is in violation of the USSA code of conduct and team agreement, and has been dismissed from the team," US Ski and Snowboard Association executive vice president of athletics Luke Bodensteiner told the New York Post.

Vietze admitted to authorities that he had consumed approximately eight alcoholic drinks during the flight.

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