Thursday, December 6, 2007

Update on a previous post!

A few weeks ago I posted this about former USC student Holly Ashcraft who was accused of disposing of her two newborn children in the bathroom. Well as of today, December 6th, 2007 the murder charges have been dismissed in this case, an article found from Knbc. This is the fourth time in this case that the murder charges have been dropped.

Although judge in the case told Ashcraft that her behavior was "disturbing and disgusting", there was not enough evidence to convict her. Deputy District Attorney Frank Baratta says "our only remedy is appeal", but I feel that prosecutors should continue to go after Ashcraft until she is convicted. However, prosecutors at this time have not decided whether they will try and seek murder for the fifth time. Ashcraft remains free on $50,000 bail and is still facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and child abuse; her court date is set for January.

What is wrong with our court system? I feel that the American court system has failed it's citizens by letting this woman go without any consequences. Just think of the lives these children would be living today if their mother hadn't dumped them in a garbage bin. These children were not given the opportunity to live or even have a chance in life. Every time I hear about this case I get goosebumps, who could be this disturbed to carry out such heinous acts?
This woman isn't even forced into treatment for her psychiatric needs, which means that if she gets pregnant again she will do the same thing. As time goes on, I feel it will be more and more difficult to prosecute this woman. Prosecutors should exhaust all opportunities to prosecute this woman. Something needs to be done!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An Itchy Beauty Pageant

The glitz and glamour of beauty pageants. How beautiful all of the girls look with their make up done, hair teased and credit cards maxed out for these ball room gown type dresses. However a beauty pageant held in Puerto Rico last week mixed a little bit of cruelty and jealously into the mix. This article from Knbc4 reported how contestant Ingrid Marie Rivera's make up and evening gown was coated with pepper spray. Why would someone only choose to douse Rivera's dress and no one else in the pageant? Because she was the biggest competition of course.

Rivera was crowned Miss World Caribbean in 2005 and was the top contender for this pageant in Puerto Rico. Some might she was too much of a threat. Rivera showed no sign of panic on stage and was smiling the whole time. However right after she had to take off all of her clothes and cover her body in ice bags due to the swelling rash. To add to the frustration, one of Rivera's bags was stolen during the swimsuit competition.

Officials in San Juan are investigating the case by interviewing everyone involved in the pageant, hoping to find who was responsible. The super intendent of the Puerto Rico Police Department said "I know there's rivalry between the contestants, but never to that extent".

Despite her rash, Rivera won the pageant and will represent Puerto Rico in the Miss Universe Pageant.

Jealously has an ugly face and has been seen in countless sporting events like the Tonya Harding case in which she was involved in the conspiracy against competitor Nancy Kerrigan. It's amazing what competitors will do in order to sabotage their competition.
Another blog, McCarthy 101 did another twist on this story about beauty pageants and spoke about the pain of being beautiful by also including the recent death of Kanye West's mother after having plastic surgery. As quoted on her blog Cara writes
"I can understand the desire to win, but these tactics are too extreme, even in
the apparently nasty world of competitive pageantry. Why are women so dead set
on hating each other? Why is it that whenever I enter a room with women inside I
feel as if I’m being judged and inspected to find my flaws. As if, by
discovering what is wrong with me they can feel better about themselves. Its
absurd. We shouldn’t’ be our own worst enemy. We should be helping each other
out instead of pushing each other down."
It's amazing to see just how far some people will go to either get the perfect body or win a competition; an example of jealousy rearing it's ugly head.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Love At It's Finest

I am fascinated by human behavior, and how odd people may be sometimes. As most of you might have noticed, I find interesting articles that deal with random, stupid and eccentric things that people do for example, the parents stunting their child's growth, woman dumping her newborn child in a dumpster, and another woman taking a knife and doing a personal c-section on a pregnant woman who was having delusions that she was pregnant. For my next post I was searching the Internet and came upon this article from knbc4 with the headline reading "Police Say Man Bit Son's Lip Off". These articles that I find keep getting weirder and weirder.

Thy Chan, 26 year old resident of Lowell, Massachusetts was arrested for allegedly biting his 22 month old son's bottom lip off. The Police Superintendent Kenneth Lavallee told a local newspaper that officers were called to a Lowell Apartment complex after an unidentified person said a child's lip had been bitten off.

As the officers entered the apartment, they found a child covered in blood and found the bottom lip nearby. The officers gave the paramedics the bottom lip in hopes of reattaching it at the hospital. Chan was found upstairs in the apartment acting erratically, officers believe he may b under the influence of drugs. You think?!

Luckily the young child is okay, and is now being evaluated at Lowell General Hospital. It is not known if the lip has or can be attached. Also officers did not release the relation of the infant to Chan.

Chan is facing charges of mayhem, assault, battery on a child, and domestic assault. According to the Department of Social Services, the family has no prior convictions with this department.

Regardless of prior convictions with the law, this man should be put behind bars. I thought the incident of Ozzy Osbourne cutting the head off a bat was awful until I read this. It seems pretty frequent that we hear in the news how parents or guardians neglect their children whether they leave their child in a car on a hot summer day for hours on end or sexual abuse. Children and infants are a target because they are helpless and can't really defend themselves. Who knows what kind of drugs this man was on but he should be prosecuted to the highest degree. If it is released that Chan is the father of this child he should loose all custody. When bad things happen to children strangers say "where are the parents?", well in this case maybe having the child stay with the parents isn't the best idea.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Bad Name for USC

Every once in awhile we hear in the news of a mother dropping off their newborn child at a safe spot such as a Firestation, hospital or a school with no questions asked within 72 hours of giving birth. Safe havens such as these give the option to indecisive mothers a chance to do something right for their baby and no one has to know. You have all probably read about the teen from The University of Southern California who gave birth to a child and dumped the baby in a trash bin behind a popular university restaurant (for all you USC students the 29th Street Cafe) in 2005, later found by a homeless man.

Holly Ashcraft, now 22 from Billings Montana is currently facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and child abuse for the alleged disposing of her newborn baby. This case has had a rollercoaster of decisions including first being charged three times for murder, having the case dismissed for lack of evidence, and today November 8th having her bail reduced by a judge. Seems to me that the authorities are going way to easy with this woman even though she has done this before. The prosecutors in this case continue to believe that Ashcraft's baby was born alive and she dumped it in the trash bin in order to get rid of her son while the defense lawyer, Mark Geragos, continues to argue that there is no evidence Ashcraft knew she was pregnant or that the baby was born alive. Also arguing that putting the child in a box in the dumpster was not intentional. What kind of defense is that?

It seems to me that this would be an easy case to prosecute. A year before the baby was found in the alley behind a restaurant, Holly gave birth to a child in a dormitory bathroom in 2004; she claims the baby was still born. Holly had gone to a nearby clinic after giving birth complaining of bleeding, and after having been examined the doctor could tell she had just given birth. When asked by authorities if she was pregnant, Holly first denied ever having been pregnant but later admitted that she had given birth in a bathroom. The remains of the first child have never been found and Ashcraft was never tried or charged in connection to that case.

As I read more and more information on this case the more appalled I get. First of all, who could do this twice and get away with it? How could a judge let this woman to continue to live free? But I must give some credit to her defense lawyer for coming up with some clever defense tactics.
Not only does this woman need a psychological evaluation but she needs to go to jail. She intentionally took the life of her two children and is not suffering any consequences. Holly continues to say she is not guilty. Only time will tell if Holly will ever have to go to jail. But it seems the longer this case continues, the more lenient the circumstances are for this woman.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Not Sleeping Makes You Fat and Dumb

Make your kids go to sleep at a reasonable hour or they’ll never go to college. Increasing SAT scores could be as wasy as just getting more sleep each night. Teens are tired these days, not just from piles of homework and extracurricular activities; they are just not getting enough sleep. Teens with dark circles under their eyes are in fashion these days. The reason for all of these high school students using their desks as a pillow is due to our wonderful sleep chemical known as Melatonin; “the main substance produced by the pineal gland, a small structure located between the cerebral hemispheres”. However a few changes in a teen’s typical daily schedule can lead to more positive effects both inside and out. Amazingly a recent study found that half of Americans just aren't getting enough snooze time, a true American division.

It’s just sleep. I’ll catch up on my sleep on the weekends, and sleep the day away. Well the solution is not that simple. When teens try to catch up on their sleep on the weekends, this leads to a change in sleep routine and throws off sleep patterns and restarting the whole process Monday morning, which leads to a harder time trying to fall asleep.

Let’s get technical. What is to blame for teen’s inability to go to bed before 10 pm? The answer is Melatonin, our brains sleep chemical which in turn makes us drowsy. You know that feeling when you can’t keep your eyes open? That’s our melatonin at its finest. When we’re sitting in darkness it triggers the pineal gland to secret melatonin. Once a child hits their teen years the melatonin begins to trigger later on in the evening compared with the 5-12 year olds whose melatonin kicks in at an earlier hour making it easier for younger children to fall asleep earlier at night.

Sleep? I’ll catch up when I’m dead.

Teens are busy and have a tons of activities on their plate including working a part time job, going to school, extra curricular activities and homework; which does not leave a lot of free time or even a social life. Even though teens in other generations have also been busy, teenagers today on average are sleeping an hour less than thirty years ago. Dr. Ana Krieger the director of the NYU Sleep Disorder Center believes “One hour less per night of sleep on a chronic basis can really make a different on the way the body works”. Therefore trying to catch up on sleep time during the weekends is just not enough.

In an article titled “Sweet Dreams Make for Smarter Teens” tells the schedule of fifteen year old, Henry Elliman who goes to sleep on average around 1 am and waking up around 7 am; therefore leaving only six hours of snooze time. A sufficient sleep time would be around eight and a half to nine and a half hours of sleep per night. Poor Henry feels the effects of his late nights in the classroom.

It is no wonder why sleeping affects one’s ability to take tests and do well in school. A University of Minnesota survey “found that A students slept an average of 15 minutes longer than B students, who in turn slept more than C students and so on”. Who knew an extra seventy five minutes per week could be so beneficial?

Teenagers who do not get enough sleep can impair one’s IQ as much as lead exposure. Sleep deprived teens are also at a greater risk for obesity, depression and cognitive delays. When you think about sleep affects almost every daily function including work, driving, learning and doing homework. If you don't get enough sleep it only leads to a domino effect of sluggishness, that continues until the body gets to rest. For all of you Red Bull fanatics or Starbucks junkies, guzzling down caffeine infused beverages doesn't disguise the problem.

Not only does sleep affect our mind abilities and functioning but it also contributes to regulating our metabolism. When it all comes down to it sleep = health, and one study found that 64% of Americans who were obese also reported not sleeping well.

So what’s the solution? Drug your kids with some sleeping pills? Lock them in their room and shut off the lights? The solution may be as simple as starting school just an hour later. In Edina, Minnesota a high school did just this, the school administrators pushed the school start time from 7:30 to 8:30. A sudden increase in the top SAT scores that year, from 1288 to 1500! Also teachers reported that students were more awake during the first few periods of the day. The increase can be attributed to extra pillow time, who would have thought?

Teens need a sufficient hours of sleep and it’s up to parents to educate their children on the importance of sleep. Parents can do their part by decreasing the amount of caffeine consumption in the home, eliminating exercise at night time and try to decrease television time before bed.

We all know that sleep is important, but more importantly is the number of hours we sleep at night. Just a few extra minutes a night can make a big difference in our attitudes, mental functioning, physical well being in the long run. Just think sleep a little longer, look, feel and think better than you would without those extra minutes!

When everything is said and done, don't take your sleep for granted. If youre looking for that raise at work or an increase in your test scores instead of bothering your boss and your teacher take it upon yourself to sleep more at night.

Since students are sleeping less does this mean that less students will be receiving packets of acceptance letters from prestigious schools such as Harvard, Yale or MIT? Probably not but it is still a serious issue. Should we rely on school board officials to push back school start time? No I don't think that will happen either. Instead of parents blaming teachers for too much homework, students should take the blame for the lack of sleep. High schools should be flaunting this information about more sleep equals higher test scores because that looks better for teachers and school administrators.

I think the world would be a different place if people just got enough rest.

Friday, October 26, 2007

What's a vegetable anyway?

Good news America, children are finally eating their vegetables! The bad news however approximately 40% of these vegetables in a kid’s diet are French Fries. School cafeterias are teaching their students that French Fries are a suitable vegetable. With each passing school lunch day, adolescents are getting fatter and fatter. Instead of providing nutritious options in the cafeteria for the growing youth, school districts sign into lucrative contracts with soda and chip companies in return of selling these snacks on campus. School board members must not know the definition of nutrition and only see dollar signs blinking in the distance. Take an Alka Seltzer to settle your stomachs, it gets worse.

But it tastes good so what is the difference?

The choices available to a child at school should not be diabetes with a side order of obesity, but rather sensible meals filled with more nutrition and less fat. According to the National School Lunch Program the average elementary school lunch has an average 738 calories. And that’s before the child grabs a Snickers from the vending machine, pushing the caloric intake past half the average daily calories. Even though taking your lunch in a brown bag/ lunch bag seems less glamorous than eating a school lunch, it is actually better for you and contains less fat; averaging 20.8 grams of fat for the sack lunch versus 31.1 grams of fat in the cafeteria lunch. The difference is a little less than 11 grams of fat, but over a week that’s almost 88 grams of fat! Calculate the amount of fat over an entire school year, the beginnings of obesity for a child.

Apparently school board leaders aren’t feeding their kids the food from school cafeterias.

It takes a combination effort of school officials, governmental funding and parents to take a stand. A child can’t speak for themselves because they are too busy stuffing their face with nutrition less lunch food, and washing it down with an ice cold sugary soda.

As for parents on the go who use fast food restaurants as a provider of meals can now be substituted by one touch microwavable meals, which are a little better for the body. A recent article on titled “Microwave Food Can Beat Drive-Throughs” compared eating three meals a day on the go from fast food restaurants and compared it with eating readily prepared meals that are microwaveable from the grocery store. Both food options were convenient, quick and easy. In recent years the fat content of these microwaveable meals has decreased along with the lowering of milligrams of cholesterol and the amount of salt. With the decrease of fat grams has led packaged food makers actually paying attention to herbs and spices; who would have thought to put such things in food?

Our school cafeterias can do better. Simply teaching our kids the fundamentals of healthy eating is not enough; it must be put into action in the cafeterias. We teach our children the food pyramid and the necessity of fruits and vegetables, yet counter act these teachings with greasy pepperoni pizza and deep fried corn dogs being served during lunch time. With the recent development of healthier quick microwavable meals, these can be substituted for the high calorie cafeteria meals. These foods may be a little bit more expensive than the junk filled food currently being served but what is more important spending a little more money on nutritious meals or a tray of obesity?

So it's up to parents, school board leaders, cafeteria workers and government officials to fight for a well balanced meals in our schools. Let's trade those Doritos for some fabulous carrot sticks. Our children may not thank us in the beginning, but they will definitley thank us in the future.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

You Won't Believe This...

We all want what we can't have. We have blonde hair we want brown hair and so on. In the case of Lisa Montgomery seen in this article a woman went crazy with jealousy and did the unthinkable. I didn't actually believe the headline when I read it on, "Woman convicted in case of baby cut from mother's womb". Of course I decided to read the article but I couldn't believe what I was reading.

On December 16th, 2004 Lisa Montgomery a dog breeder, 39 from a northwest Missouri town named Skidmore drove to 23 year old pregnant woman Bobbie Jo Stinnett's house went in with a knife, rope and umbilical chord clamp and used these tools in order to cut the unborn baby from it's mother's womb. This article did not state how many months pregnant Bobbie Jo was, but far enough along that the baby could survive outside the womb. After strangling and killing Stinnett, Montgomery cut the baby from the womb. Montgomery fled the house with the baby and left the pregnant woman for dead. She told investigators that as she drove away from the home she was "shaking and holding the baby and the cord at the same time".

In the trial for this case, Montgomery's defense lawyers believe that she was suffering from delusions when she killed the expectant mother. However the jury found Montgomery guilty and she was convicted of kidnapping resulting in death. The jurors deliberated for only four hours before making the decision and rejected the insanity defense presented by the defense lawyers. Not only did the prosecutors have a undeniable moral case on their hands, there was also substantial evidence that highlighted Montgomery's sane tactics to strangle and take the baby from the womb. Montgomery had spent months researching Cesarean sections online before carrying out her gruesome plan.

Montgomery, the mother of 4 had a tubal litigation in 1990 after the birth of her fourth child which prevented her from ever getting pregnant. Even though she had this procedure, Montgomery claimed she was pregnant several times, delusional? I think so.

I find it absolutely appalling that someone would carry out such a hateful crime. I hate to compare legal cases but this is just as disturbing if not more than the Lacey Peterson case a few years ago. Or even the case where the woman drowned her five children in a bath tub. Insane or not, I believe people who do crimes such as these should be put away for the rest of their lives. People who act like this are inhumane and lack any sense or morality. This crime highlights how twisted and psychotic some people are in this world.

Even though Bobbie Jo did not make it, her baby survived and is doing well. I hope Bobbie Jo's family finds some closure from the guilty verdict. Hopefully Montgomery will get the death penalty.

I will update as soon as the sentencing occurs.