A federal jury has ruled against an employer who said he used the N-word in an affectionate way toward black colleagues, effectively saying the incendiary word is unacceptable at work under any circumstances.
Rob Carmona, 61, was sued by a former employee who said that Carmona’s use of the word during a “tirade” over workplace attire and professionalism was inappropriate.
The jury ruled that Carmona’s March 2012 four-minute “rant,” was “hostile and discriminatory” and awarded plaintiff Brandi Johnson $250,000 in damages. The jury is now deciding whether to award punitive damages as well.
"I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed," Johnson, 38, who recorded Carmona’s comments, testified during the trial.
When asked to explain how he has used the word in a positive manner, Carmona explained, "That means my boy, I love him, or whatever.” And Carmona said that was his intention with Johnson.
The exchange between Carmona and Johnson, both of whom are African-American, has raised the question of whether use of the N-word has different legal connotations when used by someone who is black and someone who is not.
The exact racial makeup of the jury was not officially released, but it reportedly was composed of six men and two women. At least one of the eight is black, reports say.
Carmona is the owner and founder of STRIVE, a company that has received numerous public accolades for its efforts to improve employment opportunities in the black community. The group says it has ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Sep 06 2013
Boston's mayor has reportedly apologised after he was accused of being insensitive for joking he would "blow up Detroit and start all over".
The former hub of America's car industry has had major problems in recent years with its finances and in July it became the largest city in the US to file for bankruptcy, with debts estimated at $18.5bn (£12.1bn).
In an interview in the New York Times Magazine, Boston mayor Thomas Menino was asked where he would live if he could live in any other American city and he said Detroit was a place he would love to go.
When asked what he would do there he said: "I'd blow up the place and start all over.
"No, seriously, when it takes a police officer 90 minutes to answer a call, there's something wrong with the system.
"Forty percent of the streetlights are out, most of the buildings are boarded up. Why? Inaction, that's the problem - leadership."
Detroit's mayor Dave Bing criticised his counterpart's remarks, referring to the Boston bombing blasts earlier this year that left three dead and more than 200 people injured.
Mr Bing said: "It is extremely regrettable that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino used such an unfortunate choice of words to describe what he would do if he came to Detroit.
"I would think the mayor of a city that recently experienced a deadly bombing attack would be more sensitive and not use the phrase 'blow up."'
Mr Menino has now said sorry, telling WBZ NewsRadio 1030: "I made a mistake, I apologise", CBS reports.
He said he stood by the numbers he cited in the article, claiming he got them from a Detroit financial report.
But, he admitted he used a "poor ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Sep 06 2013
A driver with 42 points on her licence is still on the road, according to a new analysis of DVLA figures.
The woman, from Isleworth in west London, accumulated all the points last year for failing to disclose the driver's identity.
Motorists can be banned for building up 12 points over a three-year period but magistrates can use their discretion if a ban would cause exceptional hardship, such as losing a job or meaning a child cannot be cared for.
The second-highest points total - according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) research - is 36.
That tally belongs to a man from Warrington who was caught without insurance six times in less than two weeks between February and March last year.
Other notable offenders, according to the analysis of DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) figures are:
:: A man from Southend with 30 points, who was caught speeding 10 times between March 2011 and August 2012.
:: A man from Blackburn with 29 points, who was caught speeding eight times between September and November 2011.
:: A man from Pevensey, East Sussex, with 24 points who was caught speeding six times in two weeks between September 30 and October 13 last year.
Institute of Advanced Motorists Chief Executive Simon Best said the examples showed the system was not working properly.
"Drivers must expect that 12 points means a ban or the whole system falls into disrepute," he said.
"DVLA and the courts service are upgrading their computer systems to ensure that offence information is shared more efficiently, but this is not due to be in place until October.
"When drivers with 10 speeding offences are getting away with holding a licence, these improvements cannot come quickly ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Sep 06 2013
A truck carrying 45 tons of sand rolled over the top of a car, completely flattening it, before smashing into a house.
The truck driver was trying to make it up a steep road to a golf course in Bountiful, Utah.
At first he struggled to get the vehicle into a low gear.
Then the brakes failed, sending the vehicle rolling backwards down the hill, taking down power lines and bursting through a wall.
It then crashed into a car on the driveway and smashed into the front of a house, according to Sergeant Andrew Bryson.
He said the residents of the property were eating breakfast in another part of the home when the truck hit and were not injured.
Bill Bymaster, who owns the house, said: "I've never seen anything like it."
He added: "The car was sold yesterday - that's the funny part."
Sep 06 2013
German police, prosecutors and forensics experts are facing a mystery after a 10-year-old boy found a human mummy in a sarcophagus in a corner of his grandparents' attic.
A CT scan has revealed a well-preserved human skull, with an arrow sticking out of the left eye socket, and large parts of a skeleton with the arms crossed over the chest, the local newspaper Kreiszeitung has reported.
Adding to the riddle is a death mask also found in the box, and the fact that X-rays show a metal layer covering the bones of the 1.49-metre-long (4 feet 8 inches) human remains of unknown gender.
The boy's father, Lutz-Wolfgang Kettler, said his own father, who died 12 years ago, had in the 1950s travelled to North Africa and may have brought back the mummy as a grisly souvenir.
The bandages used for the mummy -- which has not been unwrapped for fear of damaging the remains -- date from the 20th century and are machine-woven, said Kettler, a dentist who attended the CT scan.
Pathologist Andreas Nerlich of Munich's Bogenhausen hospital told news website Spiegel Online that, while the skull and the bones are real, the mummy is "a fake, made from one or several human bodies."
"What we have are questions upon questions" since the boy, Alexander, found the mummy about a month ago, said Kettler.
Police and prosecutors have taken note of the case in the town of Diepholz, Lower Saxony state, and are waiting for more information on where the body came from before looking into the possibility of modern-age foul play.
"We'll wait until we know how old the bones are," police spokesman Frank Bavendiek told German news agency DPA. "If they are a few hundred years old, then it's ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Sep 05 2013
A jailed rapist will discover this week whether he contracted HIV from his victim.
Richard Thomas, 27, collapsed when police informed him about his victim's medical status, and is now waiting to hear if he has contracted the virus.
Thomas knew the woman and was aware that she has another illness, but had not known about the HIV.
He was shocked when he was told and asked to be taken to hospital, Liverpool Crown Court heard.
He had let himself into her home in Leigh, Greater Manchester, uninvited in the middle of the night and she awoke to find him raping her.
"She froze and no words were exchanged. He pulled up his shorts and left," said prosecutor Harry Pepper.
"He was arrested and interviewed and said he had been drinking heavily, taken cocaine and ecstasy and could not recall the incident," he added.
Thomas' barrister, Virginia Hayton, said he could not recall the attack, but said of his victim: "(She) would not lie, she tells the truth. If she says I have done it, I have done it."
Jailing Thomas for five years and four months, Judge Mark Brown said he had committed "this dreadful offence" while she lay asleep, having taken a sleeping tablet, and left her distressed and anxious.
He ordered him to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life.
Thomas, of Sandringham Drive, Leigh, pleaded guilty to raping the woman on July 20 this year.
Miss Hayton said Thomas, who has previous convictions but none for sexual offences, "is remorseful and cannot understand why he did it and it is troubling him".
She said he would not find out the result of his HIV test until Friday, and has had the worry of the ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
China will allow unfettered exchange of its yuan currency in its first free trade zone, a draft plan seen by AFP Thursday showed, in a push to reform the world's second largest economy.
The plan showed the free trade zone (FTZ) in Shanghai goes beyond greater liberalisation of trade to take in investment and financial services -- including free convertibility of currency.
"Under the pre-condition that risk can be controlled, in the zone convertibility of the renminbi on the capital account will be conducted, the first to carry out and test (it)," the plan said.
It does not explicitly state that the exchange rate will be purely market set.
China's yuan currency, also known as the renminbi, is convertible for trade but the government keeps a tight grip on the capital account on worries unpredictable inflows or outflows could harm the economy -- and reduce its control.
The Shanghai FTZ is intended to make the city into a true international trade and financial centre and challenge the free economy of Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, analysts and government officials said.
Premier Li Keqiang, who took office in March, is backing the zone -- which his cabinet approved last month -- to be one of the crowning achievements of his administration, they said.
Sep 05 2013
A pint-sized android has uttered the first robotic words in space, showcasing Japan's drive to combine cutting-edge technology with cuteness.
The wide-eyed and bootie-wearing "Kirobo" -- roughly the size of a chihuahua -- broadcast a message from inside the International Space Station, greeting citizens of Earth and paying cheeky tribute to Neil Armstrong.
"On August 21, 2013, a robot took one small step toward a brighter future for all," Kirobo said in a video that showed the humanoid creation drifting weightlessly on-board the ISS, as it moved its legs in the air.
The images made their global debut on Wednesday as part of Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Games during a presentation ahead of a meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires which will decide the host city.
"Good morning to everyone on Earth. This is Kirobo. I am the world's first talking robot astronaut. Nice to meet you," it said in Japanese.
The humanoid was created jointly by advertising firm Dentsu, the University of Tokyo, robot developer Robo Garage and Toyota.
The robot stands just 34 centimetres (13.4 inches) tall and weighs about one kilogram (2.2 pounds).
It left Earth on August 4 on a cargo-carrying rocket that was also delivering supplies to the ISS.
Kirobo is programmed to communicate in Japanese and keep records of its conversations with Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese astronaut to command the ISS.
The robot is part of a study aimed at seeing how a non-human companion can provide emotional support for people isolated over long periods.
An Argentine archbishop said Pope Francis jokingly told him he chose to live in a simple Vatican residence to avoid getting robbed in the more regal papal palace, the official Catholic news agency quoted the Buenos Aires Church authority as saying.
Mario Poli, who replaced Francis as archbishop of Buenos Aires, has twice met the leader of the Catholic Church since he was picked in March, according to a story posted on the website of the Catholic news agency of Argentina AICA.
"Just to gossip with him a bit we said, 'Aren't you going to live in the papal palace?' and he told us ironically, 'There? So they can rob me? No!'," Poli was quoted as saying in a speech to the faithful on Saturday. The comments were reported by local newspapers on Wednesday.
Poli said the Pope used the Argentine slang term "afanar," which means to steal.
Since his election on March 13, Francis has opted to live in a small suite in a busy guest house instead of the opulent papal apartments where he would be surrounded by the offices of the curia, the Vatican's central administration.
Poli said Francis is enjoying his role as the head of the Church and has traded the sullen "funeral face" he used to wear in Argentina for gracious smiles.
"He smiles at everyone" now, Poli reportedly said. "The Pope is very happy.... He says it's very entertaining being Pope. Yes, there are problems, as in all families, but there are many people helping him."
Francis has surprised many with his unconventional decisions that are widely viewed as a bid to overhaul the troubled Vatican and set a fresh tone in a church beset by scandals.
On Saturday Francis named a veteran diplomat as ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
China has banned officials from buying mooncakes with public funds during an upcoming holiday, as the Communist leadership promotes its crackdown on corruption.
The pastry, a traditional food during the Mid-Autumn Festival which this year falls on September 19, has a sweet, heavy filling often made from lotus seed paste or red beans.
The cakes themselves are relatively cheap, around 100 yuan ($16) for eight. But in a culture where personal connections are often the key to getting business done, Chinese holidays -- National Day follows soon afterwards -- are often a chance for networking and sometimes for corruption.
The boxes in which mooncakes come have been used as a vehicle for payoffs. Sometimes they have even been made of gold and contain silver chopsticks, according to previous Chinese media reports.
"Sending mooncakes and other items as gifts purchased with public funds during the festivals is strictly prohibited," the Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a statement.
Officials are also banned from spending public funds on holidays, gym visits or entertainment activities, the anti-graft body said, and government agencies must not hand out excessive bonuses or benefits.
The measures are in response to recent remarks by President Xi Jinping that officials' behaviour during major festivals and holidays was "a significant test of their working style", the statement said.
Authorities will "punish every violation once it is detected, seriously hold those responsible or in charge accountable, and publicise typical cases to the public", it added.
"(We) must resolutely put an end to the malpractices during the two holidays."
China's new leadership has mounted a high-profile anti-corruption drive since Xi took over as party chief, warning that corruption could destroy the party ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)