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I Want My Rights!



Relatives of two British convicted murderers, claiming a breach of "privacy" under the European Convention on Human Rights, filed lawsuits recently against the Greater Manchester Police over a crime-prevention campaign. High-profile gangbangers Colin Joyce, 29, and Lee Amos, 32, had been sentenced to long prison terms, and the GMP, trying to turn youths away from gangs, created computer images on billboards of the two men as they might look when they are released, sometime after the year 2040. Their families were outraged. (GMP reported that gang-related shootings are down 92 percent since Joyce and Amos were caught.)

Schoolteacher Charlene Schmitz, convicted in February 2008 of using electronic messaging to seduce a 14-year-old student in Leroy, Ala., was fired and is now serving a 10-year prison sentence. However, under Alabama law, she is still entitled to draw her $51,000 salary until all legal issues are concluded, and Schmitz is both appealing her conviction and suing the school board for firing her. Another aspect of state law requires the settlement of all criminal issues before the lawsuit can even be addressed. The school board, with an already limited budget, must thus pay Schmitz and her replacement during the process.

A Canadian public employees' union local had been on strike in Toronto for weeks, causing an otherwise popular public park to fall into disuse because of high grass and lack of maintenance. Fed-up neighbors brought their own mowers to the park and cleaned it up, making it once again a valuable community resource for dog-walking, ball-playing and picnics. Said the local union's president, in July, of the neighbors' effort: "You could use the word 'scab.'"

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