January 15, 2014

Charles Oliver: Upcoming charity breakfast no emergency

Charles Oliver

— • Officials in Palo Alto, Calif., say they will look at changing the policy for the city’s text alert system. The Fire Department used the system to send out an alert about an upcoming charity breakfast. Several people complained, saying they thought the system was only going to be used for emergencies. Fire Department officials defended the message, saying the event included a helicopter landing at a local school and they didn’t want residents to see that and panic.

• French President Francois Hollande’s approval rating dipped to 15 percent in November, making him the least popular French president since polling began. But in recent weeks his approval rating has begun to climb, and it now stands at 26 percent. And while correlation does not mean causation, it is worth considering that his approval rating went up after some media outlets reported he’s been having an affair with actress Julie Gayet.

• Deric Lostutter uncovered and leaked video that was eventually used to find two teens guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio. Several school officials have also been indicted for allegedly trying to cover up the rape. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors have thanked Lostutter for uncovering that evidence. No, just kidding. They’ve charged him with criminal hacking. He faces up to 10 years in prison. One of the rapists was recently freed from a juvenile detention facility after serving less than one year for his crime.

• An inspector general’s report found that Medicare, the federal program that provides health coverage for seniors, spent $172 million between 2006 and 2011 on, umm, “vacuum erection systems.” It also found that Medicare pays, on average, double what these devices would cost if purchased over the Internet.

• South Carolina Judge Michael Baxley has ruled that the state Corrections Department’s treatment of mentally ill prisoners is “systematically deficient and exposes seriously mentally ill inmates to substantial risk of serious harm.” He also called the lawsuit filed on behalf of 3,500 inmates one of the most disturbing cases he’d seen in 14 years on the bench. He found that inmates are punished excessively with solitary confinement for nonviolent behavior, that substandard care had contributed to the deaths of several inmates and that the state has known of problems for a decade and not acted to correct them.

Charles Oliver is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen.