Sunday, September 24, 2017

Aaron Carter Enters Residential Treatment Program Following Repeated Reports of Drug Abuse, Erratic Behavior, & Suicidal Ideation

I learned yesterday that Aaron Carter continues to go through a spiral of troubling behavior. The singer recently revealed that he is bisexual and then began having breakdowns. More recently, he appeared on "The Doctors," where he decided to address risky sexual behaviors and concerning weight loss by undergoing an HIV test on national television. Fortunately, we learned that he's HIV-negative. Unfortunately, the troubled celebrity also tested positive for several drugs and revealed that he abuses cosmetic filler medications.

On Friday, news began circulating that police have rushed to Aaron Carter's home several times recently following reports of suicidal ideation and drug abuse:
Aaron Carter has not only threatened to take his own life multiple times in the past few weeks using a deadly mix of prescription drugs and computer duster, he also threatened to hurt those closest to him. The Blast obtained recent reports from the St. Petersburg Police Department performing mental health evaluations on Carter. One report states the caller told cops Carter was “not in a safe mental state … engaging in drug activity.” Police noted that Carter has “threatened to harm family and others.” Another call says Carter threatened to commit suicide by mixing Xanax, Clonopin [sic], and “Dusters.” Dusters is a reference to huffing computer dusters. Cops responded to Carter’s apartment and observed he “does have a lot of prescription meds in his home.” Most recently, one of Carter’s friends called cops Thursday afternoon begging for them to check on the singer after a Facetime conversation led them to believe he needed to be hospitalized immediately. The friend said the singer’s “words were slurred and did not make sense.” They also noticed his “skin color was off.” Cops responded to Carter’s apartment and evaluated him for the Baker Act, which allows someone to be involuntarily institutionalized if police deem they are a danger to themselves or others. They did not feel he met the criteria for hospitalization.
Shortly after this information came out, it was released that Carter has entered into a inpatient treatment facility to "improve his health and work on his overall wellness."

Shortly before entering treatment, Carter posted the following message on Twitter:

He then tweeted that he's cut his family out of his life and plans to keep it that way.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Iowa: Man Sues Van Buren County Sheriff's Office for Bursting into Wrong Homes & Confiscating His Personal Property

A family in Douds, IA, has filed a lawsuit against the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department, accusing the county's sheriff's officers of illegally entering his home and for their "deliberate indifference to and/or reckless disregard" of his constitutional rights against unreasonable searches.

This specifically relates to a search warrant that the five sheriff's officers executed at the wrong address on June 27, 2017. According to the Des Moines Register, a judge granted the officers' request for a search warrant at a Douds home as part of an illegal drugs investigation. However, the officers went to the wrong house. Michael Owings came home and found that his front door had been kicked in and that the officers were confiscating and destroying his personal property -- even after he offered proof that they were at the wrong home:
Despite two address markers and a sign on the front door that said “The Owings,” Van Buren Deputy John Zane and four other unnamed officers attempted to kick in the door. The officers ultimately cut the locked chain securing the door and “began to conduct an intrusive search” of the wrong property, the lawsuit said. The lawsuit further alleges that the officers uncovered multiple items during the search that established them to be at the incorrect residence. “Rather than terminate the search and depart the premises, defendants consciously disregarded the information and continued searching,” the lawsuit said.
According to the lawsuit, Owings told the officers that they were at the wrong house when he arrived, which garnered this response: "We own this property."

Keep in mind that Van Buren County is pretty tiny. About 7,570 people live there. And Douds is even tinier, with a population of merely 165 people. It amazes me that the Sheriff's Department would make this type of mistake. Not only that, but house that they were supposed to search is a two-story home and Owings' home is a mobile home.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Actor KJ Apa Injured in Late-Night Drive from "Riverdale" Set Following 16-Hour Work Day

Today's "Riverdale" news is that KJ Apa -- the actor who portrays Archie Andrews on everyone's favorite CW series -- fell asleep at the wheel of his vehicle and crashed into a light pole just after midnight last night. He was taken to the hospital for observation and eventually discharged without serious injury. But his car was totaled.

Apa was traveling back to his hotel following a 16-hour work day and was pretty much exhausted. Which is indicative of a common complaint from the "Riverdale" set:
The show routinely requires shoots that last until the early morning hours, and the cast and crew are not provided transportation to and from the set. Cole Sprouse, who co-stars as Archie's pal Jughead and is one of Apa's close friends, had apparently planned to be in the car as well that night but changed plans at the last minute. Sprouse, a leader of sorts of the actors on the show, has asked that the Greg Berlanti-produced series provide transportation to castmembers working late hours
SAG-AFTRA announced earlier today that the union will be investigating the program's Vancouver set:
This is an extremely troubling situation and we are deeply concerned about the safety of performers on the Riverdale set... We are sending a team to Vancouver to review the circumstances surrounding safety issues affecting performers on this production.
Warner Bros. TV issued a response:
First and foremost, we are extremely grateful that KJ Apa was uninjured during his recent accident. Secondarily, we want to specifically address the characterization that conditions on the set of Riverdale are of concern... We have a large cast of series regulars, and our actors do not work every day. On the day of the accident, KJ worked 14.2 hours. The previous day he worked 2.5 hours, and the day before that he worked 7.7 hours. KJ has repeatedly been informed about making production aware if he is tired or feels unsafe, and if so, either a ride or hotel room will be provided for him. The accident occurred last Thursday. Additionally, it is untrue that KJ was taken to the hospital. He was treated by first responders on the scene and released by them. We also sent a doctor to his home later that same day for a follow-up to confirm his well-being.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New "Sabrina" Television Series to Debut in 2018 on The CW!!

Pretty exciting news coming out of Archie Comics today. Archie Comics has announced a new "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" television series featuring Sabrina the Teenage Witch!:
SABRINA will draw from the critically acclaimed CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA comic book series from Archie Comics written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Robert Hack, detailing the compelling and shocking re-imagining of Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s occult origins. This dark coming-of-age story deals with horror, the occult, and witchcraft and will see Sabrina struggle to reconcile her dual nature of being half-witch and half-mortal while protecting her family and the world from the forces of evil.
"Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" will debut on The CW during the 2018-19 television season.

I'm very excited about this new television series -- though I still wish Archie Comics would green-light a "Sabrina The Teenage Witch" reunion series featuring Melissa Joan Hart and the other stars of the 1990s ABC sitcom! I truly believe that we could live in a world where both versions of Sabrina could coexist!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Iowa City: Ped Mall Shooter Plans to Use "Stand Your Ground" Defense

Iowa passed its own "stand your ground" law during the past legislative session. It states that law-abiding people do not have to retreat before using deadly force to defend themselves if they believe their life is in danger — even if they are wrong in perceiving the danger faced, as long as the belief is "reasonable." That law went into effect on July 1st.

Now the Ped Mall shooting suspect from late last month, 23-year-old Lamar Wilson, has indicated through his attorney that he will use Iowa's new "stand your ground" law as a defense in the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Kaleek Jones. He also plans to claim self-defense, defense of other, defense of property, and defense against a forcible felony.

His trial has been scheduled for 11/07/17. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and intimidation with a dangerous weapon.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Social Media Reactions to Reports of Student Suspended Over American Flag

(Originally written on 09/17/17): There is a story brewing in nearby Cedar Rapids. A Facebook message has gone viral that reads:
The owner of the blue truck in the picture got suspended today from Jefferson high school for flying an American flag and a police flag on his truck. Comment what you think about this.
It became a big enough deal and garnered enough local attention that the Cedar Rapids Community School District needed to issue a statement denying that anyone was suspended for flying an American flag and/or a Blue Lives Matter flag, while also remaining vague about the specifics because of federal FERPA laws:
ATTENTION: We are responding to a post circulating on social media regarding an incident which took place at Jefferson High School on Friday. The post suggests that a student was disciplined for flying an American and a Blue Lives Matter flag. 
This is INACCURATE and INCOMPLETE information being shared on social media. While CRCSD is bound by state and federal confidentiality laws regarding students, and which prevent us from providing context, we can say the following: 
1) The representation of the circumstances being described with Jefferson High School is INACCURATE and INCOMPLETE. 
2) No student has been suspended or disciplined for flying an American flag and/or a Blue Lives Matter flag. 
3) Students have, in fact, several times since August 23, been allowed to fly American flags and Blue Lives Matter flags as we respect the rights of students to fly both of these flags. 
4) So long as students’ behavior does not disrupt learning, conflict with the Cedar Rapids Community School District’s non-discrimination policy, or pose a threat to the safety of others, we respect our students’ rights to freedom of speech and expression. 
5) This incident is part of a much broader situation involving behaviors against school and district policy and which disrupt student learning.
It has been difficult to find accurate information about what happened. Most of it is gossipy "he-said-she-said" stuff. I've heard that the principal took the flag off of this student's truck and threw it in the trash. I've heard that another student took the flag off of this student's truck and threw it in the trash. I've heard that the suspended student marched down the school hallway waving it around spouting racist statements. I've even read one student's assertion that the principal had a one-on-one discussion with him and stated that the flag "a racist and white supremacist flag" (not sure which one he was referring to).

In other words, it's unclear what actually happened. One student (whose assertion has been heard all over the place) says that her classmate was suspended for flying two flags on his truck. The school district has denied that assertion, but cannot say anything more. And the suspended student hasn't said anything -- at least not anywhere where I've been tracking down information. Oh, and KCRG has reported on the story -- which is how I learned of it in the first place.

I will make this observation. If Jefferson High School really does hate the American flag, it has done a very bad job of separating itself from the flag. For example, the school was waving what I assume to be the American flag outside its building last September.

Granted, that was a year ago. That means nothing. The flag could have been taken down and desecrated since then. But then I began trolling the school's Twitter feed and discovered that the American flag is being hung in the school gym last month. And this month.

In other words, it's unlikely that the school is punishing students for displaying the American flag -- and least not unless the student was displaying the American flag in such as way that he was going out of his way to disrupt the school community.

That didn't stop a handful of students from protesting the student's suspension early this morning with flag-adorned vehicles:

I can't wait to watch KCRG News tonight at 5:30 PM. I'm curious if we'll learn anything more, or it just continues to be about people reacting to rumors and gossip.

Updated on 09/18/17: I finally got the opportunity to watch last night's KCRG segment about this story. We finally got to hear from the suspended student, who continues to assert that his suspension was because of his Blue Lives Matter flag, but also squashed some of the other rumors going around.

The student told KCRG that he was asked to take the flag off of his truck two weeks ago, but that he continued mounting it on his vehicle. He says that last week, "someone ripped it off the back of my truck and put it in a trash can." He says that the principal said that he would do something about it, but never did (or the suspended student just wasn't aware of what happened because of the very same FERPA laws that prevent them from directly addressing his own suspension to the media).

According to the student, several other students became frustrated -- presumably by the slow pace of the investigation. So they all brought flags to school as a form of protest. He denies that any of them shouted racial slurs in the school building. But he was suspended for one day following Friday's flag protest.

The suspended student plan on transferring to the Mount Vernon school district instead of returning to the Cedar Rapids Community School District.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

RIVERDALE #6: Did Pop Tate Sell His Soul to the Devil to Save Pop's Chock'Lit Shoppe?

I was catching up on my pile of unread comic books earlier today, which brings me to RIVERDALE #6, which is a comic book adaptation of CW's "Riverdale," which of course is a television adaptation of the various characters published by Archie Comics. The story here is "Chock'Lit Shoppe of Horrors" and it features writing by Ross Maxwell & Will Ewing, art by Joe Eisma, colors by Andre Szymanowicz, and letters by John Workman.

RIVERDALE #6 features the story of Pop Tate and Pop's Chock-Lit Shoppe. Betty has approached Pop Tate for an interview with the school's newspaper, in honor of Riverdale's 75th anniversary.

We learn in RIVERDALE #6 that Pop's has been around longer than the town of Riverdale itself. It started out originally in the 1930s by his father as a pharmacy and soda shop. We learned that a variety of celebrities have stopped by Pop's over the decade -- including Bonnie & Clyde, the notorious gangsters.

Through Pop Tate, we learned a little more about the history of Sweetwater River. We learned that this area has a long history of mysterious disappearances and odd drownings -- as well as a possible river monster!

In fact, this researcher, who young Pop sent off on a possible lead for Riverale's very own fresh water cryptid ends up disappearing himself. Pop discovers the man's camera and comes across this image:

Despite the picture, Betty remains skeptical about whether or not Riverdale has its own river monster. To her, it looks like the water with shadow of a cloud formation on it.

We then learned that Pop's began struggling in the 1970s, the victim of a rival restaurant that actually served food. A mysterious traveler stopped by Pop's one night and talked the young entrepreneur into frying him up a couple of hamburgers. He was so appreciative that he gave Pop Tate some advise -- add hamburgers to the menu.

Creepily enough, Pop stated that he would do anything to put the other restaurant out of business. Which met the traveler's approval. And sure enough, the rival restaurant burned to the ground within one week and never reopened. But the implication is that Pop Tate sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for Pop's renewed success.

Which got me wondering... How old is Pop Tate? He really doesn't look that old and yet his father was old enough to start up a business in the early 1930's. Maybe he had Pop late in life, but Pop was at least in his twenties back in the early 1970s. This nagged at me long enough to check out the IMDb page for Alvin Sanders, the actor who plays Pop Tate on "Riverdale." Turns out that he was born in 1952, so he's certainly old enough to have lived through this time frame. But he'd be in his late 60s by now. Which leaves me hoping that there's a third (or fourth?) generation version of Pop Tate running around to take over Pop's in the near future.

Because young Pop Tate really needs the opportunity to retire someday soon!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Remembering Judge Joe Brown's Homophobic Attack Against a Defendant

Occasionally when I'm bored, I watch reruns of small claims court programs on YouTube. I was annoyed yesterday while watching this clip from three years ago of "Judge Joe Brown." A woman was suing her friend for $190 for money that she says that she loaned him to hire a locksmith to get his keys out of a locked car. His defense? He never asked for the money and that she could afford to pay for it.

Pretty open and shut as cases go. But then Judge Brown went there during the cross-examination when he began accusing the defendant of being gay:
Judge Joe Brown: Young man. I'm a seasoned and proven mature man. It would do you a lot of good in your journey through life to pay careful attention. Don't roll your eyes like a woman. You're a man. Stand up straight! I hope you're a man. Stand up straight! i don't know. A lot of folks are down low these days. 

Defendant: C'mon, cuz! You got me ***'ed up. How you gonna come at me like that, judge? That's disrespectful. You're not acting like a man coming at me like that. 

Judge Joe Brown. Oh, but I am. 

Defendant: Oh, but you're not, folks! Unreal, man...
Meanwhile, the plaintiff and the audience are laughing and tittering at this interaction.

Instead of continuing with the case, Judge Brown continued along this line of discussion and increasingly upsetting and provoking the defendant:
Judge Joe Brown: What I have been most disturbed about... 

Defendant: So by calling a man "on the down low" is making a man out of him, right?

Judge Joe Brown: Be quiet!... What I used to see is when there was a man standing at the podium, what he was doing was behaving in a certain way and I saw the young ladies and they would act in a certain way. And what's interesting is over the last 12 years I've been doing this particular arbitration thing I'm doing right now and considering... the 20 years that I have done this before I have noticed an interesting transition. The boys are starting to act like the girls used to in terms of the body language -- rolling eyes... hand on hip... 

*Audience Cheering*

Judge Joe Brown: Women since time immemorial have talked over somebody who's trying to address them and you're talking over me just like you're a woman. So when you start acting like on, sounding like one, moving like one, then I'm going to put it out there...
And it went downhill from there. The defendant rose to the bait and began talking back to Judge Brown and Judge Brown ended up detaining him and sending him to jail for disrupting the arbitration process.

Judge Brown continues to accuse the defendant of being a girl and "down low" while he's being led out of the courtroom.

I've always been curious if the people that Judge Brown escorts out of the courtroom are actually arrested or not. You would hope not, but Judge Brown often seems weak to me in these moments. He defames and provokes others in these moments and then punishes when his defendants push back.

Regardless, this whole exchange comes off as homophobic and sexist and it irritates me that everyone laughs it off like it's nothing. I'm not saying that I would stand up and make a scene while he's in the midst of his tirade, but I would hope that I would have the courage to get up and leave the program as soon as the case ended before any other cases began.

You can watch the entire clip here.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Aaron Carter Learns He's HIV-Negative on "The Doctors"

Singer Aaron Carter came out as bisexual a few weeks ago. I didn't write about it at the time, but made a mental note about his self-outing. Then I started hearing stories of him breaking down during performances and other concerning situations.

Now this evening, I found out that Carter appeared on a new episode of "The Doctors," where he sought an HIV test following a period of risky sexual behavior and concerning weight loss. And why wouldn't you want to find out your HIV status on a national television program during a time of emotional crisis?

Fortunately, Carter found out that he's HIV-negative. He also tested negative for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. He also tested negative for cocaine and meth.

However, he tested positive for pot and Oxycodone and Xanax and several other prescription meds. He regularly uses filler medications, such as Restylane, Voluma, and Rejuviderm. He's also malnourished and has a body mass index of 17.

Iowa City Man, Whose Cat Was Allegedly Tortured by Roommate, Now Charged with 18 Counts of Sexual Abuse // Updated Charges Below

(Originally written on 12/19/14): A local man was arrested two months ago and charged with torturing his roommate's 8-week-old kitten for at least three hours non-stop. This abuse was reportedly recorded by a video camera on the roommate's laptop.

Here is where everything gets complicated. Its seems that the Iowa City Police Department found additional videos on Nathan Schloss' laptop. Those videos led to his arrest earlier today. According to the Gazette and the Iowa City Police Department, Nathan Schloss faces 18 counts of third-degree sexual abuse for allegedly committing sexual acts with "an 'incapacitated' woman and recording those acts without her knowledge:"
Police said that while all 18 charges involve one victim, there are multiple victims involved and more charges are to come. Police have not given a definitive number of victims.
“We have identified and spoken to several of the victims involved in this manner and continue to identify others,” (Sgt. Scott) Gaarde said...

According to criminal complaints, the earliest incident occurred on May 13, 2012 and continued until September 8, 2013. The criminal complaints are sparse in details, but share in common traits. 

Police said that in each case, the victim was “incapacitated” and had no idea she was being recorded. 

Schloss is depicted in the videos touching and, in multiple cases, penetrating his victim or rubbing himself on her, according to the criminal complaints.

It appears that in at least one case, police had to inform the alleged victim that she was sexually assaulted.

“The victim has never seen this video and was unaware this ever happened,” one complaint reads.
Gaarde said he could not comment on how the women were incapacitated or what would account for their lack of memory of the events...

In one case, police said video shows the alleged victim waking up in the middle of the abuse and repeatedly telling Schloss to get off her.
According to the Gazette, Schloss told the police that the woman in the video was aware of both the sexual activity and that she was being recorded.

Schloss faces up to ten years in prison for each of those 18 counts of third-degree sexual abuse.

It goes without saying that he has been accused and not convicted of these charges.

Updated on 12/30/14: The Press-Citizen reports that Schloss has now been charged with 22 counts of invasion of privacy:
According to criminal complaints, Schloss video recorded or photographed himself with visibly incapacitated women against their consent. The videos and photos depicted Schloss having sexual intercourse with one victim, touching multiple victims' genitalia and using victims' hands to touch his own genitalia, according to criminal complaints.

Schloss had multiple victims, police have said, and it is possible that not all of the victims have been identified. Police also said some of the victims were unaware the abuse had taken place. According to criminal complaints, the abuse took place between May 13, 2012, and Sept. 8, 2013, at three Iowa City addresses...

According to the State of Iowa legal code, a person charged with invasion of privacy the charges Schloss faces is "a person who knowingly views, photographs, or films another person, for the purpose of arousing and gratifying the sexual desire of any person." According to the code, the victim must have no knowledge of the event, must not consent or be able to consent and must be in a state of full or partial nudity.
Schloss was released from jail yesterday after posting bond. The PC reports that he must remain within the state of Iowa and is not allowed contact with any of his alleged victims.

Updated on 07/13/17: It's been a really long time since I last wrote about this case. It's being reported in local media that Nathan Schloss will finally be entering a new plea next week. A plea hearing has been scheduled for Monday, July 17th. His trial was supposed to begin on August 8th.

Updated on 07/17/17: Nathan Schloss successfully entered a plea deal earlier today. He pleaded guilty to five counts of invasion of privacy and one count of assault causing serious injury. Under the plea agreement, Schloss will be sentenced to up to five years for the assault charge and up to one year for each of the individual invasion of privacy charges. The sentences will run consecutively for a period of up to ten years. Schloss will also be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years and will be placed on probation for 10 years following his prison sentence.

Updated on 09/14/17: What a crazy story. Back in late 2014, Nathan Schloss contacted the Iowa City Police and shared video images of his roommate severely and torturing his kitten. Two months later, Iowa City Police arrested Schloss himself after discovering numerous videos of him committing sexual acts on women who were incapacitated and unable to offer consent. Three years later, Schloss pleaded guilty to five counts of invasion of privacy and one count of assault causing serious injury.

Earlier today, Nathan Schloss was sentenced to ten years in prison. According to KCJJ, his attorney had attempted to secure a suspended sentence. But Judge Chad Kepros sentenced Schloss to the maximum sentence.