News Flash: Young Lawyers Seek Fast Track to Stardom

La Satira News Service

Washington, DCIn a little restaurant off D Street, Erik Praten takes orders, chats with customers, and delivers food to tables.  Like so many of his peers, Praten finds “waiter” to be a description, not only of his job, but also of himself.

“This obviously isn’t something I want to do for the rest of my life,” says Praten, taking advantage of a work break to leaf through an analysis of Kelo v City of New London while sipping a latte.  “I’m just waiting for my big break.”

Praten is one of thousands of other recently-graduated law students who come to Washington every year seeking a glamorous career in the legal profession.  Rather than returning to his native Rostovondon, Kansas, after college, or even moving to one of the larger cities to practice law there, Praten moved here to gain the inside track into legal stardom.

“This is where it all happens,” Praten says.  “Well, not ‘here’ specifically, as in this restaurant, but here in DC.  This is where the Supreme Court is; this is where laws are written.  If you want to work in the big time, if you really want to be a star, this is where you come.  A lot of my fellow students, when they graduated, decided to start work at the bottom, becoming junior members in small law firms.  That’s okay for them, but I know there’s something better in store for me.”

“I thought my big break had arrived earlier this year, with a liability case involving bismuth exposure; but that went over like a lead balloon. In fact a lead balloon would have had a better chance of passing as a liability case.  But I’m confident, I’ll get there in the end.”

Later that evening, Praten is at one of his other jobs, busking for tips in a Metro station.  Instead of playing an instrument or singing, though, Praten recites testimony and arguments from recent court cases.

“Oh, is that what he’s doing?” said one on-looker when asked about Mr. Praten’s performance.  “That’s a relief.  At first I thought he was talking on a cell phone; then when I walked past I noticed he didn’t have one.  That was very worrying.”

Praten admits his efforts here have not been as remunerative has he might like.  In a way, though, tips are a secondary consideration:  the main goal is to get noticed.  “It’s only a matter of time before some legal bigwig sees me and I can impress them firsthand with the quality of my research and analysis.”

Visibility may not be enough:  the competition for jobs is so tremendous many would-be lawyers hire agents to push their talents at legal firms.  Such agencies typically work on commission, taking up to fifteen percent of the lawyer’s salary for the duration that the lawyer is represented.  “Fifteen percent is obviously higher than a lot of agency commissions,” admits John Q. Public, the head of one such agency.  “But you have to remember, in this town the competition is fierce, the cost of living is high, and a lot of starting salaries are still pretty low.  Plus, you have to remember who our clients are.  Have you ever tried to work out a contract when the other party is a lawyer?  There’s a lot of extra rigor involved.”

Besides the growth in the number of legal talent agencies, the influx of new talent is driving other structural changes.  Some of the larger legal firms have started hosting talent nights, inviting amateurs and beginners to put their debating skills on display in coffee shops, small theaters, and other venues, for live audiences.  Reaction from said audiences has been somewhat mixed.  “I guess it’s an acquired taste,” said Dierdre Lawhead, a barista at a local Megabux Coffee franchise.  “It’s not what I’d call entertaining, but I guess it’s better than reading the comments at the end of online news articles.  Still, I have to admit hosting these things has improved sales of our Ultracaffeinated line of products.”

Praten has yet to participate in one of these talent nights.  “The waiting list to participate in one of these things is enormous,” he said.  “It’s really a matter of luck.”

Meanwhile, Praten continues to change his address as his personal economy dictates, often crashing with friends at their apartments or sleeping in his car–an especially challenging approach to life, given Washington’s reputation for quirky parking rules.  “Every now and then I wake up in the impound lot,” Praten admits.  “But it’s only a matter of time before I make it big.  Life’s like a court case, you know; you have to write your own verdict.  Before you know it I’ll be the talk of the town.  You won’t be able to get me off Court TV.  You’ll see my picture in magazines like Persons and Them. Even appearing in a tabloid like National Litigator wouldn’t be altogether bad.”

Copyright 2013.

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News Flash: Snowbound Pennsylvanians Call for Head of Punxsutawney Phil

La Satira News Service

Residents of a small town in Pennsylvania, weary after facing three winter storms in the two weeks since Groundhog Day, took the unusual step of asking a judge to file a cease-and-desist order against Punxsutawney Phil, arguably the most famous groundhog in the business of weather forecasting.

“Well, what else can we do?” asked Alhalibut mayor Jack Flocondeneige. “We were promised an early spring, and once again the glorified rat has failed to deliver.”

Hans Gletscher, a local grocer, agreed. “If he can’t forecast any better than this, he shouldn’t be in the business. How can he still market himself as a weather forecaster with a success rate of only 39%?  Even a flipping coin could do a better job than that.”

Criticism of Punxsutawney Phil, though, has not been unanimous.  Some, while not especially impressed by his powers of prognostication, have stopped short of calling for Phil to call it quits. “It’s not as though modern meteorology is foolproof,” said Dr.  Irene Dropski-Pfallin, professor of meteorology at the nearby University of Punxsutawney, from a specially-constructed igloo on the university grounds. “They can hardly expect too much accuracy from a rodent.   Of course, if his predictions have been wrong 61% of the time on a forecast that only has two choices, it’s worth asking:  is he that bad at forecasting, or have we got the signals backward?”

At the offices of the Groundhog Meteorological Gazette, editor Arthur Bellwether bristled at this suggestion.  “Of course we haven’t gotten the signals backward.  That’s the way it’s always been for time out of mind:  if the groundhog sees his shadow, we’re in for another six weeks of winter.  Otherwise, we get an early spring.  And as far as that goes, it’s only February:  we could still have an early spring.”

Regardless of Phil’s actual talent, the plaintiffs are unlikely to have smooth sailing.  According to Dr. Maureen Murmeltier, the University of Punxsutawney’s Distinguished Professor of Dubious Litigation, the case is problematic for a number of reasons.  “This isn’t normally the sort of case in which a cease-and-desist order would apply,” she said.  “Also, outside of some sort of Miracle on 34th Street scenario, it’s hard to imagine the court recognizing a groundhog as a legally responsible agent, much less making a serious ruling on what is–let’s face it–a fun but rather frivolous superstition.  Anyway, the plaintiffs themselves have a bit of a credibility gap:  if the groundhog is so inaccurate as they say, what does it say about them that they still trust it?  ”

“That lawyer person has a lot of nerve calling it a frivolous superstition,” responded Gletscher, the grocer.  “I’ve never subscribed to a frivolous superstition in my life, and hopefully never will, knock on wood.”

A preliminary hearing in the matter will be scheduled once grounds crews are able to remove the giant snowdrift from the front of the courthouse.

Copyright 2013

News Flash: Arrest Warrant Issued for Frosty T. Snowman

Greater Snowmass, New Hampshire.  As part of a larger crackdown on traffic violations and other crimes, the city has issued an arrest warrant for Frosty T. Snowman on charges of jaywalking and endangering the welfare of minors.

The charge dates from an incident years ago, in which Mr. Snowman, while ostensibly having fun with a group of children, defied a direction from a policeman directing traffic and led the group across a busy street.

“The evidence clearly indicates a shocking level of irresponsibility on the part of Mr. Snowman, ” said Officer Hans Gotcher, a spokesman for the Greater Snowmass police force.  “We discourage jaywalking at the best of times, but to jaywalk with a bunch of children in tow is absolutely beyond the pale.  We made out a ticket at the time, but as Mr. Snowman has taken no action on it for years, we are forced to escalate this to a warrant.”

Mr. Snowman’s defenders suggest the situation was not a matter of carefree defiance of the law.  “As I recall,” said Peter Hawthorne, a participant in the activities in question, “the sun was hot that day.  We were faced with a medical emergency:  Frosty had to get out of town before he melted away.”

Officer Gotcher dismissed the validity of the “emergency” defense.  “If it were a true emergency, the appropriate action would have been to communicate the emergency to the traffic policeman, who could have then dealt with the situation accordingly.  As far as the evidence indicates, no such effort was made.”

Officers are advised to be on the lookout for snowmen sporting a corn-cob pipe, a button nose, two eyes made out of coal, and an old top-hat.

“He said he’d be back again some day,” said Officer Gotcher.  “We’ll be ready for him.”

The city also issued an arrest warrant for Suzy Snowflake, age unknown, wanted for trespassing and stalking.  Ms. Snowflake has a documented history of tap, tap, tapping at people’s window panes to let them know she is in town.

Copyright 2012.

Merry Christmas from The Punnery and La Satira News Service.

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News Flash: UK MoD Boosts Recruitment; Shining Armour Not Included

La Satira News Service

In Shakespeare, it is not uncommon to see groups of knights rushing off into battle.  That, of course, was part of being a knight in the first place.  And under a draft proposal leaked from the UK’s Ministry of Defence, it might be again.

Confronted by ongoing military commitments overseas and shrinking budgets at home, the MoD has developed a plan to activate the class who were historically entrusted with the defence of the realm:  the knighthood.

“While we certainly condemn the leaking of the memo, it must be said that the plan really does make sense from a certain point of view,” said Peter Faux-Pasteur, a spokesman for the MoD.  “Ever since the development of chivalry, the position of knight has had a military element to it.  Nobody ever heard of King Arthur and the Economists of the Round Table, have they?  We’re talking about a vast number of people who have accepted the honour of their country; now it’s time for them to takes some responsibility as well.”

Under the plan, all members of the Order of the British Empire would be required to perform one year of military service in every decade.  Participants would receive a nominal stipend, though most costs would be borne by the knights themselves.  Those knights not having already received military training would do so prior to the commencement of their first year of service.

The plan met with immediate criticism from a variety of quarters, most of which centers on the current concept of knighthood as an honor for past achievement–and the ability of knights in general to demonstrate competence in military matters if they are required to serve.

“It’s an absolutely ridiculous idea,” said Sir Hampton Applebury, a prominent financier.  “Granted, the knighthood started out as a military class, but that’s hardly been the standard over the last two hundred years.   These days the knighthood is granted to people, usually at a late stage of their career, who have already made great accomplishments, or else who have been involved in the entertainment industry.  Will Sir Richard Branson be pulled out of his transportation empire to build bridges with an engineering company?  Do we expect Sir Paul McCartney to start beetling around in Afghanistan or the Falklands?  Sir Ian MacKellan may be adept at wielding a wizard’s staff, but how would he do with a submachine gun?”

Others have expressed concern that this is merely a new strategem for squeezing money out of the wealthy, despite assertions from the MoD that wealthy knights would not be eligible to pay a fee in lieu of service.  In accordance with centuries-old custom, though, a knight in poor health may send a descendant in his place.  In acknowledgement of changing times, the descendant may be a son or a daughter.

“Of course many MBE recipients tend to be older persons who have already led a full life,” countered  spokesman Faux-Pasteur.  “But it is not the policy of the MoD to subscribe to age-based discrimination.”

Still, not everyone is put off by the proposal.  “They say this may make a lot of people refuse or give back their knighthoods,” said Sir Aethelred Godwinson, master of arms of one of the more obscure knighthood orders.  “Well, that’s fine.  It’s high time the knighthood stopped being a tool of political patronage or reward for success in the entertainment business.  Like they say, if everybody’s somebody, nobody’s anybody.”

If the plan is approved, the first “recruits” could be expected to appear for duty as soon as 1 April.

Copyright 2012

News Flash: Trial Begins in “Bismuth Awareness” Charity Fraud Case

La Satira News Service

Millions of people every day consume a product known to contain a radioactive heavy metal.  Most of them don’t even know they’re doing so.  And it’s all perfectly legal.

Moreover, the decay product of that substance is an even more dangerous material.

Or such was the claim of Fred Lavoisier, the chairman and chief fundraiser of the grass-roots advocacy group “Taking Care of Bismuth,” which purports to lobby for increased public awareness of the use of bismuth, the chief component of the “pink bismuth” family of digestive health products.

Mr. Lavoisier’s organization is the subject of a lawsuit from the Bandwagon Society, which claims the group is giving a bad name to legitimate charity and advocacy groups. and raising money for uncharitable purposes.

The move is an unusual one for the Bandwagon Society, which bills itself as an advocacy group for advocacy groups in general.  “If they want to advocate for something, they ought to advocate for something meaningful,” said Ms. Kelpie Berger-Picard, president of the Bandwagon Society, “like maybe awareness of frivolous advocacy groups.”

Much of the testimony in the trial is likely to center on the actual risk posed by bismuth in the context of bismuth subsalicylate, the active ingredient in the digestive medicine, as well as bismuth per se.

“Bismuth occupies a curious place in the periodic table,” said Dr. Haas Avogadro, professor of chemistry at the University of Punxsutawney, in a preliminary hearing.  “It’s in a neighborhood full of rougher elements like mercury, lead, thallium, polonium, and radon.  It’s in the same family as antimony and arsenic.  And yet it’s pretty much harmless.  It’s like running into the one genuinely nice kid in an otherwise disagreeable group, or a politician with genuine moral scruples.”

“Nobody’s suggesting it as a vitamin supplement, of course,” added Dr. Avogadro, “and you can make nasty chemical compounds out of almost any element; but as heavy metals go, it’s not so bad.”

Even the radioactivity claim is absurdly overstated, Dr. Avogadro said.  “Sure, it decays into thallium–but with a half-life of roughly 19 quintillion years, it’s not going to do much in the average human life span, much less in the few days it’s active in the body.  For the average dose of pink bismuth, we’re talking about maybe 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms of bismuth, of which maybe two or three atoms per day might decay into thallium.  There’s no way you’re going to get a meaningful dose–you’d get very, very sick from the other ingredients long before that.  As for radiation, you could get more of that by going out and planting petunias.”

The National Association of Commercial Petunia Growers immediately decried the comparison.  “How dare Dr. Avogadro make this irresponsible statement,” said Hyacinth Gardner, this year’s association president.  “There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that petunias are any more radioactive than any other gardening plant.”  Ms. Gardner suggested that any rise in employee health insurance premiums resulting from Dr. Avogadro’s comments would be paid for with the proceeds of a defamation lawsuit against the University of Punxsutawney.

Meanwhile, back at the courthouse, Mr. Lavoisier pled innocent to charity fraud on the grounds that the charity fulfilled the purpose expressed in the fundraising materials.

“Strictly speaking,” said attorney Henry Schlumpf, who is defending Mr. Lavoisier in the case, “the charity only solicited funds to help raise bismuth awareness.  After this trial, I don’t think anyone will dispute that my client has done exactly that.  He never promised to do anything about it.”

When asked how his client had spent the money raised in the campaign, the attorney replied, “I really don’t think it’s any of the court’s bismuth…. business, I mean.”

The bismuth subsalicylate producers’ trade association is also considering filing a lawsuit for defamation against Mr. Lavoisier and his organization.  There is no word as yet whether the increased legal scrutiny is inducing in Mr. Lavoisier any symptoms such as heartburn or indigestion, or whether, if such symptoms did manifest themselves, he would seek to relieve them using bismuth subsalicylate.

Copyright 2012.

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News Flash: Superman Censured for Innate Snobbery

La Satira News Service

In an astonishing development, Kryptonian-American immigrant Kal-El was expelled from the League of Justice over his continued use of the term “Superman” as a professional title.  A statement released from the League stated that the name “Superman” carried a tacit assertion of personal superiority that was inconsistent with the League’s ideals of social parity.

“In this day and age, it’s inconceivable that someone would use such a blatantly pretentious professional name,” said John Smith of the Associated Society for Complete Egalitarianism and National Transformation (ASCENT), which has lobbied the League of Justice for some time on the matter.  “Someone with such an extreme superiority complex can hardly be considered a hero from any modern perspective.  Does he really think he’s better than all the rest of us?  And don’t even get me started on the term ‘superhero.’  Or even ‘hero.’  It’s totally inappropriate to suggest some people are better than others.”  Mr. Smith claimed no objection to Mr. El’s activities in general, and suggested that he might support Mr. El’s reinstatement to the League, if Mr. El chose a less condescending working name.  “What about ‘Normalguy’?” Mr. Smith suggested.  “Or even just using his own name?”

At the proceedings, Mr. El’s lawyers countered that the name “Superman” was more in reference to his abnormal physical abilities rather than claims of or belief in his own personal or moral superiority.  Outside the chambers where the proceedings were proceeding, Mr. El’s supporters suggested that even if he was claiming a personal superiority, the claim would not be far-fetched.  “He’s Superman, for crying out loud,” said one supporter.  “He’s out there fighting for truth, justice, and the American way.”

Mr. Smith’s reply that “fighting for the ‘American way’ was hardly likely to fly in today’s multicultural world” was not well-received by the crowd, nor was the verdict.

Elsewhere, Mr. El’s more personal friends were unanimous in their support.  “This is just crazy,” said James Olsen, a long-time sympathizer.  “Is it really normal to leap tall buildings in a single bound or travel faster than a speeding bullet?  Besides, imagine how it sounds:  ‘It’s a bird!  No, it’s a plane!  No, it’s Normalguy!’  It just doesn’t have the same ring.”

Mr. El had no comment on the matter.  In recent weeks, Mr. El has been spending considerable time in consultation with astronomers and scientists from NASA on a research program to identify other habitable planets in neighboring star systems.

In other celebrity news, journalist Clark Kent is said to have put his Metropolis condo on the market.  There is no word on where he might be moving to, but he has been overheard saying that his next address will be “somewhere out of this world.”

Copyright 2012 to the extent applicable.  Superman and company were created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; they may belong to DC Comics, but after 70 years of court battles, it’s hard to be sure.

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News Flash: Study Attempts to Define Value of Public Art

La Satira News Service

How much is public art really worth?  Researchers at the University of Punxsutawney’s College of Economics and Arts want to know, and they’re undertaking a project to determine exactly that.

Unlike previous research, which typically looks at the amount of money spent by various levels of government and private donors for such things as murals, outdoor sculptures, and street theater performances, the Punxsutawney research will attempt to nail down the actual benefit received by the viewing public.

“The arts community expects the government to subsidize their work,” said Dr. M. C. Friedman, Professor of Economics, “and they talk about the value of art, but what does it really mean?  It generally doesn’t have a direction contribution to the production of goods and services, apart from the production of the art itself.  Does it boost productivity?  If so, by how much?  Does it boost tourism?  If so, who gets to decide whose tourism gets boosted?  If they expect the public to pay for it, the public needs to know what they’re buying.  Otherwise, how do we know it’s a good deal?”

The study will attempt to quantify the social value of art by tracking several measures in areas where new public art is installed, such as property values, work productivity, and the amount per capita spent on psychiatric care.  The study will consider several different types of art, such as sculptures (indoor and outdoor), murals, street theater, and framed art.

“Of course it’s oversimplistic to say that all art is completely devoid of practical function,” Dr. Friedman said.  “We found one example of a neighborhood that put up an intricately detailed, profoundly abstract sculpture.  It was so thought-provoking that visitors to the area would often spend several minutes in awed contemplation of it, giving the locals ample time to mug them.”

The discussion of the value of art is, of course, hardly confined to academia.  “People say things about a great nation deserving great art,” said Ed Smith, a visitor in the sculpture garden in Antimasonic Park, “but what terrible thing did we do to wind up with Jackson Pollock?”

“Even bad art can have some value,” argued Milton Escher, another park visitor.  “Who hasn’t walked by some absolutely hideous sculpture or painting and thought, ‘Even I could do better than that’?  That little ego-boost ought to be worth something to the general public.”

“Art who?” asked Phil Stein, a visitor in another part of the park.

The research came about almost by accident following the merger of the university’s art and economics programs.  “It started with a conversation in the student lounge about the value of art,” explained the Dean of the College, Dr. Pablo Keynes.  “It just sort of grew from there.  We feel that the synergy from this study could revolutionize both fields.”

The unlikely merger between the School of Modern Art and the School of Economics was also a surprise.  “It wasn’t our first choice,” admitted Dr. Vincent Hayek, the University’s Vice President for Periodic Reshuffling.  “The economics school had some space available in its building, and the School of Modern Art was the perfect size to fit into it.  Naturally we were curious to see what sort of synergies would develop.”

Dr. Hayek vigorously denied rumors that the merger was done for the purpose of isolating the University’s two most depressing fields.

Copyright 2012

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News Flash: Staffordshire Hoard Claimed by Ancient Insurance Firm

La Satira News Service

Lichfield, Staffordshire–Scientists and legal experts are evaluating the merits of a new claim of ownership to one of the most important archaeological finds of the last hundred years.

A man calling himself Ecgberht the Bombastic filed suit in the office of the Staffordshire County Coroner claiming the Staffordshire Hoard, a trove of ancient Anglo-Saxon metalwork found near Lichfield in 2009, on behalf of his employer.

The suit claims Mr. Bombastic is a representative of insurer Clwyd‘s of Lundenwic, who insured the hoard in the 8th century and was obliged to pay out when the hoard was lost.  Mr. Bombastic presented as evidence a piece of ancient vellum covered in handwritten Latin and wax seals, which he said was a policy written out to one Aethelstan the Directionally-Impaired, one-time king of Mercia, who got lost en route to his own coronation and was consequently deposed in favor of someone with a better sense of direction.

The vellum document has been submitted to a panel of linguists and historians for further study.

According to Mr. Bombastic’s story, Aethelstan hid the hoard, which consists mainly of gold ornaments taken from armor and weaponry, and insured it in preparation for an imminent invasion from Wessex.  The invasion was repelled, but Aethelstan was unable to locate the treasure.  The hoard was declared a loss, and Mr. Bombastic’s firm paid out 50 cattle, 200 sheep, and a flock of geese in recompense.

“Since we have already paid off our client, the treasure clearly belongs to my firm,” said Mr. Bombastic through a translator.  “This payout represented a significant blow to our equity, and retrieving the treasure would go a long way toward consolidating our position.”   Mr. Bombastic indicated that he would be willing to liquidate his claim for the price paid out, plus interest.  He calculates the current value at 1000 cattle, 500 sheep, and 60 geese.

Asked why he waited more than thirteen centuries to seek recovery in the case, Mr. Bombastic replied that he “would have been here sooner, but the time portal at Stonehenge was broken,” requiring him to “use the one at Callanish instead.”

“The implications of this case are enormous,” said legal expert Martin Blair.  “It could potentially rewrite our entire understanding of Mercian legal structures.”  Asked about the potential impact of the apparent discovery of time travel, Mr. Blair added, “Oh, yes; there’s that too.  We’ll be able to go back and observe their legal system first-hand.”

Copyright 2012

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News Flash: Congress Debates Mandatory Legal Insurance

La Satira News Service

With the ever-increasing cost of legal fees–and the ever-increasing probability of becoming involved in litigation–Congress is proposing to require individuals as well as businesses to take out insurance policies to cover the costs of legal care.

“With the increasing litigiousness of today’s society, the question is not whether you will need a lawyer, but when,” said Congressman William W. Williams, Jr., (Republicrat, Metropolis) as he introduced the bill.  “It’s absolutely tragic how much of the average person’s income is being gobbled up by legal fees.”

The goal of the legislation, according to supporters, is to ensure households are not left without legal protection in the event of catastrophic litigation.  The insurance would also cover smaller legal fees, such as the costs associated with making wills or court appearances.

“This bill will ensure people get the legal coverage they need, when they need it,” Congressman Williams declared at a gathering of personal injury lawyers.  “It will also help relieve the burden on already underfunded programs like Litig-aid and Liti-care.”

One controversial element of the plan is its requirement that employers help foot the bill for insurance premiums.  Proponents point out the rising premiums for such insurance, which are often beyond the affordability of the lowest earners.  Critics point to the financial burden imposed by employers’ own liability coverage and suggest that this will provide a motive for businesses to dispose of employees who are more likely to engage in legally risky behavior like providing assistance in emergencies, driving, undergoing medical procedures, responding to pharmaceuticals advertised on television, engaging in physical exercise, eating out, using home appliances, reading the labels on packaged food, hosting childrens’ birthday parties, appearing on daytime television, or buying coffee from fast-food restaurants.

Others oppose the bill on the grounds that it might open the gates to a flood of frivolous litigation.  “As lawsuit-crazy as the country is at present, I’m not sure we can afford to remove the last financial hurdle to unfettered access to the legal system,” said Lincoln V. Douglas, general counsel of the anti-litigation advocacy group Lawyer-Be-Gone.  “Can you imagine a world where every traffic ticket can be challenged to the highest level, or where baseless lawsuits can be filed with no risk to the supposed plantiff?  Can you imagine the cost to defendants to protect themselves from infinite lawsuits, or for that matter the cost to the public to provide courts to deal with the flood of litigation?”  Mr. Douglas suggested the bill could accelerate the country toward the Morgan Threshhold, the point at which such a high percentage of the GDP is spent on litigation that the economy becomes incapable of supporting productive activity.

Public opinion seems split on the matter.  Polls indicate some degree of concern about the mandatory nature of the requirement, while others suggest the bill would ensure adequate legal representation by those with lower incomes.  “Why should ‘potential defendants’ worry about frivolous lawsuits?” wondered Ogden Saunders.  “As long they’ve got insurance–which they would have, with a mandatory requirement–they’ll be covered.”

One thing that’s missing in the debate, according to Francis N. Earnest of the nonpartisan think-tank Campaign for a Saner America, is a discussion of the philosophy of insurance in general.  “Originally insurance was about risk management, or how to reduce the risk of an unexpected catastrophe,” said Mr. Earnest.  “These days the insurance question seems to be more about how to get someone else to pay all my expenses, including the routine ones.  Having insurance to pay for routine things just adds a middleman, making the whole system less efficient.”

While the bill is expected to pass narrowly and be signed into law, it may face a number of legal challenges before it can take effect.

To read more News Flashes like this one, please click here.

Copyright 2012.  That’s right:  you saw it here first.

News Flash: Augean Farms Closed Over Experimental Dairy Product

The Ancient Hellenic Centralized Health Oversight Organization (AHCHOO) took the unusual step of closing down the Augean Farms Dairy this week after reports surfaced questioning the safety of one of its newest products.

“We were shocked–shocked–to test this product and find a commercial dairy selling a product that is so thoroughly contaminated by bacteria,” said a commission spokesperson.  “And then to have the dairy come back and tell us that this bacteria had been deliberately introduced–there’s where we move beyond callous disregard for their customers and reach the point of malicious intent.”

The new product, known popularly as yogurt, is already a bestseller among the dairy’s products.  The dairy touts it as a health food, with benefits for those suffering from various digestive ailments or lactose intolerance–an awkward malady in a culture so dependent on the herding industry.

Augean Farms is no stranger to controversy.  Two years ago a firestorm of negative media coverage erupted after the owner hired famous personality Hercules to clean out the stables.  The effort resulted in the unauthorized diversion of two rivers and a plethora of downstream pollution issues.

“These Augean Farms people need to be shut down once and for all,” said activist and long-time critic Streptococcus Pyogenes.  “They seem intent on spreading their germs to the farthest reaches of the planet.”

AHCHOO also took the unusual step today of putting out product safety warning on another Augean Farms product, a processed food product known popularly as cheese.  The safety warning, which comes following a study funded by Cassandra Research Systems, cited the product’s high fat content and its use of the preservative “salt,”as well as the high degree of processing required to prepare the food.

A spokesman for Augean Farms, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, pointed out its relative durability as one of the food’s benefits.  “Let’s face it,” said the spokesman, “for various reasons, not everyone has access to fresh food every day.  You could hardly stock a warship with a herd of goats, could you?  Cheese may not be the ideal diet, but in due proportion it shouldn’t have adverse effects.  At any rate it’s better than starvation.”

“Our organization was created to keep an eye out for Greeks bearing gifts,” said Bacillus Thuringiensis of Cassandra Research Systems.  “Or, for that matter, gifts bearing Greeks.  There are just so many things wrong with this product.  It flies in the face of nature.  Why would anyone in their right mind eat this stuff when they could get milk straight out of the goat?  These processed ‘convenience’ foods will be the death of us all.”