• FEDERAL JUDGE STIRS CONTROVERSY WITH BLOG POST: OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge in Nebraska is again drawing attention because of his personal blog, this time for using an obscene reference to suggest that the U.S. Supreme Court should not have heard the Hobby Lobby case.
The high court’s June 30 ruling found that some businesses can, because of their religious beliefs, choose not to comply with the federal health care law’s requirement that contraception coverage be provided to workers at no extra charge.
Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf weighed in Saturday on his blog, “Hercules and the Umpire.” In it, he wrote that the ruling looks bad to the public, because the five justices who made up the majority opinion on an issue affecting women are all male, Catholic and appointed by Republican presidents.
He also wrote that “it is time for the (Supreme) Court to stfu” — a slang abbreviation that includes an expletive. Kopf linked the abbreviation to its definition in Urban Dictionary.
“This term and several past terms have proven that the Court is now causing more harm (division) to our democracy than good by deciding hot button cases that the Court has the power to avoid,” Kopf wrote.
Kopf was appointed to the federal bench in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush. Like all federal judges, his appointment was for life. Kopf is now semiretired as a senior judge, taking only cases assigned him.
The judge’s post had gotten more than 250 comments by Tuesday. Many were supportive, but many also criticized the judge for chiding the Supreme Court.
On Monday, Kopf posted a letter from a Nebraska attorney — whose name he had redacted — which said, among other things, that Kopf’s use of profanity shakes the trust of the public in judges and the judicial process. The lawyer asked him to stop writing the blog.
“I am going to give this letter serious consideration,” Kopf wrote. “It comes from someone I respect and whose judgment I trust. It also reminds me that, as a physician might say, I should always strive ‘first to do no harm.’ Blogging will be light while I figure this out.”
• WISCONSIN LOGGER FREES BEAR FROM MILK CAN: RICE LAKE, Wis. (AP) — The video of a western Wisconsin logger who saved a black bear who got its head stuck in an old milk can is getting hundreds of thousands of YouTube hits.
Garrett Smith used the grappling hooks on his logging machine to free the struggling bear after spotting it in a cornfield while he was logging last month on a farm near Rice Lake. After consulting with the landowner who videotaped the rescue, Smith drove his machine out in the field. After a few attempts, he got its hooks around the milk can. The bear pulled his head out and bolted for the woods.
Smith figures there was something in the milk can that the bear was after.
• POLICE KILL CHARGING COW WHO SENT OFFICER AIRBORNE: MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Police in Mount Vernon, Washington, killed an agitated Angus cow that rampaged through town, tossing a police officer into the air and tap-dancing on a patrol car.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports that police spokeswoman Shannon Haigh says the cow apparently escaped from a farm outside the city limits. It was first reported in a Wal-Mart parking lot last Friday.
Haigh says the cow slipped past city police and Skagit County sheriff’s deputies who tried to keep it out of the street and away from a nearby wedding.
When officers tried to catch it a few blocks away, Haigh says it charged an officer, tossing him into the air. He wasn’t seriously hurt. The cow escaped again by jumping on the hood of a patrol car, trotting across it and running off.
Haigh says police and the cow’s owner finally agreed it might need to be killed to prevent further injury or damage.
• CONNECTICUT POLICE: TODDLER LEFT IN HOT CAR DIES: RIDGEFIELD, Conn. (AP) — A 15-month-old boy who was left unattended inside a parked car on a hot day has died, Ridgefield police said Tuesday.
Police were notified of the toddler’s death at around 6 p.m. Monday, according to Capt. Jeff Kreitz, who said the boy had been left inside the car for an “extended period of time.” He declined to provide further details and did not say whether criminal charges were being considered.
Temperatures approached 90 degrees in western Connecticut on Monday, the day that the toddler was found dead in Ridgefield, a town on the New York state line. Authorities said the cause of death for the toddler had yet to be determined.
More than three dozen children die of hyperthermia in cars every year in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since 1998, more than 500 children have died from hyperthermia after being in a hot automobile.
• MAN DIES AT SOUTH DAKOTA HOT DOG EATING CONTEST: CUSTER, S.D. (AP) — A Fourth of July hot dog eating contest in western South Dakota turned tragic when a contestant choked to death.
Walter Eagle Tail, 47, of Custer, died at a hospital Thursday after attempts to save him at the scene failed, Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler said.\.
“There was someone doing CPR when we arrived,” Wheeler said. “He probably just suffocated. It got lodged in his throat and they (paramedics) couldn’t get it out.
“It all happened within minutes,” the sheriff said.
The Custer Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the contest, canceled a pie-eating contest scheduled for Friday.
Speed-eating competitions are popular over the Fourth of July weekend. Eight-time champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut managed to eat 61 hot dogs in 10 minutes at an annual contest in Coney Island, New York, on Friday — eight short of the record 69 he swallowed in the 2013 competition.