The 9-Year-Old Who’s Graduating College

 

Laurent Simons - Carlos Gamino

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

Child prodigy Laurent Simons is earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Eindhoven University of Technology in Belgium – and apparently, it’s a tough curriculum, even for students of an average graduation age.

Laurent is a fast learner, according to professors at his school; he’s been described by staff as “simply extraordinary.” He’s rocketing through the program faster than others do, and he’s on track to conclude his studies by December. He plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medical degree, according to his father.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, the university’s education director for electrical engineering. “Not only is he hyper-intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.” Other educators have said “he is like a sponge” and said that he has no problem absorbing new information quickly.

Laurent’s parents are trying to keep him balanced, though.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said his father, Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.” And as for Laurent? He loves playing with his dog, Sammy, and playing on his phone. His main mission, though, is to develop artificial organs.

He’s an official child prodigy – in fact, he’s the textbook definition of the term. A child prodigy is a person under the age of 10 who can produce a meaningful output in any domain that’s equal to the level of an adult expert. Laurent is in good company, too. Other child prodigies included Mozart, Stevie Wonder and Blaise Pascal.

What Do You Think?

Have you been following Laurent’s story? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please share your opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Weird News for November 2019

Narwhal the Unicorn Puppy - Carlos GaminoBy Attorney Carlos Gamino

If you’re a regular reader of this blog – and I hope you are – you’ll know that every now and then I like to cover weird news stories. This month has been filled with them, but two of the best I’ve heard are about a trio of cows who swam five miles after a hurricane and a puppy with a tail (yes, a tail) growing from its head.

The Olympic-Grade Swimming Cows

Three cows who were swept off Cedar Island on the coast of North Carolina during Hurricane Dorian somehow swam more than 5 miles, surviving under harsh conditions, and ended up roaming the Cape Lookout National Seashore Park on the state’s Outer Banks. The cows, who were presumed dead with dozens of other animals (including 28 wild horses), showed up and started grazing. Park staff noticed the first cow about a month after the storm had passed – and then, within the past two weeks, the other two revealed themselves.

The National Park Service is currently trying to figure out how to get the cows home, and one option is to sedate them and put them on a boat back to the island.

Narwhal the Unicorn Puppy

A sweet, weeks-old puppy was found abandoned in Missouri in early November. Unfortunately, that’s not uncommon – but although conditions were well below freezing and the poor pooch had the early stages of frostbite on one paw, he’s now doing exceptionally well.

And he has a tail on his forehead (hence the name Narwhal the Little Magical Furry Unicorn, but Narwhal the Unicorn Puppy for short).

After doctors examined him, they determined that the tail on his head really is a tail – but it doesn’t wag and it’s not connected to anything. He also has a tail on the other end; this one is just extra. Vets say there’s no medical reason to remove it because it doesn’t appear to bother him.

Narwhal was found with another dog – dubbed Poppa Smurf – who’s a Daschund Terrier mix. Rescuers believe Poppa Smurf may be Narwhal’s father, but they haven’t done any tests to find out. The rescue organization who has him has received dozens of adoption applications, but he’s not quite ready to go to his forever home just yet.

What Do You Think?

Do you have a weird news story to share? I’d love to hear it, so please share on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Experts Say Vaping Bans Not Necessary Outside the U.S.

Vaping Deaths a U.S.-Based Phenomenon - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

“It’s a no-brainer – if you stay on cigarettes you will lose a day of life for every four days that you smoke,” said John Britton, a professor and respiratory medicine consultant who’s the director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at Nottingham University. A flat-out ban (on e-cigarettes) will kill people.”

But with vaping bans being considered in legislatures all over the country – and with some bans on particular flavored liquids already in effect – is that really true?

Experts seem to agree that the recent spate of vaping deaths in the United States is a localized problem. It’s not happening elsewhere.

In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a pattern of illness in the UK or elsewhere, although Indian officials announced a ban on the sale of all e-cigarettes, citing concerns about the U.S. deaths. India has the world’s second-largest population of adult smokers.

“It would be a great shame if people were deterred from using e-cigarettes because of what’s happening in the U.S.,” said Ann McNeill, a professor of tobacco addiction at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology  and Neuroscience at King’s College in London.

Critics say that this is the influence of Big Tobacco – the companies that profit from making cigarette sales.

But there’s no denying that there are upwards of 1,299 Americans with confirmed or probable cases of serious lung injuries and deaths linked to vaping.

What Do You Think?

Do you think there’s something strange going on with vaping bans, or are they a necessity in the U.S. and elsewhere? I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or chime in on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Delta Airlines Helps High School Runners

Delta Airlines Helps High School Runners - Attorney Carlos GaminoBy Attorney Carlos Gamino

A high school cross country team from Ocean City, New Jersey almost missed an important track meet in Orlando when its flight, run by Frontier Airlines, was cancelled – but Delta Airlines stepped up. In a seemingly rare piece of great news, the airline caught wind of the fact that the team would miss the important event and booked all the athletes on a private jet to their destination.

Some of the kids hit social media to ask Delta for help – and it answered the call. One message read, “Super excited to fly down to Disney to run, but our flight got cancelled!!! @Delta can you help?”

Delta spokesman Drake Castaneda confirmed that the company received the messages.

A Frontier spokesman, Zach Kramer, told USA TODAY, “We became aware that a sports group, traveling to a competition, was affected by the cancellation and our team began looking at other options to get them to Orlando as soon as possible. We found the opportunity to book the group on a new flight with another airline and assisted with helping them make new travel arrangements.”

Within hours of learning the flight was cancelled, Delta officials had a plane lined up for the team. The company found a spare aircraft and called in a reserve crew to help the kids, despite the fact that Philadelphia to Orlando isn’t a normal Delta route. Fortunately for the teams, the chartered flight left at 3 a.m. and arrived in Orlando at 5 a.m., with plenty of time to spare before the races began.

It paid off, too – both the junior varsity and varsity teams earned first and second place in a variety of events.

What Do You Think?

Does this affect your opinion of either Frontier Airlines or Delta Airlines? I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or chime in on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Drug Distributors May Settle Opioid Legislation

Drug Distributors About to Settle - Attorney Carlos GaminoBy Attorney Carlos Gamino

Three major drug distributors – McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp., and Cardinal Health, Inc. would collectively pay $18 billion over 18 years under a deal they’re currently negotiating, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Massive lawsuits are creating a domino effect across the drug industry, in which drug makers, distributors and even pharmacies are being sued by nearly every state, as well as thousands of city and county governments. There are currently more than 2,000 lawsuits that all allege the same thing: The industry aggressively marketed prescription painkillers – particularly opioids – and operated under very loose oversight, and those two factors contributed to the opioid crisis that’s sweeping the U.S. like wildfire.

At least 400,000 people have died from opioid overdoses in the U.S. in the past 20 years, and the litigants are suing to cover communities’ costs for battling addiction.

A final deal could include other companies, in addition to the three currently in settlement talks. Some experts have suggested that settlement should include the donation of opioid addiction treatment drugs.

Some companies plan to go to war over the suits, while others – like OxyContin manufacturer Perdue Pharma LP filed for bankruptcy last month to try to implement a settlement. Still others, like Johnson & Johnson, are ready to settle and put a cap on the total liability. Johnson & Johnson released a statement that it would “remain open to viable options to resolve these cases, including through settlement.”

What Do You Think?

Do you believe the big drug companies should settle for billions? Do you think that’s enough? What would you include in the settlement? I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or chime in on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Toxic Algae Blooms May Be Worse Than We Thought, Scientists Say

Toxic Algae Blooms May Be Worse Than We Thought, Scientists Say - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Potentially toxic algae blooms in freshwater lakes all over the world – including many in Wisconsin – have become much more intense over the past 30 years. Even worse, rising temperatures make it harder for lakes to bounce back, paving the way for more toxic blooms and creating a cycle that’s going to be difficult to get out of.

The Wisconsin DNR advises people not to swim during a blue-green algae bloom, which can cause illness or death in people and pets. Some of the symptoms of toxicity from these blooms include stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle weakness and difficulty breathing – and those carry over to pets, as well.

Blue-green algae, a form of Cyanobacteria, is basically what you call “pond scum.” It doesn’t have to be blue-green, either. It’s been recorded as blue, green, reddish-purple and brown, as well. This type of bacteria grows well in lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams, especially when the water is warm. It grows quickly, creating floating mats of algae. Usually, these blooms occur between mid-June and late September in Wisconsin, but as temperatures rise, we’re likely to see them earlier and later in the year.

These toxic blooms aren’t confined to Wisconsin. They’re becoming more widespread all over the world, putting hundreds of aquatic species (as well as humans and other animals) in danger. The booms cost the U.S. about $4 billion annually because they damage drinking water, agriculture and the tourism industry.

What Do You Think?

Have you seen a blue-green algae bloom in a lake or pond near your house? Please feel free to share your photos with us on social media so others know what to look for – and share your thoughts about these toxic blooms on my Facebook page or chime in on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Couple Given Accidental Bank Deposit Accused of Massive Spending Spree

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

What would you do if your bank accidentally deposited $120,000 in your account?

According to Montoursville, Penn. police, a couple who received the “lucky” windfall went on a spending spree, burning through the cash by purchasing items like an SUV, all-terrain vehicles and a camper, paying bills and giving money to friends.

BB&T Bank contacted the couple in June to let them know there had been a huge – and costly – mistake. The bank told the pair that they were responsible for repaying it, but the couple didn’t return the bank’s money.

The money, which was supposed to have been deposited to an investment firm, ended up in the Williams’ account after a bank teller made an error. The bank says it made several attempts to contact the couple, and Tiffany Williams allegedly admitted that they’d spent the cash. According to the bank, she said she would talk to her husband and put together a repayment plan, which BB&T also says it was willing to do.

But then the Williams’ stopped responding to the bank.

So BB&T went to the Pennsylvania State Police.

Now, Robert and Tiffany Williams are each facing four counts of felony theft in Pennsylvania. Each is punishable by 10 years in prison, so if they’re convicted, it could cost them much more than restitution.

“All I’m going to say is we took some bad legal advice from some people and it probably wasn’t the best thing in the end,” Robert Williams told WNEP, a local TV station.

“During the investigation, the Williams’ admitted they were aware that the money deposited in their account did not belong to them and that they had made numerous purchases with that money,” according to a statement from state police.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear what you’d do if the bank accidentally deposited a huge sum of money in your account. Who would you call first – friends and family or the bank? Please share your opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Celebrity Parents Get Light Sentences After College Admissions Scandal

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

Actress Felicity Huffman, who was caught in a college admissions scandal earlier this year that involved bribing coaches and falsifying test scores, was sentenced to 14 days in prison in mid-September. Huffman was found guilty of inflating her daughter’s SAT score to get her into college, and a federal judge sentenced her to serve her two-week sentence in a federal prison.

Huffman is the first parent to face punishment in the scandal, but she won’t be the last. Nearly three dozen other parents have been accused of lying and bribing officials to get their kids into prestigious universities across the U.S.

Compared to the sentences that other parents convicted of education fraud, Huffman’s might seem light. For example, Kelley Williams-Bolar was sentenced to 5 years in prison for using her dad’s address to get her kids into a suburban school near Cleveland (although her sentence was later reduced). However, Huffman’s attorney argued that imprisonment wasn’t necessary because she’d already “suffered considerably” by being publicly shamed, losing her acting career and facing her daughter’s anger.

At her sentencing hearing, Huffman cried and said she deeply regretted her part in the scheme; she originally pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, which is a felony.

Huffman is supposed to report to a federal prison to carry out her sentence in November. The judge also ordered a $30,000 fine, supervised release for a year and 250 hours of community service.

What Do You Think?

Did you follow the college admissions scandal as it unfolded? What do you think of Felicity Huffman’s sentence? Is it long enough, or is it just a slap on the wrist for something that would land other parents in serious hot water? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please share your opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

U.S. Reeling From 3 Mass Shootings in One Week

U.S. Reeling From 3 Mass Shootings in One Week - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

So far this year, there have been more mass shootings in the United States than there have been days. As of this writing, there were 252 mass shootings – those with more than three deaths in a single incident in a public place – across the country.

Is this the new “normal” in the U.S.?

With some people blaming violent video games rather than racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric, despite the fact that there are no connections between video games and mass shootings, it appears that there’s no end in sight – at least until lawmakers come up with a solution that crosses to both sides of the aisle.

Some blame the National Rifle Association for so rigidly defending individuals’ rights to possess and carry military-grade weapons.

But the NRA is quickly falling out of favor after decades of non-response to these types of killings, though, according to a Fox News poll that says 47 percent of Americans hold an “unfavorable view of the NRA,” while only 42 percent view the organization favorably.

The NRA does not support mandatory background checks. The Washington Post reported that Wayne La Pierre, the organization’s chief executive, told the U.S. president that expanding background checks would hurt his support among his base of supporters. However, an overwhelming number of people interviewed in the Fox News survey – 90 percent, in fact – said they support background checks on all gun sales. Perhaps even more surprising is that 67 percent of respondents said they support a ban on automatic weapons and assault rifles.

And now, one-third of Americans avoid certain places and events because they’re afraid of mass shootings. The majority of American adults – 79 percent – experience “some amount of stress” related to mass shootings.

Because lawmakers have failed to take any action other than sending thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families, companies are starting to capitalize on the very real fears that many American parents have when they kiss their kids goodbye before school: They’re making bulletproof backpacks. In fact, 62 percent of parents said they “live in fear” of their children becoming victims of a mass shooting. Many people believe that someone they know will be the victim of such violence, tallying up to 60 percent of black Americans, 50 percent of Hispanic Americans and 41 percent of white Americans.

What Do You Think?

Do you support mandatory background checks on firearms purchases? Would you back the president if he supported them as well? I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on either of my social media pages:

Carlos Gamino

Child Body-Slammed for “Disrespecting” National Anthem

Child Body-Slammed for Leaving Hat On During National Anthem - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

A Montana Army veteran body-slammed a 13-year-old boy for not removing his hat during the National Anthem, causing serious injury to the child.

Police arrested and charged Curt Brockway, a 39-year-old man at the Mineral County Rodeo, with felony assault on a minor.

Brockway told police that the boy had a hat on when the anthem began, and that he asked the boy to remove it. He alleged that the boy responded with profanity, and then admits to grabbing the boy by the throat, lifting him into the air, and slamming him on the ground head-first.

The child suffered a concussion and a fractured skull, and his ears were bleeding at the scene. He was airlifted to Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Spokane.

Brockway’s attorney, Lance Jasper, says the man has problems with impulse control as a result of a traumatic brain injury. Jasper says that Brockway takes the president’s comments, such as those saying athletes should be fired for kneeling during the anthem and that people who burn the U.S. flag should be punished.

Jasper also claims that Brockway didn’t know it was a crime to attack a child, and that he believes he was acting on the president’s orders.

“Trump never necessarily says go hurt somebody, but the message is absolutely clear,” Jasper said. “I am certain of the fact that (Brockway) was doing what he believed he was told to do, essentially, by the president. … Everyone should learn to dial it down a little bit, from the president to Mineral County.”

Brockway’s alleged traumatic brain injury is from a vehicle crash in 2000, not the result of his time in the Army. He’s currently a registered violent offender as a result of a 2010 conviction for assault with a weapon.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on either of my social media pages:

Carlos Gamino