Michael Gergenti: Paying for Paternity

Model Michael Girgenti, filed paperwork in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging that he is the father of Kourtney Kardashian’s son, Mason Disick. According to Kardashian’s lawyer, the three-year old boy is the son of

Kim Kardashian at the Seventh Annual Hollywood...

Kim Kardashian at the Seventh Annual Hollywood Life Magazine Awards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

her boyfriend, Scott Disick, who also fathered her daughter, 13-month old Penelope. Girgenti is requesting DNA testing of Kardashian, Disick and the child, and if it is determined Mason is his son, he is demanding joint custody.

Photo Shoot Meeting

According to the lawsuit, Girgenti met Kardashian during a 2009 photo shoot, where they began a texting relationship. Girgenti claims that Kardashian told him that she and Disick were separated. A report in US Weekly states in a bio of Scott Disick that he and Kardashian split up in February 2009 after two years because of rumours he was cheating. The court documents state that in March 2009 Kardashian and Girgenti had unprotected sex, which is nine months prior to the birth of Mason, who was born in December 2009. Kardashian announced her pregnancy in August 2009, claiming that Disick was the father of the baby.

Kardashian Denial

Lawyers for Kardashian claim that Girgenti’s accusations are “preposterous and an outrageous lie.” Kardashian attorney, Tod Wilson, told E! News that Girgenti has been “selling false and fabricated stories to the tabloids for years about Kourtney Kardashian and her son, Mason. “ Wilson also claims that Girgenti has been seeking payment to publish the court pleading, indicating that Girgenti was more interested in payment for reports of his alleged paternity than actually proving that he was Mason’s father. However, the suit filed in court indicates that Girgenti is seriously seeking proof of the child’s paternity.

Girgenti Claims Resemblance

Court documents also claim that Girgenti tried to reach Kardashian after she announced her pregnancy in August 2009, but she did not return his calls. He claimed he began to consider that he was Mason’s father when he saw photos of the child, stating that the boy resembled him more than he did Scott Disick. Girgenti also stated that Mason looks nothing like his younger sister, Penelope, who is Disick’s child. Months prior to filing the lawsuit, Girgenti wrote to Kardashian, requesting a DNA test, claiming that if there was no response, he would pursue legal action to determine Mason’s paternity. In the letter, Girgenti claimed that his intentions were not to “hurt the family you’ve created,” but that “Mason deserves to know the truth.”

A Los Angeles County judge has set a hearing for the case in late August. At the hearing, the judge could dismiss the case or order DNA tests for Girgenti, Kardashian, Disick and the child. In California, unmarried fathers do not have legal rights or responsibilities until legal paternity is established, and naming a father on a birth certificate may not legally establish who a child’s father is. Since Disick and Kardashian were not married at the time of Mason’s birth, Girgenti may have the legal right to demand a DNA test.

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How Much Does It Cost to Fight the Yosemite Fire?

English: Yosemite valley, Yosemite National Pa...

English: Yosemite valley, Yosemite National Park, California, USA. Français : Vallée de Yosemite. Parc national de Yosemite, Californie (États-Unis). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The summer of 2013 has proven to be a destructive one. Brush fires have engulfed much of the Western United States, consuming large forests and chasing citizens out of their homes. The fire known as the Rim Fire is closing in one the Yosemite National Forest, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

Managing forest fires in the Western United States has been a consistent struggle over the decades with budgets proving to be hard to navigate around for local, state, and federal firefighting forces. Around 32,000 individual brush fires across California and other western states has resulted in the destruction of 3 million acres of land. To battle these blazes, the U.S. Forest Service, a federal office, contracts with private, state, and local firefighting agencies by providing funding, equipment, resources, and the chemicals needed to stop the blazes. On August 19th, 2013, the U.S. Forest Service has used $967 million to fund the management of these fires. At that time, the U.S. Forest Service only had $50 million left in its budget.

Why is the budget so affected this year compared to other years? For example, in 2012, the total amount of forest fires the U.S. Forest Service answered to totaled to around 67,700 fires and the destruction of 9.3 million acres of land. However, budgetary choices made by the Congress over the decade have made available funds for the U.S. Forest Service hard to find. In addition, the budget sequester, which went into effect this budget year, subtracted $115 million from federal wildfire management programs.

In addition, individual states are seeing their state budgets affected. California had to declare a state of emergency on August 23rd, 2013. One example of a damaging effect to California included the Rim Fire destroying much of the infrastructure near the Hetch Hetchy Resovoir, which supplies water and hydroelectric power to much of San Francisco. As a result of the damage, the city of San Francisco and neighboring municipalities that use the same energy source, spent over $600,000 in replacement water and energy. Private costs are also immense; thousands of homes and private property have been destroyed across the west, including from the Rim Fire. The Rim Fire near Yosemite threatens the national park, the metropolitan San Francisco area’s water and energy supply, and the major municipalities near. By August 25th, 2013, 143,980 acres near Yosemite National Park have been engulfed by the Rim Fire with only 7% of the fire contained. The Rim Fire is approximately 20 miles away from Yosemite National Park and although Route 120 heading into the park is closed, park officials are hopeful that the park will not be affected by the fire thanks to its current distance. If the Rim Fire expands to the Yosemite National Park, the costs for the U.S. Forest Service from the fire damage and trying to contain the fire could catapult higher.

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The High Cost of Keeping Richard Ramirez in Prison

English: San Quentin State Prison, CA Dansk: S...

English: San Quentin State Prison, CA Dansk: San Quentinfængslet i Californien (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Serial killers in the United States often gain cult status due to their strange courtroom antics and dramatic personalities. Recently deceased death row inmate Richard Ramirez was definitely one of the most famous serial killers of all time before he passed away of liver failure in California’s San Quentin State Prison.

After a dramatic arrest in 1985 in East Los Angeles by residents who recognized Ramirez from photographs displayed all over the news, Ramirez would sit in jail for years while awaiting a trial that finally began in 1989. There would be no more expensive trial in the history of Los Angeles County except for the O.J. Simpson trial that occurred a few years later.

At a cost of $1.8 million dollars, Los Angelinos would pay dearly for the privilege of trying Ramirez in a court of law. Incredibly, however, this massive sum wasn’t the only cost associated with this vicious serial killer. Because he was sentenced to death and due to the incredibly long appeals process associated with death row inmates, Ramirez sat in jail for over two decades without any fear of actually being put to death by the state of California.

Over the past hundred years, the number of individuals incarcerated in the United States has ballooned from a few hundred thousand people to almost 2.5 million prisoners. The most expensive people to incarcerate are death row inmates, who sit in a type of solitary confinement for decades. A moratorium on future executions in California has ensured that inmates like Ramirez have been costing taxpayers millions of dollars for housing and appeals with no likelihood of being put to death.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there are around 700 people sitting on death row in California, which require a massive investment of tax dollars. The state’s ongoing budget crisis and inability to balance its budget has put great strain on the prison system to house so many death row inmates at such an incredible cost.

Richard Ramirez’s untimely death at the age of 53 and his decades-long residency within a state prison brings to light a disturbing fact: more inmates die of natural causes while on death row than are actually put to death. Whether support for the death penalty exists or not, the billions of dollars spent by the state to keep inmates on death row has resulted in just 13 executions since the late 1970s.

A study in 2011 that was conducted by a judge and professor in the state suggested that California has spent over $4 billion since the death penalty was reinstituted. Out of those funds spent, at least a billion dollars was used for housing and incarceration of the inmates, including serial killers like Richard Ramirez.

A further study presented by the Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice in 2008 suggested that keeping the system intact with inmates on death row would cost around $137 million dollars a year. On the other hand, if California was to commute those death sentences to life in prison and abolish the death penalty, the yearly cost would drop to $11.5 million a year.

Offering the families of victims of death penalty-worthy crimes the chance to see a killer or other criminal experience the ultimate punishment may offer some sort of closure. Unfortunately, with the expectation that individuals on death row are more likely to die of natural causes than be put to death in California, the implementation of the death penalty in the state must be reexamined.

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