SPOILED BRAT SYNDROME Just when you think you've heard it all, along comes a situation so ridiculous it's hard to believe it's real. Ethan Couch, a 16-year-old in Texas, was recently facing charges from an accident he caused while driving drunk that resulted in the deaths of four pedestrians. He was caught on video stealing two cases of beer from a store, and had a blood-alcohol of three times the legal limit at the time of the accident. Prosecutors were seeking a 20-year prison sentence. A psychologist working for the defense testified that Couch did not deserve the maximum sentence because he suffers from "affluenza." What is "affluenza," you ask? The "expert" described it as a condition in which children, usually from rich families, have a sense of entitlement, are irresponsible, make excuses for poor behavior and often use drugs and alcohol. A?judge seemingly agreed, sentencing Couch to 10 years probation. He said the juvenile justice system in Texas couldn't provide the proper therapy for Couch, who will instead undergo treatment paid for by his parents at an upscale treatement facility. We're not even sure what to say about this case, which does nothing but reinforce that there are clear differences between the rich and the poor in the justsice system. What message has the judge sent to Couch and other teens? Perhaps the sick feeling this case gives us could be a new syndrome: Chronic spoiledbratitis.
BREAK OUT THE SKATES Minot's outdoor ice rinks were scheduled to be open for business today, with two rinks available at Roosevelt Park and two rinks operating at Polaris Park. Both locations have outdoor lighting and a warming house. A fifth rink at Corbett Field is for daytime skating only, since it has no lights and does not have a functioning warming house yet after the structure was damaged by the 2011 Souris River flood. We have no doubt the outdoor facilities will be full of youngsters while they are open.