July 2nd, 2010
08:12 AM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Jaycee Dugard

The California Assembly on Thursday passed a bill appropriating $20 million to the kidnapping victim to settle her claims against the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, according to the chief clerk's office.

Dugard vanished in 1991 at the age of 11. She was found in August 2009, living in a shed in the Antioch, California, backyard of Phillip Garrido, a registered sex offender who had been on parole since January 1988. Investigators said Garrido fathered two children with Dugard during her captivity.

He and his wife, Nancy, are charged with 29 felony counts in the case. Both have pleaded not guilty.

In a report issued in November, the state inspector general's office found the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation failed to keep tabs on Garrido properly or properly supervise the officers assigned to his case.

According to CNN affiliate KCRA-TV in Sacramento, corrections officials entered into the settlement with Dugard, now 30. The settlement process was "pretty much unprecedented," said Jeff Long, spokesman for Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, who sponsored the bill.

CNN: California lawmakers approve $20 million to settle Dugard claims

Andrea Cabral

The sheriff of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, says that, to keep people from returning to prison, they need vocational and educational skills and the health care that they were not getting before they were incarcerated.

In November 2002, Cabral became the first female in the commonwealth's history and also the first African-American in the county to hold the position. She is responsible for both the jail and the prison in the county - which means more than 1,000 corrections officers, investigators, educators, health care providers, caseworkers, managers and administrative staff who watch over some 2,700 offenders who are in the system on any given day.

Cabral is scheduled as one of the featured speakers at the 2010 National Organization for Women Conference beginning Friday in Boston, Massachusetts. Cabral told CNN on Thursday that she'll focus her remarks on the issues that are unique to women in prison.

"I see a lot of women who have experienced domestic violence. Everything from their self-esteem to the way they raise their children to the way they act out criminally is very much related to the violence in their own lives," she said. "We have gender-specific programs that deal specifically with the trauma that these women have experienced. We help them understand it and the relationship between the trauma and their own self-destructive and criminal behavior."

Suffolk County Sheriff's Department: Cabral's bio

National Organization for Women website

Anne Gehman

The "medium" has a special gift: She says she can communicate with the spirits of those who have transcended into the spiritual realm.

For 40 years, Gehman has spent summers in Lily Dale, New York, 60 miles south of Buffalo. The Victorian-style village is home to the world's largest community of mediums who are visited each year by thousands of people who want their services.

Gehman, founder and pastor of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment in Falls Church, Virginia, told CNN on Thursday that she began having psychic experiences as a child. At 17, she became the youngest person to be certified by the National Spiritual Association of Churches. Since 1968, she also has been working with police forces and government agencies to help solve crimes.

"It's not my favorite work," she said, "but do it when called upon."

Gehman is featured in the HBO documentary "No One Dies in Lily Dale," which premieres Monday on HBO. CNN and HBO are owned by Time Warner.

When skeptics question her gift, she said she simply asks them to be open-minded.

"I am never concerned about trying to convince someone of the reality of the continuity at life," Gehman said. "I believe when they are ready, they will find it."

HBO: 'No One Dies in Lily Dale'

Anne Gehman's website

Michael Mann

A panel of top academics has cleared the controversial Penn State University climate scientist of research misconduct and wrongdoing following a four-month internal investigation by the university.

Penn State officials, in a statement, said Mann was under investigation for allegations of research impropriety that surfaced last year after thousands of e-mails were stolen from computer servers at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in England.

The panel of tenured professors at Penn State investigated whether or not Mann, a leading climate change researcher, had "engaged in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting or reporting research or other scholarly activities."

The New York Times reports that Mann was pleased by this second Penn State report clearing his reputation.

"I'm aware, and many researchers now are keenly aware, of the depths to which the climate-change disinformation movement is willing to sink, to the point where they're willing to criminally break into a university server and steal people's personal e-mail messages," Mann said in an interview.

According to the newspaper, the Virginia attorney general is still investigating Mann for research he did at the University of Virginia.

The New York Times: Climate scientist cleared of altering data

Penn State Live: Investigation of climate scientist at Penn State complete

CNN: Opinion: Attack on climate scientist just latest in a long line

Gary Parker

The advertising and corporate magazine photographer has spent 18 years photographing America's little people. He has taken tens of thousands of images of people who were born with various types of dwarfism.

Parker, a former photojournalist who works in San Jose, California, said he has made it his mission to post images on his website of every kind of dwarfism there is in the world.

He told CNN on Thursday, "Familiarity breeds acceptance. Once people can actually see that little people are happy, upbeat individuals, it helps spread the idea that they are not mystical characters or sad people who live their lives in hospitals."

Parker's website has received as many as 10 million hits per year. He said he has received personal e-mail from parents all over the world, thanking him for posting the images.

He said, "They write to me something like, 'I had a little child. I have been crying ever since, thinking my child has no future. As soon as I saw your website, my tears of agony turned into tears of joy.' "

When he gets these e-mails, he immediately connects these parents with the Little People of America, a nonprofit organization that is holding its national convention in Nashville, Tennessee, beginning Friday.

In 2009, Parker - who stands at 6 feet, 1 inch - was named an honorary lifetime member of the organization.

Gary Parker Photography: Dwarfism project

Little People of America website

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. heh

    Really CNN, now you're giving press to "psychics"? Completely ridiculous that not only do you give space to these liars and thieves, but you do it in a positive light.

    Maybe instead you can do a piece on James Randi, one of the few people willing to stand up and declare shenanigans on those that would spread this same nonsense you are spreading.

    July 2, 2010 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Will E.

      Indeed. But how upset people are when someone like Randi is covered, for they disrupt the tissue of lies and fantasy and make-believe so many cling to. Skeptics are seen as party-poopers, even though that "party" is a dangerous lie.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ellen

    To the best of my knowledge I have never had a psychic experience, but I am willing to have an open mind. I`m not willing to deny that just because I have no abilities that there may not be others who truly have them. I certainly to not poke fun at them, even though I realize that there are fakes. Are there not fakes in respectable professions also?

    July 2, 2010 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. Henry Miller

    It's outrageously routine for agencies of government, through illegal or negligent action, or culpable, irresponsible, inaction, to do inestimable harm to people's lives, and then be allowed to just walk away. I'm glad that, at least in this one instance, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation got hammered for costing Ms Dugard eighteen years of her life–and to round out the consequences of their irresponsibility, the employees of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation involved in this ought to be sentenced to eighteen years in solitary confinement.

    July 2, 2010 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. Henry Miller

    Michael Mann is outraged that someone would "...criminally break into a university server and steal people's personal e-mail messages," but seems to think it's okay to commit a fraud–the Anthropomorphic Global Warming hoax–of astonishing magnitude on the entire world.

    July 2, 2010 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. Tom

    All mediums are frauds. They use cold-reading skills and parlor tricks dating back to Victorian times to make money from gullible and grieving people by doing a macabre puppet show using their dead loved ones.
    The James Randi Educational Foundation offers a million dollar prize to anyone who can display genuine paranormal abilities under properly controlled conditions. To date nobody has displayed any genuine abilities. If anyone has them, they'd be a shoo-in for this prize. Perhaps this Anne Gehman can raise a million dollars for the charity of her choice by winning this prize?

    July 2, 2010 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Will E.

      Huzzah! Nicely done, sir.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  6. Josh

    "When skeptics question her gift, she said she simply asks them to be open-minded." I am openminded, I studied the stories, thought about it and figured out that there is no such thing.

    July 2, 2010 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Will E.

      Yes. This "open-minded" thing is a total guilt trip move. I don't think pseudoscience believers understand how wanting their beliefs were found by skeptics. We were once open-minded and now we've come to the conclusion that all their claims are false.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. John

    Unlike Tinker Bell, global warming is real whether you believe it is or not. The effects, both the ones that we're seeing now and the ones that will be wrecking our civilization in the near future, are real. Close your eyes and stop up your eyes all you want, it doesn't change reality.

    The danger isn't to the planet itself, the planet will change and adapt and go on. It'll shake us off like a dog shaking off water. The danger is to our civilization and our way of life.

    July 2, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. Takerna

    Re: Anne Gehman - Lily Dale, NY is where the mediums hang out? I just want to know where I can find the larges. I have a thing for larges.
    (Okay, groan.)

    July 2, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |