Truesee's Daily Wonder

Truesee presents the weird, wild, wacky and world news of the day.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Woman makes bomb threat to help boss make flight

lse report made to delay plane's takeoff


Miami Herald

Thursday, 11.26.09

Police say a woman went to great lengths to make sure her boss didn't miss his flight Wednesday -- she called in a bomb threat.

Her delay tactics weren't taken lightly.

Police on Thursday arrested Claudia De La Rosa, 31, of Sunny Isles Beach, on a charge of false report of planting a bomb.

Here's what happened, according to the arrest affidavit.

On Wednesday, a call and e-mail came into Miami International Airport, saying in Spanish there was a bomb on an American Airlines plane. It listed the flight number and departure time.

``The flight was delayed while MDPD searched the aircraft and all the luggage,'' the arrest form said.

The investigation, and the computer's IP address, led police to De La Rosa.

De La Rosa spoke to police, and said ``that her boss was booked on the flight to Honduras, but because she arrived late to work he missed the flight. [De La Rosa], in an attempt to delay the flight, called in the bomb threat,'' according to the arrest affidavit.


Monday, November 30, 2009


Mom mad at son's arrest also jailed

ACSO: Mom mad at son’s arrest raises ruckus, also jailed

News Sentinel

November 30, 2009 at 3:06 p.m.



Sarah Stooksbury

Sarah Stooksbury


CLINTON — A mom upset that her son had been arrested for allegedly shooting at a man ended up being arrested herself for tailgating the cruiser holding her son, driving into the jail’s unloading area behind the arresting deputy, and then hitting the arresting officer in the face.

The incidents occurred Thanksgiving afternoon.

Robert D. Stooksbury, 39, is accused of shooting at Johnathon Goodman of Andersonville, according to Anderson County Deputy Mark Hobbs.

Hobbs reported he noticed Sarah Jane Stooksbury tailgating his cruiser while he was transporting her son to jail and radioed to the jail to close the lockup’s sally port door as soon as he pulled in.

Sarah Stooksbury pulled into the drop-off area directly behind him, blocked the door with her vehicle and refused to leave until her son was released, Hobbs reported.

Hobbs tried to grab the woman’s hand to detain her and calm her down, and she hit him in the face, he reported.

Sarah Stooksbury, 59, is charged with six misdemeanors — from aggravated criminal trespassing to assault. Her son is accused of aggravated assault. Both are free on bonds, and both reside in Andersonville.

Monday, November 30, 2009


12 Days Of Christmas Cost $87,000

'12 Days Of Christmas' Would Top $87,000'

Price Up $794 From Last Year


Associated Press Writer

POSTED: 12:02 am EST November 30, 2009
UPDATED: 11:52 am EST November 30, 2009

PITTSBURGH -- Making one's true love happy will cost a whopping $87,403 this year, a minuscule increase from last year, according to the latest cost analysis of the items in the carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

That's the grand total for the single partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming, purchased repeatedly as the song suggests, according to the annual "Christmas Price Index" compiled by PNC Wealth Management. The price is up a mere $794, or less than 1 percent, from $86,609 last year.

The cost of buying each item just once is increasing this year to $21,466, up 1.8 percent from last year's $21,081.

Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investment for PNC Wealth Management, which has been calculating the cost of Christmas since 1984, attributed the modest increase to lower energy costs and fewer wage increases.

It's the smallest increase since 2002, when the cost actually decreased, according to PNC.

The main driver behind the higher cost is that the price of gold has increased 43 percent, bringing the five gold rings up $150 to $500.

Although wage increases were modest, nine ladies dancing, at $5,473 per performance, is the costliest item, surpassing that of any of the material goods.

The most expensive goods are the seven swans a-swimming at $5,250, but their cost decreased 6.3 percent from last year's $5,600. Dunigan said their cost tends to be the most volatile because of supply and demand; they were up 33 percent last year over 2007.

Costs for the 10 lords a-leaping ($4,414 per performance), 11 pipers piping ($2,285 per performance) and 12 drummers drumming ($2,475 per performance) remained the same as last year. Dunigan says that reflects the labor market in which the unemployment rate rose to near 10 percent after sitting below 5 percent for much of the decade.

And for those who would shop online, a word of caution.

PNC says you'll pay $31,435, which is down from last year's online price, but still about $10,000 more than in the traditional index.

"In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of shipping costs for birds and the convenience factor of shopping online," Dunigan said.

PNC Financial Services Group Inc. checks jewelry stores, dance companies, pet stores and other sources to compile the list. While it is done humorously, PNC said its index mirrors real economic trends.

Besides putting out the list for fun, PNC makes it available to teachers across the country to teach economic trends.

While it's unlikely anyone would buy the items, Dunigan said one item is likely to please.

"We don't necessarily suggest picking just one, but it's hard to believe that gold rings wouldn't lead the list on a year-to-year basis," Dunigan said.

Monday, November 30, 2009


$1,920,000 The World's Most Expensive iPhone

World's most expensive iPhone costs $1,920,000

A British designer has produced the world's most expensive iphone - featuring almost 200 diamonds and costing $1,920,000.

 Telegraph UK 

9:54AM GMT 29 Nov 2009

iPhone 3GS: World's most expensive iPhone costs £1.92m iPhone 3GS: The front navigation button is made from a single diamond of more than seven carats. Photo: SOLENT

The casing of the exclusive iPhone 3GS Supreme was created using 271 grams of 22 carat solid gold.

The front bezel houses 136 flawless diamonds totalling a massive 68 carats while the Apple logo on the back is made from a further 53 gems.

The front navigation button is made from a single diamond of more than seven carats.

Designer Stuart Hughes, from Liverpool, Merseyside, took ten months to make the phone after it was commissioned by an anonymous Australian businessman.

Mr Hughes said: "The Iphone is the phone with the most tricks on the market.

"What possibly could we do to trick it up more? Bless it with the finest precious metal and jewels.

"Most of the ten months was spent trying to source the diamond for the navigation button."

The phone comes in a special 7kg chest made from a single block of granite and Kashmir gold with a Nubuck leather lining.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Dieting while quitting smoking can work better

Dieting while quitting smoking can work better

Elizabeth Cooney

Boston Globe Correspondent

November 30, 2009

Smokers know they should quit for their health often balk because they don’t want to gain weight - and a new health problem - once cigarettes’ appetite-suppressing nicotine leaves their bodies. Quitting smoking while starting a weight-control program may seem like a recipe for failure, and guidelines for doctors discourage embarking on both simultaneously. But a new analysis suggests that not only do combined programs work, in the short term they work better than smoking-cessation programs alone.

Bonnie Spring and her colleagues at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine pooled the results of 10 randomized clinical trials in which some 2,233 smokers - all but 154 of them women - were divided into two groups. Some were assigned to programs that combined smoking cessation with weight control and others were enrolled in smoking cessation programs alone. After three months, people in the combined programs were 29 percent more likely to have stopped smoking than people in the smoking-cessation alone group. But after six to 14 months, when the programs had ended, the difference between the groups was no longer statistically significant.

People in the combined program, which emphasized more exercise and eating fewer calories, also gained less weight in the short term. After three months, they gained 2.1 pounds less than people in the smoking-only treatment group. After six months, however, the difference was not statistically significant.

BOTTOM LINE: People who quit smoking while enrolled in a weight control program put on fewer pounds and had more success staying off cigarettes after three months.

CAUTIONS: Because so few men participated in the trials, the results may not apply to them.

WHAT’S NEXT: The researchers want to see if they can replicate the success of the combined programs, which varied from study to study.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Addiction, September

Surgery in older people not linked to cognitive decline

There have long been worries about the effects of anesthesia on older surgery patients’ memory and cognitive abilities. Research dating to the 1950s in patients recovering from heart surgery has pointed to postoperative deterioration in mental skills. A new study calls into question the role of surgery in cognitive decline.

Dr. Michael Avidan of Washington University in St. Louis led a team that looked retrospectively at 575 people who volunteered for studies at the university’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, which meant that after age 50 their cognitive function was tested annually. When Avidan’s study began, 361 people had mild to moderate dementia, and 214 were dementia-free. They were divided into three groups: people who had non-cardiac surgery, major illness, or neither. Heart surgery was excluded because it carries a heightened risk of stroke.

About one-quarter of the participants who did not have dementia at the outset eventually developed symptoms, but this was no more common in people who had had surgery than in the other two groups.

BOTTOM LINE: Surgery in older people was not linked to cognitive decline.

CAUTIONS: People who volunteered to participate in Alzheimer’s research may not reflect the general population.

WHAT’S NEXT: The authors plan a larger study to look at whether specific anesthetics and procedures pose a higher risk of cognitive problems in older people.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Anesthesiology, November

Sunday, November 29, 2009


No more troops to Afghanistan

Paul G. Kirk Jr.

No more troops to Afghanistan

November 29, 2009

Boston Globe

PRESIDENT OBAMA is expected to announce this week his plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan, a mess he inherited from his predecessor. With the security of our homeland foremost in his thinking, he was wise to have taken the time to listen to experts and reassess US strategy. Indeed, time and events have helped to clarify the situation. I hope the president will be equally wise and take them into account and urge a more narrow and focused strategy with no further troop buildup.

Pakistan continues to harbor Al Qaeda terrorists who would pose an imminent threat to US national security if they were to take control of that country’s nuclear weapons. Obama’s March report advised that our national security requires us to “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda and its safe havens in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and prevent their return to either country in the future.’’

To achieve that goal, General Stanley McChrystal suggested a “counterinsurgency’’ strategy, saying that he needs at least 40,000 more US troops in addition to the 68,000 already there. But, he warned: “A foreign army alone cannot beat an insurgency; the insurgency in Afghanistan requires an Afghan solution. This is their war’’ and any success must come “by, with, and through the Afghan government.’’

In other words, without a legitimate and credible Afghan partner, that counterinsurgency strategy is fundamentally flawed. The current Afghan government is neither legitimate nor credible. It has recently been installed by nothing more than a fraudulent political default. President Hamid Karzai now knowingly presides over a culture of corruption, an opium-dependent economy and, so far, has shown neither the credibility nor political will to rid his government of its corrupt warlords and crony power brokers, providing slim hope for “an Afghan solution.’’

Further, General James Jones, the president’s national security adviser, says of Afghanistan: “The Al Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies.’’

So, let’s get our priorities in order. We should not send a single additional dollar in aid or add a single American serviceman or woman to the 68,000 already courageously deployed in Afghanistan until we see a meaningful move by the Karzai regime to root out its corruption, assemble a more representative coalition government, and demonstrate some measure of transparency and accountability under the rule of law.

The brave US and NATO troops currently there should accelerate training of local Afghan Army and police forces to prepare for gradual reduction and ultimate disengagement while our civilian forces help build responsive governance infrastructures at the province level.

Our national security goal has not changed. But to achieve it, we need not enlarge our military footprint in Afghanistan and risk even more violence in retaliation for our perceived “occupation.’’

Instead, we and our NATO allies should narrow our strategy; focus on sealing and securing the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to prevent Al Qaeda from fleeing to Afghanistan as we use intelligence, drones, and special forces to “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda and its safe havens in Pakistan’’ where the real danger exists; assist Pakistan in enhancing civilian control of a stable constitutional government, in ensuring its economic growth and in securing its nuclear weapons. With this refocused strategy, our NATO allies can do more to assist militarily and should step up with more civilian assistance.

Obama has inherited no good options, but a more focused strategy with no additional troops stands out as preferable to all the others.

Senator Paul G. Kirk Jr. of Massachusetts is a member of the Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Time to update your router

Spending Smart

Time to update your router

Internet speed and network reliability are only as strong as the hardware you choose

John M. Guilfo

Globe Correspondent

  November 29, 2009


As more and more people turn to faster broadband Internet and ever-changing types of wireless networking, the same home networking router you used back in 2001 just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Customers can often spend more than $50 per month for Internet service and hundreds or thousands of dollars on computers and laptops, so it’s important to invest in a networking router to match. After all, your Internet is only as fast and your network is only as reliable as your router. But be prepared to spend more than $100 here.

The three most popular brands of home routers are D-Link, Linksys by Cisco (formerly just Linksys), and Netgear. Belkin is another good brand. We tested four routers, one from each brand.

The Linksys by Cisco WRT610N at $179.99 is a powerful solution that requires some know-how and configuration to get going. The D-Link DIR-685 Storage Router at $229.99 is a great gadget-y choice because of its multimedia features. The Belkin N+ Router at $119.99 is a value-minded solution that packs features despite its low price. Finally, Netgear’s WNDR3700 for $159.99 is a well-rounded solution that works just as well for people who want to plug it in and go, and for those who want to delve into more complicated networking setups. Wireless range is great for all four devices: Place the router in the middle of the house, and everyone will be online.

The D-Link product is fun, but its price will turn some off. It has a built-in digital photo frame and internal storage for sharing files throughout your network, but the 3.2-inch screen is hardly ideal for showing off all your family pictures.

The Linksys by Cisco WRT610N is great for advanced users. You should know a thing or two about networks before you buy this, as you’re going to have to do more than just plug it in. The device is compatible with current and emerging standards of Wi-Fi technology, but all those options mean you have to configure the router to talk to your computers, and vice versa. Read the manual.

We liked the Belkin N+ because it’s simple. You can plug it in and go pretty quickly, but it’s not without its bonuses. There is a USB port where you can plug in an external hard drive for instant network attached storage. This makes sharing files, music, and videos very easy. You will have to go out and buy a hard drive though.

We liked the Netgear product the most because it combines the best of both worlds. The WNDR3700 has extremely fast wired networking and the latest wireless specifications. It has a fast processor (routers are basically tiny computers) and a dedicated wireless band designed for streaming video. Security is also something to consider. With this product, you can create two virtual networks: one for you and your family, and one for friends or guests. This is really handy.

Our Choice

NETGEAR WNDR3700$159.99
Pros: The WNDR3700 balances advanced features like the latest Wi-Fi standards and powerful security options with relative plug-and-play ease for the less technically minded.
Cons: Price may worry some. Quality is an investment.
The final word: It’s the best on the list. Plug it in, configure it, and it will always be there for you.



Pros: The WRT610N is great for advanced users who want to customize their system.
Cons: The price is a concern, and novice users might get confused.
The final word: If this is your first time buying a router, pass.



Pros: The D-Link has onboard storage and doubles as a digital photo frame.
Cons: Price. You’re paying for that digital photo frame.
The final word: It’s a great gadget, if you like gadgets.



Pros: The Belkin is easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and powerful, with the ability to add a storage device.
Cons: None.
The final word: This is a fine choice for the 21st century multimedia family.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Mysterious "Saddam Channel" Hits Iraqi TV

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Health care lessons from Europe

Health care lessons from Europe

Carolyn Lochhead

Chronicle Washington Bureau


Sunday, November 29, 2009

But three other wealthy nations - the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany - offer much closer parallels, as well as lessons.

Health care systems in the three nations more closely resemble the U.S. system of insurance-based coverage. Holland and Switzerland rely exclusively on private insurance, and all three rely on private doctors. The three European nations deliver universal coverage and world-class quality at a fraction of what Americans spend.

All of them require that everyone purchase insurance, make sure everyone can afford it and ban insurers from such practices as refusing to cover the sick that are common in the United States.

"We've got something worse than socialized medicine in this country," said Alain Enthoven, a Stanford University economist known as the father of the Dutch system.

"We have doctors causing hospital infections by not washing their hands because the incentives don't punish them for hospital infections, and we've got something that is financially destroying our economy. It's a disaster."

In many ways, the legislation in Congress builds on a broken system, experts said, reinforcing such features as relying on employers to buy health insurance rather than letting workers shop for their own plans.

European health care is universal, but contrary to popular perception, it is not all nationalized. Facing rapidly aging populations, many European countries have gone much further than the United States in using market forces to control costs. At the same time, regulations are stronger and often more sophisticated.

Most of Europe spends about 10 percent of its national income on health care and covers everyone. The United States will spend 18 percent this year and leave 47 million people uninsured.

Europe has more doctors, more hospital beds and more patient visits than the United States. Take Switzerland: 4.9 doctors per thousand residents compared with 2.4 in the United States. And cost? The average cost for a hospital stay is $9,398 in relatively high-cost Switzerland and $17,206 in the United States.

"In Switzerland, rich or poor, they all buy the same health insurance," said Regina Herzlinger, chairwoman of business administration at Harvard University and a leading advocate of the Swiss system. "The government gives the poor as much money as the average Swiss has to buy health insurance."

The Swiss and Dutch buy their own coverage from competing private insurers. Both systems address market failures that pervade U.S. health care: Insurance companies must provide a core benefit package and everyone must buy coverage. Consumers can shop for value and pocket the savings, as opposed to U.S. patients who hand the bill to someone else. Switzerland does not have a public program like Medicare or Medicaid.

Far from leading to poor quality and rationing, both countries and Germany, where government has a much larger role in health care, outperform the United States on many quality measures. These are not just broad measures such as life expectancy that could reflect higher U.S. poverty or obesity. Even Britain, much maligned by opponents of government-run health care in America, has made greater strides in preventive care.

"The data are pretty clear," said Peter Hussey, a Rand Corp. analyst. "Everybody (in the United States) is at risk for poor-quality care."

Americans often confuse intensive care with quality, said Beth Docteur, a consultant and former health official at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of 30 industrialized countries.

U.S. doctors face powerful economic incentives to do more, whether or not it improves a patient's health. These include fee-for-service payments that reward volume, fears of malpractice lawsuits that encourage more tests and procedures, and heavy marketing by drug and device makers.

The Germans apply especially rigorous scientific analysis to determine which medical procedures work and which don't. Critics here argue that such "comparative effectiveness research" leads to rationing or even "death panels." Recommendations this month by a U.S. government panel to cut back on mammograms have heightened such fears.

Karl Lauterach, director of the Institute of Health Economics at Germany's University of Cologne, described Germany's approach as "protecting patients against ineffective and highly inefficient care."

"If Americans experience a more intensive medicine, is this higher quality? The answer is absolutely not," Docteur said. "A lot of these surgeries and procedures may not even be appropriate for the patient. People are being exposed to risks of hospitalization and risks of adverse events that can exceed the actual benefits."

The Dutch address what experts consider a critical market failure: The profit-maximizing incentive among health insurers to dump sick people. In Holland, insurers can profit by covering the sick. Some even market plans to diabetics, a practice that would be unthinkable here. The Dutch do this through a complex scheme that pays insurers more for covering the sick.

"Get this wrong, and your public option will fail," warned Cathy Van Beek, acting chairwoman of the executive board of the Dutch Healthcare Authority. Health care reform, she said, "is highly complex and requires great time and effort to get things partly right some of the time."

Legislation in Congress would borrow from the Dutch by creating an "exchange" where some people could buy insurance. But Enthoven believes these are doomed to fail because they are missing key ingredients of the Dutch plan such as access for all.

 Moreover, "there is virtually nothing in the bills that is going to control costs," said Gerard Anderson, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. On the plus side, he said, "In terms of making sure people are insured and making sure that you can't be denied coverage, that's much more like the European systems."

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Four Police Officers Ambushed


Four police officers shot dead at coffee shop near Parkland

Lui Kit Wong   The News Tribune
Scene of the police shooting at the Forza Coffee shop near Parkland on Sunday, November 29, 2009.

The News Tribune


Published: 11/29/09   9:28 am   |   Updated: 11/29/09  11:39 am

Four local police officers were killed this morning at a Parkland-area coffee shop, and dozens of investigators backed by search dogs and a helicopter were hunting for their killer.

Witnesses described the killer as a black man, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-9, in his 20s or 30s, with scruffy facial hair and wearing a black coat and blue jeans.

He walked into the Forza coffee shop at 11401 S. Steele Street about 8:30 a.m. and opened fire on the four officers, who were at a table doing pre-shift paperwork.

The man then fled southbound on foot.

The officers – three men and one woman – all worked for the Lakewood Police Department.

Investigators have identified three of the four officers.

Law enforcements from all over the region have responded to the scene.

The Sheriff's Department is in the process of notifying next of kin and coworkers.

"We are having a lot of colleagues wake up to this news," Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said.

The gunman opened fire with a handgun. The baristas and two customers inside were not injured.

Police are possibly looking for another person and are searching multiple places, including residences and parking lot, Troyer said at a news briefing.

There is no information on the motive for the deadly killing. There was no preexisting threat against the officers.

As of right now, there is no link to the Oct. 31 slaying of Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton, who was gunned down as he and a colleague sat in a patrol car in Seattle. Police have arrested a man in connection with that case.

The Sheriff's Department has set up a special tips line – 866-977-2362. Tipsters also can call Crime Stoppers at 253-591-5959. There is a $10,000 reward.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said he's following the developments in the slaying of the four officers.

"Our hearts go out to the families," he said. "One of our main concerns right now is we still have some crazy coldblooded killer or killers on the loose."Witness accounts from the four officers killed this morning in a coffee shop.

Mike Bostwick drove the coffee shop this morning as just as a couple of police cars were arriving moments after the shooting.

"I saw three vehicles pulling into Forza right off the bat," he said. "I was trying to say out of the way."

Bostwick said the officers have been working on gang issues in the area.

Jim Waldeck of Spanaway said he was on his Ralph's Tavern for a cup of coffee like every day. He drove by the coffee shop and saw two Lakewood cars out front.

"That's not unusual," Waldeck said. "It's pretty scary."

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Marriage a family business for Ohio sisters

Marriage a family business for Ohio sisters
11/28/2009 2:15 PM ET  
Anna Sudar

NEWARK, Ohio — Kelly Covert and her three sisters have been to more than 20 weddings this year.But they don't sit with the guests -- they lead the ceremony.

The four sisters from this central Ohio community -- Covert, 49; Lynn Wilson, 53; Jeanne Rian, 41; and Jennifer Felumlee, 40 -- marry dozens of couples in the state each year through their family business, Four Sisters Wedding Officiants.

Although they usually preside over the traditional white wedding, each sister has seen her share of unique ceremonies.

"We can do anything from a small wedding of three to five people in a backyard to a large wedding at The Dawes (Arboretum)," Rian said. "We can go anywhere in Ohio."

The women have conducted ceremonies in a barn, a tattoo parlor and a bowling alley. Covert has led the ceremony at a Halloween wedding and a Harley-Davidson wedding.

"I personally will never jump out of an airplane or do a scuba diving wedding, but other than that, I wouldn't turn anything down," she said.

Born and raised in Newark as the Gartner sisters, the four women always have been close.

"We are together almost every day, and there is never a day when we don't speak," Covert said.

Rian was the first of the sisters to get ordained to perform weddings five years ago.

"There's a lot of people who don't belong to a church and they don't want to join one just to get married," Rian said. "I thought there was a big need here for an alternative."

Her sisters got interested and decided to get ordained as well.

"We are not just sisters, we are best friends," Rian said. "We've always wanted to do something together, and this fits us well."

The sisters got ordained online through the Universal Life Church Monastery in Seattle. They took classes online and received their certification through the governor's office.

Their certifications also allow them to do christenings and funeral services, but weddings are their favorites, Covert said. They can conduct any kind of ceremony, religious or secular, and also do commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples

The sisters travel in pairs to every wedding they do. Although most of them take place in Licking County, they have traveled to Marietta, Akron and Elyria for ceremonies.

"We don't like to say no to anyone; there's always one of us who can do it," Covert said.

Some of the weddings the sisters preside over -- such as a Hawaiian-themed wedding or a country western wedding -- are carefully planned, but others are last-minute.

"We were on our way to Columbus one time when we got a call from a man in the military about to leave for basic training. He said 'We need someone to marry us,' I asked them when and he said 'Tomorrow,"' Covert said. "Sometimes, we have to drop everything."

But no matter what the time frame, the sisters try to customize each ceremony for every couple.

"We show them several different ceremonies, and we customize them until they get what they want," Covert said. "Some want prayers, some want readings, some want their own vows, there's are all kinds of possibilities, but for us, it's all about the couple."

The four sisters are working on getting a Web site to advertise their services, but right now most of their business comes from word of mouth, Rian said. Every year, they get more and more calls.

"Big weddings are expensive nowadays, and I think people are doing more intimate weddings because of the economy," she said.

The sisters are busiest during the summer and during holidays, especially Valentine's Day.

To prepare for a wedding, they practice what they'll say in front of each other, especially the vows.

"I was so nervous at first, I felt like I was the one getting married, but all the eyes are on the bride and groom," Rian said. "The more you do it, the easier it gets."

One of Rian's favorite parts of being a wedding officiant is watching the groom see the bride for the first time.

"You are (the groom's) right-hand support system for a few minutes when they are standing there alone, but once the couple stands up there together, it's wonderful."

Covert said she's enjoyed every wedding she's done.

"It's really a lot of fun, everyone smiling and happy and you leave feeling like it was great to bring two people together," she said. "It's a really good start to your day or your week."

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Woman arrested with home filled with garbage and insects

Cobb home filled with garbage, insects, used food containers

Alexis Stevens
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 6:26 p.m. Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Cobb County woman spent several hours in jail for having four children in a home filled with garbage, insects and fecal matter.

Casey Abigail Robinson, 37, of Acworth was charged with contributing to the deprivation of a minor because of the condition of the home, according to her arrest warrant.

The Mars Hill Road home had broken furniture, insect infestation, food and "used food" containers on the floor, according to police. Dirty dishes were stacked in the kitchen, and an "unknown source fecal matter" was present in the bathroom.

The bathroom next to the children bedroom was non-functioning, according to the arrest warrant.The four children in the home range in age from 6 to 13 years old, police said.

The home also had water flooding, mold growth and dirty clothes throughout, police said. The windows were covered in dirt, according to the warrant.

Robinson, who is listed as Casey Pineda on jail booking documents, was arrested at the home Friday evening. She was released on $2,500 bond around 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning.


Saturday, November 28, 2009


City targets ex-NBA star for 'slum' housing


City targets ex-NBA star for 'slum' housing

Walker 'humbly apologizes' for 'failings of my company'

A 'hulking public nuisance'

Mold, lack of heat and buckling floors forced tenants to abandon this building at 6854 S. Cornell Ave., another property that until recently was owned by Walker's company. (Tribune photo by Zbigniew Bzdak / November 19, 2009)


LINK TO IMAGES,0,5107529.photogallery


Antonio Olivo

Tribune reporter

November 29, 2009

The Prairie Avenue apartment building -- described by the city as a slum nuisance -- sits a short drive from where Antoine Walker once dominated basketball games, a prodigy at Mount Carmel High School on his way to escaping South Side poverty to become a fabulously wealthy NBA star.

At one point, bricks fell off the building's facade, a hazard that went unfixed for months, city records show. Before that, a broken sewer pipe filled the basement with feces, toilet paper and other debris, creating an odor that forced families to move their children out.

The angry tenants don't know Walker, 33, who reportedly earned $110 million during a 13-year pro career that included winning an NBA championship ring. But the 6-foot-9 former all-star -- known for a partying lifestyle that stretches from the golf course to the velvet-rope club -- plays a big role in their lives.

His company owns the building.

Amid a pile of financial troubles and legal actions capped off earlier this year with his arrest in Nevada for nearly $1 million in bad gambling debts, Walker is being pursued by city officials, bank attorneys and tenants' lawyers for housing problems that have resulted in what the city says are public hazards.

Real estate investment companies that list Walker as an investor or principal -- Walker Ventures LLC and AW Realty LLC -- are the target of more than a dozen lawsuits alleging poor management of numerous properties, unpaid debts and damages caused by shoddy repair work. In one case last month, the city won $950,000 in court-ordered fines against Walker Ventures.

Speaking to the Tribune Friday by telephone, Walker appeared contrite about the problems, blaming them on the bad economy, "a lot of financial mistakes throughout my career," and putting trust in other people. "I would like to humbly apologize to everyone who has been affected by the failings of my company," Walker said. "It was never intended to present [tenants with] unacceptable living conditions."

In an era of celebrity scandal and richly rewarded fame, it's not unheard of for a multimillionaire athlete to suddenly turn up with financial problems. But as Walker carved a path of luxurious living from Chicago to Miami to Las Vegas, running up millions of dollars in debts to banks, casinos and at least one agent, the company bearing his name was leaving scars on the poor, urban landscape of his youth.

On Cornell Avenue, a 13-unit building developed a mold problem so bad that a 7-month-old boy repeatedly woke up coughing, a tenant lawsuit says. The toxic fumes and a lack of heat drove all the tenants to abandon the building, which the city declared "a hulking public nuisance" before Walker Ventures eventually lost it in a bank foreclosure.

On Minerva Avenue, another Walker Ventures building suffers from spotty electricity and a mouse and roach infestation that resulted in its failing several inspections tied to federal rent subsidies, government records show. Shoddy conditions and a problem with squatters drove most tenants away, and this month a team of city inspectors and police found several code violations, city officials said.

In Country Club Hills, raw sewage leaked from bad pipes inside a condominium owned by Walker's AW Realty and managed by his mother, Diane Walker, according to a Cook County lawsuit that described how the leak destroyed the unit below.

Many of the tenants were surprised to learn that their problems traced back to a former NBA star.

"This is your property and you're supposed to be somebody?" demanded Kywanna Leftridge, 29, who lost most of her belongings and had to move temporarily into a homeless shelter with her son, 13, after her apartment in the Prairie Avenue building flooded. "It was horrible."

Steven McKenzie, an assistant city corporation counsel, said that a number of foreclosed and now-abandoned properties have grown into neighborhood nuisances. One of the examples he cited was the Cornell Avenue building, which leaked natural gas in the vestibule as squatters were smoking upstairs, a fire hazard documented in court records.

Known as affable and media friendly, Walker has been elusive when it comes to many of the property accusations. The tenants haven't seen him, and lawyers have been unable to find him to serve papers. McKenzie did extensive research, pulling records available only to law enforcement, to make sure the former NBA player was the same Antoine Walker behind the real estate company.

The former star for the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat -- who has not signed with another team this year -- talked to the Tribune Friday from Chicago in a telephone interview arranged by his publicist in New York. Before that, he had not returned repeated messages left by the Tribune with his attorneys, family and friends.

In Tinley Park, Walker's mother, Diane, struck a tired air of defiance this month at the door of the $2.5 million mansion the ballplayer bought her. In the brick driveway, engraved with a large "W," sat four luxury cars.

Diane Walker defended her son, noting how he has counseled troubled teens and helped others pay for college through his charitable Eight Foundation. "Talk about the goodness of his heart and what he's done," she said.

Of the two real estate companies tied to the athlete, Walker Ventures has been most aggressive during the past several years about acquiring apartment buildings -- mostly on Chicago's South Side. The company was launched out of Coral Gables, Fla., in 2006, the same year Walker helped the Miami Heat win the NBA championship, according to Florida state records.

As a limited liability company, it lists three principal "members," or owners, including Walker. In addition to using Walker's name, the company features his address and signature on its registration paperwork.
In Friday's interview, Walker said his intention was to start a real estate venture that would help him ease into post-NBA retirement. He chose to focus on his native South Side community, he said, out of hope that he could help revive some long-struggling neighborhoods.

"I wanted to be part of restoring the neighborhood. I've always been passionate about the South Side," he said, expressing regret that he did not wait to invest until after he retired and "had more time to be directly involved in the company."

Walker has left day-to-day operations of Walker Ventures to one of the company's two other members, Frederick G. Billings, 44, who Walker said had been a friend for 18 years.

Billings, who has owned construction and tax consultant companies, is out on bond after being arrested in March on charges of running a mortgage scam in Chicago that netted him more than $700,000 in illegal loans, court records show.

As part of that case, he faces felony counts of fraud, forgery and theft, and in another case, he is accused of fraudulently collecting $10,000 in federally subsidized rent payments, though those actions are not connected to Walker Ventures or AW Realty.

Like Walker, Billings has run up gambling debts in Las Vegas, in his case totaling $229,000, according to a 2005 federal bankruptcy filing that allowed him to avoid paying it off. The bankruptcy filing also helped Billings avoid paying another $1.5 million he owed, some in unpaid taxes and the rest to investors, former customers and other creditors, U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents show.

When reached by the Tribune, Billings declined to comment, other than to cite a court filing in July that seeks to dismiss him from one city lawsuit against Walker Ventures by claiming that he is only a "managing member" for the company and not the owner or developer.

"Nah, I don't want to discuss that stuff, man," he said, before hanging up.

Walker said Friday that he was unaware of Billings' other legal problems. "I wouldn't have put my reputation on the line had I known about them," Walker said.

Walker said he became aware of his companies' problems only when court summonses from Chicago began arriving on his doorstep in late 2008 in Miami, where he currently lives. He said he was "saddened" by the allegations. "I was misguided into trusting other people and put my money and faith into other people's abilities," he said.

Walker Ventures tenants, some of whom remembered watching Walker's buzzer-beating shots on TV, have mostly interacted with Billings about their living conditions.

"Someone said the basketball player Antoine Walker owned this property, but I could not believe that; I didn't want to believe that," said Barbara Brooks, among a group of tenants in the Cornell Avenue building who sued Walker Ventures over the mold and other problems.

That 2008 case was settled, but when one tenant tried to cash a $1,000 check signed Antoine Walker, it bounced, said attorney Paul Bernstein, who represented the tenants. The check eventually went through, but none of the five other tenants named in the suit have received their $1,000 settlement payments, he said.

Near several vacant lots in the city's Washington Park neighborhood, the Prairie Avenue building serves as collateral for another financial problem: a $1.5 million promissory note to the JP Morgan Chase bank, signed Antoine Walker. The note was never repaid, according to a court judgment.

The city declared the property in violation of its "slum nuisance" ordinance in a lawsuit this year trying to force Walker Ventures to do repairs.

Before a court-appointed receiver moved in, the building's crumbling facade repeatedly poured bricks onto a public sidewalk. Miquel Evans, 17, said a large slab nearly hit him in the head in April when he walked up to visit his cousin Lonyae Almond.

Walker Ventures allowed that hazard to fester for months, despite repeated orders to fix it, city attorneys said.

After the broken sewer pipe filled the entire basement with a knee-deep pool of raw sewage, "everything was mold and mildew for months," said Almond, 31, adding that the problems began shortly after Walker Ventures took over the building in 2008.

"My daughter couldn't stay here for months because the smell was so bad; it was unbearable for anyone to live here. (The smell) was even inside our clothes, it lasted so long."

Inside the Minerva building, now in foreclosure proceedings, Antoinette Joseph and her three children -- ages 13, 11 and 9 -- noticed that trash began accumulating out back for months shortly after Walker Ventures assumed control of the building last year.

"Sometimes, I lie in bed and there's a mouse in bed with me. One time, it just sat there and watched me," Joseph said.

McKenzie said that city officials have begun to look into other Walker Ventures properties, and plan to place liens on those buildings in order to collect unpaid fines. Under laws governing limited liability companies, the city cannot go after Walker's personal assets, McKenzie said.

Walker said he's working to resolve his financial problems and hopes to reach a resolution with the city over its lawsuits.

"I accept full responsibility for the debts of my company," he said, adding that he's working hard to sign again with an NBA team. "I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life.

"Hopefully, I can make wiser choices, on and off the court," he said

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Woman delivers baby while cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Boston Globe

November 28, 2009

Mattapan grandmother makes special delivery

Mattapan grandmother makes special delivery

BOSTON -- A grandmother from Mattapan performed double duty this Thanksgiving, cooking dinner and helping deliver her new granddaughter.

Patricia McCalop was in the middle of preparing a Thanksgiving feast when her daughter, Africa McCalop, suddenly went into labor. She called 9-1-1 but there was no time to wait.

Africa had gone to the hospital early Thursday morning, but doctors said she wasn't ready to deliver. Then, just hours later, she gave birth to a baby girl at her mother's home.

"It was so fast. I didn't even know what to do. I felt the head coming, I was trying to hold her in until the ambulance came so I got to a safe place, but she wouldn't let me hold her, she just came," said Africa McCalop of her daughter Danizah's birth.

Patricia was simultaneously trying to deliver Danizah and cook the Thanksgiving turkey.

"So I'm running, you know, trying to cook the know, I didn't want the turkey to burn either," said Patricia of the hectic scene at the family's home.

A 9-1-1 dispatcher helped Patricia to make sure Danizah was healthy and breathing.

"She's like, 'take her little foot out.' I was scared, and I grabbed her little foot, and she's like, 'take it and spank it.' So I spanked the little foot a little bit and she moved, and I was like, 'yeah, she's moving, she's moving,'" said Patricia of her granddaughter's first moments.

Paramedics arrived shortly after Danizah was born and took both Africa and Danizah to the hospital.

Danizah arrived two weeks early but healthy, weighing in at six pounds

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Dog Eats 130 Nails

Dog Recovering After Eating 130 Nails

Owner Thankful Basset Hound Is Ali

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


  JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Ashley Saks couldn't believe what she saw when the veterinarian brought her the X-rays. Her 2-year-old Basset Hound Roxy had ingested over 100 nails.

“I counted about 130, but I don't know how many she threw up before she was taken, so it could've been more,” Saks said.

The unbelievable X-rays showed a clump of about 100 or so nails stuck at the base of Roxy's stomach. At that point, there were already a few stragglers that made its way through her intestines.

“They put her to sleep, stuck something down her throat, and pulled them out a few at a time,” said Saks. “Because it was such a big bulk, they couldn't just pull them out, it took over an hour to do that.”

                    LINK TO VIDEO AND SLIDESHOW

Saks said she left the dog with a friend for the weekend while she was out of town and told her friend to make sure to lock Roxy up whenever he leaves because she doesn't like being alone. But last Saturday he ran to the store thinking she would be OK to roam around by herself and that's when she found the nails.

“It's unbelievable she's thankfully still alive,” Saks said.

Saks said the nails didn't puncture any of her internal organs.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Tiger Woods injured in car accident

Friday, 11.27.09


Miami Herald

Tiger Woods involved in car accident outside home

Tiger Woods sustained facial lacerations after running into a fire hydrant and tree with his SUV outside of his home.


Tiger Woods' wife used a golf club to smash out the back window of a sport utility vehicle and pulled her husband out after he slammed into a fire hydrant and tree outside his Florida home early Friday, according to local police.

The accident initially sent shock waves through the sports world and sparked conflicting reports about the extent of his injuries.

An initial Florida Highway Patrol report Friday afternoon said the world's No. 1 golfer was in serious condition following the 2:25 a.m. accident. But by later Friday afternoon, a spokeswoman at the hospital where Woods was taken defused speculation that he was in any kind of danger, saying he already had been treated and released.

``Tiger Woods was involved in a minor car accident outside his home last night and has been treated and released in good condition,'' said Susan Jackson, spokeswoman for Health Central Hospital in Ocoee.

The most serious injuries to Woods are said to be facial lacerations.

The single car accident took place when Woods, 33, pulled out of his home in the exclusive Isleworth community in the town of Windermere and slammed his 2009 Cadillac SUV into a hydrant and then a tree on his neighbor's property.

Upon hearing the accident, Elin Nordegren came outside and used a golf club to smash the back window, Windermere Police Chief Daniel Saylor told The Associated Press.

Saylor said officers found Woods laying in the street with his wife hovering over him. Woods had cuts on his lips and blood in his mouth, Saylor told the AP. He was in and out of consciousness when police arrived.

No charges have been filed.

Woods, who has won 14 major championships, was scheduled to host the Chevron World Challenge -- his annual fund-raising tournament for the Tiger Woods Foundation -- in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Dec. 3-6.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Must Have Toys Through the Years




Zhu Zhu Pets toy hamster is year's toy craze

Mae Anderson

Associated Press


Friday, November 27, 2009




Seeing a fully stocked shelf, she decided to hold off until Christmas.

That was "before I knew that the hamsters would soon be off the shelves and more scarce than an H1N1 vaccine," said Fowlkes, 32.

Now she can't find them anywhere.

Zhu Zhu Pets - which retail for about $10 and are aimed at 3- to 10-year-olds - are this year's bona fide must-have toy, following in the footsteps of past crazes for Tickle Me Elmo and Cabbage Patch Kids. On resale Web sites like eBay and Craigslist, they fetch $40 or more. Vital accessories such as the hamster car and funhouse are sold separately.

By many counts, the toy is an unlikely hit. They're in a field crowded with toy pets. The hamsters, which scurry around, make noises and drive cars, don't always work the way you expect and have a limited range of action.

"Honestly, I don't really get it," said BMO Capital Markets analyst Gerrick Johnson. "But I don't need to get it for a toy to be hot."

The toys do have several factors that make them compelling, Johnson said: fun accessories and scarcity - sometimes when something is hard to obtain it makes people want it more. One big thing going for them in tough economic times: They're cheap.

Unlike past hot toys made by large manufacturers like Mattel's Tickle Me Elmo and Tiger Electronics' Furby, Zhu Zhu Pets are made by tiny Cepia Inc. of St. Louis, with just 16 employees in the United States and 30 in China, making their success even more unlikely.

Just 6 years old, Cepia worked on an electronic dispensing device for consumer products before turning to toys.

The company was started by toy industry vet Russ Hornsby, 56.

The success of Zhu Zhu Pets wasn't entirely accidental. After being inspired by classic robotic toys, like the barking puppy dog who flips, Hornsby created a prototype. The craze sets Cepia up for a strong 2010. Hornsby estimates the company will sell $100 million in Zhu Zhu Pets by the end of the year. It's always hard to tell how long a toy will stay hot, but based on bookings, he says that will grow to $350 million to $400 million by the end of next year as production ramps up.

BMO analyst Johnson agreed 2010 will be big for Zhu Zhu Pets.

"I don't know what Chinese New Year is coming up, but as far as toys are concerned, next year will be the year of the hamster."

Friday, November 27, 2009


Fire caused by children jumping on mattress

Brockton fire caused by children jumping on mattress

November 26, 2009 09:30 PM

fire2.jpg Globe photo by George Rizer


Megan Lopes (center) and other burned-out residents talk with a Brockton fire official last night.


Jack Nicas

Globe Correspondent


A fire that tore through two Brockton triple-deckers Thursday night, driving 33 residents out of their homes, was started by children jumping on a bed, fire officials said today.

“They were bouncing up and down on two mattresses and a box spring that were up against a wall where a plug was,” said Brockton Fire Lieutenant Edward Williams.

The back-and-forth motion of the mattresses abraded a transformer for a cell phone charger, Williams said. “I believe they broke the plastic apart, and that caused a short circuit that either heated up enough, or caused sparks, to catch the mattress on fire.”

After the children were shooed out of the second-floor room for making too much noise, the fire flared up just after 8 p.m. at 609 Warren Ave. As the three-story apartment building ignited, its windows blew out, spreading flames to another triple-decker six feet away, Williams said.

Six Brockton engines and three ladder companies responded to the fire, knocking it down by 11:15 p.m. Two firefighters suffered puncture wounds and cuts, but neither was hospitalized, Williams said.

Fire officials estimate $150,000 in damages to the initial building, and $50,000 to the second.

The American Red Cross housed 21 of the residents last night, including eight children, Winnie Dimock, an official with the Red Cross Massachusetts Bay chapter, said today.

Two families, from the first and third floor of 609 Warren Ave., found their own housing, Williams said. They were not at the scene when Red Cross officials responded just before 10 p.m., Dimock said.

The Red Cross took in the three families from 613 Warren Ave. and the family of eight from the unit where the fire started. That family, which includes three children and three young adults just over 18, was the only family to lose all of their belongings, Dimock said.

“We have them in a hotel for the rest of the weekend,” Dimock said. “Then we refer them to other agencies for further assistance.”

Williams, from the fire department, said there is fire damage on several floors of the buildings and heat, water, and smoke damage throughout both. The buildings will be livable again, but it could be nearly a year until then, he said.

“Both of the buildings can be salvaged,” he said, “no doubt about it.”


Below is the Globe's account of the fire originally posted Thursday night.


Michael Corcoran, Globe Correspondent

A fast-moving fire jumped from one Brockton triple decker to a second one tonight, causing extensive damage to both buildings and leaving 18 residents, including five children, temporarily without homes on Thanksgiving.

The fire broke out just after 8 p.m., in the second floor of a three-story apartment building at 609 Warren Ave.,according to Brockton fire officials. The fire soon spread to a neighboring building at 613 Warren and continued to burn until 8:43 p.m., when firefighters extinguished the blaze.

Fire officials were not sure of the total damage late tonight but said it was “extensive.” The cause of the fire is under investigation. No initial injuries were reported.

Neighbors crowded the surrounding streets to watch as flames shot out of the top of one building.

The Red Cross was contacted to assist the 18 people who were knocked out of their homes. A Red Cross spokeswoman said the organization provides temporary housing to people who are displaced in a disaster.

Earlier in the day, a fire in North Reading also disrupted the holiday.

The blaze, caused by an electrical problem, destroyed two unoccupied homes on Swan Pond Road, North Reading fire officials said. Fire Captain Barry Galvin said that when they reached the homes on Swan Pond Road shortly after 6:30 a.m., the buildings were already engulfed.

The fire originated in a small "camp-style" house and spread to a larger house that was under construction. "Both structures were a total loss," Galvin said. The cause was an "electrical accident" in the smaller home, State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said. 

There were no injuries, officials said.

Friday, November 27, 2009


The positive side of the recession

The positive side of the recession

The recession has not been bad news for everyone. Jessica Salter finds three businesses that are flourishing amid the gloom.


Jessica Salter

Telegraph UK
7:00AM GMT 26 Nov 2009

PrevCindy and Robert Pellet, owners of Forsham Cottage Arks Cindy and Robert Pellet, owners of Forsham Cottage Arks Photo: Tara Darby Jennifer Pirtle with a class at The Make Lounge. Jennifer Pirtle with a class at The Make Lounge. Photo: Tara Darby

When economists first warned us that Britain’s financial collapse might be as bad as the Great Depression, a national belt-tightening ensued. But while other G7 countries have managed to bounce back, Britain is still lagging behind, and the Bank of England says the country will take two years to regain its pre-crisis level of economic output.

Sales on the high street have struggled as the recession has thrown up a new set of values to live and enjoy life by. The businesses that are booming are the ones that reflect the shift from rampant consumerism to a more austere but creative way of living. While a girls’ night out may once have involved a new dress, <snip>tails and a taxi home, now you could be customising knickers over a glass of wine at an evening sewing class. And instead of buying organic fruit and vegetable boxes and free-range eggs, parents who are worried about what their children eat are embracing the Good Life by growing their own greens and keeping chickens.


Keeping chickens

Cindy Pellet looks fondly over her black-and-white speckledies as they clean each other’s beaks. 'They’re just like two little old ladies,’ she says. 'They no longer lay, but they have given us such good service I have to keep them.’

The retired hens spend their days modelling chicken houses, or 'arks’, to an increasing number of customers. Based near Ashford in Kent, Forsham Cottage Arks, the company Cindy, 52, founded 30 years ago with her husband, Robert, 57, now sells about 14 chicken arks a day, compared with three or four a week in 1979.

'People are buying chickens not only to save money on eggs. Keeping hens is also a step towards being a bit more self-sufficient and going back to traditional values, and I think that’s what people look to when the economy turns bad.’

According to a nationwide survey, an estimated 1,000 chicken sheds are being sold in Britain every week to people who want to keep chickens in their back gardens. B&Q, the garden equipment and DIY retailer, reported a threefold rise in sales of chicken coops last year, and riding on that success it is now planning to stock pigsties. Sales of vegetable seeds have massively increased, according to the seed company Suttons, which says that 70 per cent of seed sales are now vegetables, and 30 per cent flowers, reversing the trend of five years ago when 30 per cent of sales were vegetable seeds.

The Pellets decided to set up the business when Robert was made redundant from his job as a printer at the Kent Messenger, the weekly news­paper where he had worked for 17 years. Faced with two mortgages, one for the house and another for his 'horse-mad’ wife’s paddock, Robert started developing the chicken houses he used for their own hens into arks which they could sell commercially. Now the couple employ 23 staff, including their daughter, Tracey, 31. Their office is across the garden from their house and on its wall is a framed picture of Robert proudly holding up the first egg his chickens laid.

'We’re the original Good Lifers, we have had chickens, pigs, goats, dogs, horses and grow all our own vegetables,’ Cindy laughs. 'It’s important to be aware of the food chain, and if you feed your own chickens there is no better way of controlling the quality of what you eat.’

In addition to the chicken arks (the bestselling Boughton starter kit, including ark, floor liner, feed holder, water fountain and nest sawdust shavings, costs £395), the Pellets sell accessories ranging from electric fencing to automatic door openers. Three times a year, the couple also run a one-day £85 poultry course from a rented room at a nearby golf club. Today, two middle-aged couples, a man in his thirties with a ponytail and a woman in her forties, none of whom have owned chickens before, are on the course. Pellet is busy doling out cups of tea and biscuits while Fred Ham, an international chicken show judge, is turning a brown hen over to demonstrate a healthy chicken. 'You want a nice big eye at this end, which shows that there are no respiratory problems, and a clean white bum at the other end, which shows there are no digestive problems,’ he says. 'If you have got both of those, whatever happens in between will be fine.’


Sewing lessons

Dressed in tight jeans and Converse trainers, Jennifer Pirtle does not look like the type of woman who runs a craft workshop. But then her workshop, based in a converted Georgian house, with light streaming in through floor-to-ceiling windows, is a world away from a sewing class in a chilly church hall.

Pirtle, 41, who was born in California, founded the Make Lounge, where participants learn skills from sewing to cake decoration and jewellery making, three years ago after struggling to find an evening class that fitted in both with her job as a magazine writer and her life as a mother.

'I checked with some girlfriends and found that there was a real market for this kind of class,’ she says. 'My classes are full of women mainly aged between 25 and 40, either with jobs that do not allow them to be creative or busy mums who need a bit of time to carve out for themselves.’

To test her idea, in April 2007 Pirtle began running a few classes in a shared studio near Angel in north London. A year later, with the help of a private investor, she moved around the corner to her current location in Barnsbury Street – after eight months she had broken even. Now, with a team of 30 freelance coaches, she runs about 25 classes a week. 'Part of the Make Lounge’s success is down to the recession,’ she says. 'There is this make-do-and-mend mentality, but mainly people don’t just want to charge meaningless items to their credit card, they want to put a bit more thought into it.’

The courses, described as 'the price of an evening out or less’, range from basic sewing lessons (£34 for two hours), to Italian leather belt making classes (£45 for three hours). All include materials, wine and nibbles. 'The women who come to my classes want their clothes to be personal,’ Pirtle says. 'So instead of the same fast, throw-away fashion everyone else is buying, they come away with a stylish item and a skill.’

According to a recent survey by the climate change charity Global Cool, the average woman in Britain spends £470 a year on clothes she never wears, wasting £11.1 billion in the process. With this in mind, Pirtle designed her creative alterations course. 'Most women have items at the back of the closet, probably with their tags still on, that they can then redesign rather than spend money on new clothes,’ she says.

The Make Lounge is tapping into a national trend: according to, Britain’s largest course-finding website, there has been an 84 per cent increase in the number of internet searches for dressmaking tuition. John Lewis, the department store chain, reports similar findings: sales of buttons are up nearly 50 per cent on last year, zips are up 20 per cent, and the chain’s own-brand sewing machines have sold over 200 per cent more than this time last year in its Oxford Street store.

With 5,000 subscribers to her weekly newsletter, and at least 10 women a day signing up, in September Pirtle opened a retail shop (which, if it is successful, she will take online) and she is looking into renting more workshop space. Her biggest challenge is not getting women through her doors but making crafting appeal to men too. 'When the rare men do come to our workshops, they really enjoy it.’


Mental workouts

Octavius Black bounces in his chair excitedly and, struggling to keep his voice down, leans across the table. 'The secret for organisations to escape a recession is different each time,’ he says. 'In 1980 it was strategy. In 1991 it was technology. This time it is people. Those organisations who engage their employees, rather than dismissing them as “lucky to have a job”, will be the ones that emerge fastest and strongest.’

Then he laughs loudly, because it is not much of a secret. Since the recession there has been a 50 per cent increase in uptake of courses run by the Mind Gym, the company Black co-founded 10 years ago with his business partner, Sebastian Bailey. Courses cost £75 each per employee and range from 90-minute mental workouts with titles such as 'Wood for the Trees’ and 'Me, Me, Me’, to board games and paired interviews, rather than presentations.

The Mind Gym now boasts a client list comprising 40 per cent of companies from the FTSE 100. 'We worked with a retailer who was cutting 40 per cent of roles,’ Black, 41, says. 'As a result of applying the Mind Gym techniques to the remaining employees they remained sufficiently motivated to work split shifts through the night and delivered the best customer service in 21 years.’

After graduating from Oxford in 1989, Black began working as a management consultant. He cites an early career blip as 'working for the tycoon Robert Maxwell at the time Mr Maxwell jumped ship’. In 1991 Black led the sales and marketing side of a fledgling communication consultancy as it grew from nine to 100 people before being snapped up by the American advertising giant Omnicom. He continued working there until he founded the Mind Gym in 2000.

The original idea came from a discussion over dinner. 'We were sitting at the table pondering trends,’ he explains. 'We started thinking that if the 1980s was the decade of the body and the 1990s was the decade when people started taking care of their soul with feng shui and yoga, then the decade of the mind had to be coming.’

Now the Mind Gym, whose head office is in Kensington, London, has more than 100 freelance coaches who have worked with more than half a million people, and in 2006 they opened an office in New York.

'Brain training is a bit like medicine at the turn of the 20th century,’ Black says. 'Much of it is like the old apothecaries – the personal view of the person who is proposing them. We’re like the first doctors with the science to back it up.’

He points out a study recently commissioned by the Mind Gym which uses psychology and neuroscience to illustrate that people who have the best work-life balance are those who work the longest hours and are self-employed. 'That is just the opposite of what you would imagine. But things are not as they are; they are as we see them. If we can train people to look at the world in a certain way they will have more energy, achieve more and be far happier.’ Black, who has already had one breakfast meeting before 9am and is itching to bound away to another, is testament to the science. 'I just love my job, so it doesn’t feel like working,’ he beams.

Friday, November 27, 2009


NBA's Great Shaq Pays For Slain N.C. Girl's Funeral

Nov 26, 2009 4:45 pm US/Eastern

Shaq Pays For Slain N.C. Girl's Funeral

Moved By Shaniya Davis' Story, Basketball Star Shaquille O'Neal Covers Burial Costs


Shaniya Davis, of Fayetteville, N.C., was reported missing was found dead Nov. 16. (File)


Antoinette Nicole Davis, the mother of Shaniya Davis, faces a child abuse charge involving prostitution as well as filing a false police report, according to a news release from the Fayetteville Police Department.


Related Stories

Basketball star Shaquille O'Neal paid for the funeral of a 5-year-old North Carolina girl after being moved by national news coverage of the case of Shaniya Davis, who police say was kidnapped and killed.

The Cleveland Cavaliers player was touched by the stories he saw and got in touch with the family to see what he could do to help, a spokeswoman for O'Neal said Thursday.

More than 2,000 people attended the girl's funeral Sunday. Her body was found Nov. 16 beside a rural road.

Her mother, Antionette Davis, who had reported the child missing six days earlier, is charged with human trafficking and child abuse involving prostitution. Mario McNeill is charged with murder, rape and kidnapping in the case.

"I was sitting at home watching it on the news and the story brought a tear to my eye," O'Neal told The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.

Corey Breece, of Rogers and Breece Funeral Home, which handled the service, declined to tell the Fayetteville Observer newspaper how much it cost but added that a child's funeral "averages around $4,500."

A man who answered the phone at the funeral home Thursday told the AP that only the owner could comment and that he was away.

Shaniya Davis' father, Bradley Lockhart, and his family had set up a trust fund in memory of Shaniya to help raise money to pay for the funeral. Lockhart was not available to talk Thursday, said a man who answered the phone at his home.

O'Neal is recovering from a shoulder injury that has sidelined him for six straight games since getting hurt Nov. 12 against Miami.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Man dug up wife's corpse 'so he could hug her'

Vietnamese man dug up wife's corpse 'so he could hug her'

A Vietnamese man dug up his wife's corpse and slept beside it for five years because he wanted to hug her in bed, it has been reported.


11:30PM GMT 26 Nov 2009

Telegraph Uk

The 55-year-old man from a small town in the central province of Quang Nam opened up his wife's grave in 2004, moulded clay around the remains to give the figure of a woman, put clothes on her and then placed her in his bed, said.

The man, Le Van, told the website that after his wife died in 2003 he slept on top of her grave, but about 20 months later he worried about rain, wind and cold, so he decided to dig a tunnel into the grave "to sleep with her".

His children found out, though, and prevented him from going to the grave. So one night in November 2004 he dug up his wife's remains and took them home, Vietnamnet reported.

The father of seven said neighbours did not dare visit the house for several years.

"I'm a person that does things differently. I'm not like normal people," he was quoted as saying.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Prison raffle offers inmates chance of a 'day out'

Prison raffle offers inmates chance of a 'day out'

Prisoners have been offered the chance of winning a day out of jail as top prize in their Christmas raffle in a move which has angered victim support groups.


Lucy Croft

Telegraph UK
1:43PM GMT 26 Nov 2009

Inmates at HMP Kirkham, near Blackpool, Lancashire, have been told they could enjoy a whole day of freedom if they enter the $1 draw.

The raffle is open to the 590 prisoners held at the category D jail, some of whom will include rapists, murderers and other violent offenders coming to the end of their sentences

However, to be eligible for entry in the draw, they must first volunteer to cook Christmas dinner for the elderly at the nearby Milbanke Day Centre.

The reward, which has been condoned by Justice Secretary Jack Straw, has angered the families of violent crime victims.

Patsy McKie, 62, who set up Mothers Against Violence after her son Dory was shot dead, said: "They should not be releasing people on this basis. Prisoners shouldn't be rewarded for whatever they have done.

"Anyone could win that prize – even the most dangerous man who is coming to the end of his sentence. They should be looking at the individuals and whether they have been rehabilitated enough to be in the community and society."

HMP Kirkham, a former RAF training base, is an open prison for offenders considered to be low-risk, yet it has a serious problem with drug abuse and holds the dubious record of having more prisoners abscond than any other jail in the UK.

Almost 1,000 inmates absconded in the space of five years, between 1998 to 2003.

Prisoners are released on license from the open prison as part of their rehabilitation, but this is the first time the prison has offered freedom as a raffle prize.

The concept is allowed under the Incentives and Earned Privilege Scheme, introduced in 1995, which aims to encourage good behaviour by allowing inmates certain privileges such as wearing their own clothes or watching TV in their cells.

However, the draw has even been condemned by the Prison Officers Association.

A spokesman said: "I think, as a prison officer, prisoners buying raffle tickets with public money to win a day out where they can go out and enjoy themselves is fundamentally wrong. I'm very disappointed if that's what is happening at Kirkham."

Michael Jack, Conservative MP for Fylde, Lancashire, said: "I think the scheme to encourage prisoners to contribute to wider society through cooking a Christmas meal for elderly people who are considerably less well off than they are is a good idea.

"But to then link it to time out of prison, I think is incorrect."

A spokesman for the Prison Service admitted that the raffle has been planned, but denied there would be any risk to public safety.

"Public protection is our top priority and the rehabilitation of offenders is a vital part of this process," he said.

"HMP Kirkham holds low-risk prisoners in open conditions. All prisoners are rigorously risk-assessed before release on temporary licence and no prisoners are released if there are concerns for public safety.

"Only prisoners who meet the eligibility criteria are granted temporary release."

In January 2004 Kirkham became the first prison in England, along with HMP Morton Hall, to trial the Intermittent Custody Scheme, dubbed "weekend prison", which was later abandoned in November 2006.

The scheme had allowed some inmates to be released at weekends while others took their place with the aim of enabling prisoners on short sentences to remain in employment, housing and spend time with family.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Bride's "REVEALING" wedding dress is web sensation

Russian bride's revealing wedding dress is web sensation

A bride’s startlingly revealing wedding dress has become an internet sensation.


Tom Chivers
Published: 6:12PM GMT 25 Nov 2009

Russian bride's revealing wedding dress is web sensation The bride wore...not a lot Photo: Wedinator

Originally posted on Wedinator a site dedicated to showcasing wedding photo disasters from around the world, the image has now been reposted on hundreds of blogs across the web.

The unnamed woman, believed to be Russian, is shown getting out of a limousine wearing a white dress, the top half of which consists of two small, strategically positioned semicircles over a dramatic embonpoint.

Predictably the internet’s fashion commentators have not been uniformly complimentary. One, the author of a blog post called “The Five Sluttiest Wedding Dresses”, describes it as “the equivalent of the groom wearing a codpiece”.

Others have wondered whether the choice of a white dress is perhaps misleading, while others make the inevitable puns: “They make a lovely pair” seems to be the most common.

Wedinator, which has been running since February, includes among its other catastrophic nuptials a video of a public proposal gone hideously wrong , and CCTV footage apparently showing a bride cheating with the groom’s best man during the reception.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


City will pay man $50,000 for using middle-finger at police

$50K Tentatively Approved In Middle-Finger Case

Butler Man Flipped Bird At Pittsburgh Police Officer

POSTED: 10:08 pm EST November 24, 2009
UPDATED: 12:56 am EST November 25, 2009


PITTSBURGH -- A man who flipped the bird to a Pittsburgh police officer three years ago is speaking out after the City Council tentatively approved paying $50,000 to settle his lawsuit.


In April 2006, David Hackbart was trying to park on a busy street in Squirrel Hill when, he said, the driver behind him wouldn't budge.


"After inching back toward him to give him the message I was trying to park, he wouldn't (move). I got very frustrated and I flipped him off," Hackbart said.

Hackbart, 35, of Butler, wasn't done using his middle finger.

"I heard a voice outside the car telling me not to do that and that frustrated me too. So, I flipped that person off and that turned out to be a police officer," Hackbart said. "I tried to explain to him it was constitutionally protected, what I did. He did not want to hear it and gave me a citation."

The incident launched a federal civil rights case, which was postponed indefinitely at the request of lawyers on both sides. The case has tentatively ended with the City Council's approval Tuesday of a proposed $50,000 settlement. Another vote is scheduled next week for final approval.

Hackbart said his lawsuit was about change -- not money.

"Put some sort of policy in place that the officers are trained better and there is some sort of supervision in officers writing tickets so people don't have to go through what I went through," Hackbart said.

Hackbart said there's lesson for all to learn from his obscene gesture.

"I don't advocate people using the middle finger for (any) reason, any situation, 24 hours a day, but if someone ran across a certain situation in mind, at least he knows his rights," Hackbart said.


Of the proposed $50,000 settlement, Hackbart said he would receive only $10,000. His lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union would split the remaining $40,000.


Thursday, November 26, 2009


Paralyzed man watched robbers break in

Police: Paralyzed man watched robbers break in

Man lay defenseless as robbers searched home

Tribune Staff Writer
November 24. 2009 6:11PM

A paralyzed man, unable to get out of his bed, was forced to watch two men rob his home Sunday and could only call for help after a friend arrived, police said.

St. Joseph County police say the robbery occurred at a home on Grove Street, west of the South Bend city limits, sometime in the early evening.

Sgt. Bill Redman, St. Joseph County police spokesman, said police were called to the home about 8:50 p.m. on the report that a robbery had taken place.

Police arrived to find the homeowner, who said his home had been broken into by two men, one who placed a T-shirt over the paralyzed man's face as the robbers searched the home.

The homeowner told police said he thought the two men had been slowly driving by his home and through the neighborhood all day in an older model blue pickup truck, as if checking to see whether anyone was home.

Police said the two men broke into the home by breaking a rear window. After placing the shirt over the homeowner's face, they then stole his laptop computer and a $100 bill that the man had on a dresser.

The man told police that the two men then left, leaving him unable to call police or close the window that had been broken.

A friend stopping by the home was able to call police, but officers were unable to find the blue truck or any suspects.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


21 classic Thanksgiving TV episodes and specials,0,7982201.photogallery

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Turkey stolen from freezer

Update: Holiday turkey stolen from freezer of Jackson woman with two kids; suspect described as 300-pound man

By Fredricka Paul | Jackson Citizen Patriot

November 25, 2009, 12:10PM

Susan Sobiegray's attempts to help a homeless man backfired this week when he kicked in her front door and stole her Thanksgiving turkey.

Sobiegray and other neighbors had been helping the man with food and a place to stay in recent weeks. But Jackson police say he broke into Sobiegray's apartment about 11 p.m. Tuesday in the 400 block of W. Michigan Avenue.

"He raided the fridge like it was gold in it," Sobiegray said. "It was ridiculous. He threw all the food all over the kitchen floor, which wasn't much."

The suspect, described as a 300-pound, 6-foot man who is bald with blue eyes, fled with Sobiegray's 13-pound bird, said Jackson police Lt. Chris Simpson.

"My kids and I are by ourselves, and there is no one to help us," Sobiegray said. "I feel really bad that I helped him to have him turn around and do this."

After seeing the story Wednesday on, Brian Giroux, owner of Engineered Building Systems, volunteered to help.

"Any type of situation like this at this time of year is unacceptable," Giroux said.

Giroux provided the family with a turkey, stuffing, vegetables and a small ham. She was also given groceries such as juice and milk. The incident remains under investigation. 

Update: Holiday turkey stolen from freezer of Jackson woman with two kids; suspect described as 300-pound man

 Fredricka Paul | Jackson Citizen Patriot

November 25, 2009, 12:10PM

Susan Sobiegray's attempts to help a homeless man backfired this week when he kicked in her front door and stole her Thanksgiving turkey.

Sobiegray and other neighbors had been helping the man with food and a place to stay in recent weeks. But Jackson police say he broke into Sobiegray's apartment about 11 p.m. Tuesday in the 400 block of W. Michigan Avenue.

"He raided the fridge like it was gold in it," Sobiegray said. "It was ridiculous. He threw all the food all over the kitchen floor, which wasn't much."

The suspect, described as a 300-pound, 6-foot man who is bald with blue eyes, fled with Sobiegray's 13-pound bird, said Jackson police Lt. Chris Simpson.

"My kids and I are by ourselves, and there is no one to help us," Sobiegray said. "I feel really bad that I helped him to have him turn around and do this."

After seeing the story Wednesday on, Brian Giroux, owner of Engineered Building Systems, volunteered to help.

"Any type of situation like this at this time of year is unacceptable," Giroux said.

Giroux provided the family with a turkey, stuffing, vegetables and a small ham. She was also given groceries such as juice and milk. The incident remains under investigation.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Teacher Toe-Licking Video Sparks School Controversy

Teacher Toe-Licking Video Sparks School Controversy

Parents Say Teacher Engaged In Inappropriate Conduct


POSTED: 10:01 pm EST November 24, 2009
UPDATED: 8:38 am EST November 25, 2009


MOORESVILLE, Ind. -- A battle is brewing between some parents and the Mooresville Consolidated School Corp. over a teacher some feel is involved too intimately with children.

A 41-second cell phone video shows a junior varsity softball player licking the toes of teacher Jody Monaghan, a former softball coach, 6News' Jack Rinehart reported.

"There were 14-year-olds on that bus. I know several of them. I've known them since they were little girls," said parent Lenny Adair. "It's inappropriate at best."

Superintendent Curt Freeman was aware of another incident in which Monaghan sent inappropriate text messages to some students.

In both cases, Freeman said Monaghan used poor judgment, but Monaghan now coaches the girl's swim team.

Parents said Monaghan has been engaging in inappropriate contact with children for years.

Sheila Reecer's daughter said some of the behavior she had witnessed between Monaghan and her teammates happened to her, too.

"She came home and she was real upset and she goes, 'Mom, I need to talk to you about something that happened during softball,'" Reecer said. "She said she had walked past him in the dugout a couple of times, he would just rub his hand across her stomach."

Rob Allen said incidents reached beyond the softball field and that Monaghan disciplined his daughter in a classroom in front of her classmates.

"He bent her over his lap and spanked her, and I didn't find this out until later on down the road," Allen said.

Sheila Helton said she pulled her 15-year-old daughter off the softball team after Monaghan began sending her text messages she felt were inappropriate.

"She came to me one day and said, 'Mom, I think my coach is weird,'" Helton said. "11:30, 12 o'clock at night, some of the messages were, 'What are you doing? I'm bored.'"

Adair said that Monaghan began texting his daughter before he put a stop to it.

"I don't allow no man … I'm a grown man. I don't text kids," he said. "What do you text a kid for when you're a grown man?"

Helton said contact with her daughter went beyond texting and got uncomfortably physical after Monaghan allegedly told her daughter that she didn't need her knee wrapped, but rubbed.

"She said he looked at her and said, 'How does it make you feel when I rub your leg?'" Helton said. "She said, 'That freaked me out, mom.'"

The school corporation refused to respond to 6News' inquiries about Monaghan.

"Please tell me you're not recording me right now," said Susan Haynes, the school's community relations coordinator, when asked if Freeman would comment.

Freeman backed out of a scheduled interview and issued a statement that said, in part, that students were interviewed and didn't feel threatened and that no laws were broken.

"If they're not going to do anything about this, I'm not going to have my daughter trapped in a dugout somewhere with this man," Reecer said.

"You're messing with my baby … but me getting in trouble wasn't going to do her any good," Allen said.

While Monaghan no longer coaches softball, his new position as swim coach gives some parents pause.

"So they go from softball uniforms to girls in bathing suits. Go figure that, and I don't like it," Adair said.

Freeman and Monaghan refused repeated requests to be interviewed for this story.




Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Church Robber: 'I'm Sorry But I'm Poor'

Church Robber: 'I'm Sorry But I'm Poor'


Posted: 5:13 pm EST November 24, 2009Updated: 5:57 pm EST November 24, 2009

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. -- Clayton County church officials said they are working to fix the damage done by a robber. The pastor said someone robbed the church and then left an apologetic message on the wall.


Someone stole expensive equipment, including a laptop with church records, for the fourth time in the past two years from Berean Baptist Church.


Neighbors in Clayton County want to know who would break into a church.


“I’m just speechless because you would never think somebody would break into a church. It’s just crazy,” said neighbor Falecia Washington.


And the Rev. Roger Davis said this is not the first break-in they’ve had.


"Next time I'm going to put a sign on the door that says, 'If you're going to break in and steal something, call me and I'll take an offering for you,'" said Davis.


Sunday night, somebody stole electronic equipment, including a laptop and microphones. The vandal also destroyed the safe and broke the locks.


The person then left behind some unusual graffiti.


“It says, ‘Sorry, but I’m poor. Forgive me Lord,’” said Davis. "You always get aggravated with people stealing things but, you know, sometimes...I don't know what kind of situation this man was in or this person was in."


Davis said what the church really wants back is the laptop that has the church records on it. Clayton County police said they were not ready to discuss the case.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Kim Jong-il bans World Cup - unless North Korea win

Kim Jong-il bans World Cup coverage - unless North Korea win

Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, has banned the World Cup from being shown in his country – unless they win.


Ben Leach
6:40AM GMT 25 Nov 2009

Kim Jong-il slaps down son Kim Jong-Un North Korean leader Kim Jong Il Photo: EPA

The Supreme Leader has ordered state-run television not to broadcast live games, and to only screen highlights of North Korea's victories.

The ruling means that 99 per cent of the country's 29 million population will not be able to find out who wins the competition unless the 350-1, outsiders win it.

 Games between other nations will be banned from the airwaves, while any highlights of North Korea's matches will be heavily edited to ensure that they look like the better team.

All advertising in the stadiums will also be blurred out – along with opposition fans, The Sun newspaper reported.

Mike Breen, author of highly-respected book Kim Jong-il: North Korea's Dear Leader, said: "Like everything else there, the regime will have complete control over the World Cup.

"North Korea will not pay for the TV rights, which means they will not be able to screen live games on state television. They are more likely to get footage from South Korea and then it will be heavily edited to suit the regime.

"Only the ruling elite with access to other satellite channels will be able to watch games involving other countries.

"The majority of the population will have to make do with very one-sided highlights packages hours, and possibly even days, after the game. Any loss will either be ignored or given the smallest of mentions.

"Once North Korea are knocked out, I would be amazed if there were any mention of the World Cup at all."

It is the first time that North Korea has qualified for the World Cup in 44 years.

The last time they qualified was in England in 1966 when they pulled off one of the biggest shocks by beating Italy 1-0 to reach the quarter finals.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Adopted man discovers Charles Manson is biological father

41-year-old pacifist DJ discovers his real father is legendary serial killer Charles Manson: report

Brian Kates


Tuesday, November 24th 2009, 9:44 AM


'I'm a peaceful person - trapped in the face of a monster,' DJ Matthew Roberts told London's The Sun newspaper about the discovery that his biological father is Charles Manson (pictured). AP

'I'm a peaceful person - trapped in the face of a monster,' DJ Matthew Roberts told London's The Sun newspaper about the discovery that his biological father is Charles Manson (pictured).

Who's your daddy?


Oh,  It's Charles Manson.

A 41-year-old man, who was adopted as a 10-year-old and raised in Illinois, spoke out recently about the harrowing discovery.

"It was like finding out your father is Hitler," Matthew Roberts told The Sun newspaper.

Roberts found out about his long-lost daddy about a dozen years ago after using a search agency to find his birth mother. The birth mother told him that she had been raped and that the 1960s Helter Skelter killer was his father.

A year after Roberts' birth in 1968, Manson and his 'Family' of followers committed nine murders in Los Angeles over five weeks, including the stabbing of pregnant actress Sharon Tate. She was the wife of film director Roman Polanski.

"I'm a peaceful person - trapped in the face of a monster," Roberts said. "My hero is Gandhi. I'm an extremely non-violent, peaceful person and a vegetarian. I don't even kill bugs."

The truth of Roberts' birth unfolded gradually as he and his mother began to write each other.

At first she refused to pass on details, but ultimately she revealed that she had been captivated by Manson and joined his cult in San Francisco.

When his mother saw Roberts' photograph she said her suspicions were confirmed. The killer and his son share nearly identical facial features and they have the same thick, dark hair.

Roberts has corresponded with his unrepentant father, now 75 and confined for life in California's Corcoran State Prison.

The mass killer confirmed he is Roberts' father, and recalled the times he spent with Matthew's mother in a string of ten rambling handwritten notes and postcards signed with a swastika - the same symbol he has tattooed on his forehead.

"He sends me weird stuff and always signs it with his swastika," Roberts said. "At first I was stunned and depressed. I wasn't able to speak for a day. I remember not being able to eat."

But, he added: "He's my biological father - I can't help but have some kind of emotional connection. That's the hardest thing of all - feeling love for a monster who raped my mother. I don't want to love him, but I don't want to hate him either."


Read more:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Man Steals Gingerbread Men

Man Accused Of Taking Gingerbread Men

Police Say Man Sold Decorations To Get Money For Drugs

Monday, November 23, 2009


BALDWIN, Fla. -- A Jacksonville man was arrested on charges of stealing gingerbread men from the town of Baldwin and police said he tried to sell them to get money to buy drugs.

It happened about a block from city hall where someone stole two gingerbread men from the city's Coleman House Christmas display. City workers said they saw the plastic holiday decorations a few days later in the basket of a local man's bicycle as he rode down the street. One day later, the workers saw the decorations again out in front of a consignment store.

“A guy came in he had gingerbread men on his bicycle,” said Jennifer Chafin, owner of Jennifer's This And That store. “He asked if I wanted to buy them.”

The store's owner said she offered the man $4 for them.

“People sell me things all the time, I didn't think anything of it,” Chafin said.

Peter Paul Drake, 41, of Jacksonville, was arrested and charged with dealing in stolen property.

Police said he gave them a story that a woman pulled up in a car and asked him to sell the gingerbread men for her and give her some of the money. The report said he eventually told them that was a lie. It said he hocked the ornaments for some drug money.

Drake was being held in the Duval County jail on $753 bond.





Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Teenager tells police catch me if you can

October 7, 2009 11:22 AM

Last Updated November 23, 2009 7 09AM On CBS Early Show

Colton Harris-Moore: “Catch Me If You Can” Teen Eludes Detectives

Ryan Smith


(AP PHOTO)Photo: Colton Harris-Moore in July 2009 self-portrait provided by the Island County Sheriff’s Office.

EASTSOUND, Wash. (CBS/AP) It is a scene straight out of the movie "Catch Me If You Can."

In the darkness of this sleepy island town, the beam of a deputy's flashlight caught the back of a lanky teenager wanted in a notorious 18-month burglary spree.

The teen glanced over his shoulder, and then vanished into the woods. "He virtually vaporized in front of me," deputy Jeff Patterson recalled.

Such encounters have become all too common on the bucolic islands north of Seattle as police hunt for an elusive thief whose crime spree is quickly becoming a local legend. Colton Harris-Moore is suspected in about 50 burglary cases since he slipped away from a halfway house in April 2008.

Now, authorities say, he may have moved on to a more dangerous hobby: stealing airplanes.

The saga continues, as Harris-Moore keeps finding new ways to embarrass police by slipping through their grasp.

The 18-year-old typically breaks into businesses or unoccupied vacation homes, lies down on the couch and then dashes into the woods if confronted. He earned himself the nickname of "the barefoot burglar" by committing some of his crimes without wearing shoes.

But authorities say the case has taken on a dangerous new dimension now that Harris-Moore is apparently joyriding in small aircraft.

(AP PHOTO)Photo: Pat Gardiner, Oct. 5, 2009, in his empty airplane hanger in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Gardiner's Cesna T182T, shown in the photo he is holding, was stolen by Colton Harris-Moore.

He is suspected of taking three planes from rural airports and crash-landing them. There were bare footprints inside and outside some hangars that had been broken into. In one, police said, footprints were on the wall, indicating that the suspect put his feet up, apparently while eating.

His mother said she doesn't see anything wrong with what he's suspected of doing.

"I hope to hell he stole those airplanes, I would be so proud," Pam Kohler told a reporter, noting her son's lack of training. "But put in there that I want him to wear a parachute next time."

Over the weekend, someone took blankets, shoes and food from a home near the site where a stolen Cessna crash-landed north of Seattle on an apparent path toward Harris-Moore's hometown on Camano Island. SWAT teams were called out after a shot was fired from the woods, but whoever was responsible got away.

The teen may be motivated by a strong interest in aviation, but police say he does not discriminate in his choice of stolen vehicle: A boat stolen from the island was found last month on the mainland.

Police believe Harris-Moore also recently took thousands of dollars from safes and ATMs at businesses in the Orcas Island hamlet of Eastsound.

The teen has exploited the fact that the police do not have the manpower to mount an all-out hunt in a property crime case. Sheriff's offices on some of the islands do not even have tracking dogs.

Frustrated residents wonder how hard it is to find a 6-foot-5, 200-pound teenager in the confines of an island, while red-faced cops bristle at what they see as attempts to romanticize the fugitive.

A Harris-Moore fan club has emerged on Facebook, and a Seattle man started selling T-shirts bearing his picture and the words "Momma Tried."

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown, whose office has dealt with Harris-Moore at least since he was 11, said he recently blew up at a "Today" show producer who wanted to ask him about the made-for-Hollywood aspect of the story.

"He is an adult felon!" Brown said. "I will not have him made into some kind of folk hero."

(AP PHOTO)This Nov. 2007 photo provided by the Island County, Wash. Sheriff’s Office shows Colton Harris-Moore.

Harris-Moore grew up in the woods of Camano, a piece of land shaped like a backwards question mark in Puget Sound, 30 miles north of Seattle. A long gravel drive lined with thick vegetation and "no trespassing" signs leads to the property. His home is a tarp-covered, single-wide trailer surrounded by tall cedar trees and decommissioned pickup trucks.

The teenager's mother recently greeted a reporter and photographer by promising to chase them off the property with a shotgun. Then she granted a lengthy interview.

Listen To Audio Interview With Mother of Colton Harris-Moore

She said her son's father left when he was about 2, his stepfather died when he was about 7, and from the time Harris-Moore was in first grade, she knew there was something off about him — "sort of a disconnection."

He wouldn't listen to his teachers, started altercations at school and sometimes deliberately broke things around the house, Kohler said. And sheriff's deputies sometimes accused him of stealing things even when he hadn't, she added, such as a $300 bicycle she said she bought him for his birthday one year.

"Every time he had anything any good, everyone thought he stole it," she said. "What does that do to a kid?"

Harris-Moore had his first conviction, for possession of stolen property, by age 12. Within a few months of turning 13, he had three more. Each brought a 10-day stint in detention or community service.

An Island County sheriff's deputy on Camano once caught him by posing as a pizza delivery guy after noticing a multitude of empty pizza boxes at a campsite he used. Another time, deputies saw him jump out of a stolen Mercedes. They later found his self-portrait on a stolen digital camera, posing in a black, collared shirt with a Mercedes logo.

In 2007, he was sentenced to nearly four years in juvenile detention after being caught in an unoccupied home when a neighbor noticed the lights on. But he did well enough at the detention center that he was transferred to a halfway house, where he sneaked out an open window.

He's been playing cat-and-mouse with authorities ever since. His mother said she has reason to believe he linked up with a small group of other people who have safe-houses protected by high-tech surveillance systems, but she said she doesn't know anything else about them.

"We haven't caught him, but neither has anybody else," said San Juan County Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Vierthaler. "You always get caught eventually."

Kohler hopes her son makes his way to a country that won't extradite him. She said she sometimes talks to him on the phone, but she won't let on if she knows where he is.

"I figure I'll spend my time with him in a positive way," she said, "because who knows if he'll be shot tomorrow?"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


State doesn't know where to put 15-year old murderer

15-old killer Alyssa Bustamante confounds Missouri justice system

Soraya Roberts


Monday, November 23rd 2009, 4:45 PM


This picture provided on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009 by the Cole County Sheriff's Department shows Alyssa Bustamante. SEE YOUTUBE VIDEO MADE BY BUSTAMANTE BELOW. This picture provided on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009 by the Cole County Sheriff's Department shows Alyssa Bustamante. 

Juvenile Justice

What do you do with a teenage girl who stabs and cuts the throat of a 9-year-old?

We're not sure, says Missouri's juvenile justice system according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The case involves Jefferson City’s Alyssa Bustamante, 15, who’s in jail awaiting trial for allegedly murdering her neighbor, Elizabeth Kay Olten, 9, on Oct. 21.

It was ruled on Wednesday that Bustamante will be tried as an adult and that the prosecutor will be seeking life in prison without parole.

Missouri's justice system is trying to determine whether to send Bustamante to youth services for mental health rehabilitation or to adult prison where her attorney thinks she will be unable to survive.

But an added complication was introduced Wednesday when it was revealed that the state's juvenile justice system does not have a secure place for a teen girl accused of a violent crime.

“This is real different for all of us,” says Bill Heberle, deputy director of the Division of Youth Services. He says that the state does have a secure facility with fences and locked gates, but only for boys.

"We simply don't receive that many young girls that are committed to us for a heinous crime," Heberle responded. "Our girls tend to be more violent toward themselves."

It turns out Bustamante fits into this category as well. She was placed in a mental hospital two years ago after a suicide attempt in which she cut herself with her fingernails. Court testimony has revealed she tried to kill herself a second time after her arrest. She is allegedly still battling depression, despite having been through therapy and taking Prozac.

However, Bustamante's Internet personality appears to project violence outward rather than at herself.

She used her recently disabled YouTube page to talk about her hobbies - "killing people" and "cutting." One video shows her touching an electric fence just to see what it feels like.

An investigator testified that Bustamante dug two graves and killed her 9-year-old neighbor for the same reason.

 "She wanted to know what it felt like," said Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. David Rice.

If Bustamante is convicted of first-degree murder, that does not mean she will not end up with youth services.

Missouri is one of 22 states with a "dual jurisdiction" system. That means a judge could decide to keep her in the juvenile system until she turns 21. At that point, another hearing would decide if Bustamante would be released or sent to adult prison.

Heberle said the Division of Youth Services would make appropriate changes if Bustamante ends up in their care.

"If it's the wishes of the court to commit this girl to us, we would make whatever modifications necessary," he says. "It's a very difficult and stressful case. If I could have magically said in court that I had a 10-bed secure facility for girls, I still don't know whether he would have committed her to us."

Bustamante is not the only one in her family behind bars, her father is also in jail in Missouri on an assault conviction. 

Her next court date is Dec. 7.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Woman loses insurance benefits over Facebook photos

Nathalie Blanchard loses benefits over Facebook beach photos

Soraya Roberts


Sunday, November 22nd 2009, 12:01 PM
Nathalie Blanchard lost Manulife benefits when she posted this and other photos of herself on Facebook.
Nathalie Blanchard lost Manulife benefits when she posted this and other photos of herself on Facebook.

Faking sick usually means avoiding public places. These days that includes the Internet.

A Quebec woman on long-term sick leave lost her benefits after she posted Facebook photos of herself frolicking on a beach.

CBC reports that a year and a half ago Nathalie Blanchard was diagnosed with depression and granted leave from her job at IBM in Bromont, Que.

The Manulife insurance company had been sending her monthly sick-leave benefits, but ceased payment when they found Blanchard’s photos on the social networking site.

Manulife reportedly said the pictures Blanchard posted to her private Facebook account prove she is no longer depressed. One showed her having fun at a Chippendales show, another at her birthday party and a third on a beach holiday.

Blanchard says she had told Manulife about the trip and that the pictures do not prove that her overall mood has improved.

"In the moment I'm happy, but before and after I have the same problems," she explains, adding that her doctors had advised her to have fun in order to forget her worries.

Blanchard's lawyer, Tom Lavin, requested a new psychiatric evaluation of his client, but thinks Manulife's investigation was inappropriate.

"I don't think for judging a mental state that Facebook is a very good tool," he said.

Manulife confirmed to CBC that it uses Facebook to investigate clients, but said they would not withdraw benefits simply based on that site.

"We would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook," they said.

Blanchard estimates that the Facebook debacle has cost her thousands of dollars in benefits.

Read more:

Monday, November 23, 2009


Woman wants donations for turkey's eye surgery

Mass. woman seeks funds for turkey's eye surgery

Boston Globe

November 23, 2009

REHOBOTH, Mass.—A Massachusetts woman is seeking donations from fellow pet lovers to help pay for eye surgery for her turkey named Jerry. Lyndsey Medeiros and her husband adopted three-year-old Jerry and another turkey from a Rhode Island farm last week. But Jerry has cataracts, and the eye problems mean he can't eat independently or join his female companion, Penelope, in flying.

Medeiros has posted an ad on Craigslist seeking donations for the surgery. She said the procedure could cost up to $2,600. Her farm in Rehoboth, Mass., cares for other animals with health problems.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Woman slips marijuana to inmate during kiss

Published November 17, 2009 07:46 pm - Two guards at the State Correctional Institution at Mercer thought they caught something criminal in a long kiss between an inmate and visitor. They had to wait three days, but they got their evidence in the end.

UPDATE: Woman accused of slipping inmate drugs in her kiss

Matt Snyder
Herald Staff Writer

MERCER COUNTY — Two guards at the State Correctional Institution at Mercer thought they caught something criminal in a long kiss between an inmate and visitor. They had to wait three days, but they got their evidence in the end.


On Oct. 19, the guards spotted inmate Otis McKinzie sharing a long kiss with Michele Dionne Jordan, 41, of 633 Darr Ave., Farrell, state police said. Afterward, McKinzie appeared to tilt his head back and swallow something.

They asked McKinzie if he swallowed something, but since the inmate wouldn’t say, McKinzie was put in a “dry cell” and so his feces could be checked, police said.

The evidence passed Oct. 22, when authorities at the prison in Findley Township found a balloon filled with marijuana in McKinzie’s feces, police said. McKinzie admitted he obtained the balloon from Ms. Jordan when she kissed him during their visit.

Later the same day, police said, McKinzie denied knowing anything about the marijuana until he felt something enter his mouth during the kiss. He said they were “nickel bags” of marijuana.

Police said they found about 6.6 grams of marijuana in balloons while sorting through McKinzie’s bodily waste.

The next day, Ms. Jordan initially denied knowing about the marijuana, but later admitted that she passed it to him. She said she hid it in her bra, went to the restroom to transfer the balloons to her mouth, and kissed McKinzie to pass the drugs.

She said a girl from Pittsburgh had given her the marijuana to move along to McKinzie.

Ms. Jordan had charges of contraband and possession of a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia held to court this week by District Judge Lorinda L. Hinch, Mercer.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Pricing Afghan troop buildup: $500,000 a soldier?

Pricing an Afghanistan troop buildup is no simple calculation

The White House estimate is twice the Pentagon's. Some see politics at play.


Christi Parsons and Julian E. Barnes

 Chicago Tribune

November 23, 2009

Reporting from Washington - As President Obama measures the potential burden of a new war strategy in Afghanistan, his administration is struggling to come up with even the most dispassionate of predictions: the actual price tag for the anticipated buildup of troops.

The calculations so far have produced a sweeping range. The Pentagon publicly estimates it will cost $500,000 a year for every additional service member sent to the war zone. Obama's budget experts size it up at twice that much.

In coming up with such numbers, the White House and the military have different priorities as well as different methods.

The president's advisors don't want to underestimate the cost and then lose the public's faith. The Pentagon worries about sticker shock as commanders push for an increase of as many as 40,000 troops.

Both sides emphasize that their figures are estimates and could change -- in fact, a Pentagon comptroller assessment this month put the number closer to that of Obama's Office of Management and Budget.

Still, budgeting and politics are entwined, and numbers can always support more than one point of view.

The Bush White House minimized costs as it moved toward war. Obama is weighing skeptically an escalation of a war he didn't launch. In his campaign, Obama promised not to tuck war costs away, off federal budget books.

"Our resources in manpower, our resources in human lives and our resources in money are not infinite," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in an interview. "The notion that we wouldn't take each of those things into account does not make a lot of sense to this commander in chief."

All of those elements are under consideration as Obama wraps up a review of war strategy. He is expected any week now to respond to requests from his commander in the region for a strategy change and for additional forces. The White House could announce an increase of 20,000 to 40,000 troops shortly after Thanksgiving.

During a recent session of his war council -- where one contingent has questioned the wisdom of sending more troops -- Obama asked how much it would cost to pay for the troops Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal has requested. The president sought an exact accounting, a request that turned out to be more complicated than anticipated.

The Office of Management and Budget says adding 40,000 troops would cost about $40 billion a year, or $1 million each. White House officials included in their estimate everything they consider necessary to wage war, including troop housing and equipment.

Inside and outside the Pentagon, some suspect an effort to undermine support for a troop increase. "The large-scale message has been, 'This is going to be hard and expensive,' " said Thomas Donnelly, an American Enterprise Institute fellow and defense expert.

The Pentagon arrived at its much lower estimate by dividing its war funding request by the number of troops throughout the region: 68,000 in Afghanistan and up to 95,000 in supporting roles elsewhere, such as on nearby ships or in surrounding countries.

The Pentagon cost includes higher combat wages, extra aircraft hours and other operations and maintenance costs, but omits such items as new weapons purchases -- one-time costs that vary by year -- and support equipment like spy satellites and anti-roadside-bomb technology.

The Pentagon also does not try to estimate costs of new bases for additional soldiers.

But in a memo early this month, obtained by The Times' Washington bureau, the Pentagon's own comptroller produced an estimate that broke with the customary Defense formula and did include construction and equipment.

That memo said the yearly cost of a 40,000-troop increase would be $30 billion to $35 billion -- at least $750,000 a person. An increase of 20,000 would cost $20 billion to $25 billion annually, it said -- a per-soldier cost equal to or greater than the White House estimate.

Even determining past spending is a fuzzy endeavor: Big chunks are paid through emergency measures and are not calculated into the total.

Under questioning by the House Armed Services Committee this month, a Congressional Budget Office expert couldn't say how much it costs to run the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I find it astonishing that, eight years into this, we haven't nailed it down with precision," another witness at the table, David Berteau, director of the Defense Industrial Initiatives Group of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said later.

And yet the effort is necessary, said Stephen Daggett of the Congressional Research Service: "If the budget is going to be constrained, one of the questions we have to ask is whether we can sustain the increases in forces."

Partisans of all stripes are likely to think first about intangibles, including American tolerance for troop casualties and support for sending new troops to Afghanistan.

Democratic leaders say money won't determine their level of commitment.

"You have to look at the mission first," said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.). "You absolutely start with that."

Obama's decision will not be based on money, his press secretary said.

"The president is going to pick the strategy that's most in our national security interest," Gibbs said.

"Along the way, the health of our forces, the toll on lives and the financial costs will all be discussed."

Monday, November 23, 2009


Woman Denied Credit, Told She's Dead

Woman Denied Credit, Told She's Dead

A Seattle, Wash., woman trying to refinance her mortgage got the shock of her life when she learned her credit report listed her as deceased. The news came after she had ...

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Couple Arrested For Failing To Pay Tip

Nov 22, 2009 11:00 am US/Eastern

Pa. Couple Arrested For Failing To Pay Tip

College Students, Among Group Of 8, Refuse To Leave Gratuity Due To Poor Service At Lehigh Pub; Business Has Mandatory 'Service Fee' For Large Parties



A pair of college students were arrested for failing to leave a tip at a Pennsylvania restaurant.

Two Pennsylvania college students were arrested after staff at a restaurant where they dined called police about the couple's refusal to leave a mandatory tip.

Leslie Pope and John Wagner were dining with about six other people at Lehigh Pub in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in October when the incident occurred.

The pair insists service was so horrible that the last thing on their mind was leaving any kind of tip.

They claim they had to wait at least an hour for their order, fetch their own silverware and beg the barkeep for drink refills.

"Gratuity is thanking you for your service," Pope, 22, told the The Express-Times online newspaper. "You can't give us terrible, terrible service and expect a tip."

The business reportedly charges a required 18 percent gratuity fee for parties of a certain size.

But Pope told The Express-Times that they were being told to pay $16.35 in addition to their $73.87 bill -- pointing out that the calculated service charge was much higher than 18 percent.

It was unclear why Pope and Wagner were the only ones of the group cited for theft of service. They pleaded not guilty to the charge and are awaiting their trial date.

The Express-Times say management for Lehigh Pub refused to comment on the story.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Doctor tells patient You're unemployed and fat

Doctor's diagnosis of patient: You're unemployed and fat

Sarah Avery - News & Observer

RALEIGH, N.C. — Dr. Earl Sunderhaus, an Asheville, N.C., eye doctor, has what might charitably be described as a brusque bedside manner.

That much is not in dispute.

But the N.C. Medical Board may decide Sunderhaus overstepped the bounds of decency when he recently told a patient she was irresponsible for being unemployed, on Medicaid, and relying on taxpayers to cover another pregnancy after giving birth less than a year earlier. What really galled her, the patient complained, is that Sunderhaus poked her thigh and told her she is fat.

"When I got home, I was very upset about the way I was treated by him," the patient wrote in a private complaint to the board. Efforts to contact the patient were not successful.

Sunderhaus, who describes himself as a plain-spoken old German, escalated the conflict by later writing the patient to drive home his points using numbered paragraphs and signing it "sincerely." Then, he fired off opinionated missives to the board, which called him to Raleigh on Thursday for a closed-door meeting.

Sunderhaus' point — that doctors need to advise patients to lose weight, because obesity is not just a personal issue, it's a $147 billion public health crisis — may have gotten lost in the delivery.

The board, which licenses and disciplines doctors, has not decided whether to charge Sunderhaus over the patient's complaint. The worst that could happen is he'd lose his license.

Most problems arising from an insensitive comment are handled with a quiet tut-tut by the board — perhaps a recommendation that the practitioner take a refresher course in effective doctor-patient communication, said Jean Fisher Brinkley, the board’s spokeswoman.

Usually, doctors appreciate the confidentiality.

Sunderhaus, by contrast, stormed the beaches in defending his honor.

He wrote North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue, referring the patient's "irresponsible orgasm" that resulted in children whose medical care is provided by Medicaid.

He fired off numerous letters to the medical board, noting that its rules make him nauseous and, among other things, that "the biggest hoax on mankind" is the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Sunderhaus notified McClatchy that he was about to be "screwed" by the medical board, admitting he told the patient that thick eyeglasses would not cause her to go blind, "but her thick thighs and diabetes would."

"I poked her thigh to emphasize that diabetes is the leading cause of blindness," he said Thursday. "People have got to accept criticism without getting their bowels in an uproar."

Sunderhaus, a trim man who appeared before the board wearing cargo pants and sporting a backpack, makes no apologies for his actions. He blew off a psychiatric test the board arranged and flouted protocol by talking about his case, which the board likes to keep secret.

At the end of a conversation with this reporter, Sunderhaus offered $20 for her efforts. She returned it, but not before he tucked it in her sweater.

After 30 years of practice, Sunderhaus said, he is prepared to take whatever discipline the board issues, even the loss of his license.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Man Hits Girlfriend With Frozen Turkey

Cops: Man Hits Girlfriend With Frozen Turkey

Woman Says Man Upset She Talked Too Long On Phone

POSTED: 7:41 am EST November 22, 2009
UPDATED: 7:53 am EST November 22, 2009

 BOSTON -- A Dorchester man was arrested Saturday for assault and battery with a deadly weapon after he hit his girlfriend with a frozen turkey, The Boston Herald reported.

The victim said her boyfriend, Mark Woodward, accused her of talking with her mother on the phone for too long. Woodward then took the turkey out of the freezer and threw it at her, hitting her in the hip, police said.

The victim told police she had received the frozen turkey and other holiday groceries from her church.

Woodward denied the charges, but a frozen turkey was found on the porch of his home, with apparent damage to the packaging, police said. 

The victim was treated at Boston Medical Center.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Man arrested for paying teens to spit on him

Ventura County man arrested for reportedly paying teens to spit on him

LA Times

November 20, 2009 |  8:52 am

A 39-year-old Thousand Oaks man has been arrested for reportedly paying teens to spit in his face, slap him and yell profanities at him, a spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said today.

Charles Hersel, who was arrested on child annoyance charges and released on his own recognizance, reportedly sought out young male Westlake High School students on the MySpace social networking website, said Capt. Frank O’Hanlon.

“It didn’t take long for word to spread among local teens that they could get paid to spit in a man’s face,” O’Hanlon said.

Teens also reported that Hersel asked them to urinate and defecate on him. He was arrested Wednesday after an undercover sting operation at the Westlake Promenade mall, where he paid a teen $31 to spit in his face.

-- Seema Mehta

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Handcuffed bank robber eats note demanding money

Police accuse bank robbery suspect of gobbling up note (with dashcam video)

Gina Mace
Special to the Beacon Journal

06:58 p.m. EST, Nov 20, 2009

Police believe they have their man.

But they fear their suspect in a bank robbery may have eaten some of the evidence — the note handed to a Streetsboro bank teller demanding cash — while he was handcuffed and leaning over the hood of a police cruiser.

Twinsburg police Patrolman Daniel Biada said a dash cam video of Thursday's arrest of John H. Ford, 35, of Cleveland, shows Ford gobbling a piece of paper while officers searched his pockets.

"As we're searching him, officers are removing items and throwing them on the cruiser [hood],'' Biada said. ''We're searching him for weapons. We're not looking at his head.''

The whereabouts of the note demanding money came into question after Biada was taken into custody and Streetsboro investigators asked whether officers had found the piece of paper.

Twinsburg police reviewed the images captured on camera and said they observed Ford leaning over to eat something off the hood of the cruiser.

''He grabbed it in his mouth, just like Pacman,'' Biada said. ''He just ate it right there.''

Authorities said they found a .38-caliber pistol on the driver's side floor of Ford's car and a wad of cash covered in red ink on the passenger side of the vehicle.

Ford is also a suspect in bank robberies in Stow and Akron.

In the Streetsboro case, a man walked into the FirstMerit branch on state Route 14 around 10 a.m. and handed a teller a note that demanded money. The robber did not produce a gun inside of the bank.

Witnesses say he fled in a dark Ford Escort.

Twinsburg police stopped Ford, who was driving a black Ford Escort, on Interstate 480 shortly after the robbery was reported and turned him over to Streetsboro police.




Saturday, November 21, 2009


Boy, 17, hooks school robs bank misspells note to teller

Fingerprints, camera image lead to teenage bank-robbery suspect

01:00 AM EST on Saturday, November 21, 2009

Amanda Milkovits

Journal Staff Writer


WARWICK –– Perhaps he should have attended his English class.

A local 17-year-old boy skipped school on Thursday to rob a bank –– but the police said his misspelled note to the teller led to his arrest that afternoon.

Capt. Sean Collins said the teen walked into the Coastway Community Bank branch at 2089 Warwick Ave. Thursday morning and handed a note to the teller. The handwritten note, riddled with misspelled words, demanded money or “everyone will be shot,” Collins said.

The teller didn’t see a weapon, the police said, but gave the youth some money.

But the note held the youth’s fingerprints, the police said, and his image had been captured by the bank’s surveillance cameras — leading to his arrest six hours after the crime.

The boy, whose name has been withheld because he is a juvenile, was charged with first-degree robbery and is being held at the Rhode Island Training School.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Father executes son for abusing 3 year old sister

10:19 a.m. Nov. 18, 2009 | Updated: 2:30 p.m. Nov. 18, 2009

Dad arraigned in son's killing; mom says she sought help for teen


Jamar Pinkney Sr. stood stoically in a Highland Park courtroom today, silent as a judge ordered him back to jail without bond, accused of shooting his 15-year-old son in the head execution-style.

With waist-long dreadlocks, the postal carrier didn't flinch as his son's great-aunt wailed and had to be led from 30th District Court.

"This is the most horrible thing that's ever happened to him," Pinkney Sr.'s lawyer, Corbett O'Meara, said after the hearing, not addressing whether Pinkney feels any remorse about Monday's shooting. Pinkney Sr.'s preliminary exam is scheduled for 9 a.m. Dec. 1 in 30th District Court in Highland Park.

"He's calm," O'Meara added. "He appears to understand what's going on."

Investigators say Pinkney was reacting with rage when he stripped his son naked, marched him outside the home of the boy's mother and executed him Monday afternoon.

Lazette Cherry, Jamar Jr.'s mother, said she wanted to get her 15-year-old son help when he came to her and said he had acted inappropriately with his 3-year-old half-sister.

There wasn’t a rape, Cherry said her son told her. But he confessed to his mother that he knew lying on top of the baby was wrong, she said.

So she called her son's father and told him what she believed happened in his home on Newport on Detroit’s east side.

“I called and told his father this isn’t something you sweep under the rug,” the devastated mother said today.

His father showed up at the house Monday afternoon with a gun, she said.

“He started beating him right here,” Cherry said from her living room. “I said, ‘No, please stop!’ ”

But the father marched Jamar Jr., a sophomore at Martin Luther King High School, outside.

“He got on his knees and begged, ‘No, Daddy! No!’ and he pulled the trigger,” she said. “There wasn’t nothing that my son wouldn’t do for his father. He loved his father so much."

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office charged Pinkney Sr. with first-degree murder, punishable by up to life in prison. He's also been charged with three counts of felonious assault for pointing the gun at Cherry and two other people at her home before the shooting.

"No individual has the right to exact the death penalty on another no matter how reprehensible the behavior -- that is why we have laws," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said today in a statement announcing the charges.

“I hope he rots in jail,” Cherry said of the man she met while they worked at the post office. “He did not deserve that,” she said of her son.

As white teddy bears with red silk hearts bearing the words "I love you" sit on the grass next to her home where her son died, candle wrappers from a vigil held Tuesday night scattered around, Cherry still can't believe what happened.

"There's no justification for what he did, you know, downright shoot your child," she said, wondering aloud about her ex. "He didn't rape her or anything. So why did you have to come and take matters into your hands? We said we were going to get him help."

A fund has been set up to help the family with burial expenses for Jamar Jr. Donations can be made at the Charter One Bank branch in Highland Park





Lazette Cherry, 36, holds her 1-year-old son, Quran Stewart, and a photo of her 15-year-old son Jamar Pinkney Jr. who police say was shot in the head execution-style by his father in a Highland Park field on Monday after confessing to molesting his 3-year-old half-sister. (TAMMY STABLES BATTAGLIA/DFP)
Lazette Cherry, 36, holds her 1-year-old son, Quran Stewart, and a photo of her 15-year-old son Jamar Pinkney Jr. who police say was shot in the head execution-style by his father in a Highland Park field on Monday after confessing to molesting his 3-year-old half-sister. (TAMMY STABLES BATTAGLIA/DFP)




Jamar Pinkney Sr. appears before Chief Judge Brigette R. Officer in 30th District Court in Highland Park today (PATRICIA BECK/Staff Photographer)
Jamar Pinkney Sr. appears before Chief Judge Brigette R. Officer in 30th District Court in Highland Park today (PATRICIA BECK/Staff Photographer



Lazette Cherry talks this morning. (TAMMY STABLES BATTAGLIA/Detroit Free Press)
Lazette Cherry talks this morning. (TAMMY STABLES BATTAGLIA/Detroit Free Press)

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Woman Gets Revenge Puts Ex's Nude Handcuffed Pictures On Line


Saturday, November 21, 2009


Robber warmed bottle for crying baby arrested

Police: Robber who warmed bottle for baby arrested

Robert Coleman, 18, arrested at Arlington High

Updated: Friday, 20 Nov 2009, 10:54 AM EST
Published : Friday, 20 Nov 2009, 10:53 AM EST

Liza Danver

Andrew Bonner

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Indianapolis Metro Police have arrested a man who allegedly heated up a bottle for a crying baby during a violent home invasion robbery. The infant's father is now speaking out about how the arrest came about.

Police arrested 18-year-old Robert Coleman Tuesday at Arlington High School where he is a junior. Officers got a tip after a television viewer saw surveillance video on the news.

Officers said Coleman admitted to the robbery.

Detectives said last Friday two men forced their way into a home in the 6100 block of East 21st Street just after 8:30 a.m. with intentions of robbing the family inside.

At one point, one of the robbers hit one of the adults over the head with a gun, police said.

Police said while the robbers were ransacking the house, a baby in the house started crying. That's when police said Coleman not only let a child in the house feed the baby, he actually warmed the bottle himself in the microwave

But police said it was also Coleman who held a gun to the head of the infant's father, Ronnell Griffie, and threatened to kill him.

"It escalated to 'Get on the ground! Get on the ground!' then, 'If you say a word, you're going to die, you're going to die right now'," Griffie recalled.

Griffie said that a few hours after a report of the robbery was shown on TV, a woman came to his friend’s house where the crime happened.

Griffie said the woman asked him a few questions about the robbers and then started crying uncontrollably. She said one of the robbers was her nephew, Robert Coleman, who lives with her. The woman said she had all the stolen items at her house. Griffie said she returned almost everything to him, right after she turned in her nephew to police.

Upon learning of Coleman's arrest, Griffie said, "I hope and pray he changes his life. It doesn’t have to be that way."

He added, "I'm just happy that he won't have the opportunity to do it to anyone else...You don't know what's going to happen in a situation. You don't know what a person is thinking. All you can do is talk to them and be nice to them."

Coleman is in jail on $30,000 dollars bond for burglary, robbery, criminal confinement and pointing a firearm. Metro Police are still looking for the other suspect.



Friday, November 20, 2009


Police Sergeant stole $600,000 for steak dinners and gambling

Sergeant accused of stealing more than $600,000

November 20, 2009 9:22 PM |  UPDATED STORY

The head of the Chicago police sergeants' union was charged with looting union dues to pay for steak dinners, gambling trips to Las Vegas and a second residence in the city's Sauganash neighborhood.

Sgt. John  Pallohusky, a 21-year veteran assigned to the detective division, was arrested at his Northwest Side home early Friday on felony theft and money-laundering charges for allegedly embezzling  about $600,000 over the last several years.

"This case makes this a very difficult day for all of us in law enforcement," said State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Pallohusky, 53, is accused of writing checks from the Chicago Police Sergeants' Association to himself and depositing them into his personal accounts. He is also accused of using  association credit cards for  personal use.

 The union funds were built by the $25 each member pays per pay period, according to the complaint. Some $765,000 in dues is collected each year from the 1,200 members of the union.

"We will do everything possible to recover these funds," said Police Superintendent Jody Weis, who noted that the investigation continues.

Union officials said they were cooperating with the investigation and that the organization is "fiscally sound." Edward  Maloney, the union's general counsel, said the board of directors will run the union's day-to-day operations. The board "is deeply upset by the charges," he said.

Attorney Robert Kuzas, who is representing Pallohusky, denied wrongdoing. "I don't believe he misappropriated one penny of the union's money," he said.

The Police Department's Internal Affairs Division opened an investigation after Chase Bank noticed in August that Pallohusky had deposited tens of thousands of dollars into a personal account from a union credit card account, authorities said.

Prosecutors moved to seize Pallohusky's two homes and more than a dozen bank and brokerage accounts. In a recent 12-month period,  Pallohusky used $75,000 in stolen funds on dinners in Loop steakhouses and restaurants, the charges alleged.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Girl, 10, Tasered for refusing to shower

Taser gun used on 10-year-old girl who 'refused to take shower'

A police officer used a Taser stun gun to subdue a 10-year-old girl in her own home.


Nick Allen in Los Angeles
Published: 12:12AM GMT 19 Nov 2009

Taser gun used on 10-year-old girl who 'refused to take shower'

A police officer using a Taser gun Photo: PA

The officer had been called to the girl's home in Ozark, Arkansas, by her mother because she was behaving in an unruly manner and refusing to take a shower.

In a report on the incident the officer, Dustin Bradshaw, said the mother gave him permission to use the Taser.  When he arrived, the girl was curled up on the floor, screaming, and resisting as her mother tried to get her in the shower before bed.

"Her mother told me to take her if I needed to," the officer wrote.

The child was "violently kicking and verbally combative" when he tried to take her into custody and she kicked him in the groin.

He then delivered "a very brief drive stun to her back," the report said.

The girl's father, Anthony Medlock, who is divorced from her mother, said the girl showed signs of emotional problems but did not deserve to be "treated like an animal".

He said: "Ten years old and they shot electricity through her body, and I want to know how the heck in God's green earth can they get away with this.

"If you can't pick the kid up and take her to your car, handcuff her, then I don't think you need to be an officer. She doesn't deserve to be treated like a dog. She's not a tiger." Local Mayor Vernon McDaniel said the FBI should investigate.

He said: "People here feel like that he made a mistake in using a Taser, and maybe he did, but we will not know until we get an impartial investigation." The local Police Chief Jim Noggle said no disciplinary action was taken against Bradshaw.

"We didn't use the Taser to punish the child, just to bring the child under control so she wouldn't hurt herself or somebody else," he said.

He said if the officer tried to forcefully put the girl in handcuffs, he could have accidentally broken her arm or leg.

Mr Noggle said the girl will face disorderly conduct charges as a juvenile.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Woman shot at boyfriend's funeral

Woman, 34, fatally shot at boyfriend's funeral gathering

City detectives believe incident connected to earlier slaying, but motive unclear

Bullet hole A woman was fatally shot Thursday night outside this West Baltimore funeral home, where she was attending a private family gathering for her boyfriend, who was killed last week, police said. (Baltimore Sun photo by Justin Fenton / November 20, 2009)


Justin Fenton 

Baltimore Sun

12:20 p.m. EST, November 20, 2009


Joseph H. Brown III's business is death.

A fourth-generation mortician, he directs the largest funeral facility in Baltimore and handles services for at least two or three city homicide victims per month.

Families of victims gunned down in the streets go to his West Baltimore business to find solace.

On Thursday night, the funeral home became a crime scene when a 34-year-old woman was shot and killed while stepping outside of a viewing for her boyfriend -- a 51-year-old man who had been shot and killed a week earlier.

Standing just beyond the crime scene tape in a light drizzle, an older man passing through the area watched as detectives gathered evidence.

"Some things supposed to be sacrosanct," he said.

But they aren't, Brown said as he sipped coffee outside of his business Friday morning, a bullet hole marring the glass vestibule. A few steps away, a man wearing gloves and plastic boots used bleach in an attempt to clean up blood from the sidewalk. It's not gone, but it's better, he told Brown.

"That's gone out the window," Brown said of respect for funerals. "This has become a fact of life as much here in Baltimore as it is in Afghanistan, Iraq and anywhere else. There's many wars going on in the world, and this just happens to be one of the wars in our community."

The irony, Brown said, is that Baltimore's high death toll helps fuel the funeral home industry here. He said members of his staff become "master embalmers," adept at taking victims who suffered gunshot wounds to the head and making them presentable for an open casket. His ability to restore a lifelike appearance that doesn't show any indication of the deceased's tragic demise is a point of pride.

"But when it happens right outside your door, it brings it really, really close to home," Brown said.

The shooting was at least the second time someone has opened fire on a West Baltimore funeral service in the past two years. In April 2008, two people were shot outside the Unity Methodist Church, where about 300 mourners had gathered to view the body of a 26-year-old who had been killed in a triple shooting. In 2001, a man was shot at while leaving a viewing for his brother at Wylie Funeral Home.

With tensions running high, police often send a uniformed or plainclothes presence to keep watch outside funerals. Brown said he has a retired city police officer who works security and was at the facility last night when the shots rang out, leaving him to wonder what else he could do to better safeguard mourners and his staff from brazen gunmen.

"We've worked very hard in building this business, and to have something happen like this, it does shake my confidence," he said. "It shakes my confidence in how well we are protected, or insulated [from the city violence]. Is my staff going to be OK? Will they catch a stray bullet? I feel very vulnerable right now."

About a dozen people had gathered for services for Michael Anthony McFadden, who was shot to death Nov. 12 near his home, in the 2000 block of W. Lanvale St., police said. It was one of two services taking place at the 16,000-square-foot facility Thursday night.

Police said his girlfriend, Virginia McGhee, received a phone call about 7:30 p.m. and stepped outside, where she was shot in the chest by an unknown assailant. Police are investigating whether she was lured outside, or whether her attacker was waiting and seized the opportunity.

Detectives believe the two shootings are connected, but a motive was unclear. A man who had been standing in the vestibule of the funeral home was also treated for a gunshot wound to his arm, according to police.

Like much of the city's violence, officials believe drugs could be at the root of the shootings. McFadden pleaded guilty to a drug distribution charge in October 2007, receiving a four-year suspended prison sentence, and he has several prior drug-related arrests. McGhee, who court records show shared an address with McFadden, pleaded guilty to a second-degree assault charge in October 2008, receiving a five-year suspended prison sentence, and last month was charged with violating her probation.

Relatives planned to follow through with McFadden's funeral. As Brown's staff worked to clean up the area outside, McFadden's sister was inside paying the bill. She declined to speak with a reporter. Brown said he expected hundreds of people to attend the service, each passing by the bullet hole in the front vestibule. He's unlikely to be able to replace the glass today.

"That will be a reminder to everybody that comes into this funeral home today of what happened," he said. "This is something none of us will ever, ever forget."

                              LINK TO VIDEO,0,4150914.story

Friday, November 20, 2009


John Kerry's Daughter Arrested on DUI

November 19, 2009

Kerry's Daughter Arrested on Suspicion of DUI in Los Angeles


Alexandra Forbes Kerry was arrested and then released on $5,000 bail, Los Angeles Police Department officer Norma Eisenman told Fox News. 

Sen. John Kerry's daughter was arrested Thursday morning in Los Angeles on suspicion of driving under the influence, police said. 

Alexandra Forbes Kerry was arrested and then released on $5,000 bail, Los Angeles Police Department officer Norma Eisenman told Fox News. 

Police are not releasing any other details on the incident at this point. 

She is the eldest daughter of the Massachusetts senator and former Democratic presidential nominee.



                        WARNING VERY REVEALING



Friday, November 20, 2009


'What the Bleep?' Mayoral ad uses profanity

'What The Bleep?' Mayoral Ad Generates Buzz

Candidate James Perry Gets Attention With New Spot

POSTED: 4:18 pm CST November 19, 2009
UPDATED: 5:33 pm CST November 19, 2009

A unique campaign ad in the mayoral race -- featuring people apparently swearing, with their exact choice of words censored -- is generating buzz.

The spot, which hit local TV airwaves Thursday, promotes mayoral candidate James Perry. Most analysts agree that he's a real underdog in the race. So they say it's not surprising that his first TV ad is an attention-grabber.

"He's trying to create buzz. But will it mean support?" said political analyst Silas Lee.

The 30-second ad shows frustrated people using language not fit for broadcast. And it sends the message that it's time to get rid of the "politics as usual" way of running the city.

Tulane communications professor Mary Blue said the ad is likely geared toward a younger generation.

"It's become more common, appropriate or acceptable," Blue said of the swearing. "You hear those words on TV all the time."

The ad ends with Perry saying he is an Eagle scout who has run two nonprofit organizations.

"People are only going to remember the bleeps," Lee said. "It'll be the 'What the bleep?' campaign. It's what people will remember."

Perry said his goal with the ad was to capture the frustration that New Orleanians feel with local politics.

"This is the most important race in our lifetime," he said. "People are having this conversation at home, saying 'I can't believe these are our choices.' Well, there is another choice."

The question now is whether the buzz-worthy ad will translate into votes.

Other candidates in the mayoral race includes state Sen. Ed Murray, insurance executive Leslie Jacobs, businessman Troy Henry, comedian Jonah Bascle, businessman John Georges and former judge Nadine Ramsey.


The election is Feb. 6.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Woman tracked down nightclub attacker on Facebook

Woman tracked down nightclub attacker on Facebook

A woman nearly blinded in a nightclub attack tracked down her assailant on Facebook after police said they had no leads.


Published: 10:25AM GMT 18 Nov 2009

Woman tracked down nightclub attacker on Facebook Jennifer Wilson Photo: MASONS

Jennifer Wilson, 20, was horrifically injured when Ashleigh Holliman, 22, rammed a pint glass into her face in an unprovoked nightclub attack.

The tanning salon receptionist was left lying on the dance floor with a deep gash just a centimetre below her left eye.

Holliman fled the scene without being identified after bouncers failed to detain her.

Police investigating the attack told her CCTV from the club was not clear and evidence had been cleared away from the dance floor by staff.

But Miss Wilson, from Oxhey, Herts., recognised one of Holliman's friends who she knew vaguely from Facebook.

She trawled the social networking site and searched through 200 of the man's 'friends' until she found a photograph of her attacker.

She even tracked down her address through a mutual friend on the site and gave it to Hertfordshire Police.

However, Holliman was out when officers arrived to arrest her - and they then asked Miss Wilson if she could find out where she worked.

So Miss Wilson went back on Facebook and discovered she was a hairdresser in Croxley Green, Herts.

Holliman was then arrested at work the following day and taken to a police station, where Jennifer picked her out from an identity parade.

The girl thug admitted actual bodily harm at St Albans Crown Court and was sentenced to 120 hours community service on November 10.

Speaking yesterday Miss Wilson, who has been left with an inch-long scar, said she was delighted to have caught her attacker but said police should have done more.

She said: ''In the end I had to do the police's job for them and track this girl down on Facebook.

''This girl had just been glaring at me all night long and then all of a sudden I was dancing with friends and she slammed the glass into my face.

''She managed to escape but I recognised one of her friends and decided to try and track her down because I didn't deserve what she did to me.''

The attack happened on March 21 as Miss Wilson danced on a raised stage in the Walkabout bar in Watford, Herts.

Recorder Peters QC awarded Jennifer £2,400 compensation and ordered Holliman to do 120 hours unpaid work.

He said: "In nine times out of ten people that glass people in a club go to prison.

"You now have a record and if you lose your control again, which you did that evening, you will end up going to prison."

A Hertfordshire Constabulary spokeswoman said: “Police were called 2.10am on Saturday March 21 to reports that a 20-year-old girl had been assaulted at Walkabout bar in Watford Town Centre.

“The incident had happened at 12.45am that morning and the victim said she thought she knew who it was. She requested police go to see her after 9am later that day, once she was out of hospital.

“Officers did this. Prior to police attendance the victim had made enquiries of her own and tracked down the offender on Facebook. She passed this information on to officers.

“Meanwhile officers also conducted other investigations of the offence, including viewing CCTV at the bar and identifying witnesses who we interviewed. Officers followed up the lead of the named person and other leads before arresting a woman on April 1.”

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Palin not tough enough to be president


Sarah Palin: whiner-in-chief


Alex Spillius

Last updated: November 19th, 2009


Sarah Palin’s autobiography is, like the woman herself, bright and breezy and entertaining, notwithstanding some over-involved passages about Alaskan politics.

The 400-page ghost-written tome is commendably loyal to the former governor’s chirpy, informal voice.

With Palin, what you see is what you get, and what you see in Going Rogue is a woman who is charming, passionate, loyal and patriotic. She is also self-absorbed beyond political norms, prickly, thin-skinned and just plain whiny.

This is what stands out for me. Nothing is her fault – beyond an admission that she let herself get rattled by Katie Couric’s line of questioning. The book at heart is an indulgent complaint about her treatment by the press and by John McCain’s aides.

Other people have fact-checked her claims thoroughly, such as Shushanah Walshe, co-author of Sarah from Alaska, an entertaining – and balanced – account of Palin’s meteoric rise.

Undoubtedly, she is justified in complaining about the blogosphere’s treatment of her children, the Trig Truther nonsense, the divorce rumours and the myriad of FOIAs and ethics complaints that mired her Juneau staff in unnecessary paperwork.

But whatever the various rights and wrongs of various issues and incidents, the petty score-settling that Palin is unable to resist would be unbecoming of a high school brat, let alone someone who still, it seems, aspires to the White House.

No one really knows what path Palin’s ambition will take her on; perhaps even she doesn’t know. The book reveals that her own son urged her not to quit as governor because she needed to stand up and fight. But quit she did.

Going Rogue has affirmed one fact: she is not tough enough for presidential politics.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Oprah Winfrey to retire show in 2011

Oprah Winfrey to retire Chicago-based syndicated show in 2011

Bono and Oprah on Michigan Avenue Bono and Oprah do a little shopping together along Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Many stars came out for the U.S. launch of Product RED -- a project created by Bono and Bobby Shriver, that aimed to raise money for the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by donating a portion of profits from branded products. (Tribune photo by Nancy Stone / October 13, 2006)


Phil Rosenthal

Tribune staff reporter

6:26 p.m. CST

November 19, 2009


CHICAGO - Oprah Winfrey plans to tell viewers on Friday's live edition of her top-rated daytime program that she will retire the Chicago-based syndicated talk show that made her rich, famous and, if not a kingmaker, a maker of bestselling authors and perhaps even a U.S. President at the end of the 2010-11 season, its 25th on national TV.

Harpo Productions confirmed Thursday both her decision and that she will discuss it on her program, her last live show of the calendar year, set to air at 9 a.m. on WLS-Ch. 7,her flagship station.

Speculation has been rampant that she might choose to leave daytime TV ever since it was announced in January 2008 that she and Discovery Networks planned to partner on a cable network: OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.

The cable network's debut, originally set for this year, has been delayed more than once and a launch date is expected to be firmed up by the end of this year for sometime in 2010. The new channel will take the place of what is now Discovery Health, available in 70 million homes from the start.

One problem for the new venture was that until Winfrey completed her commitment to CBS Television Distribution, her syndicator, and the stations that carry her program, she would not be free to do a talk show for the cable channel or give other OWN matters her full attention.

It was at Channel 7, under station boss Dennis Swanson, that her success as host of the local "AM Chicago" program at challenging Phil Donahue, then the nation's top daytime talker, in his home market that helped embolden Winfrey to enter syndication in 1986.

As Winfrey has told the story, Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, who had begin to enjoy success himself with a movie review program he and Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel launched, had suggested the move while on a date.



Thursday, November 19, 2009


Man In Chicken Suit Disrupts meeting

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Student and volunteer caught having sex in the classroom

Clayton County News 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Student, volunteer caught having sex in classroom


Megan Matteucci
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


A student and a former student were caught having sex in a Clayton County classroom after a teacher left them unattended

Forest Park High School teacher Kevin Jones was suspended for 20 days without pay, district spokesman Charles White said Wednesday.

Jones returned to school last week.

The incident occurred last month when Jones was leading a drama club rehearsal after school with a 20-year-old Forest Park High graduate.

“The teacher left the classroom after he had informed the students they had to go home,” White said.

The teacher then left the classroom.

A short time later, a school administrator entered the classroom and found a 17-year-old female student having sex with the 20-year-old graduate, White said. The other students had left.

An internal investigation found Jones violated the district’s employment policy.

“He was suspended for failure to provide adequate supervision for an after-school sponsored activity,” White said.

The female student, who was a senior, has since transferred to another district, White said.

The former student was involved in the drama club when he was a student and had volunteered to help with the production. He no longer volunteers at the school.

School officials said the sex was consensual and no charges were filed.

Jones teaches world history and drama.

Parents plan to discuss the incident, along with other Forest Park High concerns, at a parents forum Friday at 7 p.m. at Forest Park City Hall.

“Our biggest complaint is there is no communication plan,” said Shanda R. Ross, mother of a Forest Park student. “None of the parents knew there was a substitute teacher for this period of time. You have 20 days a month where your child will be with a substitute and likely just doing worksheets. That's affecting academics.”

Ross and other parents also are working to establish a local PTA. The first PTA meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m Thursday at Forest Park High.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Couple arrested after telling police robbers stole their marijuana

Tue, Nov. 17, 2009

Couple arrested after reporting theft of marijuana


The Wichita Eagle

WICHITA — A man and woman notified police that robbers had stolen something from them at their Planeview apartment Monday night, and ended up being arrested themselves.

What had been stolen? Marijuana.

The 32-year-old man and 29-year-old woman said five armed men came to their place in the 3800 block of East Ross Parkway at about 9 p.m. and took marijuana. One of the suspects accidentally fired his gun, spooking the rest of the suspects, police said.

They ran from the apartment and fled in a white Cadillac, dropping marijuana as they ran.

More marijuana was found inside the apartment, police said, so the man and woman were booked on suspicion of various drug charges, including selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Palin, fans irked by Newsweek's cover shot of her in shorts

Palin, fans irked by cover shot in shorts

This image provided by Newsweek shows the news magazine's Nov. 23, 2009 cover, featuring a photo of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The image was taken by photographer Brian Adams, originally for use in Runner’s World magazine. (AP Photo/Newsweek/Brian Adams)


NEW YORK (AP) — Of all the adjectives one might use to describe Newsweek’s current Sarah Palin cover, “unflattering” probably isn’t one of them.

But Palin says the cover’s posed shot of her in running gear, including short black shorts — a photo originally taken for Runner’s World magazine — was out of context and sexist. And even some who aren’t fans say she has a point.

The photo in question shows a smiling Palin, who on Wednesday launched her national book tour, standing near a folded American flag draped over a chair, hand on her hip. She’s wearing a long-sleeved red athletic top, running shoes, and the aforementioned shorts.

It’s a far cry from the photo Newsweek used on its cover a year ago, a close-up in sharp detail, which many of her supporters criticized as unflattering because it showed her skin pores and a few wrinkles.

This time, it’s just the former Alaska governor looking trim and fit. But Palin expressed her dismay on her Facebook page. “The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now,” she wrote her fans on the site, who now number over a million. She also accused the magazine of “focusing on the irrelevant rather than the relevant” in its coverage of her.

Over 3,000 fans responded

Few would dispute that last part. “The main consideration for covers is, what will draw attention?” said Kenny Irby of the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Fla. “There’s no question that people will pay a lot of attention to this cover.”

The issue, Irby said, is one of context. The photo is accompanied by the headline: “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah? She’s Bad News for the GOP — And For Everybody Else, Too.” And that leads to a whole different interpretation, Irby noted, than if you were looking at it in Runner’s World, where it originally ran in August.

“The image is not sexist,” said Irby, who specializes in visual journalism. “The words are more damaging and questionable. The powerful pairing is the issue. Why did they use this photo — where half the frame is her legs — when they had thousands to choose from?” In his own opinion, Irby said, “It’s a pretty underhanded shot at her credibility.”

Newsweek issued an official statement Tuesday defending the photo choice.

“We chose the most interesting image available to us to illustrate the theme of the cover, which is what we always try to do,” said the statement, from editor Jon Meacham. “We apply the same test to photographs of any public figure, male or female: does the image convey what we are saying? That is a gender-neutral standard.”

But was Palin right to charge that the photo was unfairly used out of context — a perfect image for a running magazine, but inappropriate for a news weekly? “I think she’s got a point,” said media ethicist Kelly McBride, also at Poynter.

On the other hand, McBride added, “If I were posing in running gear and I were as controversial as Sarah Palin, I would stipulate the boundaries on that.”

To Newsweek managing editor Daniel Klaidman, Palin, as a public figure, must have known that the photo could be used elsewhere.

“If you’re going to be in the arena, you’ve got to know that when you pose for a magazine that picture might appear elsewhere,” Klaidman said in a telephone interview. “She’s a public figure. We cover her.”

Also, he pointed out, the photo is consistent with the image that Palin likes to portray. “She’s cultivated this persona: Outdoorsy, folksy,” he said of the former vice presidential candidate, who’s spoken to the media dressed in fishing waders. “It’s authentic, but she also knows it plays to her base.”

In any case, Christi Lowell, a Palin friend on Facebook from Chicago, wondered why Palin would have posed for a photo like that anyway.

“It wasn’t totally right of her to pose for that photo in the first place,” Lowell, 39, noted in a telephone interview.

“And the photo IS attractive,” noted Lowell, a housewares company sales manager. “It’s also motivating. She’s in shape! Just like President Obama.” (Who, it must be said, appeared on the cover of The Washingtonian not long ago shirtless, in a bathing suit — a paparazzi shot from a Hawaii vacation.)

But, Lowell said, it would have been better for Newsweek to use a different shot. “What’s wrong is that the article was about politics,” Lowell said.

“Couldn’t they have just put her in a suit?”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Smokers More Likely To Suffer Seizures

Smokers More Likely To Suffer Seizures

Alcohol, Caffeine Don't Appear To Raise Risk

POSTED: 9:21 am EST November 18, 2009
UPDATED: 9:24 am EST November 18, 2009

People who smoke are more likely to have seizures than those who don't, while caffeine and alcohol do not increase the chances, according to a new study.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School used data from a study of more than 116,000 female nurses who answered questions about their health.

"Our analysis showed risk of seizure was significantly higher for current smokers, but not related to the amount of cigarettes smoked daily," said Dr. Barbara A. Dworetzky. "It does appear, however, that the number of years of smoking does increase seizure risk."

The team also found that long-term caffeine consumption did not raise the risk of seizures or epilepsy compared to people who had less caffeine.


Full study appears in the February 2010 issue of Epilepsia.


Link to full study

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


$600,000,000 spent to influence health care debate

$600 million spent to influence health care debate

Health care reform has turned into the costliest single legislative issue yet. More than $600 million has been spent on lobbying, campaign contributions and TV ads.

Jennifer Liberto
Senior writer
November 18, 2009: 9:37 AM ET


WASHINGTON ( -- The price tag to influence the health care debate in the halls of Congress has surpassed $600 million and is fast becoming a legislative record breaker.

Reaching beyond the half-billion mark, the total spent on lobbyists, television ads and political donations is enough to pay the insurance tab for about 45,000 families a year.

A third of that spending, $200 million, was raised and spent just in the past few months, as Congress has been more thoroughly ensconced in policy debates about public insurance options and taxpayer-funded abortions.

Senate Democrats are expected to unveil their official health care bill as soon as Wednesday, and debate it in December and vote by the year's end.

The big spenders range from drug companies, hospitals and doctor groups to organizations that advocate for unions, immigrants and retirees.

Lobbying: Lobbying continues to account for the largest chunk, with health care industry spending just shy of $400 million through Oct. 26, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

"The health sector is on pace to spend more money than it ever has before," Dave Levinthal of the Center for Responsive Politics, which analyzes and collects lobbying and campaign spending figures. "Its spending obliterates its totals from previous years."

Health industry executives say that their spending is necessary, given what's at stake. It's also guaranteed by the Constitution.

"We're reforming one-sixth of the economy with an issue that effects every individual and employer across the country," said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, a group fighting against a public insurance option. "Sometimes that point gets missed in this debate."

Lobbying by drug companies accounted for nearly half of all health sector lobbying. Among other issues, the pharmaceutical industry is keen on making sure that the government doesn't start allowing imports of cheaper prescriptions from Canada or Mexico.

"We are doing everything possible to make comprehensive health care reform a reality this year," said Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the trade group PhRMA. "It will benefit patients, the economy and the future of our nation. There's a lot at stake right now."

The lobbying figure doesn't include lobbying by the Chamber of Commerce ($65 million) or AARP ($15 million), groups that have lobbied on health care, as well as other bills, including financial regulatory reform.

Other heavy hitters among health sector lobbying include hospitals and nursing homes ($77 million) and doctors and other health professionals ($59 million).

Television advertising: Spending on TV ads by health care interests is the next major record-breaking category - topping $165.7 million through Monday, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group.

"This is far and away the most we've seen spent," said said Evan Tracey, president of the the media research group, which also consults for CNN. "There's certainly no comparison that comes right to mind."

Over the past month, opponents have spent $23 million in ads opposing health care reform while supporters have spent $11 million.

TV ads had been more focused on policy issues, such as calls for insurance coverage for tests that detect autism. But now ads are starting to transition into focusing on politics, with attacks on lawmakers who vote for or against health care reform. That means even more will be spent in coming months, as ads begin running in media markets with competitive congressional races, Tracey said.

Campaign contributions: Political donations are also on the rise.

Health care professionals and companies have plunked down $38 million to fund 2010 candidates for federal office, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Some $95 million was raised during the 2008 cycle.

Top spending sectors include health professionals ($13 million), drug makers ($5 million) and hospitals and nursing homes ($4 million). Top recipients were Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

-CNN's Ted Barrett contributed to this report









Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Lou Dobbs: My downfall at CNN started when Barack Obama became President

Lou Dobbs: My downfall at CNN started when Barack Obama became President

Richard Huff


Tuesday, November 17th 2009, 3:47 AM


Lou Dobbs talks to Bill O'Reilly on the Fox News Channel on Monday.

 Willens/APLou Dobbs talks to Bill O'Reilly on

Former CNN veteran Lou Dobbs suggests his form of advocacy journalism fell out of favor when President Obama was elected and his ratings began to decline.

Dobbs, who had come under fire from watchdog groups because of his on-air, anti-immigration stance, told Bill O'Reilly Monday on the Fox News Channel that he never heard directly from CNN management that he made the network look bad - but there was a tonal change when Obama became President.

"You know, I discern more of a difference between then, which was under the Bush administration whom I was criticizing, and now, when it is the Obama administration and an entirely different tone was taken," Dobbs said.

Dobbs abruptly resigned from CNN last week after agreeing that he could no longer operate under CNN's push to avoid airing anchor opinions in prime time.

As for the future, Dobbs reiterated he's going to take his time. " I'm going to remain - I can guarantee you 100 percent - I'm going to remain in the in the public arena," Dobbs said.

Read more:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Man with $600 arrested for stealing a pencil

Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009 

Man with $600 on him arrested for allegedly stealing pencil



A man was arrested Friday, Nov. 13, on suspicion of shoplifting a mechanical pencil from the downtown Bellingham Rite Aid - even though he had $600 cash in his possession.

Gregory B. Torrey, 44, was cited and booked into the Whatcom County Jail after Bellingham police officers learned he had an outstanding warrant from Everett, according to the police.

Officers questioned Torrey about why he stole the pencil, worth $5.99, when he had enough money to pay for it, and he said, "I don't know, being stupid I guess," police said

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Gun-Toting Homeowner Catches Burglar In His Boxers

Gun-Toting Homeowner Catches Burglar In His Boxers

Intruder Made Himself At Home: Showering, Doing Laundry, Filling The Fridge


POSTED: 3:28 pm MST November 16, 2009
UPDATED: 11:25 am MST November 17, 2009



GOLDEN, Colo. -- A Golden homeowner did a double-take when he caught a burglar at gunpoint in his house.

The intruder, who had more than made himself at home, was only wearing a pair of boxers -- boxers belonging to the homeowner. The man had also showered, done his laundry, and placed his own items in the refrigerator, Golden police said.

David Strickland told 7 News that he returned home at 5 p.m. last Monday to find a stranger's white Lexus ES300 in his garage. Inside, there were signs that someone had been rummaging through his house.

"What was going through my mind is 'I cannot believe what's going on here,'" said Strickland.

As he searched the house, the homeowner called out, demanding to know who was there.

"To his surprise, a male voice answered," a Golden police report said.

He looked upstairs and saw a man calmly standing there wearing only a pair of boxers, belonging to the homeowner.

When Strickland demanded that the boxer burglar get off his property, he said, the man claimed he was the real homeowner and that the gun was a toy.

Strickland said that he fired a warning shot at the door when the suspect moved towards him aggressively.

Police soon arrived at the home in the 1200 block of Mesa Court and arrested 24-year old Timothy P. Gonzales of Golden.

Not only had the suspect spent most of the day in the home, he had pretended to be the homeowner when two real estate agents and their clients arrived for a showing of the house, which is for sale, police said.

Officers also discovered materials commonly used to make methamphetamine on the work bench in the garage.

Gonzales was booked into the Jefferson County jail for burglary, possession of burglary tools and drug violations. The Jefferson County District Attorney's office will consider further charges.

"Bottom line, I'm just glad nobody got hurt," said Strickland.

He said if he had it to do again, he would have walked out the back door, but he was glad he knew how to use his gun appropriately.

"If you're going to keep a gun for home protection, you need to know what you're going to do and what you're not going to do, just for safety's sake," Strickland said.

Gonzales has a long criminal record, including charges of trespassing, possession of burglar tools and drug offenses.

Golden police said they are investigating how and why Gonzales broke into the home.

There are no signs of forced entry.

If he used the realtor's lock box to get in, police said they will be investigating how he got the access code and whether there are similar crimes in other cities. 


Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Police Chief Charged With Selling Guns

Town Police Chief Charged With Selling Guns

Man Was Former Baltimore City Police Officer

POSTED: 5:55 pm EST November 17, 2009
UPDATED: 6:00 pm EST November 17, 2009


BALTIMORE -- A former Baltimore city police officer who became a police chief in a small Maryland town is currently under indictment, and many are trying to understand how the man they hired is accused of breaking the law.

A grand jury indicted David Eichelberger Jr. on charges that he sold weapons out of a patrol car, one of which belonged to his own police department.

After leaving the Baltimore Police Department, Eichelberger got a new start in Prince George's County, but his tenure in Morningside was short. He was hired as an officer in January and was promoted to chief in August, but then forced out of the job last month.

"I was sad when I heard. He's got a family, too. Why would you do something like that when you got a family?" said Morningside resident Charles Kant.

"You had a police officer take a weapon from the Morningside Police Department and sell it to somebody on the street. That's not what they're supposed to do," said Prince George's County state's attorney Glenn Ivey.

A county grand jury indicted Eichelberger on Tuesday, charging him with theft and the illegal possession and sale of a regulated firearm. He's accused of selling a Glock .40-caliber handgun.

"He told me they were his weapons. He needed the money and he wanted to sell some of his weapons," said Morningside business owner Charles Thompson, who runs Force Clean Auto Service.

He said he bought the Glock and a shotgun from Eichelberger for $600.

"I had the guns checked. Nothing came back on them. That threw up a red flag," Thompson said.

The ex-chief's attorney had no comment, but according to court documents, Eichelberger admitted to selling the weapons, initially claiming a Baltimore city police officer gave him the Glock in 2005.

Investigators found that another Morningside police chief actually purchased the gun in 2001. Eichelberger then admitted he got the weapon from a Police Department evidence safe.

"He knows better. He's a law officer. He knows better," Kant said.

City police would only confirm to 11 News that Eichelberger worked for the department from July 2005 to May 2007, when he resigned.

Records obtained by the 11 News I-Team from the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions showed he left after receiving an administrative charge following an internal affairs investigation into an accident. During a vehicle pursuit, his patrol car struck the suspect, causing a minor injury, the report showed.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Army mom refused to go to Afghanistan

Oakland Army mom refused to go to Afghanistan because of son

Chris Metinko
Oakland Tribune

Posted: 11/13/2009 08:05:55 PM PST

Updated: 11/16/2009 06:53:31 AM PST


Army Spc. Alexis Hutchinson and son Kamani Hutchinson.


 A 21-year-old Army specialist from Oakland who skipped out on her deployment date to Afghanistan has been ordered to remain on her base in Georgia for a review of "alleged misconduct," while her civilian attorney contends the soldier had no choice, with nowhere to keep her young baby.

Alexis Hutchinson was expected to deploy to Afghanistan with the rest of her unit Nov. 5. However, according to her attorney, Rai Sue Sussman, after plans to place her 10-month-old son, Kamani, fell through, the Army insisted she still deploy.

Hutchinson, who joined the Army in 2007, was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia in early 2008 and gave birth in January.

Just before her scheduled deployment, she went AWOL for less than 24 hours and returned voluntarily, her lawyer said.

"The day before she was forced to deploy, they told her you have a choice to make, but your duty is to get on that plane," Sussman said. "She didn't have anyone to take care of her child. She thought they'd put her on a plane and take her child away."

Sussman said Hutchinson had intended to leave her son with her mother, Angelique Hughes, in Oakland. However, her mother soon realized she was unable to take care of Kamani, while also taking care of her special-needs daughter, her ailing mother and her ailing sister.

In late October, Sussman said the Army told Hutchinson they would give her more time to find suitable arrangements for her child, but then earlier  this month told her she would not get the extended time after all and would have to deploy.


Sussman said when Hutchinson returned to the airfield she was arrested by the military Nov. 6, and the Army placed her son in child protective services. However, Hutchinson's mother has since flown to Georgia to pick up Kamani and has brought him back to Oakland.

Sussman said Hutchinson currently is confined to the airfield in Georgia, and faces up to a year in jail. However, an Army spokesman denied Hutchinson is under any confinement and has instead been ordered to stay on the installation until her commander can review her situation.

"Just days prior to her scheduled deployment, Specialist Hutchinson's commander received information that indicated that Specialist Hutchinson had engaged in misconduct," Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield spokesman Kevin Larson said in a statement. "Due to the fact that Specialist Hutchinson has a small child, her deployment was delayed so that the command could ensure Specialist Hutchinson's child was cared for and so that she could meet with legal counsel."

Larson added Hutchinson's commander is reexamining whether or not she will be able to deploy because her case could present a hardship.

In a release put out by Sussman, Hutchinson is quoted as saying: "It is outrageous that they would deploy a single mother without a complete and current family care plan. I would like to find someone I trust who can take care of my son, but I cannot force my family to do this. They are dealing with their own health issues."

Hutchinson is not a conscientious objector seeking to avoid deployment, her lawyer said.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Man Upset Over Ticket Calls Trooper's Mother

Nov 14, 2009 12:34 pm US/Eastern

Police: Man Upset Over Ticket Phoned Trooper's Mom



Police say a Long Island man upset about a speeding ticket tried to get even with a state trooper by making a prank phone call to his mother.

Authorities say Lawrence Demaio, of Carle Place, called the woman about a month after the ticket was issued and told her her son had been badly hurt in a car accident.

Police didn't think it was funny. They used phone records to trace the call to Demaio's cell phone.

The 54-year-old was arrested Thursday and charged with second-degree aggravated harassment.

The phone at Demaio's home rang unanswered Saturday.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Women need to watch their drinks

Women need to watch their drinks -- and their drinking

 Alaska Daily News

November 15, 2009 - 9:16 pm

The rumors were everywhere. On Facebook. On Craigslist. At the coffee shop. Young women were being drugged at downtown bars. Someone was slipping them "date rape drugs," like the sedative Rohypnol or party drug GHB. They weren't being sexually assaulted. But someone was making them sick. It seemed like the stuff of urban legend.

A 26-year-old student e-mailed to say she had been drugged in the fall. She said she went out with six friends. They split three pitchers of beer. All her friends left except for one. She ordered another drink before heading to the dance floor. A little later, she started to feel sick. She told her friend they needed to go home. The last thing she remembers is walking down the sidewalk on Fourth Avenue.

"I woke up on my neighbor's couch, covered in vomit with a busted lip," she said over the telephone.

She was groggy. She didn't remember how she got home. Her friend said she went from tipsy to wasted in a matter of minutes. Wasn't she just really drunk? She said no.

"It's completely different," she told me.

Another e-mail came from a 24-year-old woman who said she had been drugged in May. Over the course of an evening, she had five drinks and a tequila shot. Then she collapsed in a bathroom.

"I lost complete control over all my limbs and couldn't walk. Both my friends, who are a few inches shorter than I, were carrying my not-so-small frame for more than 10 blocks till we landed at a friend's place downtown," she wrote. "The memory flashbacks of that night are of me lying there, thinking, 'Oh, I can't really move or talk.' "

She said she knew her tolerance for alcohol and she hadn't had too much. Something felt different. Possibly, but I wondered: who hasn't underestimated the effects of alcohol? Especially when it comes to that last tequila shot. Especially in your 20s, after a night of drinking.

One of the women put an ad on Craigs-list asking if other people had been drugged. She said she had more than a dozen responses. And I kept hearing rumors. Young women told me about having a number of drinks over nights out downtown. They described loss of control over their limbs. Unexpected intoxication. Seeing double. Passing out. The next morning, splitting headaches and fatigue. They knew their tolerance, and it seemed out of the ordinary, they said.

But if someone was drugging women, what was the motive? None of them had been sexually assaulted. All of them were out with friends, not in date situations. Most of them had more than a few drinks before getting sick. Was there really some late night bar patron slipping women drugs just for kicks? Maybe there were assaults I hadn't heard about.

Jennifer Meyer, supervisor for forensic nursing services at Providence Alaska Medical Center, is in charge of a staff of nurses who collect evidence in sexual assault cases. I asked if she'd seen more cases lately where a stranger had slipped something in a drink. She said no.

Most of the time sexual assault victims know their attacker, she said. Alcohol alone is a far bigger factor in sexual assaults than drugged drinks, she said. She estimated that of the assaults she'd helped investigate, about 20 percent of victims suspected they were drugged. But that didn't mean all of them had been, she said.

"Alcohol, if you have enough of it, certainly mimics the date-rape drugs," she said.

Often it's hard to tell what happened, she said. Drugs metabolize quickly. By the time women wake up and report the assault, it can be too late to test.

"It happens, it's a known situation," she told me. "It's just extremely difficult to prove."

Sgt. Ken McCoy, supervisor of the special victims unit at the Anchorage Police Department told me he has seen very little evidence of sexual assaults involving date-rape drugs. For a few years they tested every rape victim, but had no positive results, except for one woman who said she took the drugs, he said.

"We have victims who present to us all the time they believe that was a factor," he said. "In a large majority of our cases, it appears that alcohol was the overwhelming factor."

If someone suspects their friend has been drugged at a bar, they should get them to the hospital and get tested right away, he said. They should also call the police.

John Pattee, the head of the Anchorage Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant, Retailer's Association, owns The Gaslight and The Avenue bars and has been in the industry for more than 20 years. The rumors concerned him. He planned to ask his staff to keep an eye out for people messing with women's drinks. He told me he has heard about women being drugged from time to time, but it has never been substantiated.

"I believe it's happened. Absolutely," he said. "Just how often does it happen? I don't know."

In some cases, he said, it appeared women had been drinking too much and thought they were drugged. Or they felt embarrassed after a night of heavy drinking and didn't want to take responsibility. Maybe they were young and they blacked out for the first time so it felt like something out of the ordinary happened.

It was hard to say for sure what was going on. I believed the women when they said they felt different than usual. But for each of them, there was plenty of alcohol involved. It seemed, at least in some cases, the drinks were the most logical culprit.

Then I heard from a woman in her late 30s who said she thought she was drugged in January. She'd been at a work function with a friend. She estimated she had four or five drinks over the course of the evening, and then around midnight went to a bar downtown. She and the friend stayed until the bar closed, and she had three more drinks. When she was signing the tab, she said, she felt strange.

By the time she made it into a cab, she was "really out of it," she said. She knew the cab driver. She'd met him at a bar a few weeks before. He'd asked her for her number, and she'd given it to him. He dropped off her friend. When she got home, he helped her out of the cab, she said. Then, she said, he followed her in and assaulted her.

"When he started doing things to me I couldn't sit up. I couldn't even reach him to try and push him away," she said. "I could not get back up."

Soon she blacked out, she said. She woke up several hours later because she was vomiting. She felt groggy and embarrassed. She didn't immediately go to police. She washed her sheets. She took a shower. Her case went cold, she said, because of lack of forensic evidence. Did she think her attacker drugged her? She didn't know. Maybe it was someone else. What she did know: He was looking for a woman who was vulnerable.

I thought about that. Nothing any woman does means she asked to be assaulted. All the talk about slipping things in drinks obscures a larger issue: Just drinking more than a couple beers in a downtown bar is risky for women. It shouldn't be that way, but it is. It's easy to forget how vulnerable we can become.

When we aren't aware of our surroundings, when we're obviously intoxicated, we become targets. That happens all the time, usually not because of a mystery drugger, but because of alcohol. For most of us, alcohol intake is something we can control.

We should all keep an eye on our drinks. We shouldn't leave them when we go out to smoke or head to the dance floor. It's possible someone could slip us something.

But in a world where men still regularly prey on women, what is most likely to keep us safe is keeping an eye on how much we drink in the first place.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Baby Survives Being Trapped In Washer

Monday, November 16, 2009


Repo Man Struck By Repossessed Car

Police: Repo Man Struck By Repossessed Car

Lance Barry
Last Update: 9:38 pm

(HCSO) SILVERTON, Ohio -- A Silverton man is facing charges for allegedly going to extremes over the weekend when his vehicle was being repossessed.

Charles Alexander, 41, was arrested outside his home late Saturday night. He's charged with felony attempted vehicular assault and another count of misdemeanor failure to stop after an accident.

Police say two repo men allowed Alexander to get in the vehicle to retrieve some of his items when the car was on the tow truck's hook. At that point, Alexander allegedly started the car, put it in reverse, and struck one of the men.

Alexander fled, but was found with the use of a GPS device. The man who was struck was not seriously injured.

Alexander was arraigned on Monday.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Teacher charged with putting "hit" on student

Clayton County News

7:01 p.m. Monday, November 16, 2009 

Clayton teacher charged with putting "hit" on student


Megan Matteucci

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Clayton County schools are investigating charges a teacher threatened a student after questioning the teen's sexuality.

Clayton County Sheriff’s Office Clayton County teacher Randolph Forde was arrested on charges of terroristic threats. He is accused of threatening a 16-year-old student.

Jail records show Forde was arrested last month of charges of terrorist threats and released on a $10,000 bond. Forde is scheduled to attend an employment hearing on Tuesday on possible disciplinary action.

According to the student's attorney, Forde pulled the 16-year-old student out of class and asked him if he was gay.

"A child’s sexuality is never a teacher’s business," said Marcia Killebrew, the student's mother. "I feel like the man was being extremely inappropriate."

The next day,  the teacher got into a verbal altercation in an algebra class, said Terance Madden, the student's attorney.

“The teacher threatened to hit him in his ‘f-ing mouth,’” Madden said.

A few days later, Forde asked another student to “put a hit” on the teenager, according to a police report.

"The suspect advised to the witness that he would pay him to kill the victim," the report states.

The teacher wrote the victim's name on a note and showed it to another student on the school bus, the report says.

“I have no idea why teacher would want to hurt my son," Killebrew said. "But all it came after the teachers asked my son if he was gay. For the teacher to ask that, he had to have a motive. That’s not a random question."

Forde told police he "had no interaction with the witness or the victim, and he never made a statement regarding the victim," according to the report.

Forde's attorney, Borquaye Thomas, said the 16-year-old only complained after he got in trouble for another incident.

"The allegation is he made a hit on him, but that was not what was said nor what was intended," Thomas said. "The student only complained after he was getting suspended."

Forde asked the student about being gay after he saw the boy dancing inappropriately with another male student in class, Thomas said.

"All of the students knew Mr. Forde was joking," Thomas said. "The other students said Mr. Forde always plays around with them like that."

Killebrew, the targeted  student's  mother, contacted Clayton County police, who presented the allegations to a magistrate judge. A judge issued an arrest warrant on Oct. 13, according to court records.

The teacher has since been released from jail, but was ordered to stay away from the student.

Killebrew said she took her son out of school for seven days. He returned to class following the arrest.

"He’s really scared. He’s at the point where he trusted the authorities at school and now he is real untrusting," she said.

Forde waived a preliminary hearing and is waiting for the case to be sent to a grand jury, Madden said.

Forde has been teaching in Clayton since August 2008, White said. He will remain on administrative leave while school officials conduct an investigation.

“We have received a report that allegations were lodged against the teacher by the student’s parent,” White said.

The teacher's attorney said an internal review by the school system recommends he be suspended without pay for five days and attend training for "inappropriate and unprofessional" interaction with a student. However, the school's review could not corroborate that Forde put a hit on the teenager, Thomas said.

Killebrew said she will ask the school board on Tuesday to terminate Forde, not just suspend him.

Forde is a special education teacher, according to the schools’ website.

Monday, November 16, 2009


After 90 years forgotten woman finally buried

Woman's forgotten body finally buried
New Brunswick native died in London during WWI, corpse kept in catacomb
Kevin Bissett

Members of the 8th Canadian Hussars lower the coffin carrying the remains of Gladys Winifred Fowler in Hammondvale, N.B. on Sunday. (ANDREW VAUGHN/The Canadian Press)


HAMMONDVALE, N.B. - More than 90 years after she died and her remains were inexplicably forgotten in storage in a London catacomb, Gladys Fowler is finally home in Canada.

On Sunday, during a service on a hillside in Hammondvale, N.B., Fowler was laid to rest in a grave where relatives believed she had been all along.

"It's a sad day because a young girl has died, and a young girl has died very far from home, and didn't return until this day," said Fowler's niece, Jane Fowler Morse.

Fowler died on April 17, 1917 at the age of 18 at the Berners Hotel in London.

She was the daughter of then-New Brunswick MP George Fowler, at the time a lieutenant-colonel serving with the 13th Canadian Reserve Battalion during the final months of the First World War.

A death certificate lists her cause of death as a combination of heart disease and illness.

Her coffin was placed in a packing crate and stored in a huge catacomb beneath the Anglican Chapel at Kensal Green Cemetery - apparently for later transport to Canada - but that didn't happen until now.

Even now, Morse said no one knows why her aunt was left behind.

"Our grandfather did suffer financial losses in a big fire in Sussex in the early 1920s and he was ill when he came back from the war and he died in 1924, so whether those interfered, or something else, it's hard to say."

Barry Smith of the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery traced her story after cemetery officials decided to open the mysterious packing crate that had been left among the 2,500 coffins that inhabit the catacomb.

Inside they discovered the coffin bearing a plaque with Fowler's name engraved.

That led Smith to trace the death certificate and begin a search for family members in an effort to solve the mystery.

Morse, of Geneseo, N.Y., came forward after hearing the story.

She said her father, Cedric, often spoke fondly of his sister, but never mentioned that she wasn't buried in the family plot, despite the fact that her name was engraved on the large granite headstone there.

Fowler's father died in 1924 and her mother died in 1936, while a brother named Eric died at the age of 30 in 1930.

Morse's father died in the United States where he had emigrated, and his body was donated to science.

"A wound was closed for our family today, and I'm certainly grateful for that," said Morse's brother John Fowler of Wrightstown, Penn.

Eight members of the 8th Canadian Hussars strained under the weight of the lead-lined coffin as they carried it up a wet, grassy hill to the grave site.

A few dozen members of the rural community stood in the pouring rain to attend the service and show their support for the Fowler family.

"The family has always been well thought of," said Ruth Floyd.

"Gladys's father donated this land for the cemetery, and the land for the church and the school."

Following the service Fowler and Morse thanked the many people for the outpouring of donations that resulted in their aunt's final trek home.

Those donations included the flight by Air Canada and services of the Wallace Funeral Home in Sussex, N.B.

"I'm humbled by the Canadian people and the outpouring of support," Fowler said as he choked back tears. "It makes us proud to have Canadian roots."

Fowler and Morse made a special point to thank Barry Smith who began the search into Gladys's story, and made the trip to Canada to escort the remains to their final resting place.

"We gave her back her nationality and her identity and now we're pleased to give her back to her family," Smith said.

It has been a story Smith has been involved with for more than two years, and he was philosophical when asked about it coming to an end.

"It's a story of two parts," he said, "one, the inhumanity that caused Gladys to be in London, and the second part 92 years later is the generosity and humanity of so many people to bring her home."

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Cooking school uses Viagra in dessert

Cooking school uses Viagra in dessert
Friday, Nov. 13, 2009

Chefs hold up a "passion dessert" at the annual gastronomy fair in Bogota, Friday, Nov. 13, 2009. The dessert's ingredients include passion fruit and the active ingredient in viagra, according to one of the dessert's creators Juan Sebastian Gomez. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/William Fernando Martinez)


BOGOTA, Colombia - A Colombian cooking school has concocted a "love dessert" made with passion fruit - and Viagra.

Student chefs at the state culinary school in Quindio province wouldn't give the complete ingredients but say it contains the active ingredient in Viagra. The pudding-like dessert is garnished with whipped cream and chocolate, and served in a parfait glass.

Sebastian Gomez, one of the creators, says the idea was to reinterpret the blue pill into a new kind of aphrodisiac.

Gomez said the recipe describes how much Viagra to safely dissolve into the dessert.

The dessert is, of course, not for sale as Viagra is a prescription drug.

The students presented the dessert at "Gastronomy 2009" show in Bogota

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Where are the jobs from federal stimulus money?

Nov. 15, 2009


Billions for state, but where are jobs?

Majority of stimulus awards have brought little help


WASHINGTON -- Seven months into the massive federal stimulus program, the vast majority of government grants, contracts and loans in Michigan so far have created or retained virtually no jobs, a Free Press analysis shows.

The analysis also revealed that others who have been promised or have received stimulus money have overstated -- in some cases greatly -- the number of jobs created or protected.

Obama administration and state officials say it's too early to draw conclusions about the overall impact of the $787-billion nationwide program to stimulate the economy and generate jobs. They promise that job growth will follow as more funding arrives.

"It looks to us like the program is unfolding much as we hoped in Michigan," said White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein.

The Free Press examination of more than 1,800 government reports of those who have received or expect to receive stimulus money found the biggest impact was spurring or protecting public-sector or summer jobs -- not private-sector jobs. Michigan has the nation's worst unemployment rate.

Officials reported that by Sept. 30, some 22,500 Michigan jobs were created or retained thanks to the promise of $5.2 billion in stimulus money for the state, $1.2 billion of which had arrived.

The analysis also found:

• Three of every four stimulus grants, contracts and loans approved in Michigan created or retained one job or less.

• Fewer than 700 awards had received some money, and nearly half of those -- 327 -- had created one job or less, at a cost per job of $2.7 million.

• Some job estimates were wrong: General Motors Co., for instance, reported 105 jobs saved or created for a government purchase of 5,000 vehicles but later said no jobs were saved or created. The City of Detroit reported 342 jobs it now says were projections -- not jobs already created or retained.

Peter Morici, a University of Maryland economist, said the results suggest the stimulus won't deliver promised results.

"All those claims," he said, "are ridiculous."

Flawed reports raise questions about how stimulus has helped

At first glance, the impact of the federal stimulus act so far in Michigan looks like cause for celebration -- some 22,500 jobs created or saved in about seven months, $1.2 billion received to date and promises of $3 billion more to come.

But closer inspection reveals flaws in the claims and raises doubts about the mammoth spending bill's impact to date.

A Free Press analysis of reports on more than 1,800 awards to agencies, departments, municipalities and firms in Michigan under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act found huge inaccuracies in job estimates of several recipients and millions of dollars in errors in their reports.

It also found that the vast majority of jobs reported or created -- 85% -- were tied to 15 primary recipients, with three-quarters of all stimulus awards made to date in the state creating or saving one job or less. Most of those funded still were awaiting checks, which could help explain the lag in job creation. Still, hundreds of awards led to reports of job creation before stimulus money arrived.

Some are clearly wrong.

Detroit reported on a grant award -- $10 million for work on 14 improvement projects in the city -- saying 342 jobs had been saved or created, despite none of the money actually reaching the city yet. Last week, city officials told the Free Press those were only projections -- not jobs saved or created.

The White House Recovery Office warns against projecting jobs. It wants an accurate reflection of jobs created or retained to date.

There were other exaggerations.

The Ingham County Health Department reported 97.49 jobs retained, but an official with the agency said without the funding, six jobs would have been lost. The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan in Sault Ste. Marie, which provides services to member American Indian tribes, reported 99 jobs created or saved thanks to $46,000 in cost-of-living adjustments for Head Start employees. An official with the tribal council said she believes no jobs would have been lost without the government money.

Promise of transparency

Signing the stimulus bill into law in February, President Barack Obama promised an unprecedented amount of transparency in how the money was spent -- even as officials warned that with so much money being poured into the economy so quickly, there was bound to be error and fraud. While few instances of the latter have been charted, there seem to be may indications of the former.

The $787-billion federal stimulus is the equivalent of about $6,800 for every American household.

Leslee Fritz, director of Michigan's Recovery office, spent two days in Washington, D.C., last week talking to stimulus officials from other states about how to improve reporting. Still, she said, she's pleased with the federal investments.

"In a state like Michigan, there's never going to be a situation where we feel they've moved fast enough" to get money flowing and jobs created, she said. But, she added, "I think we're off to a good start."

The spending

Jared Bernstein, an Obama administration economist, said the reports from agencies and larger contractors getting stimulus money make up a sliver of the stimulus act.

About a third -- $275 billion -- will be directly spent nationally in areas such as state stabilization funds to support government jobs; building and repairing roads, bridges and other infrastructure; investing in drinking water and wastewater projects; funding alternative energy projects, and much more.

Those are the areas where recipients must file reports on their spending. The rest of the stimulus spending goes for tax cuts -- the Making Work Pay tax cut was worth about $65 a month to the average household, for instance -- and entitlement programs, such as those increasing unemployment benefits and covering the government's commitment to pick up 65% of the premium for health insurance for laid-off workers.

Bernstein says those tax cuts and entitlements have already contributed to the 3 million to 4 million jobs expected to be created or retained through the stimulus.

Last month, the Recovery Office reported that $37 billion in checks had gone out for $159 billion in direct investment awards by the end of September. The estimated jobs created or saved: 640,000.

Errors in reporting

Since then, news media reports across the country have found errors. A Boston Globe review last week of claims of 12,374 jobs being created or saved in Massachusetts concluded the claim was "wildly exaggerated." The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel found that a report saying 10,000 jobs had been created or saved in Wisconsin was "rife with errors, double counting and inflated numbers."

"Are you surprised?" asked Peter Morici, an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland who is a critic of the stimulus bill. "Using this ruse, we now have unemployment" nationally "above 10%, and it's going to keep going up. In Michigan it's much worse, and worse is going to become terrible."

Morici's biggest complaint is that, despite Obama's claim last January that 90% of the jobs the stimulus created or retained would be in the private sector, it is set up to produce mostly public-sector jobs.

So far in Michigan, the numbers support his claim. Of 22,513 jobs reported, 13,555 were tied to state money for education, doled out to local school districts. Without a huge economic turnaround or more federal money after the 2-year stimulus ends, many of those jobs could be threatened.

Another problem: More than 3,000 were summer-only jobs for youths. Those jobs do little to bring down Michigan's highest-in-the-nation unemployment rate.

Both Bernstein and Fritz say what's missing from any snapshot analysis of the recipient reports to date is that the stimulus spending is still in its infancy. Investments in so-called shovel-ready projects, such as road and bridge building, are just now getting under way.

Job creation tied to high-speed rail improvements have yet to be felt, and $1.35 billion in grants for advanced battery and electric vehicle manufacturing and development are estimated to create 6,800 jobs in Michigan by the end of 2010.

If they're correct, the stimulus may deliver on its promise.

"We think the kind of time-release mechanisms built into the Recovery Act are very appropriate," Bernstein said. "This is not a program we would want either phasing out or fully up and running at precisely this moment. We need to be generating good jobs at least through next year."

Help for more than jobs

Fritz said she expects job creation to swing from the public sector to the private sector soon, but she also notes that much of the money is for purposes other than jobs. Rental assistance grants, for one, help people stay in their homes, she said, and justice grants help police purchase technology to keep people safe.

The Hamilton Community Health Network in Flint received $625,000 of a $920,000 award for equipment at a new facility serving growing numbers of people who have no or inadequate health insurance.

That award didn't create direct jobs, but Chief Executive Officer Clarence Pierce said without the equipment, the hires the network made for the facility would be irrelevant.

In Ingham County, Deputy Health Officer Jaeson Fournier said the department may not have really retained 97 positions -- but the funding it has received has resulted in nine new hires, with four more jobs being posted and more to come.

Perhaps more important, it received a designation that allows it to collect higher federal reimbursements to serve the growing numbers of uninsured people.

"We have not seen so much demand," Fournier said. "It couldn't have come at a better time for us as a community."


Workers with Posen Construction lay concrete in Detroit on Wednesday. The stimulus funding is boosting Michigan construction jobs. (PATRICIA BECK/Detroit Free Press) 

Workers with Posen Construction lay concrete in Detroit on Wednesday. The stimulus funding is boosting Michigan construction jobs. (PATRICIA BECK/Detroit Free Press)

Sunday, November 15, 2009


60,000 Bees Infest Home

Two seniors in South Florida spent the past three years dealing with more than 60,000 bees that made the roof of their house their home. On Saturday...

Sunday, November 15, 2009


White House wants Chicago Prison For Guantanamo Inmates

Gitmo in heartland?

Town sees jobs, Republicans see security risk in plan to move detainees to Illinois prison


A promise of jobs

When Illinois built the $145 Thomson Correctional Center the complex was promised to bring jobs and an economic boost to the area around Thomson, Illinois. That never happened and the prison remains largely vacant. (Tribune file photo / February 22, 2002)


Christi Parsons, Katherine Skiba and Joel Hood

Chicago Tribune reporters

November 15, 2009


THOMSON, Ill. -- President Barack Obama's idea of moving suspected terrorists from the Guantanamo Bay detention center to a northwest Illinois prison may face its biggest opposition hundreds of miles away in Washington.

On Saturday, residents and leaders in tiny Thomson, quickly warmed to the prospect of finally putting the long-languishing penitentiary to greater use, relishing the promise of jobs in a down economy.

"It would help the businesses here, and God knows we could use that," said Kay Lawton, 59, eating breakfast Saturday at a restaurant a few hundred yards from the Thomson Correctional Center. "It doesn't matter to me who they bring here."

But for those detainees to arrive from Cuba, the White House first has to persuade Congress to buy into the notion of holding suspected terrorists on U.S. soil. Hours after the story was reported by the Tribune, the administration began a low-key sales job of the idea it floated Friday, releasing estimates that envisioned an economic boon for the region.

Illinois Republicans immediately assailed the idea of putting terrorism suspects at Thomson. Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate, circulated a letter among Illinois' congressional delegation urging the White House to not proceed.

"If your administration brings al-Qaida terrorists to Illinois, our state and the Chicago metropolitan area will become ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots, recruitment and radicalization," Kirk, a five-term congressman, wrote in the letter to Obama.

Democrats largely ceded the debate to Republicans for much of Saturday. Gov. Pat Quinn plans a three-city tour Sunday to talk about Thomson. In a statement, Quinn framed the issue as showing off the prison to the federal government to help with "overcrowding" -- not mentioning the idea of holding terrorism suspects in Illinois.

By late afternoon, Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin defended the idea, citing statistics that 350 inmates convicted of terrorism are locked up in federal prisons, including 35 in Illinois.

"To those who say U.S. prisons cannot safely hold high-risk terror suspects, I say look at the facts," he said.

The battle lines started to form in the wake of the White House's revelation Friday that the largely vacant prison near the Mississippi River is a leading candidate to house a "limited number" of terrorism suspects. On Saturday, Durbin put the number at "fewer than 100."

For months, the administration has faced a knot of problems as it works to close the detention center on the naval base in Cuba. Thomson, a maximum-security prison roughly 150 miles west of Chicago, could be turned into a super-maximum facility with a unit for some of the Guantanamo detainees.

Unclear is how many would be transferred to Illinois and whether Thomson would be the sole domestic prison for that purpose. Several other sites have been under review by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Defense, and local officials around the country have volunteered their communities as host towns.

And so it is that Thomson could figure prominently on a political issue of global scope. Guantanamo has emerged as an international symbol of U.S. anti-terror and detention policies; Obama said its name was "a rallying cry" for al-Qaida as he ordered its closure shortly after taking office.

But the shutdown has proved hard to accomplish, primarily because there's no simple way to relocate the more than 200 detainees now housed there. Foreign allies are open to accepting some, but Obama has had to ask for their help while admitting the U.S. might not be able to do the same.

As distasteful as some find the idea of incarcerating terrorists on U.S. soil, prisons are an inviting idea in some remote areas suffering economic hardship. Thomson, with a population of less than 600, is a good example.

On the north end of town is the sprawling prison, a series of drab, low-slung stone buildings that opened to great fanfare in 2001. The $145 million prison complex promised to bring hundreds of jobs. But that never happened. Since the construction wrapped up eight years ago, the only portion of the prison that has opened is the minimum-security wing. The prison's state-of-the-art maximum-security wing remains vacant, a casualty of the state's shifting correctional priorities.

The town was abuzz Saturday with news that the prison is being looked at by the Obama administration.

"People have come here, they've bought homes, and when the prison never opened they simply had to leave," said Rosie Rojas, a waitress at the Sunrise restaurant. "Everybody is fighting for jobs, and it seems like that prison has the potential to bring a lot of them."

Brad Spencer, a volunteer firefighter and resident of nearby Savanna, predicted opposition would surface.

"It don't bother me none, but this is a small town and a lot of people have a conservative outlook on something like this," said Spencer as he worked the back room of Schafer Fisheries Inc. in nearby Fulton.


Thomson Village President Jerry "Duke" Hebeler said Saturday that state officials last month pitched to him the idea of bringing detainees to the prison. He welcomes the economic development potential.

"A murderer is a murderer no matter where he's from," Hebeler said. "That's the way I look at it."

The prison would generate 2,300 to 3,200 jobs in the area and pump $790 million to $1 billion into the local economy in its first four years, according to a White House estimate generated at the request of Quinn and Durbin.

Republican U.S. Rep. Donald Manzullo, whose district includes Thomson, acknowledged the "extraordinary unemployment" in the area but said he opposed the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners there.

"The issue is: 'Are you going to exchange the promise of jobs for national security?' National security trumps everything." he said.

Manzullo, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was concerned that "al-Qaida would follow al-Qaida" to northwest Illinois if Thomson took Guantanamo detainees. All seven House Republicans from Illinois signed Kirk's protest letter to Obama.

Among Illinois Democrats, U.S. Reps. Bill Foster, who represents a far west suburban district, and Phil Hare, whose district is adjacent to Manzullo's, said they needed more information.

Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean of Barrington said she remains "opposed to transferring Guantanamo detainees to Illinois, or anywhere in the United States, without substantial assurances regarding potential security threats."

The White House is working from the understanding that it will need to sort things out with Congress if the Thomson idea is to proceed.

In the White House view, federal law bars the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. for any purpose other than prosecution. But administration officials said they have been told by congressional leaders that legislators would consider lifting the restriction if the administration presented a final plan to close Guantanamo that included the new detention location.

Political considerations also will play out in Illinois. Quinn, who will offer his views Sunday, is running for election next year. Republican foes showed they won't be shy about making Thomson a campaign issue.

Noting Quinn's effort to release nonviolent inmates early as a budget-cutting move, former state GOP Chairman Andy McKenna said, "It appears Gov. Quinn's only plan to cut spending and create jobs is free prisoners and bring terrorists to Illinois."


Link to Photo Gallery of Thomson Correctional Center:,0,3130130.photogallery


Christi Parsons and Katherine Skiba reported from Washington. Joel Hood reported from Thomson. Julian E. Barnes of the Washington Bureau and Tribune reporter Rick Pearson contributed.



Sunday, November 15, 2009


Men quicker to say 'I love you'

Men quicker to say 'I love you', research shows

Men are quicker to declare their love to their partner than women, according to a survey carried out for The Sunday Telegraph.


Ben Leach
Published: 8:00AM GMT 15 Nov 2009

Making physical compliments too early can put off potential partners

 Studies show that men fall in love more frequently than women Photo: GETTY IMAGES

It is a cliché of romance – that men find it hardest to blurt out those three crucial words: "I love you".

But while men take an average of seven months to tell a new partner that they love them, women take almost eight months, according to the dating survey conducted for Stella magazine.

The study, which exposes several myths surrounding relationships, also found that the over 55s are the most active – and experimental – of all age groups, when it comes to dating.

Stella commissioned YouGov to interview almost 2,000 men and women of all ages and backgrounds who have been on a date in the past year.

Jenni Trent Hughes, a relationship counsellor, said the results contradicted many popular views on dating, as well as some of the stereotypes of the differences between the two sexes.

"Although women do tend to wear their heart on their sleeves more than men do, men are just as emotional and sensitive – sometimes even more so," she added.

Oliver James, the clinical psychologist and author, said the findings supported other studies that showed that men fall in love more frequently than women, and that they are more prone to feelings of being "swept away" by someone.

"This is because women mature sooner than men and develop to be more hard-nosed, realistic and in touch with their emotions," he added.

"So when a man says 'I love you' it might be his way of dealing with a lot of complex, difficult emotions that he doesn't really understand, whereas when a woman says it, it might carry a greater weight. The classic cliché is that men use love to get sex and women use sex to get love."

The survey found that almost two-thirds of men and women over 55 have joined internet dating websites, compared to just over one fifth of 18 to 24-year-olds.

The older age group also met up with more dates they had found online and had more, lasting relationships with partners they had met on the internet than any other age group. The over 55s using internet dating websites had met up with an average of eight people each, and had relationships with an average of two each.

They also met more sexual partners online (an average of 2.4) than any other age group, with the exception of the 45 to 54-year-olds (2.6).

The oldest age group is the also most experimental when it comes to more traditional forms of dating.

One fifth of the over 55s have joined a matchmaking organisation and around one in seven have attended a special singles event.

Almost one quarter have even tried speed dating, more than any other age group except the 35 to 44-year-olds.

Keren Smedley, who runs Experience Matters, a relationship and dating consultancy, said the results dispelled some taboos about the older age groups.

"Many people think that not only do older people not date, they do not know how to use the computer either. But this is simply not true.

"Many older people have embraced the internet and internet dating because it helps them overcome some of the practical difficulties – like not knowing where to go to meet people – that sometimes make dating difficult.

"The advantages for older people are that you can do it in private, and on your own, and that it means you can really get to know someone before you meet them.

"For most people the idea that our parents or grandparents have sex is taboo, but this is nonsense. The survey shows that people can still lead an active dating lifestyle well into their retirement."

The study disputed other widely held views. While men are often considered to value looks more highly than anything else when looking for a partner, the Stella research suggests otherwise.

It found that 91 per cent of men would most like their ideal partner to have a sense of humour. In contrast, 85 per cent would most like them to have attractive looks.

But the study did reinforce some stereotypical views. For example, half of men date to have sex, compared to around one fifth of women.

In contrast, almost four fifths of women date to find a long-term relationship, compared to around two-thirds of men.

And one fifth of men would have sex on their first date, compared to only one in seventeen women, with 28 per cent of women waiting until the fifth date, or later.

For men, the preferred age gap for a relationship, is with a partner who is up to five years younger than them. In contrast, most women would like their partner to be up to five years older.

But both sexes agreed on who should pick up the tab on a date: with men spending an average of $40.50 and women an average of $23.20.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Overdue library books returned 56 years later with late fees

Overdue Library Books Returned Half Century Later

Former Student Returns 2 Books Along With $1,000 Money Order


POSTED: 12:17 pm MST November 14, 2009
UPDATED: 1:11 pm MST November 14, 2009


PHOENIX -- A high school librarian in Phoenix says a former student at the school returned two overdue books checked out 51 years ago along with a $1,000 money order to cover the fines.

Camelback High School librarian Georgette Bordine says the two Audubon Society books checked out in 1959 and the money order were sent by someone who wanted to remain anonymous.

Bordine says the letter explained that the borrower's family moved to another state and the books were mistakenly packed.

The letter said the money order was to cover fines of 2 cents per day for each book. That would total about $745. The letter says the extra money was added in case the rates had changed.

Bordine says the money will buy more books, and the overdue books will be returned to the shelves.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


First marijuana cafe opens in America

The Cannabis Cafe in Portland becomes first marijuana cafe in America



Saturday, November 14th 2009, 8:50 AM


The creation of the cafe comes almost a month after the Obama administration told federal attorneys not to prosecute patients who use marijuana for medical reasons.

Getty / SullivanThe creation of the cafe comes almost a month after the Obama administration told federal attorneys not to prosecute patients who use marijuana for medical reasons.


PORTLAND, Oregon – The United States' first marijuana cafe opened on Friday, posing an early test of the Obama administration's move to relax policing of medical use of the drug.

The Cannabis Cafe in Portland, Oregon, is the first to give certified medical marijuana users a place to get hold of the drug and smoke it -- as long as they are out of public view -- despite a federal ban.

"This club represents personal freedom, finally, for our members," said Madeline Martinez, Oregon's executive director of NORML, a group pushing for marijuana legalization.

"Our plans go beyond serving food and marijuana," said Martinez. "We hope to have classes, seminars, even a Cannabis Community College, based here to help people learn about growing and other uses for cannabis."

The cafe -- in a two-story building which formerly housed a speak-easy and adult erotic club Rumpspankers -- is technically a private club, but is open to any Oregon residents who are NORML members and hold an official medical marijuana card.

Members pay $25 per month to use the 100-person capacity cafe. They don't buy marijuana, but get it free over the counter from "budtenders". Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., it serves food but has no liquor license.

There are about 21,000 patients registered to use marijuana for medical purposes in Oregon. Doctors have prescribed marijuana for a host of illnesses, including Alzheimer's, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Tourette's syndrome.

On opening day, reporters invited to the cafe could smell, but were not allowed to see, people smoking marijuana.

"I still run a coffee shop and events venue, just like I did before we converted it to the Cannabis Cafe, but now it will be cannabis-themed," said Eric Solomon, the owner of the cafe, who is looking forward to holding marijuana-themed weddings, film festivals and dances in the second-floor ballroom.


The creation of the cafe comes almost a month after the Obama administration told federal attorneys not to prosecute patients who use marijuana for medical reasons or dispensaries in states which have legalized them.

About a dozen states, including Oregon, followed California's 1996 move to adopt medical marijuana laws, allowing the drug to be cultivated and sold for medical use. A similar number have pending legislation or ballot measures planned.

Pot cafes, known as "coffee shops", are popular in the Dutch city of Amsterdam, where possession of small amounts of marijuana is legal. Portland's Cannabis Cafe is the first of its kind to open in the United States, according to NORML.

Growing, possessing, distributing and smoking marijuana are still illegal under U.S. federal law, which makes no distinction between medical and recreational use.

Federal and local law enforcement agencies did not return phone calls from Reuters on Friday seeking comment on the Portland cafe's operations.

"To have a place that is this open about its activities, where people can come together and smoke -- I say that's pretty amazing." said Tim Pate, a longtime NORML member, at the cafe.

Some locals are hoping it might even be good for business.

"I know some neighbors are pretty negative about this place opening up," said David Bell, who works at a boutique that shares space with the cafe. "But I'm withholding judgment. There's no precedent for it. We don't know what to expect. But it would great if it brought some customers into our store."


Read more:

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Robber's Nose Bitten Off During Fight With Homeowners

WHNT NEWS 19 Exclusive: Man With Missing Nose Turns Himself In

Clarissa Stephens

Shoals Bureau Reporter


4:46 PM CST, November 12, 2009

TUSCUMBIA, AL - The search is over for the man who allegedly came into a home, fought with the two men who lived there, and stole their money. Florence police say William Cole turned himself in Thursday.

WHNT NEWS 19 was the only television station to capture video of Cole. He spoke with us, too. Watch the interview below this story.

Cole is missing part of his nose after getting in a fight with a man living in the home. The man bit off most of his nose during the struggle.

The robbery happened just after 11:30 a.m. on Monday at a home in the 900 block of John Street. Police say one man was asleep, the other sitting inside, when Cole opened the door and walked in. Police say Cole had a screwdriver and a knife in his pocket. The robber went to a back room and grabbed a coat with $100 in the pocket. Police believe the robber visited the house earlier in the day with another guy.

"He'd seen the victim put money in his wallet in that coat," says Williams.

As Cole tried to leave, the victim confronted him and they started to fight. A second man, who'd been asleep woke up, and got involved. When the second victim ran to get a gun, Williams say things got very physical between the robber and the first victim.

"As the confrontation was going on, the offender got his nose bitten off," says Williams. "We're guessing from the bridge to the tip of the nose and it was a pretty good piece."

The robber still managed to get away with the cash, but without a chunk of his nose.

Cole was already a wanted man. WHNT NEWS 19 featured him in the Shoals Area CrimeStoppers report on Monday night. The Florence Police Department has a warrant for Cole's arrest for first-degree theft of property. He is accused of stealing a woman's purse. Cole also has three other bench warrants for failure to appear in court.


                                   LINK TO VIDEO:




                            (Warning - Grotesque!)


                    Photo: Piece of Robbery Suspect's Nose,0,

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Strippers on a truck promotion stopped in Las Vegas

Strippers-on-a-truck promotion halted in Las Vegas



A LAS VEGAS — Live strippers on the back of a truck is too much — even for Sin City. A Las Vegas strip club has agreed to stop an advertising promotion that involved hauling bikini-clad exotic dancers around in a truck with clear plastic sides.

Larry Beard, marketing director of Deja Vu Showgirls, said Friday that he's taking his lawyer's advice and parking the truck.

"We're going to respect the opinion of the folks that are against it," Beard told The Associated Press. "We're going to be good citizens and take it off the street."

Beard had told the AP earlier this week that he was prepared to fight county leaders and others who thought the moving truck promotion was unseemly or unsafe.

"The girls are wearing more than the girls at the swimming pool wear," Beard said this week. "Even though they're not stripping and taking their clothes off I think people are offended because of the idea that they do."

The truck rolled for 13 nights along the Las Vegas Strip from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m., trying to lure customers to the club. Three sides had windows that weren't tinted, offering views of the strippers dancing around a stripper pole.

The tactic worked, with business booming since the truck started going out, Beard said.

"We even have cars and limos follow us to the club," Beard said this week.

The dancers were allowed to perform in the truck because it was classified as a vehicle for hire, which let the dancers ride in the back without seat belts, Beard said.

Public outrage over the truck grew as pictures and videos of the truck surfaced on the Internet and a county commissioner in Las Vegas vowed to shut it down.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said he got calls from citizens who hated it and others who liked it, but he considered the truck a safety problem.

"It's clearly a distraction," Sisolak told the AP. "Somebody's going to turn their head to look at some girl flipping upside-down and spinning on a pole, and take their eyes off the road and could swerve and pop up the sidewalk and plow into a bunch of tourists that are walking along."

Sisolak said he plans to try to close a loophole in local laws regulating mobile billboards.

Regulations prohibit advertising vehicles that use animation or flashing lights, and Sisolak said he would try to prevent live entertainers from being used, too.

Meanwhile, he's happy the club owners decided to park the truck.

"Could they have won in court? That would have been a long, costly, time-exhaustive battle," Sisolak said. "They clearly got a lot of publicity as it stands, which I'm sure made them happy."






November 13, 2009 09:51 PM EST

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Ex-Congressman who kept $90,000 in freezer sentenced

William Jefferson sentenced to 13 years in prison

Jonathan Tilove

The Times-Picayune

November 13, 2009, 9:19PM



The Associated PressWilliam Jefferson, left, with his wife Andrea Jefferson, leave the U.S. District Courthouse after being Jefferson was sentenced to 13 years in prison for bribery. Former Rep. William Jefferson was sentenced Friday to serve 13 years in prison for what the lead prosecutor described as "the most extensive and pervasive pattern of corruption in the history of Congress."

While the sentence by federal Judge T.S. Ellis III fell well short of the 27 to 33 years recommended by the government, it is by the far the stiffest jail term ever imposed on a member or former member of Congress for crimes committed while in office.

Jefferson, 62, was found guilty Aug. 6 on 11 charges, including soliciting bribes, depriving citizens of honest service, money laundering and using his office as a racketeering enterprise. 

He was acquitted of five other charges in a case that famously featured the revelation that he had hidden $90,000 in the freezer of his home, marked bills from the FBI that prosecutors said was going to be used as a bribe.

Jefferson stood stoically as the sentence was read, his head <snip>ed slightly to the left, showing no obvious emotion.


In this drawing by Dana Verkouteren, Judge T.S. Ellis tells former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson his fate as defense attorney Robert Trout stands nearby.

The judge also ordered Jefferson to forfeit the $470,653.47 the jury had determined was funneled to shell companies under his family's control through his bribe schemes.

Jefferson was not immediately taken into custody, as prosecutors had requested. Instead the nine-term Democratic member of Congress was released pending a hearing Wednesday at which Ellis will hear arguments on whether Jefferson is a flight risk and should be sent directly to prison. His attorneys have asked that he be allowed to remain free on bond while he appeals his conviction, which is unlikely. 

Barring that, lead attorney Robert Trout is asking that Jefferson be allowed to turn himself to authorities Jan. 4, which would be routine in a case of this sort, and would allow him to spend Christmas with his family.

Jefferson does not have to appear at Wednesday's hearing, but if the judge approves the prosecution's request, the former congressman would have to report immediately. Ellis agreed to recommend Jefferson be assigned to a low-security prison "camp." Trout specifically recommended the federal prison in Pensacola, Fla., but Ellis said only that he would recommend a facility close to New Orleans.

Jefferson has 10 business days to file an appeal, which Trout said they would do.

Just as he did not testify in his own defense at his trial, Jefferson did not speak before sentencing. Trout explained to Ellis that "we are going to appeal and I have advised my client he would be best served by not discussing the facts of the case or making any statement to the court."

The only words Jefferson uttered before the court Friday were a quiet "yes" when Ellis asked him if he had read his pre-sentencing report, and again when he was asked whether he was satisfied with his legal representation.

Before passing sentence, Ellis said he did not fault Jefferson for not speaking before the court "under the circumstances," and, "I don't have any doubt you regret some of the conduct" that led to his conviction. 

But Ellis said that "public corruption is a cancer that needs to be surgically removed," and that his sentence had to serve as a "beacon" to all about the price to be paid for compromising the public trust.

"I have no doubt you have led an extraordinary life; you have accomplished a great deal," Ellis said to Jefferson, who stood before him in a dark suit and blue shirt. "It makes this even all that much sadder for me and many others.
"Obviously you are a man of great gifts. It is a tragedy these gifts have been squandered." 

The 13-year sentence represented an ignominious end for Jefferson, who rose from the humblest beginnings in the small northeast Louisiana town of Lake Providence to attend 

Harvard University. He went on to become the first African-American to represent Louisiana in Congress since Reconstruction and a senior member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. 

He raised five daughters, each with undergraduate and graduate degrees from prestigous universities.

The daughters, sitting alongside their mother on the front bench behind the defendant, and accompanied by Jefferson's brother, Archie, remained impassive during the proceeding, which lasted three hours.

In the rear of the courtroom, seated in a corner of the last bench, were two jurors, one of whom was left teary by the proceedings.

Asked outside the courtroom before the sentencing how his brother was maintaining his composure, Archie Jefferson replied: "Faith."

The previous longest sentence for congressional corruption was eight years, four months meted out in March 2006 to former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California, who pleaded guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes to help military contractors win government contracts. Ellis said that Cunningham's disgrace had hit him especially hard because they were both Navy aviators. "There must be some kind of greed virus affects those in power,"  the judge said.

In his remarks to the court, Trout said that while Jefferson had been found guilty of bribery, his case did not involve selling his vote or obtaining a legislative earmark.

"Not all bribery cases are alike," said Trout, who said that in his mind, Jefferson "always thought that he kept to the right side of the law," and that the help he delivered in arranging business deals in Africa in exchange for payments to family-owned businesses, was not an "official act" covered by the bribery statute.

The question of what is an official act promises to be at the center of Jefferson's appeal.

Trout also ridiculed the government's assertion in its sentencing memo that the defendant and his family stood to gain more then $500 million in cash, stock and equity interests through Jefferson's various deals.

"This was no $500 million bribe scheme," said Trout, suggesting that Jefferson's take, beyond the nearly half million assessed against him, was "more likely to be zero as anything else, and for the most part, that's how the facts bore out."

But chief prosecutor Mark Lytle and Ellis said that Jefferson clearly had far larger dollars signs in his eyes.

"You're not expecting me to believe that he didn't expect to get more than $478,000 out of this, do you?" Ellis asked.

Unresolved Friday was whether Jefferson was actually convicted of any crime related to the $90,000 that was found hidden in his freezer when the FBI raided his Washington home in August 2005. The FBI and prosecutors believe Jefferson intended to deliver the money as a bribe to Atiku Abubakar, who was then vice president of Nigeria, which would violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He was acquitted of the direct charge of violating the act, but convicted of a conspiracy count which may or may not have involved the act. Ellis said because he failed to make the jury form more specific, that question will never be resolved.

Trout argued it was plain that the jury did not find Jefferson in violation of the act -- he would be the first public official convicted under it -- and Lytle said it was just as plain to him and to anyone who watched and listened to the tapes played in the trial, that Jefferson had violated the act, and the jury had found him guilty of conspiring to violate it.

In a statement after the sentencing, Neil MacBride, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said, "Mr. Jefferson is well-known for the $90,0000 found in his freezer. It is our hope that he will now be well-known for the tough sentence handed down today, showing that no one -- including our elected officials -- are above the law."

Harry Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney in New Orleans, now in private practice, said that "a 13-year sentence to a federal prison is never good news but Jefferson got a major break today when Judge Ellis departed downward from the federal sentencing guidelines."

"Both sides can claim a victory," said Rosenberg, noting that the court had handed down "the longest sentence meted out to a convicted Congressman," without issuing what would have amounted to a "death sentence."


William Jefferson

AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinFormer Democratic Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson, second from left, is surrounded by reporters as he enters U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. on Friday.


Jurors saw photos of the infamous frozen cash, recovered in August 2005. It was wrapped in $10,000 increments and concealed in boxes of Pillsbury pie crust and Boca burgers.

 U.S. Attorney's Office/APJurors saw photos of the infamous frozen cash, recovered in August 2005. It was wrapped in $10,000 increments and concealed in boxes of Pillsbury pie crust and Boca burgers.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Man calls 911 asks for sex

Tampa man calls 911, asks for sex; he gets jail instead

  Kim Wilmath

Times Staff Writer
Nov 12, 2009 09:51 AM


Joshua Basso of Tampa is booked on charges of making a false 911 call.

Photo by APJoshua Basso of Tampa is booked on charges of making a false 911 call. 

TAMPA — Joshua Basso said his cell phone ran out of minutes Wednesday, so he called the one number that he knew is always free — 911 — with an unusual request.

He wanted someone to have sex with him.

When 911 operators hung up on him, he called back four times, police said.

Fifteen minutes after his last call, police arrested Basso at his home, at 4202 N Nebraska Ave., on charges of making a false 911 call. He was taken to the Hillsborough County Jail, where he remains without bail.

Basso has been arrested a dozen times in Hillsborough on charges including grand theft of a motor vehicle, violation of probation, domestic violence battery, possession of marijuana, trespassing and burglary, jail records show.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Evangelist gets 175 years in jail for sex crimes

Evangelist Tony Alamo gets 175 years in jail for sex crimes

Associated Press

Friday, November 13th 2009, 3:40 PM


In this Tuesday, July 14, 2009 file photo, Evangelist Tony Alamo, center is led from the federal courthouse in downtown Texarkana Ark.

Lewis/APIn this Tuesday, July 14, 2009 file photo, Evangelist Tony Alamo, center is led from the federal courthouse in downtown Texarkana Ark.

Evangelist Tony Alamo was sentenced Friday to 175 years in prison for taking underage girls across state lines for sex, effectively punishing him for the rest of his life for molesting children he took as "brides" in his ministry.

During Friday's hearing, some of Alamo's victims testified about how their families were destroyed while the evangelist took over their lives.

Alamo, 75, had been convicted in July on a 10-count federal indictment. U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes said Alamo used his status as father figure and pastor and threatened and threatened the girls with "the loss of their salvation."

"Mr. Alamo, one day you will face a higher a greater judge than me, may he have mercy on your soul," Barnes said.

Just before Barnes sentenced Alamo, the evangelist offered a brief statement to the court praising God then later adding:

"I'm glad I'm me and not the deceived people in the world."

Alamo's lawyers said they planned to appeal Barnes' ruling. His defense offered a doctor who said he suffered from hardening arteries, diabetes, glaucoma and other health problems. However on cross-examination the doctor acknowledged he saw Alamo only once in 2004 and that the purpose of Alamo's visit was to get an eye lift to make him appear younger.

The evangelist will stay in Texarkana pending a Jan. 13 hearing in which Barnes will decide whether Alamo's victims will get restitution from him. After that hearing, Barnes said Alamo would go to a federal prison that has hospital facilities.

A woman Alamo took as a child "bride" at age 8 challenged the evangelist from the witness stand Friday to submit himself to God's judgment. Reading from lined notebook paper, she said Alamo tore her family apart by taking her as a child bride and described how she shook uncontrollably when he first molested her.

"You preyed on innocent children," she said staring down Alamo, who wore yellow prison scrubs and a windbreaker for the hearing.

"You have the audacity to ask for mercy. What mercy did you show us?" she said.

A moment later she asked, "What kind of man of God does what you have done?"

The woman told Barnes that she planned to become an FBI agent in order to help other child sex abuse victims.

Two other child brides testified. One, who said she is now employed full-time and has a life of her own outside of the ministry, said she hoped Alamo would spend the rest of his life in jail.

"Maybe the real God, not the God you made up, will have mercy on your soul," the woman said.

Barnes said there was ample evidence that Alamo engaged in a pattern of molesting younger and younger girls in his ministry.

Alamo accused his victims of lying, as he has done throughout his prosecution.


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Friday, November 13, 2009


Woman fakes cancer to hold fundraiser for breast implants

Robinson woman arrested after pretending to have cancer, using money from fundraiser for breast implants

Tommy Witherspoon
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Thursday, November 05, 2009


Authorities say a Robinson woman told them she lied about having breast cancer and then spent $10,000 raised for her at a charitable benefit on breast implants in an attempt to save her failing marriage.

McLennan County Sheriff’s Office investigators arrested 24-year-old Trista Joy Lathern on Wednesday on state jail felony theft by deception charges. She remains free on $7,500 bail after surrendering to county officials Wednesday afternoon.

Lathern’s attorney, Phil Frederick, said neither Lathern nor he would comment on the arrest. Chief Deputy Randy Plemons said the investigation into Lathern’s alleged actions is ongoing and might result in additional charges being filed. He declined additional comment.

According to an arrest complaint obtained by sheriff’s investigator James Pack, Lathern’s husband said he was unaware that his wife didn’t have breast cancer until Pack told him last month. Lathern claimed to have breast cancer and said she was undergoing chemotherapy, according to reports filed in the case.

Lathern “went as far as shaving her head to deceive and further her appearance of being a cancer patient,” Pack wrote in the complaint.

Lathern’s cancer claims came under scrutiny in October, almost two months after friends organized a benefit for her at the Hog Creek Icehouse in Speegleville and raised about $10,000 that those who attended thought was going toward her treatment.

“Several victims have come forward advising that they felt deceived out of their money as a result of this fundraiser,” Pack noted. “Several local businesses donated items to this fundraiser to be auctioned off.”

Besides an auction and meals, at least three bands, including John Epperson and Drivin’ Blind, donated their time to play at the Aug. 16 benefit. Fliers for the event, which also featured a bake sale and a raffle, said Lathern has two small boys and had lost her health insurance coverage.

“We are good friends of the family, who is greatly devastated by the actions of their family member,” Epperson said in an e-mail. “We choose not to comment on the situation.”

Investigation starts

The sheriff’s office started its investigation Oct. 1 after an attorney for an undisclosed Waco plastic surgeon reported that the doctor, who learned of the Hog Creek Icehouse benefit for Lathern, became suspicious when she inquired about breast implants but never mentioned that she was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

“The surgeon advised the attorney that he felt he was possibly in possession of stolen money that Trista had raised and gave as a cash down payment in the amount of $3,509” for breast augmentation, Pack wrote.

Pack spoke to Lathern on Oct. 15, and she reportedly told him that she never had cancer and never underwent chemotherapy, although she said she had a benign area removed from her left breast in February.

“Trista said that she and her husband had been having marital problems, and she thought by telling him she had cancer that would bring them closer together,” Pack wrote in the affidavit.

She said that after the fundraiser, she gave $3,500 to the local plastic surgeon for breast augmentation but later had the surgery done in Austin for about $6,800.

“Trista said after the fundraiser she tried to bring attention to herself by having a breast augmentation performed, hoping it would help mend her marriage,” the report says.

Wayne Redding, owner of Hog Creek Icehouse, said his business has hosted about 30 benefits in the 2 1/2 years it has been at its current location.

He said they don’t ask a lot of questions there, adding that they are happy to provide a venue for a Sunday afternoon benefit if it can help those in need. That may change, he said.

“I guess people are capable of doing anything, but out of all the benefits we have had here, and we have had a lot, we never have had anyone be deceptive about it,” Redding said. “This is an unusual situation. But, yes, we definitely will want to rethink how we handle benefits and whether to make our place available.”




Friday, November 13, 2009


Thieves dress up as victims and steal $740,000

Caught in the act: Crooks dress up as victims in $740G scam, cops say

Jose Martinez


Friday, November 13th 2009, 4:00 AM


Cops say Arthur Franklin orchestrated scam where he and fellow lowlifes - including beauty (below) and a bald guy (bottom) - disguised themselves as their victims in the $740,000 ripoff.

 New York County DACops say Arthur Franklin orchestrated scam where he and fellow lowlifes - including beauty (below) and a bald guy  - disguised themselves as their victims in the $740,000 ripoff.



New York County DA

A ring of identity thieves made off with $740,000 by disguising themselves in elaborate get-ups - including a construction worker and a doctor - to pose as their victims, prosecutors said Thursday.

"These guys were basically a costume show," said Chief Assistant Attorney Mark Dwyer.

Arthur Franklin, Joseph Simms and Vincent Franklin supervised a cleverly outfitted ring that ripped off the bank accounts of 184 victims in New York and Chicago, Manhattan prosecutors said.  The Harlem men are accused of recruiting pickpockets to swipe wallets and purses, and then paying two workers at a Pennsylvania collection agency to obtain victims' Social Security numbers and telephone numbers from a database.

With that information, authorities said, they rounded up several women and a few men to match the victims' appearance by dressing in makeup, hats, glasses and wigs so they could fraudulently withdraw thousands of dollars from their bank accounts.

Arthur Franklin went even further, prosecutors said.

A sharp-eyed investigator at Chase Bank put an end to the costumed caper after noticing Franklin repeatedly showed up on surveillance videos - sometimes sporting a stethoscope and surgical scrubs and other times wearing an orange hardhat.

"Because most construction workers do their banking in a hardhat," quipped Assistant District Attorney Antonia Merzon.

One of the accused scammers, Carol DiBitetto, was busted in a wig outside a Citibank branch after a clerk noticed the signature on her withdrawal slip didn't match the one on the account.

Another woman, Tina Barboza, was arrested when she tried to buy a designer handbag from Saks Fifth Avenue with a credit card picked up during a pickpocketing.

Yvonne Harris was picked up yesterday morning when she surfaced in Criminal Court to support Simms during his court appearance.

When Arthur Franklin was arrested, authorities recovered more than 200 stolen credit cards, checks, wigs and an orange hardhat from his apartment and car.

The 15 suspects - some of whom treated themselves to spending sprees at Fairway, Best Buy and the Shake Shack - are facing charges that include identity theft, grand larceny and forgery.

Four suspects who have yet to be collared are identified in the criminal complaint by their defining physical characteristic, including a chrome-domed fellow labeled "John Doe Bald Man" and a grinning lady tagged "Jane Doe Wide Smile." 

Read more:

Friday, November 13, 2009


Oprah Interviews Sarah Palin

Palin Oprah VIDEO: "Levi Is Loved"

The Huffington Post

Lila Shapiro

11/12/09 3:56 PM


On Wednesday night, Oprah tweeted out a short video previewing her upcoming, much anticipated, interview with Sarah Palin. Oprah wouldn't go into much detail, but she said that she and the former governor of Alaska talked about "everything." Today, CBS has two choice segments from their conversation, set to air Monday, November 16th.

"One final question about Levi," Oprah asks in the first clip: "will he be invited to Thanksgiving dinner?"

Palin laughs. "You know, that's a great question." It's also a question that Palin doesn't seem to want to answer. "It's lovely to think that he would ever even consider such a thing," she says. "Because, of course, you want -- he is a part of the family and you want to bring him in the fold and kind of under your wing. And he needs that, too, Oprah. I think he needs to know that he is loved and he has the most beautiful child and this can all work out for good. It really can." She then segues into a mishmash of statements on how the Palins are "not really into the drama."

Oprah presses on: "Does that mean yes he is coming or no he's not?"

In the second clip, Oprah suggests they talk about Palin's interview with Katie Couric -- a series of disastrous segments including an exchange where Couric asked Palin which newspapers she read and Palin responded: "Um, all of them, any of them." Palin tells Oprah she didn't think it was a defining moment, and neither did her campaign, though she acknowledged it was a "bad interview."


On Thanksgiving with Levi:


On The Couric Interview:

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Police tasers handcuffed man

Lansing cop suspended for Taser incident

Prosecutor concludes no criminal wrongdoing

Kevin Grasha 

Detroit Free Press

November 12, 2009


UPDATED 4 PM -- LANSING -- A Lansing police officer who Tasered a man after the man had been handcuffed and subdued has been suspended, officials said today.

Officer Ryan Smith -- a two-year veteran of the department who is assigned to the South Precinct – has been suspended without pay for two weeks for violating department policies and procedures, officials said.




Lansing Police Chief Mark Alley said the incident that led to the suspension occurred about 1 a.m. Aug. 16 in the 2400 block of North Wadsworth in Lansing after police responded to a call of a dispute between Rocky Allred, 43, of Lansing and a former girlfriend.

Alley said there was a scuffle between Allred and Smith prior to an arrest being made, and that Allred head butted Smith while Smith made an unsuccessful attempt to handcuff him. Smith attempted to use his Taser on Allred, but the weapon did not fire and Smith dropped the weapon. Two other officers were able to subdue and handcuff Allred, and which point Alley said Smith used his Taser on Allred, causing Allred to fall to the ground.

According to documents released from the Lansing Police Department, Allred suffered injuries to his face, including a broken jaw, a chipped tooth and eight stitches to his chin.

Allred was charged with assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, being loud and boisterous and breaking and entering with no forced entry. Those charges were later dismissed.

After an investigation by Michigan State Police, the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office reviewed the incident and determined there was no criminal wrongdoing, the news release said.

The department’s Internal Affairs Unit investigated the incident and found that Smith “acted outside the (department’s) policies and procedures.”

The two-week suspension is the maximum penalty less than firing that may be issued to an officer, according to department policy.

In a statement released through the Lansing Police Department, Allred said, “I wish that incident would not have happened. However, it’s important that the public know that one bad incident with a police officer does not mean that all officers are bad.

"I feel real good about the way Chief Alley and the Lansing Police Department handled the entire investigation.”

In a statement, Police Chief Mark Alley said: “When an officer makes a poor choice on the level of force to be used, we will not hesitate to hold them accountable. Officer Smith’s poor decision in this matter is regrettable and certainly will not be tolerated by this agency.”

Alley said Smith was placed on paid administrative leave on Aug. 17 and remained on that status until today. Today, he was placed on his two-week unpaid suspension.

Alley said Smith will be allowed to rejoin the police force, but will have to undergo additional training on using a Taser.


Lansing police officer Ryan Smith


Lansing police officer Ryan Smith (Courtesy photo)

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Fox News Admits Faking Footage

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Man, 81, trips over dog in bar claims sex life now ruined

Elderly man sues bar after tripping over unleashed pooch: Claims wrecked his knee & sex life

Thomas Zambito


Thursday, November 12th 2009, 4:00 AM


Irving Grossman has a lawsuit against the Austin Ale House. He claims he tripped over a dog while there.

Bates for News


Irving Grossman has a lawsuit against the Austin Ale House. He claims he tripped over a dog while there.

Dog walks into a bar, lies on the floor and trips a customer.

It's no joke - it's a lawsuit.

A Queens retiree is suing a popular Kew Gardens saloon, saying he was injured when he tripped over an unleashed dog.

Irving Grossman, 81, says the managers of Austin Steak and Ale House should have known they created a safety hazard by becoming too "pet-friendly."

Grossman claims the fall caused him "severe pain, shock, mental anguish" and ruined his sex life with his wife, Jaclyn.

He went into Austin's to place a bet at their OTB window and stumbled over a Pomeranian on the way out, busting his left kneecap, he said.

"What can I say? It's the story of my life," Grossman said. "I was in a brace for two months."

A manager at Austin's said she couldn't recall Grossman's spill even though she was working that day - April 29, 2009.

In keeping with city law, the bar doesn't allow dogs inside, but a regular customer who is visually impaired brings a Seeing Eye dog, the manager said."No one that I know can remember anything," said the manager, who declined to give her name. "But there is a customer who's handicapped who uses a dog."

There were no dogs roaming the Austin during a recent lunch hour, although there were plenty of horses - courtesy of the 50 monitors showing live races.

Read more:


 Hey, what'd I do? Don't blame the dog.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Wild, wacky, and just plain weird photos

Wild, wacky, and just plain weird photos,0,5860493.photogallery

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Empty houses draw hugh illegal parties

Big party no cause for celebration in Sandy Springs


Christian Boone
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
North Fulton County News
7:26 p.m. Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It cost him a night in jail, but Anthony Epps appears to have a future in party promotion -- just not in Sandy Springs

The future is less certain for two Atlanta-area law enforcement officers hired as security guards for Epps' Halloween bash, held at a vacant Powers Ferry Road mansion and attended by roughly 1,000 revelers. It's the fourth such unauthorized gathering held within the past few months at some of the nascent north Fulton city's swankiest addresses.

"We don't want to get a reputation," said Sandy Springs Councilwoman Karen Meinzen-McEnerny, who represents the district where the parties occurred. "Sandy Springs isn't the place for this stuff."

Police shut down the Powers Ferry Road party after receiving numerous complaints from neighbors. The chaos wasn't contained to the recently constructed mansion that has yet to serve as anyone's residence, Sandy Springs police spokesman Steve Rose said. It extended to a nearby grocery store, which was unknowingly serving as a pick-up point for a party shuttle bus.

"The report says the officers went to 6300 Powers Ferry, in the parking lot of the Publix Store, and found about 500 cars," Rose said. "The lot was described as ‘mass confusion,' so the officers had to sort out the traffic problems at the shopping center."

Meanwhile, the bash continued.

"It was the biggest party I've ever seen," said Kathy Battaglia, who lives across the street. "There were cars parked on both sides of the street, buses going back and forth. And there were probably more people outside the house than inside. The noise was unbelievable."

The crowd consisted mostly of students from Georgia State and West Georgia universities, where the party was heavily promoted. Fliers hinted at an MTV-esque ode to material excess, minus the flamboyant celebrities or spoiled Sweet 16 birthday girls. The $20 admission didn't cover alcohol, sold inside without the necessary permits.

"We wouldn't have approved it," Rose said.

And that could spell trouble for the promoter's brother, Rockdale County sheriff's Sgt. Brian Epps, one of two local law enforcement officers hired to provide security. Jodi Shupe, a spokeswoman for the Rockdale Sheriff's Office, said Epps has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending an internal investigation.

It's unclear whether Clarkston Police Chief Tony Scepio, whom Rose said was hired by the promoter to provide security, will face any penalties. Scepio told WSB-TV that he was there to pick up his niece.

"It was pretty obvious this was an illegal party," Rose said.

Clarkston Mayor Lee Swaney said he hasn't discussed the controversy with Scepio, who did not return calls seeking comment.

"I don't think the chief had anything to do with it," Swaney said. "But I will find out and take whatever action is required."

Sandy Springs officials say they are going to rigorously enforce existing noise and parking regulations to curb what appears to be a budding nationwide trend. The San Diego Sheriff's Department recently recruited Neighborhood Watch groups to help curb a rash of all-night rave parties being held in foreclosed homes.

"I think the economy is playing a role here," Meinzen-McEnerny said.

It certainly padded the wallet of Anthony Epps, who grossed $20,000 for the Halloween hullabaloo. He faces only a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct because he had the owner's permission to hold the party.

"Too much promotion and too little planning," Rose said.




Police say this house on Powers Ferry Road in Sandy Springs was where an illegal party with up to 1,000 people took place. The home appears to have been recently built .

Phil Skinner



Sandy Springs police say an illegal party with up to 1,000 people took place at this unoccupied house.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Woman attacked by 200 pound chimpanzee talks to Oprah

Woman attacked by 200 pound chimpanzee talks to Oprah


The Will to Live

For some people who make headlines, the 15 minutes of fame come and go and life eventually returns to normal. But for others, like Charla Nash, the painful process of picking up the pieces lasts long after the news cameras have gone away. Nine months after the terrifying attack that put her in the headlines, Charla Nash is speaking out for the first time.

On February 16, 2009, Charla went over to the Stamford, Connecticut, home of her friend and employer, Sandra Herold. According to news reports, Sandra called Charla because Sandra's 14-year-old pet chimpanzee, Travis, escaped and she needed help getting him back inside.

When Charla arrived, Travis savagely attacked her. Sandra called 911, and when police arrived, they found Charla in a devastating state. "I would never have imagined that an animal could have done that," emergency worker Andrea Repko says. "[Her hands] honestly looked like they went through a meat grinder."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Death penalty inmates are better off than other inmates

Death penalty is considered a boon by some California inmates

Given the state moratorium on executions and an appeals process that can last for decades, inmates can expect to live a long time, and with privileges other prisoners lack.

On his rounds

A guard checks cells on California's death row at San Quentin State Prison. The condemned live in single cells that are slightly larger than the two-bunk, maximum-security confines elsewhere, they have better access to telephones and they have 'contact visits' in plexiglass booths by themselves rather than in communal halls as in other institutions. (Los Angeles Times / October 25, 2004)

Carol J. Williams

L.A. Times

November 11, 2009


White supremacist gang hit man Billy Joe Johnson got what he asked for from the Orange County jury that convicted him of first-degree murder last month: a death sentence.

It wasn't remorse for his crimes or a desire for atonement that drove him to ask for execution; it was the expectation that conditions on death row would be more comfortable than in other maximum-security prisons and that any date with the executioner would be decades away if it came at all.

Although executions are carried out with comparative speed in states such as Virginia, where Beltway sniper John Allen Muhammad was put to death Tuesday night, capital punishment in California has become so bogged down by legal challenges as to be a nearly empty threat, say experts on both sides of the issue.

"This is a dramatic reaffirmation of what we've already known for some time, that capital punishment in California takes way too long," Kent Scheidegger, legal director for the law-and-order Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento, said of Johnson's bet that he will live a long life on death row. "This guy certainly feels like it's worth the risk."

Statistics suggest that Johnson may be correct in his calculations.

California has the nation's largest death row population, with 685 sentenced to die by lethal injection. Yet only 13 executions have been carried out since capital punishment resumed in 1977 and none of the condemned have been put to death since a moratorium was imposed nearly four years ago. Five times as many death row inmates -- 71 -- have died over that same period of natural causes, suicide or inside violence.

Though death row inmates at San Quentin State Prison are far from coddled, they live in single cells that are slightly larger than the two-bunk, maximum-security confines elsewhere, they have better access to telephones and they have "contact visits" in plexiglass booths by themselves rather than in communal halls as in other institutions. They have about the only private accommodations in the state's 33-prison network, which is crammed with 160,000-plus convicts.

Death row prisoners are served breakfast and dinner in their cells, can usually mingle with others in the outdoor exercise yards while eating their sack lunches, and have exclusive control over the television, CD player or other diversions in their cells.

"Death row inmates probably have the most liberal telephone privileges of anyone in state custody," said Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, explaining that they need ready access to their attorneys and can often make calls from their cells over a phone that can be rolled along the cellblock.

The condemned wear the same jeans and chambray-shirt prison garb, eat the same food as prepared in other prisons and enjoy the same access to mail-order and canteen goods paid for by their families, as long as they maintain good behavior, Thornton said.

Those on death row are also allowed more personal property inside their cells, to accommodate their voluminous legal documents without infringing on the 6 cubic feet of snacks and entertainment devices allowed each prisoner, said Lt. Sam Robinson, spokesman for San Quentin.

"It's not that he thinks conditions will be better; they are better," Johnson's attorney, Michael Molfetta, said of his client's request for death row. Johnson, 46, figures that he will be close to 70 by the time his appeals are exhausted, Molfetta said, "and he says he doesn't care to live beyond that."

Johnson was convicted last month of first-degree murder with special circumstances in the March 2002 killing of former gang associate Scott Miller. Johnson, a "shot caller" in the white supremacist Public Enemy Number One gang, was found guilty of orchestrating Miller's execution-style murder for having revealed gang secrets in a television interview.

On Oct. 29, Johnson's jury decided that he should be sentenced to death. Orange County Superior Court Judge Frank F. Fasel is expected to impose the execution order when he formally sentences Johnson on Nov. 23.

As an "L-WOPP," a prisoner sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, Johnson could have been sent to any maximum-security facility in the state, where other Level IV offenders share an 8-foot-by-10-foot cell, a sink and a toilet. Gang leaders are often sent to the special housing unit at Pelican Bay State Prison, where they live in isolation with few of the comforts allowed elsewhere.

It costs the state about $49,000 a year to house each prisoner, according to corrections department statistics. Thornton said her department has never put a figure on the cost for "more staff-intensive" death row housing, but a state commission of experts last year estimated that the additional security and legal spending for capital inmates costs taxpayers $138,000 per death row prisoner each year.

Legal analysts say Johnson's request for a death sentence highlights how delays in executions could undermine any deterrent effect of California's death penalty.

"If you accept the premise that the death penalty is about retribution, about punishing someone for intolerable acts, you might argue that it is completely inappropriate to grant someone's request to have a death penalty imposed because it is more suitable or convenient for him," said Kara Dansky, executive director of the Criminal Justice Center at Stanford University. "It does seem to weaken the position of those who say the death penalty is a justified mode of punishment."

Laurie Levenson, a former prosecutor now teaching criminal law at Loyola Law School, said Johnson is probably correct in gauging that he'll be better off on death row.

"We have a perverse system, given that we have a death row but we don't really have executions," she said. Convicts seeking death sentences "don't really feel like they are making life-and-death decisions."

Executions have been on hold in California for almost four years, following a federal judge's orders for review and reform of lethal injection procedures. Those orders came after concerns were raised that some of those executed by the three-shot sequence might not have been rendered unconscious by the first injection. That could expose the condemned inmate to pain from the final shot that would be unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled in 2006, when he ordered the state to correct the alleged deficiencies.

New protocols were proposed earlier this year but are pending approval by corrections officials still sorting through thousands of comments and challenges, and are facing at least another year of procedural hurdles ahead of Fogel's review.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Bank Accidentally Sells Couple's Home

Bank Accidentally Sells Couple’s Home

Sarah Buduson


POSTED: 8:25 pm MST November 10, 2009
UPDATED: 10:21 am MST November 11, 2009


PHOENIX -- Despite being up-to-date on their modified mortgage payments, a Valley couple found Chase foreclosing on their home.

"You work so hard. Put a lot of money down on your house. You pay your taxes. You pay your mortgage, and it's all stolen from you,” said Jeff Zerner, the homeowner.

He and his wife, Yanthy, found out about the foreclosure when the new owner posted a notice on their door Nov. 4.

“I get this notice that says you have five days to vacate the property,” he said. “So I called the number (on the notice) and I say, ‘Who are you?’ and they say, ‘We're the legal owners of this house. It went up for foreclosure."

Just days before, the Zerners thought their home was safe. They had finished their trial modification with Chase and were led to believe they would qualify for a permanent modification.

“We paid Chase several hundred dollars, which they accepted in good faith,” said Zerner. "I feel extremely ripped off.”

Chase officials admit they made an error by selling the house.

They sent CBS 5 News a statement saying, “We apologize for the confusion over the modification actions and the parallel foreclosure steps Chase takes as a precaution. We have reached out to Ms. Zerner to discuss where we go from here.”

Loan modifications and foreclosures are parallel processes. In the Zerners case, the sides failed to communicate with each other to halt the foreclosure until it was too late.

Banks can buy back homes they’ve sold in foreclosure or rescind the sale. They can also pay to relocate a family to another home.



Wednesday, November 11, 2009


More Women Are Carrying Firearms

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Serena Williams: 'I didn't do that drugs thing because of Venus'

Serena Williams: 'I didn't do that drugs thing because of Venus'

As she publishes her autobiography, Serena Williams – the No 1 woman tennis player in the world – on her relationship with her sister, and how she is no stranger to heartbreak or controversy.


Elizabeth Grice
Published: 7:00AM GMT 11 Nov 2009

Serena Williams

Serena Williams, pictured in London Photo: ANDREW CROWLEY

Maybe I’ve blundered into the wrong suite at the Dorchester Hotel, one where there’s a fashion shoot underway. Hair and make-up people are darting about making imperceptible adjustments to a vision of pure glamour. The contents of a couple of large suitcases are spilling over into the lobby, and roses in cellophane are everywhere.

The focus of everyone’s attention is a black supermodel at the far end of the room, Amazonian curves straining the seams of a little grey two-piece. When she smiles for the photographer, the effect is like an extra lightbulb going on. Make that two.

It is the Serena Williams smile, big, wide, exotic. When she comes down from her five-inch heels she is still high as rainforest tree. I wince in anticipation of being crushed as she holds out the hand that can deliver a 130-mph serve and has made her – for the fifth time in her career – the No 1 woman tennis player in the world. But she is all feminine decorum. The voice that bawled out a lineswoman during the US Open in September is no more than a purr, lost in the soft furnishings.

These are awkward times for Serena and for tennis. She’s facing a fine and possible ban from the Australian Open in January because of her tirade against the line-judge during her semi-final defeat to Kim Clijsters. Incensed by a bad call, she threatened to “shove this ball down your ------- throat” , with some finger-jabbing to reinforce the point. “I was 100 per cent, unequivocally wrong,” she drawls softly. “It was absolutely not professional. I didn’t react correctly. Spiritually. I let myself down and I have apologised to her. I’m not perfect. I’ll make another mistake – as you will – but making the same mistake isn’t cool. I’ve learnt a lot from that experience.”

She pleads the “200 per cent passion” she puts into the game, and says she was spooked by a bad call made against her two years ago at the same event. “I thought: is this coincidence? What is going on? Is it for real? I don’t give foot faults.” Her view is that a career shouldn’t be defined by one unguarded moment. Not hers, not Andre Agassi’s.

Agassi’s autobiographical confession that he took crystal meth and then lied to the tennis authorities when he tested positive for the drug is still rocking her profession. “It’s weird. I don’t understand it,” she says. “When I heard I didn’t know what to think and I still don’t. But I don’t believe it should define his career. A career is a whole timepiece, a whole period.”

Her bemusement and unreadiness to condemn a fellow professional seem perfectly genuine. “That whole drugs thing freaks me out,” she says, squirming. “I don’t even know what crystal meth is. I’ve never seen it on the LA scene. Tennis is, for me, a pure sport. I get tested randomly all the time.”

But Serena is the risk-taker, the more experimental of the fabled Williams sisters. She credits her older sister with keeping her on track.

“I didn’t do that drugs and wild life thing because of Venus. She led by example. When I was younger, she was my protector, my bodyguard, my everything. She always looks out for me. She is such a good person. I couldn’t have asked for a better older sister.”

Her classy win against Venus in the year-end championships at Doha recently raises again their mysterious, inter-connected supremacy. Do they really fight to the death? How is it they never get bored with playing one another? What is it that preserves their uncanny interdependence and separateness from the rest of the tennis world? Serena says when she faces her sister in a tournament – she won her 11th Grand Slam singles title against Venus at Wimbledon this year – she puts aside sisterly feelings.

“I have to be selfish. When I play her now I just look at the ball. I try to focus on winning. And when it’s over, it’s over. She doesn’t like to lose. I don’t gloat. I’m happy to win but a tiny bit of me feels sorry because I also want her to win. I have to ask: will it matter who wins this in 10 years’ time?”

She and Venus share a house in Florida but Serena, who flirts with the idea of being an actress, also has a flat in LA. The sisters are worth millions. In five days in Doha, Serena added another £950,000 to her bank balance. She claims that, apart from her fashion indulgences (she is starting her own label), she is frugal to the point of paranoia. “I hear my Dad saying: 'Don’t make money like other athletes and then go broke’.”

Both Agassi and the Williams sisters were shaped by controlling fathers. Agassi’s admission that he hated tennis “with a dark and secret passion” strikes her as unsurprising. “It would be lying to say I loved tennis every second of my life. There are moments when you say: 'I hate this. I don’t want to be here.’ But deep down, I absolutely can’t be anywhere else. I’ve never felt that intense hate he’s felt for the game and I give him kudos for sticking through it.”

In the “gloomy funk” that engulfed her after the violent death of her sister Yetunde, Serena admits growing to resent tennis and a lifetime of pleasing other people. “It’s like tennis had become a job for me instead of a passion, a joy, a sweet release,” she writes in her autobiography, Queen of the Court. She tried to play her way out of grief but it didn’t work. For months she didn’t leave her apartment in Los Angeles except to go to therapy. Even her father, whom she adores and calls “a genius” for what he did to raise two international tennis stars, was shut out. “For the first time, tennis couldn’t solve anything for me. My whole life had been tennis, tennis, tennis and here I desperately wanted something more.”

Yetunde was shot in a car with her boyfriend in Compton, California, the tough neighbourhood where the five sisters grew up. The bullet was apparently meant for him. Serena lost a mother-figure and best friend. “No words of comfort, no pieces of scripture, no amount of faith can swallow up the hurt of something like this or help you absorb the news. It was really hard to tell my mom and my sister. I was adrift for a while. We all were. It’s something you never get over. None of us could talk without crying. We still cry.”

The family are staunch Jehovah’s Witnesses, so by religion as well as colour they are conspicuously apart from most of the tennis circuit. Although the sisters have become icons of African-American achievement, the number of black faces in the stands are still depressingly few. “We’re trying to open doors,” Serena says. “But it’s gradual.”

Serena’s usual method of deflecting questions about her personal life is to say she’s dating her racquet.

This time, tugging at strands of freshly straightened hair, she admits her boyfriend is the rapper and actor Common (who sent the roses) but not with any enthusiasm. “He does his thing; I do mine. Maybe we’ll meet somewhere in between.”

She says she doesn’t want to be one of those “me, me, me” athletes whose career is everything. “It’s important to have a good balance.” Plan A, she says, was to have children before the age of 30, but as she’s 28 already “I need to come up with a Plan B.”

Life after tennis is a big fixation. “I can’t play tennis for ever. It will be someone else’s turn. Someone bigger and better. When that happens, I don’t want to sit at home one day and look at Venus across the couch and be, like, what next? So I have a back-up plan.”

Her many interests – fashion designing, jewellery, acting, scriptwriting – make her an easy target whenever she’s off form. Tennis Times sneered earlier this year: “Serena Williams seems to think she can take over the world one little bit at a time.”

Does she care? The answer is on the cover of a “naked athletes” issue of ESPN magazine, where she is enjoying being nude. “As you all know,” she blogs, “I am not a size zero but I love my body. This opportunity allowed me to showcase my body as a form of art. I was so flattered. To choose me, AHHHH!!!”

So Serena is a supermodel after all, aspiring to the sexy, old-Hollywood image reminiscent of Dorothy Dandridge, Lauren Bacall or Marilyn Monroe. The risks? She just laughs and says if you look really, really closely, you can see her underwear.

Only three or four years ago, Serena Williams was being likened to a dying supernova. “People had written me off,” she says. “Serena Williams was done. I was 24 years old! When people tell me what I can’t do, I do better. What makes a real champion is someone that can fall and dust themselves off and get up.”

Her one remaining goal is to beat Billie Jean King’s record of 12 Grand Slam singles titles. “That would be amazing. But I’ve done great, regardless.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Man calls 911 to report he committed murder for faster response

Man Arrested For Falsely Telling Police He Had Committed Murder

Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A man who thought his story that he murdered someone would get him a faster response from police got his wish. However, police did not appreciate the lie and tossed him in jail.

Tyler police said they received a 911 call about 7 p.m. Monday from 38-year-old Mark Anthony Johnson stating he had just committed a homicide and was armed with a weapon at 1007 NNW Loop 323.

“Several officers with the department responded “Code 3” (running full speed with lights and sirens) to the scene,” a statement read.

Officials said Johnson then told officers he had not killed anyone and explained he was as-saulted earlier and that he thought the police would get to the scene quicker if he reported he had killed someone.

Officers arrested Johnson for the false report and booked into the Smith County Jail on the misdemeanor crime.

Officers did take a report from Johnson concerning the assault and will investigate that case.

Tyler Police Department Public Information Officer Don Martin said giving a false claim to police is not a common occurrence.

“This is not the norm and especially to this degree. We’ve had people report false crimes, but for someone to call saying they have committed a homicide just to get us there quicker is not the norm,” he said.

Martin said Monday night’s incident could have proved deadly because officers rushing to the scene could have had an accident or the suspect could have been injured by officers responding to what they believed was a scene with a shooter.

“During a call like that they’re all in the frame of mind they have an active shooter who has killed someone. They don’t know what the person is thinking or what might happen,” he said.

Martin said if a person is a victim of a simple assault which has occurred and the suspects are gone, then it is not an immediate response. However, if the assault is aggravated and someone is seriously injured or threatened with serious injury, then it is a priority call.

Smith County records show Johnson has been arrested multiple times on charges, including felony drugs and theft.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Drunk pilot arrested before flying 124 passengers

Pilot about to fly from London to Chicago was allegedly drunk

Chicago Tribune

November 10, 2009 12:16 PM 

A United Airlines pilot was arrested at London's Heathrow Airport Monday on charges that he was about to fly 124 passengers to Chicago while drunk.

The pilot was arrested by London Metropolitan Police after he failed a breathalyzer test. He was released on bond, according to British media.

United did not identify the pilot but said he has been "removed from service."
Airline spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said United Flight 949 was scheduled to depart London at 12:05 p.m. London time for O'Hare International Airport. It was carrying 124 passengers and 11 crew members.

The passengers, who already were on board, were put on other flights to Chicago, she said.

McCarthy referred all questions about the pilot and the circumstances of his arrest to British authorities. She did not know his length of service with United. British media reported his age as 51.

The airline released a statement that said: "Safety is our highest priority and the pilot has been removed from service while we are cooperating with authorities and conducting a full investigation.

"United's alcohol policy is among the strictest in the industry and we have no tolerance for violation of this well-established policy."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Women are drug smugglers, dealers and foot soldiers in Mexico

Tracy Wilkinson

LA Times

November 10, 2009



Women play a bigger role in Mexico's drug war

Addiction, the economy and the lure of living well have sucked many into the narcotics underworld. The trend threatens the foundations of Mexican society.

PHOTOS: Drug war's new blood

Guillermina Castro Lopez, in the Culiacan prison in Mexico's Sinaloa state, got 15 years for helping a trafficker smuggle 2 pounds of heroin. The mother of three had been promised $770 and a bus ticket home. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times / September 25, 2009)



Reporting from Culiacan, Mexico - In the story making the rounds here in Mexico's drug capital, the setting is a beauty parlor. A woman with wealth obtained legally openly criticizes a younger patron who is married to a trafficker. The "narco-wife" orders the hairdresser to shave the first woman's head. Terrified, the hairdresser complies.

Urban legend or real? It almost doesn't matter; it's the sort of widely repeated account that both intimidates and titillates. And it highlights a disturbing trend: As drug violence seeps deeper into Mexican society, women are taking a more hands-on role.

In growing numbers, they are being recruited into the ranks of drug smugglers, dealers and foot soldiers. And in growing numbers, they are being jailed, and killed, for their efforts.

Here in Sinaloa, the nation's oldest drug-producing region and home to its most powerful cartel, the wives of drug lords were long viewed as trophies with rhinestone-studded fingernails and endless surgical enhancements.

Now wives -- and mothers and daughters -- are being used by male traffickers because women can more easily pass through the military checkpoints that have popped up along many drug-transport routes.

As Mexico has become a nation that also consumes drugs, women have become addicts, which sucks them into the narcotics underworld.

Mexico's worst economic crisis since World War II is also helping to fuel the trend; for desperate women, dealing and smuggling are often seen as a more "dignified" job than prostitution, said Pedro Cardenas, a Sinaloa state public security official in charge of prisons.

Drug violence that preys on women, in a patriarchal, macho society such as that of Sinaloa, has become an urgent problem in the last year, which has seen more killings than ever before, said Margarita Urias, head of the Sinaloa Institute for Women.

The trend could ultimately pose a threat to the stability of family structures in Mexico, a country where the woman is usually the glue holding a family together.

"It is a social cancer contaminating women who weren't touched before," Urias said.

"When we are so vulnerable, how do we educate and bring up our children? When insecurity overwhelms us, how do we inject values into our homes? How can we remain immune?"

He's free, she's not

Veronica Vasquez curses her drug-smuggling husband.

He wasn't at home the night the army came calling. She didn't have time to dispose of the bags of cocaine he had hidden in the bedroom. Now she's serving five years in the crowded prison in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa, and he's still free.

"I am paying for his crime," said Vasquez, 32. "But I knew what he was doing."

Vasquez, who has two children, lost not just her freedom but all the trappings of the good life she enjoyed. The jewelry and designer handbags and fancy sunglasses, all within easy grasp without really having to work very hard.

"It is all gone," she said. As for her husband: "He is dead to me."

Carmen Elizalde was caught transporting 220 pounds of cocaine from Panama to Mexico. Nabbed on the Honduran border with Guatemala and sentenced to 18 years in prison, she says the deal was her husband's doing. She'd been duped, she said, into going along on what he portrayed as a vacation in Panama. But she didn't ask many questions either.

"Truth is, I didn't want to examine his activities," said Elizalde, 49, a mother of two with a smooth, plump face and perfectly arched eyebrows. "He was giving us a good life, and I didn't care where the money came from."

Mirna Cartagena blames no one but herself. She wanted the quick, easy money. For $1,000, all she had to do was put about 7 pounds of cocaine in her suitcase and board a bus from Culiacan to Mexicali, a city that sits on the border with California. Police pulled her from the bus about halfway along the route, and she was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

"It was a matter of necessity and ignorance, of not thinking of alternatives," Cartagena, 31, said with a toss of her long, curly hair, peering from behind sunglasses.

Nearly a quarter of the inmates in the Culiacan prison are female; nationally, it's 5%. The most dramatic change is the type of conviction. A decade ago, the vast majority of women in prison were there for theft or "crimes of passion," such as the killing of a spouse or lover.

Today the statistics have been turned upside down: The majority are incarcerated for crimes related to drug trafficking, Cardenas said, and 80% of first-time inmates are addicts or users.

In the bloody battles to dominate the drug trade, the traditional codes among traffickers that left families untouched have largely broken down. Being a narco-wife is not the armor it once was.

Golden sandals

Maria Jose Gonzalez seemed to have everything going for her. Her curvaceous looks won the crown at the Sun Festival beauty pageant. She had a budding career as a singer with hopes of a recording deal. And she must have had some smarts too, because she had studied law.

The 22-year-old's body was found dumped along a road on the southern edge of Culiacan last spring, near a sign that warns, "Don't throw trash." Nearby was the body of her husband, Omar Antonio Avila, a used-car salesman. She had been shot in the head; he was blindfolded and his hands handcuffed behind his back. Her eyes were open, staring skyward. She wore golden sandals.

The road where they were discovered is frequently used to dump the murder victims that haunt Culiacan. The road meanders into bushy countryside, winding around the back wall of an affluent residential community with its own man-made lake popular with people on jet skis. Wooden crosses and tiny shrines mark where bodies have appeared. The area is known as La Primavera. Springtime.

Authorities suspect that Gonzalez and her husband got mixed up with the Sinaloa cartel, members of which may have blamed them for the loss of 9 tons of marijuana in an army raid shortly before the couple were slain.

Zulema Hernandez ended up in prison on armed-robbery charges. There she met Mexico's most notorious drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa cartel, who was serving out a sentence until he famously escaped in 2001 by bribing guards and hiding in a bundle of outgoing laundry.

While the two were doing time in the Puente Grande maximum-security prison outside Guadalajara, Hernandez, in her early 20s, became Guzman's mistress.

"After the first time, he sent to my cell a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of whiskey," Hernandez told Mexican author Julio Scherer for a book he wrote on prisons. "I was his queen."

She told another reporter in 2002 that she became pregnant by El Chapo but miscarried after being beaten by guards.

By the time she was released in 2003, Hernandez had apparently picked up some of her lover's tricks of the trade: She was arrested less than a year later with 2 tons of cocaine.

Lawyers supplied by El Chapo helped her file a peculiarly Mexican injunction used to stop many a prosecution, and she was free again in 2006. She quickly became the Sinaloa cartel's agent in Mexico City, authorities said, transporting cocaine into the capital's neighborhoods -- relatively new terrain for the organization.

Last December, her body was found in the trunk of a car outside Mexico City. She had been shot in the head. Carved into her breasts, stomach and buttocks was the letter Z, symbol of the notorious gang of hit men called the Zetas, archenemies of El Chapo. She was 35.

A year earlier, the fugitive Guzman had married his third wife the day she turned 18: Emma Coronel, another beauty pageant winner, who is one-third her husband's age. At one point, she was reportedly seen around Culiacan, frequenting the hair and nail salons that cater to narco-wives and other young women who emulate the style: glamorous 'dos and fingernails longer than toes, bejeweled or painted with elaborate designs or pictures of cartoon characters. More recently, she was said to be in hiding.

On average in Sinaloa this year, a woman was killed every week in what authorities believe to be gangland hits.

Two women driving on a state highway last month were intercepted by two carloads of gunmen and pulled from their vehicle as their horrified children watched. Their bullet-scarred bodies, heads wrapped in plastic bags, were found a few hours later. One was believed to be a wife of one of the Sinaloa cartel's top kingpins, Victor Emilio Cazares.

The allure persists

Despite the risks, the drug world life continues to appeal to a subset of young women, generating its own lore, especially here in Sinaloa.

Two days before Christmas, federal police arrested Miss Sinaloa, the state's reigning beauty queen, and seven men, all of whom were paraded before television cameras and accused of trafficking cocaine. A cache of high-powered weapons and tens of thousands of dollars were seized from their vehicle.

Laura Zuñiga, 23, was never charged and went free after 38 days under a form of house arrest. Tagged "Miss Narco" by the Mexican media, Zuñiga acknowledged that her boyfriend was the brother of a big trafficker, but she said her beau was not involved in the business, although she wasn't sure what he did for a living.

She was stripped of a title she had won in an international contest. But she remains Miss Sinaloa.

For many women, joining this life is not a matter of choice. They are press-ganged, pushed by parents seeking wealth and influence, or don't know what they're getting into, said Urias, the women's institute official. And escape is rarely an option.

A few women have managed to flee drug-trafficking husbands, and have taken refuge in a shelter whose location is a tightly held secret.

Teresita tried for four years to get away from a husband who beat her, cheated on her and partied endlessly with his drug-dealing friends.

"He was high all the time," she said in an interview at the shelter. The Times agreed not to publish her last name.

She went to the police and the courts, but no one helped. After one particularly bad beating, she gathered up her two children and moved in with her sister.

But her husband followed her, threatened to burn the house down and shot out the outside lights. The goons who worked with him menaced Teresita and her family.

Teresita, a 28-year-old brunet with large, almond-shaped eyes, had known her husband since she was 16. Her sister had married his brother. But drugs and the business had changed him.

She finally became convinced that he would kill her and kidnap the children and found her way to the agency that runs the shelter. There she has remained with her children, trying to learn how to use a computer and other skills that will help her rebuild her life.

But most of the women who have left narco-husbands have to be transferred out of the state and sometimes out of the country to really be safe.

Teresita has a simple wish: "I just want to be in a place where I am not afraid to walk outside."


Drug war's new blood

An inmate at the Culiacan prison hangs laundry in a cellblock hallway. Nearly a quarter of the prisoners at the facility are female, and most are serving time for crimes related to drug trafficking, an official said.
Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times / September 25, 2009


An inmate at the Culiacan prison hangs laundry in a cellblock hallway. Nearly a quarter of the prisoners at the facility are female, and most are serving time for crimes related to drug trafficking, an official said.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Man, 21, wins $8,550,000 in World Series of Poker

4:36 a.m. Nov. 10, 2009

Updated: 7:27 a.m.

 Joe Cada poses after winning the 2009 World Series of Poker at the Rio Hotel & Casino today in Las Vegas. (ISAAC BREKKEN/Associated Press)
Joe Cada poses after winning the 2009 World Series of Poker at the Rio Hotel & Casino today in Las Vegas. (ISAAC BREKKEN/Associated Press)


Michigan ace wins World Series of Poker -- and $8.55 million


Joe Cada of Shelby Township won the World Series of Poker main event in Las Vegas early today, winning $8.55 million and becoming the youngest player to win the tournament in its 40-year history

The 21-year-old Michigan poker professional who chose cards over college, turned over a pair of nines early after 46-year old Darvin Moon called his all-in wager with a suited queen-jack, setting up an about-even race for most of the chips on the table.

But a board of two sevens, a king, an eight and a deuce didn’t connect with either player’s cards and gave Cada the win.

“I ran really well and I never really thought this was possible,” Cada said. “It was one of those dreams and I’m thankful it came true.”

The hand abruptly ended a final table that saw Moon, a logger from western Maryland, bounce back to a dominant chip lead after being down 2-1 in chips to start the night.

“I knew if I could catch, I got him,” Moon said of the final hand. “I just took a shot.”
Cada broke a record for the tournament’s youngest winner set last year by Peter Eastgate of Denmark. Cada is 340 days younger than Eastgate.

The record was previously held for two decades by 11-time gold bracelet winner

Phil Hellmuth, who posed for pictures with Cada after the win.

He also posed with his mother, Ann Cada, a dealer at MotorCity Casino Hotel in downtown Detroit.

“My baby,” Ann Cada said as she approached her son with cameras snapping.
When asked what’s next for him after reaching the pinnacle for poker so early in his career, Cada said: “To win it back-to-back.”

Moon and Cada traded the lead several times in 88 hands spanning nearly three hours of play, with one 20-minute break.

Moon erased Cada’s lead in 12 hands, revealing a pair of queens during a showdown to rake in a pot worth millions of chips. Cada shook his head after he lost and briefly stood up from the table, walking over and chatting with two of his supporters.

After some chip-shifting, Cada was ahead by less than 4 million chips after 52 hands, with 194.8 million chips in play.

But Moon stormed to nearly a 100 million-chip lead after the break, visibly frustrating Cada and leaning on him to make tougher decisions.

Fortunes changed when Moon pounced on a board with two 10s, a nine and a five to put Cada’s entire tournament at risk. After a sip of bottled water and several minutes of thinking, Cada called the bet and flipped over a nine for a pair.

Moon held a straight draw but didn’t hit his hand on the river, giving the lead back to Cada and drawing roars from the crowd.

“I should have went all-in on the flop. He made a phenomenal call,” Moon said. “That’s why he’s the champion.”

Moon won $5.18 million for second place.

“I only play good when my back’s against the wall,” said Cada, who was nearly ousted from the tournament on Saturday when he held about 1 percent of the chips in play after 123 hands.

The players traded chips atop a table with a stack of cash and a gold bracelet on its felt, and in front of nearly 1,500 screaming fans in a capacity crowd at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.

Their tug-of-war ended an epic tournament that began with 6,494 players in July.

After a 115-day break, Cada and Moon endured more than 14 1/2 hours through 276 hands at the final table on Saturday and early Sunday, when they outlasted seven others to make it to heads-up play.

Unlike Cada, who said he regularly plays about a dozen tournaments at a time online or three at a time in heads-up cash games, Moon hasn’t played a single hand of online poker. He doesn’t even own a computer or have an e-mail address.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has rare blood disorder

Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has leukemia

The NBA's all-time leading scorer has a rare form of the disease, but he says it is manageable with medication and that his long-term outlook is good.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 62, revealed during an interview Monday that he has Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that produces cancerous blood cells. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)



Broderick Turner

LA Times

November 10, 2009


NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has a rare form of leukemia, but the Lakers legend says his long-term prognosis is very good.

Abdul-Jabbar, 62, revealed during an interview Monday that he has Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that produces cancerous blood cells.

The disease was diagnosed in December. But Abdul-Jabbar said his condition can be managed by taking oral medication daily, seeing his specialist every other month and getting his blood analyzed regularly. He said he expects to lead a healthy life.

Abdul-Jabbar acknowledged he was scared after visiting his doctor and learning of the diagnosis.

"The word 'leukemia' is a very frightening word," he said in a phone interview from New York. "In many instances, it's a killer and it's something that you have to deal with in a very serious and determined way if you're going to beat it."

Medical studies have shown that many patients with chronic myeloid leukemia who are treated can control the disease without its progressing to a move advanced stage.

Dr. Gary Schiller, with the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA, said treatment for this type of leukemia has "dramatically improved" in the last decade thanks to new drugs that produce "remission of really high quality in 85% of patients . . . [who] function normally with very, very few side effects."

Schiller said that while the drugs do not cure the disease, they do control it, in much the same way high blood pressure is managed by medication.

Abdul-Jabbar said he is being treated with a medicine that specifically targets the abnormal protein that causes leukemia. "I responded well to the treatment," he said. "I just want that to continue to keep happening."

Abdul-Jabbar said he wasn't feeling particularly ill last year, but was having frequent hot flashes and was sweating constantly. He said his doctor told him to get some blood tests.

"By having the hot flashes, I knew something was up. But I didn't think that it was going to be something as serious as leukemia," Abdul-Jabbar said.

Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer, played 20 pro seasons, 14 with the Lakers, and retired after the 1988-89 season.

He was known throughout his career as a player who took his health seriously; he was one of the first pro athletes to take up yoga.

"If it wasn't for my health-consciousness, I would have just passed on the effects [of the leukemia symptoms] as something I could ignore," Abdul-Jabbar said. "But I felt it didn't make sense to ignore it."

His family has a history of cancer, Abdul-Jabbar said. A grandfather and an uncle died of colon cancer. "So I have the gene for that," he said. "Cancer is a scary thing and you have to deal with it seriously."

Abdul-Jabbar, a special assistant coach with the Lakers, said his condition won't affect his work with the team; he said he plans to fly back to Los Angeles on Friday. There have been reports that he could be offered a consulting job with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Abdul-Jabbar said he spoke out about his disease because he wants to shed light on leukemia. More information about the condition is available on his Facebook page, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Patient Advocate, including links to websites providing details about the condition.

"The fact that you can manage the disease means that you can live your life," Abdul-Jabbar said. "The fact that you have to go and get your blood analyzed and consult with your doctor might be a minor inconvenience, or you have to take your medication every day. But if you do these things, you can lead a normal live."

Monday, November 9, 2009


Cough into your cell phone for instant diagnosis

Cough into your mobile phone for instant diagnosis

Your mobile phone may soon be able to diagnose respiratory illnesses in seconds when you cough into it.


Tom Chivers

Telegraph U K

12:44PM GMT 09 Nov 2009

Apple iPhone. Cough into your mobile phone for instant diagnosis

But will it ask you to turn your head to one side as well? Photo: ANDREW CROWLEY

Software being developed by American and Australian scientists will hopefully allow patients simply to cough into their phone, and it will tell them whether they have cold, flu, pneumonia or other respiratory diseases.

Whether a cough is dry or wet, or “productive” or “non-productive” (referring to the presence of mucus on the lungs), can give a doctor information about what is causing that cough, for example whether it is caused by a bacterial or a viral infection.  

Health workers can distinguish the different kinds of cough by sound. Now, it is claimed, the new software will do the same, and will save patients a trip to the surgery – or tell them when they are at risk of serious illness.

Suzanne Smith of STAR Analytical Services,  the firm behind the research, says: "Why haven't we been measuring coughs?

"It’s the most common symptom when a patient presents, and we are relying on doctors and nurses with good old technology from the 19th century."

Coughs typically last around one-quarter of a second, comprising a sharp intake of breath, a silent exhalation and then the complex burst of sounds that makes the cough noise.

Healthy, voluntary coughs tend to be slightly louder than the involuntary coughs of an ill person. And after the initial explosive sound, there are subtleties like vibrating vocal cords and mucus that reveal information about what is happening in the patient’s respiratory system.

The software would compare the patient’s cough to a pre-recorded database of coughs, containing the sounds of all respiratory diseases from people of both sexes and various ages, weights and other variables.

Currently the STAR team has a database of several dozen patients, but they estimate they will need a total of around 1,000 before the software will be reliable.

The software is currently run on a computer, but it is anticipated that it could be rewritten as a smartphone application.

Doctors are optimistic about the new software’s applications. Dr Jaclyn Smith, a doctor of respiratory medicine at the University of Manchester who specialises in cough measurement, told "If they can find certain parameters to use coughs to diagnose disease that could be fabulous.

"It could really improve disease diagnosis and help improve people's access to health care."

STAR has been given a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant of $100,000 (£60,000) to pursue the research, which is expected to be particularly useful in developing countries where pneumonia is a leading cause of death in children.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Recession's good news: Cities see burglaries fall

Recession's good news: Cities see burglaries fall


Associated Press Writer

3:15 p.m. CST, November 9, 2009


CHICAGO - Ever since he was laid off in March, Frank Beil has been on the lookout.

He keeps an eye out for cars moving slowly down the street or strangers walking along the sidewalk of his suburban Chicago neighborhood. He wonders about the times he answers the phone and the caller hangs up.

"You don't know if that might be people staking you out, finding out if you're home or not," said the 71-year-old hospital chaplain from Glenview.

Beil is watching for burglars, and police nationwide credit him and those like him for one of the few bright spots of the recession: The number of home burglaries is falling in some cities and towns.

"With a lot more unemployed people, a lot more people are staying home, and they see more in their neighborhood," said Sgt. Thomas Lasater, who supervises the burglary unit of the police department in St. Louis County, Mo., where authorities recorded a whopping 35 percent drop in burglaries during the first six months of 2009.

The trend is showing up in communities big and small.

In Minneapolis, the number of burglaries reported in roughly the first nine months of the year dropped more than 15 percent compared with the same period last year, and more than 25 percent compared with that period in 2007. In Boston, the 2,199 burglaries reported in roughly the first nine months of the year is 335 fewer than in the same period last year.

Aurora, a city of 170,000 outside Chicago, had 560 burglaries through the end of September, a 15.5 percent decrease from the same period last year. And in Shelby, N.C., a town of 21,000, the number of burglaries through August was 23, compared with 60 for the same time last year.

In many cities, other crimes including homicide, robbery and rape have been dropping for several years, according to FBI statistics. But burglary stands out because it was actually rising between 2007 and 2008, and experts expected that trend to continue as the recession dragged on and unemployment rose.

The phenomenon has surprised both police and crime researchers. "We were thinking, 'Here we go,"' said Theo Glover, deputy police chief in Rockford, a struggling manufacturing community in Illinois that consistently has the state's highest jobless rate, hitting 16.9 percent in August.

Instead, Rockford had 1,849 burglaries through mid-October, or more than 400 fewer than in the same period last year.

A national total of this year's burglaries will not be available from the FBI until late next year, but experts said the anecdotal evidence from individual cities paints an unexpected picture.

Richard Rosenfeld, a sociologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis who has studied crime trends, said rates typically rise during a recession, especially property crimes.

"We've seen that in every single recession in the U.S. at least since the '50s," he said. "I would have expected by now some upward movement in burglary numbers."

The burglary rate has, in fact, climbed this year in some cities, including Houston, San Jose and Chicago. But in Chicago, the rate is climbing at a slower clip than it did last year. And in Houston, this year's slight increase comes after a substantial drop in burglaries between 2007 and 2008, the first full year of the recession.

In other places where burglary rates already were dropping, they are falling even faster. That includes Los Angeles, where the number of burglaries in the first three quarters of 2009 fell 6 percent, compared with 1 percent during the same period in 2008. In Phoenix, there were 429 fewer burglaries in the first nine months of 2008 -- and 4,000 fewer in the first nine months of this year.

Some police believe the falling price of copper and other scrap metals -- a target of burglars who strip the metal from vacant homes -- may have contributed to the trend. But they say that alone would not explain why burglaries are dropping so steeply in so many places.

Phoenix police detective James Holmes believes his city's 14 percent drop in burglaries in the first nine months of this year mostly reflects a stepped-up effort to target habitual burglars and expand neighborhood watch programs. But he said residents clearly are paying more attention, and more people are home to keep watch.

"We are getting a lot more calls of suspicious activities in our neighborhoods," he said.

In some cases, homeowners are even thwarting burglars. It happened in February in Bellevue, Wash., when would-be burglars broke into a home not knowing that -- as they stacked televisions, a computer and other valuables by the door -- the home's owner was not only unemployed, but in the basement.

Then they looked outside and saw that the getaway van they had left idling outside was gone.

"I drove to a friend's house up the street," said Patrick Rosario, the 33-year-old homeowner who took off in the van after he crept outside. The burglars couldn't believe what happened. "My neighbor drove by and saw their faces and they had big O's for mouths."

Monday, November 9, 2009


L.A. church opens doors to people and their pets

L.A. church opens doors to people, pets

Sunday, November 08, 2009

  WESTCHESTER, Calif. (KABC) -- For some local churches, filling the pews can be a challenge. So, to boost attendance, a local church decided to create a new service not just for people but their beloved dogs as well.

The Rev. Tom Eggebeen looks out over a small flock of parishioners at Sunday evening service, but he's hoping that will change.

His new idea to boost attendance is to invite the entire family, and that means bringing the family dog.

"It's a very simple worship service, we sing a hymn or two, there's prayers, but it's primarily the presence of the entire family if you will, even the four-footed members," said Eggebeen.

"Dogs with long fur and no fur, blondes and brunettes," listed Eggebeen.

So at 5 p.m. every Sunday, the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Westchester holds a canine service complete with doggie beds, special prayers and an offering of doggie treats.

Some even wear their Sunday best, and church goers say the idea just might keep them coming back to worship.

"I grew up going to church with my grandpa, to Catholic church, and then I saw this, and I thought this might be a great way to get back in to going to church every week," said Vicky Rambow, a service attendee.

"He sure loves coming. He sure loves seeing the other dogs here and the people here are all dog lovers and are very nice to him. So he experiences an environment of love and friendship," said Phil Leonardyee, another service attendee.

Many people share a deep bond with their dogs, and Eggebeen hopes this service will strengthen the church's connection to the community. So far, the response has been very uplifting.

"The overwhelming amount of positive response pouring in by e-mails and phone calls from all over has just astounded everyone including me. We touched a chord. We've touched a chord," said Eggebeen.



Monday, November 9, 2009


The Recession's Over, but Not the Layoffs

The Recession’s Over, but Not the Layoffs



November 7, 2009

The Great Recession is over — not officially, but by popular acclaim — and in this accepted fact we are invited to take comfort, even as the unemployment rate last week rose into double digits for the first time in a quarter-century.



Harry Campbell

Experts have long assured us that economic life is governed by the business cycle, a repeating loop of downturn followed by expansion, as reliable as the seasons. In this context, worsening joblessness is like a punishing blizzard in April: Misery notwithstanding, the calendar promises spring.

But just as climate change has altered how we contemplate the seasons, some economists argue that the business cycle no longer operates as it once did, failing to replenish the jobs it destroys, and leaving our economy vulnerable to a potentially long-term shortage of work.

The tools we use to assess the business cycle date back to the 1920s, when the economy looked much different. Manufacturing jobs have declined sharply as a percentage of overall employment, while services have emerged as the primary economic engine. Automation and globalization have supplied thrifty corporate managers with myriad ways to boost production without hiring.

“It’s a change in the structure of the business cycle,” argues Allen Sinai, chief global economist at the research firm Decision Economics, who has put together a panel to discuss the subject at a January meeting of the American Economic Association in Atlanta. “There appears to be a new tendency to substitute against labor. It’s permanent, as long as there are alternatives like outsourcing and robotics.”

Certainly, those inclined to argue that commercial life has been remade are frequently chastened when — as often happens — the dusty old laws of economics reassert themselves.

During the technology boom of the 1990s, some hailed a New Economy that supposedly liberated us from the tyranny of the business cycle while explaining how companies that never earned a nickel could be worth more than established brands. When arithmetic returned, the New Economy became synonymous with silliness.

This decade, as investors bid housing prices to levels that breached all connection to incomes, some economists argued that the booms and busts of real estate had been rendered inoperative by financial innovation. We know how that turned out.

But the latest reassessment of the business cycle now has a couple of decades of data to consider. After recession gave way to expansion in March 1991, it took a year before hiring resumed in earnest — a so-called jobless recovery. After the following recession ended in March 2001, two years passed before jobs grew. Many economists assume that the third straight jobless recovery has already begun, as nervous businesses — worried about the lingering bite of the financial crisis and weak prospects — continue to hold back on hiring.

This is not how things are supposed to go, not according to our traditional view of the business cycle. When the economy is growing, businesses hire aggressively as they increase production and sell more goods. As workers spend their paychecks, they distribute dollars throughout the economy, creating business opportunities that prompt other companies to hire — a virtuous cycle. As growth slows, companies let people go, then hire anew when new opportunities emerge.

Our unemployment insurance system is built for this kind of boom and bust cycle, giving furloughed workers some cash to tide them over until their companies call them back.

But as Mr. Sinai and his colleagues see things, our view of the business cycle is antiquated. They say it fails to account for the critical role of finance and changing appetites for risk that can influence economic growth; that, crucially, it dates to a time when manufacturing employed roughly one-third of the American workforce, well before what we now call the global economy.

In the middle of the last century, a retailer in Chicago who needed goods likely had to place an order with a factory in the Midwest. Today, that retailer could well be part of a conglomerate that taps a global supply chain; it sends its orders to workers in China and elsewhere, or to domestic factories that can increase production without hiring many more people, either by further automating or by bringing in temporary workers.

Of course, automation can itself create extra factory jobs for American firms that make robotics, and these companies increasingly export their gear to the same factories in China that produce goods now landing on shelves in Chicago. Yet the overall trend appears to make many American companies less inclined to hire, reluctant to take on cost in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Not everyone buys into this view. Labor-oriented economists like Lawrence Mishel at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington argue that the business cycle works the same as it always did; the problem is that economic growth has been weak in recent times.

“When growth comes back,” Mr. Mishel said, “so will jobs.”

Others suggest that the business cycle has not changed, but rather that we have developed unrealistic assumptions about the bounty that should accrue in good times. In this view, our expectations have been perverted by an unhealthy reliance on credit in recent years.

Kenneth S. Rogoff, a Harvard economist and co-author of a history of financial crises, “This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly,” recalls that when he was a graduate student, most economists viewed the normal level of unemployment to be about 7 percent.

But over the last decade, as the Federal Reserve relied upon excessively low interest rates to spur economic activity, the norm slipped steadily lower, with some proclaiming that unemployment had effectively been tamed and could remain permanently in the vicinity of 5 percent.

As Mr. Rogoff portrays it, what may seem like weak hiring in recent times is really just a return to normal. Eventually, after the lingering dysfunction of the financial crisis gives way to a more healthy flow of money, enabling more businesses to borrow and expand, unemployment will settle in to a long-term average of about 6 percent, he says.

In other words, recession still turns to expansion, much as spring follows winter, but the warm months may not be as bountiful as in years past, when easy money fertilized outlandish crop production.

In any event, we’d best get ready for leaner harvests.

                               RELATED STORY WASHINGTON POST:

                                             Why Won't Obama Give You a Job?

Monday, November 9, 2009


If Girl, 2, cries - she dies

If she cries - she dies: Rare seizure condition could kill British girl

Jake Pearson


Originally Published:Saturday, November 7th 2009, 7:57 PM
Updated: Saturday, November 7th 2009, 7:57 PM


Tianna Lewis McHugh looks dead when she has a crying fit.

Caters News/ZUMA PressTianna Lewis McHugh looks dead when she has a crying fit

When she cries, she dies - or so it seems.

A British baby has a rare seizure condition that appears to kill her when she cries.

Tianna Lewis McHugh looks dead when she has a crying fit, turning white and stiffening up like a corpse before the 2-year-old comes back to life.

"She cried for seconds and then she looked like she had died," mom Ceri Lewis, 23, told the British paper The Express last week.

"She went a deathly gray, her lips and around her eyes were blue and her eyes rolled back," the mother said.

Diagnosed with Reflex Anoxic Seizure at just 18 months, Tianna has survived at least 10 episodes, the most serious one lasting two hours.

The condition is believed to affect one in 20,000 children. It is potentially fatal if the victim suffers serious trauma during an episode, which can stop the heart from beating for up to two minutes.

"When she has fits it's horrendous," said her father, Andy McHugh, 30. "If she starts to cry we have to flick water in her face to bring her out of the shock."

The seizures can be brought on by any unexpected shock, according to medical experts. In Tianna's case, crying is enough to trigger the seizures.



Read more:

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Pictures of first person to undergo plastic surgery

Pictures of first person to undergo plastic surgery released

The images of a wounded First World War soldier who became the first person to undergo plastic surgery have been released in an attempt to trace his family.


Daily Telegraph reporter
8:35AM BST 28 Aug 2009

Last updated BST 7 Nov 2009

Walter Yeo, a sailor in the First World War, was the first person in the world to receive modern plastic surgery to rebuild his face after sustaining terrible facial injuries

Walter Yeo before (left) and after the skin graft surgery Photo: SWNS

The photographs show before, during and after pictures of the ground-breaking medical procedure carried out on sailor Walter Yeo.

Walter sustained terrible facial injuries including the loss of upper and lower eyelids while manning the guns aboard HMS Warspite in 1916.

In 1917 he was treated by Sir Harold Gillies - the first man to use skin grafts from undamaged areas on the body - and know as 'the father of plastic surgery'.

London-based Gillies opened a specialist ward for the treatment of the facially-wounded at Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup, Kent.

Walter Yeo is thought to be the first patient to benefit from his newly-developed technique - a form of skin grafting called 'tubed pedical'.

The young sailor, of Plymouth, Devon, was given new eyelids with a 'mask' of skin grafted across his face and eyes.

Artist Paddy Hartley, 37, has previously used the images in an exhibition and is now attempting to track down Walter's family to find out what happened to him.

Paddy, of London, said: "This tragedy catalysed the surgeon to transform the fledgling discipline of plastic surgery.

"Walter Yeo last went for treatment at the Royal Naval Hospital in Plymouth 1938, but little else is known about him.

"It would be interesting to know what happened to him in the years that followed.

"I'm keen to find out how he and his family coped with the consequences of his injuries and subsequent surgery."

Walter was born in 1890 and after marrying wife Ada was severely injured during the battle of Jutland while manning guns.

Records show he was admitted to Sir Harry Gillies' care on August 8, 1917 - just two months after he opened his specialist hospital.

Documents show after the procedure Walter, a gunnery warrant officer, was 'improved, but still had severe disfigurement'.

Paddy said: "The First World War was a war dominated by high explosives and heavy artillery.

"Casualties treated by Sir Harold Gillies included an unprecedented number with horrific facial injuries.

"Often unable to see, hear, speak, eat or drink, they struggled to re-assimilate back into civilian life."

Gillies is credited with developing new, untried techniques to treat the injuries created by this new kind of war, taking grafts from undamaged areas of flesh.

He used tubular 'pedicles' from the forehead, scalp, chest, neck or shoulders but retained a connection to allow blood flow.

Paddy has previously used similar images for an exhibition called Faces of Battle at the National Army Museum in London.

The Queen's Hospital, opened in June 1917, provided over 1,000 beds.

There Gillies and his colleagues developed many techniques of plastic surgery and carried more than 11,000 operations on over 5,000 men.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Wal-Mart, Amazon, Target in price war

Deja vu: Wal-Mart, Amazon, Target in DVD price war




The Associated Press
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. started another price war Thursday, trimming the online preorder prices of some upcoming DVDs following its price cut on books last month. And, once again, competitors and Target scrambled to match the prices.

It's the latest salvo in an ongoing online push by Wal-Mart designed to make sure everyone knows it intends to be the low-price leader on the Web, as well as in stores.

The retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., said late Thursday that it would lower the online prices of new DVDs such as "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" and "Star Trek XI" to $10.

But when Amazon reduced some of its DVD prices to $9.99, Wal-Mart shot back by cutting its DVDs to $9.98 as of Friday morning. Target got into the act Friday morning, too. All three companies also sweetened the pot by offering free shipping for the DVDs being sold.

The goal of such tactics is to drive higher volume, said BMO Capital Markets analyst WayneHood. He noted that some businesses like Wal-Mart and Target can afford to lower their prices and still be profitable because of their low-cost distribution models.

But not all retailers appear to be engaging in the tug of war, as Best Buy Co., Barnes&Noble Inc. and Borders Group Inc. all had higher prices for some of the DVDs Friday.

That might cost them some sales, but also might not be a bad idea.

Hood said it is important for some of Wal-Mart's rivals to remain competitive on price, but that trying to undercut Wal-Mart, with its huge scope and buying power, is a losing game. The retail giant sells enough products in enough categories to make up for any losses on individual items that it uses to pull people into stores or onto its Web site.

"On an everyday basis, customers expect Wal-Mart to be the benchmark or standard for pricing," he said.

Wal-Mart, which generated more than $400 billion in sales last year, has been aggressively trying to stake its claim online. The DVD discounts and last month's book discounts are part of a series of maneuvers the retailer has taken to draw shoppers to its Internet home.

Wal-Mart's book price war with Target and in October saw the companies lower the online preorder prices on titles such as "Under the Dome" by Stephen King and "Ford County" by John Grisham. Prices dropped as low as $8.98.

As books in the price war have come to market, prices have gone up, though the sellers are still discounting them heavily.

Wal-Mart's DVD price cut follows its announcement late last month that it would reduce prices weekly on top-selling items from bananas to board games and hold those cuts through the holiday season. It is also offering more than 100 toys at $10 during the holidays.

Aside from the discounts, Wal-Mart has tried to drive people to its Web site with a massive boost to its online product offerings. In late August the company said it would allow outside retailers to sell nearly 1 million items — from baby products to sports memorabilia — on And in October Wal-Mart said it would start selling health and beauty products online.

Wal-Mart's stock fell 29 cents to $50.99 in afternoon trading, while shares of Target shed 7 cents to $49.63.'s stock gained $5.18, or 4.3 percent, to $125.79. The shares hit a 52-week high of $126.98 earlier in the session.


November 06, 2009 12:46 PM EST

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Swingers Club Outrages Neighbors

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Odd animals that you have never seen

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Historic Health-Care Bill Passes

House Democrats pass health-care bill

One Republican votes for plan Senate will act next on legislation

Lori Montgomery and Shailagh Murray

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hours after President Obama exhorted Democratic lawmakers to "answer the call of history," the House hit an unprecedented milestone on the path to health-care reform, approving a trillion-dollar package late Saturday that seeks to overhaul private insurance practices and guarantee comprehensive and affordable coverage to almost every American.

After months of acrimonious partisanship, Democrats closed ranks on a 220-215 vote that included 39 defections, mostly from the party's conservative ranks. But the bill attracted a surprise Republican convert: Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao of Louisiana, who represents the Democratic-leaning district of New Orleans and had been the target of a last-minute White House lobbying campaign. GOP House leaders had predicted their members would unanimously oppose the bill.

Democrats have sought for decades to provide universal health care, but not since the 1965 passage of Medicare and Medicaid has a chamber of Congress approved such a vast expansion of coverage. Action now shifts to the Senate, which could spend the rest of the year debating its version of the health-care overhaul. Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to bring a measure to the floor before Thanksgiving, but legislation may not reach Obama's desk before the new year.

At the Capitol, Obama urged the few Democrats who were still wavering on Saturday afternoon to put aside their political fears and embrace the bill's ambitious objectives. "Opportunities like this come around maybe once in a generation," he said afterward. "This is our moment to live up to the trust that the American people have placed in us. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard. This is our moment to deliver."

The House legislation would for the first time require every individual to obtain insurance, and would require all but the smallest employers to provide coverage to their workers. It would vastly expand Medicaid and create a new marketplace where people could obtain federal subsidies to buy insurance from private companies or from a new government-run insurance plan.

Though some people would receive no benefits -- including about 6 million illegal immigrants, according to congressional estimates -- the bill would virtually close the coverage gap for people who do not have access to health-care coverage through their jobs.

"For generations, the American people have called for affordable, quality health care for their families," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said before the vote. "Today, the call will be answered."

The debate on the House floor extended for about 12 hours and settled into a civil, if predictable, pattern, after a heated start.

Republicans had blasted the 1,990-page bill as an ominous blueprint for a budget-busting government takeover of the private health-care system that would impose unprecedented mandates on individuals and employers, raise an array of taxes and slash projected spending on Medicare, the federal health program for the elderly. At a time of record budget deficits, Republicans argued that the country could ill-afford a new entitlement program that would cost an estimated $1.05 trillion over the next decade.

"Big government doesn't mean better health care," said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). "This is not the reform families need. This is all about taking a giant first step toward a single-payer national health-care system. Washington will ultimately decide what doctors you can see, what treatments you deserve . . . and, when you're sick, will you be worth their cost?"

Throughout the debate, Republican after Republican warned that the legislation would rob Americans of their right to make choices about their health care, cost the nation jobs and unfairly financially burden future generations.

Pelosi needed to corral at least 218 of 258 Democrats to push the bill across the finish line. That task appeared to grow easier after party leaders broke a weeks-long impasse over abortion by agreeing to hold a vote on an amendment -- offered by antiabortion Democrats -- that would explicitly bar the public plan from` covering the procedure. The amendment, approved 240 to 194, with 64 Democrats in favor, also would prohibit people who received insurance subsidies from purchasing private plans that covered abortion.



Related Story-- Health Care Plan Adds Billions, in Fees and Taxes

Pictured from left to right, House Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.); Chris Van Hollen of Kensington (D-Md.); Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); House Majority Leader Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.); and Rep. John B. Larson (D-Conn.), hold a press conference following a meeting attended by President Barack Obama on Capitol Hill.


Pictured from left to right, House Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.); Chris Van Hollen of Kensington (D-Md.); Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); House Majority Leader Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.); and Rep. John B. Larson (D-Conn.), hold a press conference following a meeting attended by President Barack Obama on Capitol Hill. (Nikki Kahn - The Washington Post)


President Barack Obama made an appearance to meet with the House Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill ahead of the health-care vote.

 President Barack Obama made an appearance to meet with the House Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill ahead of the health-care vote. (Nikki Kahn - The Washington Post)


Pictured from left to right, House Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, President Obama, House Majority Leader Rep. Steny H. Hoyer chat briefly outside the Caucus Room in Cannon Office Building on Capitol Hill following a meeting.

Pictured from left to right, House Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, President Obama, House Majority Leader Rep. Steny H. Hoyer chat briefly outside the Caucus Room in Cannon Office Building on Capitol Hill following a meeting. (Nikki Kahn - The Washington Post)

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Middle School Students Totaled Coach's Car

Students Accused Of Totaling Coach's Car

Police Say Several Students Jumped On Car

POSTED: 4:24 pm EST November 6, 2009
UPDATED: 7:06 pm EST November 6, 2009

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. -- A group of middle school students is accused of vandalizing the car of an Anne Arundel County high school football coach, and surveillance video appeared to catch them in the act.

The incident happened late last week while the vehicle was parked on campus at Old Mill Middle-High School.

Police said at about 3:45 p.m. on Oct. 29, five students from the school decided to pounce on a 2000 Honda Civic, which belonged to the high school's head football coach, Damian Ferragamo.

"I don't know them. They didn't know me. They didn't know whose car it was. It was just kind of a senseless type of act," Ferragamo told 11 News.

The coach said he didn't find out about it until it was time for him to go home. He took pictures of the huge dents and broken windshield.

"(The glass) had been shattered, and as I looked a little bit closer, I saw that the hood of my car and the roof of my car had been severely dented in," Ferragamo said.

He said he got more bad news when he reported the incident to his insurance company.

The car got totaled. They said it wasn't worth what the damages were, so they went ahead and totaled our car, which they give you the book value of your car, but it's really not enough to get a suitable replacement for your transportation," the coach said.

School officials said they're working with police to investigate the vandalism and said the students caught on tape are receiving appropriate disciplinary action.

But that currently does little to help Ferragamo, who is trying to figure out how'll get back and forth to campus.

"It's definitely disappointing when kids make bad decisions. Everybody has been young and made bad decisions. It's disappointing, especially something so random and in broad daylight," he said.

Police are still investigating. There is no word if any of the students will be charged.  The incident happened late last week while the vehicle was parked on campus at Old Mill Middle-High School.


Police said at about 3:45 p.m. on Oct. 29, five students from the school decided to pounce on a 2000 Honda Civic, which belonged to the high school's head football coach, Damian Ferragamo.


"I don't know them. They didn't know me. They didn't know whose car it was. It was just kind of a senseless type of act," Ferragamo told 11 News.


The coach said he didn't find out about it until it was time for him to go home. He took pictures of the huge dents and broken windshield.


"(The glass) had been shattered, and as I looked a little bit closer, I saw that the hood of my car and the roof of my car had been severely dented in," Ferragamo said.


He said he got more bad news when he reported the incident to his insurance company.


"The car got totaled. They said it wasn't worth what the damages were, so they went ahead and totaled our car, which they give you the book value of your car, but it's really not enough to get a suitable replacement for your transportation," the coach said.


School officials said they're working with police to investigate the vandalism and said the students caught on tape are receiving appropriate disciplinary action.


But that currently does little to help Ferragamo, who is trying to figure out how'll get back and forth to campus.


"It's definitely disappointing when kids make bad decisions. Everybody has been young and made bad decisions. It's disappointing, especially something so random and in broad daylight," he said.


Police are still investigating. There is no word if any of the students will be charged.



Saturday, November 7, 2009


Cool Obama makes US yearn for Bush

Bloodless President Barack Obama makes Americans wistful for George W Bush

Barack Obama's reaction to bad news is to play it so cool that Americans yearn for a bit more drama - and some even for his predecessor, writes Toby Harnden in Washington.


Toby Harnden's American Way
Published: 5:57PM GMT 07 Nov 2009

Barack Obama standing in front of the American flag: Nobel Prize: Ten famous peace prize winners Barack Obama has spent more than two months considering a troop increase but do we know how he really feels about the Afghan war? Photo: GETTY

During the election campaign, Barack Obama's cool detachment was a winning quality, the "No Drama Obama" a welcome contrast with the "Mr Angry" John McCain, never mind the hot-headed "I'm the decider" President George W Bush.

A year into his presidency, however, Mr Obama seems a curiously bloodless president. If he experiences passion, he seldom shows it. It is often anyone's guess as to whether an event or issue truly moves him.

He has spent more than two months considering a troop increase but do we know how he really feels about the Afghan war?

In a sign that the Obama honeymoon truly is over, I began to hear this week the first stirrings of a wistfulness about Mr Bush. "I never thought I'd hear myself say it," one Democrat told me. "But Obama makes you feel that at least with Bush you knew where he was on something."

When Mr Bush's Republicans were defeated in the 2006 mid-term elections, it was the President himself who stepped up and declared that his party had received "a thumpin'". The Democratic defeats on Tuesday were not on anything like the same scale but Mr Obama acted as if nothing at all had happened.

Mr Obama had campaigned for Jon Corzine, New Jersey's Democratic governor, five times, twice just last Sunday. But when Mr Corzine lost by four points in a state Mr Obama won by 15 last year - a 19-point swing to Republicans - White House aides just shrugged.

In Virginia, which Mr Obama won by six points last year, prompting Democrats to declare an historic political realignment in the state, the Democratic candidate went down by 17 points in the biggest landslide since 1961 - a 23-point swing to the Grand Old Party.

It took Senator Mark Warner of Virginia to admit that his party "got walloped". For three days, Mr Obama maintained a studied silence about the results while his aides blamed them on local factors that had nothing to do with the President. And to think that it was Mr Bush who was always accused of being "in denial".

More serious perhaps was Mr Obama's strange disconnectedness over the Fort Hood massacre of 13 soldiers by an Army major and devout Muslim who opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, had praised suicide bombing and shouted "Allahu Akbar" as he opened fire.

Maybe Mr Obama had been reading the American press, much of which somehow contrived to present the atrocity as a result of combat stress due to soldiers going on repeated war deployments (though Major Nadal Hasan had not been on any) and therefore, no doubt, Mr Bush's fault.

When the television networks cut to the President, viewers listened to him spend more than two surreal minutes talking to a gathering of Native Americans about their "extraordinary" and "extremely productive" conference, pausing to give a cheery "shout out" to a man named Dr Joe Medicine Crow. Only then did he briefly and mechanically address what had happened in Texas.

On Friday, when most of the basic facts were available, Mr Obama tried again. It was scarcely any better. He began by offering "an update on the tragedy that took place" - as if it was an earthquake and not a terrorist attack from an enemy within - and ended with a promise for more "updates in the coming days and weeks".

Completely missing was the eloquence that Mr Obama employs when talking about himself. Absent too was any sense that the President empathised with the families and comrades of those murdered.

It was a reminder that for the past 16 years Americans have had two Presidents who would often extemporise and express emotion. President Bill Clinton could certainly "feel your pain" while Mr Bush sometimes struggled to hold back tears. Mr Obama is more like President George Bush Snr, who famously communicated his concern for people by blurting out: "Message - I care."

The White House argues that Mr Obama was not on the ballot last week and there is therefore no need to fret. The problem with this complacency is that voters were angry about the state of the economy, which Mr Obama can't keep blaming on his predecessor. With unemployment now above 10 per cent, Mr Obama needs to show Americans that he can relate to what they're going through, and take responsibility.

It could do him good to show he has a bit of fire in his belly. Perhaps he might make a decision or two based on gut instinct and deep conviction. In other words, maybe he should try being a bit more like Mr Bush.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Sex-toy study at Duke invites females students to...

Sex-toy study at Duke raises some eyebrows

Published Fri, Nov 06, 2009 07:52 AM
Modified Fri, Nov 06, 2009 09:07 AM
The Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. -- A campus religious leader is unhappy about a study at Duke University that invites female students to attend parties where they can buy sex toys.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Friday that the director of the Duke Catholic Center has lodged a complaint with researchers. The Rev. Joe Vetter says the study doesn't promote relationships.

The study asks female students over age 18 to attend the events that are similar to Tupperware parties but with erotic toys, lingerie and games. The women complete surveys about their sexual attitudes before and after the parties and get product discounts.

A spokesman for Duke said the sex-toy party project went through the peer review process. Vetter says he plans to discuss the topic at Sunday mass.




Fri, Nov 06, 2009 03:22 PM

Ad seeking co-eds for sex-toy study roils Duke (study's full)

Anne Blythe
Raleigh News & Observer

DURHAM, N.C. — At Duke University, a school that likes to tout its cutting-edge research, a sex toy study being conducted by a behavioral economist and student health workers has roused criticism.

For much of October, researchers recruited female Duke students to take part in a "sexually explicit" study on Tupperware-style parties in which sex toys, not kitchenware, are the draw.

The ads, which were posted around campus and on a research study Web site, sought female students at least 18 years old to "view sex toys and engage in sexually explicit conversation with other female Duke students."

Participants will be asked to complete online questionnaires about their sexual attitudes and behaviors and visit the lab for a "one-hour party" with seven or eight women. Not only will the students be asked to complete a second questionnaire a couple of months later, they will receive a gift bag and be given the opportunity to purchase items at a significantly reduced rate, according to the ad.

Father Joe Vetter, director of the Duke Catholic Center, was so troubled by the ads that he contacted researchers at Duke student health services and Dan Ariely, the professor of behavioral economics at the Duke business school and senior fellow at the Duke Kenan Institute for Ethics involved in the study.

"My understanding is there is a concern on campus about promiscuity," Vetter said.

In recent years, some university health centers have touted sex toys as alternatives to risky sexual behavior and serial promiscuity. The study, Vetter said, was designed by health care workers to see whether such approaches work.

"I'm concerned about promiscuity also," Vetter said. "And to be honest, I don't have the solution. ... My concern is these students are in this developmental phase, and I don't think it's a good developmental practice to just tell somebody to just sit around and masturbate. I don't think that promotes relationships."

Vetter hopes to take up the topic on Sunday with students. He wrote for the Sunday bulletin: "Can We Talk About Sex in Church?"

Efforts to reach Ariely and others in charge of the research project were unsuccessful Thursday. The ad no longer appears on the Web site, Duke officials say, because the study is filled.

Michael Schoenfeld, Duke's vice president for public affairs, said that all kinds of research are important on university campuses and that the sex toy party project went through a peer review process before any students were sought.

"Not all research will make people comfortable," Schoenfeld said.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Man steals car to go to court

Nov 6, 2009 8:36 pm US/Pacific

Accused E. Bay Car Thief Steals Car To Go To Court

 CBS 5 CrimeWatch



Solano County Justice Center in Vallejo.


 A 24-year-old Oakland man is under arrest after authorities say he stole a car to make a court appearance on an auto theft charge.

California Highway Patrol investigator Chris Linehan said he arrested Samuel Botchvaroff Tuesday as he sat inside a stolen 2000 Range Rover at the Vallejo courthouse.  Botchvaroff had just left his arraignment on auto theft charges stemming from an Oct. 31 arrest.

Linehan said the Range Rover's LoJack system helped him locate the vehicle, which had been stolen from Oakland earlier Tuesday morning.

Authorities say Botchvaroff told officers his car had been impounded, and he had no other way to get to his arraignment.

He was booked into Solano County Jail on suspicion of auto theft and possession of stolen property.

LINK TO PHOTO AND VIDEO:[email protected]


Saturday, November 7, 2009


Bus Drivier refuses to let passengers leave until they prayed

Thank the Lord you didn't get this MARTA bus driver


Mashaun D. Simon

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

9:08 p.m. Friday, November 6, 2009


LeRoy Matthews, a bus operator for the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, has more time to talk with God.

That's because Matthews, who has been with MARTA for six years, was suspended for five days after a passenger complained the driver would not allow him and others to leave the bus before leading them in prayer.

Matthews behavior violated MARTA's policy, said Lyle V. Harris, MARTA spokesman.

The incident took place Tuesday evening, Nov. 3 around 7:30 on the Route 125 Avondale/Northlake.

In the complaint, the passenger told MARTA officials the bus was traveling northbound when it stopped at the corner of Northlake Parkway and Lavista Road.

As the passenger, whose name was not released, approached the front of the bus, Matthews stood from his seat and asked everyone to hold hands for a brief word of prayer.

The prayer lasted around four to five minutes.

What they prayed for or about is unclear, said Harris.

It is also unclear whether this incident has ever occured before.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Wife faked own abduction to scam husband

Fla. cops: Wife faked own abduction to scam hubby


Quinn Gray is seen in this undated photo provided by the St. John's Sheriff's

AP – Quinn Gray is seen in this undated photo provided by the St. John's Sheriff's office Thursday Oct. 29, …


Associated Press Writer

Tamara Lush

Associated Press Writer

November 6, 2009 

6:45 PM

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – A wealthy health care executive came home one night in September to find a terrifying note from his wife, Quinn Gray: The 37-year-old housewife and mother of two had been abducted from her posh Florida beach community.

"There are three men holding me right now and they want $50,000 cash," Gray wrote. "Do not do anything stupid. NO COPS!"

Authorities say the 25-year-old mechanic charged with trying to extort thousands from Gray's husband wasn't her captor — but her accomplice and lover. Her husband, however, has stuck by his wife's side.

Gray said she went along with her captor's demands, eventually having audiotaped sex with him. Gray says she wasn't scheming, but went insane and started to believe the kidnapper's claims that her husband wanted her dead.

"I wish I knew how to write a screenplay, because if I did, I'd make some money off this story," said St. John's County Sheriff David Shoar.

The made-for-TV intrigue has everyone from to Oprah Winfrey's producers nosing around this exclusive community to seek salacious details of a pretty blonde's downfall.

Gray's Facebook page shows photos of her husband and two young daughters. Her interests were fairly typical: She liked the TV show "Lost," biking and rapper Flo Rida ("When I'm really silly," she wrote). She drove a Mercedes wagon and read books like Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now."

The ordeal began the night of Sept. 4, when Gray's husband, 38-year-old Reid Gray, discovered his wife's note at their $4 million seaside mansion.

Reid Gray called the St. John's County Sheriff's Office, touching off a multi-agency manhunt that included the FBI. The sheriff's office would eventually spend $90,000 on the investigation.

The next day, as sheriff's officials set up a command center for the investigation, Reid Gray received the first of at least six calls from his wife. According to a report, Quinn Gray demanded her husband drop the $50,000 at a Chik-Fil-A restaurant; when he drove to the area, Quinn called again and said he had "screwed up" because police were spotted nearby.

On Sept. 6, Quinn Gray's mother dropped $50,000 at a beach restaurant; a group of college kids picked up the money and called police, frantic that they were in the middle of a "dope deal."

On Sept. 7, the case took an odd turn: an agitated Quinn Gray walked up to deputies at a local mall. She was taken to the FBI office in Jacksonville, where she told agents that her kidnapper worked for a loan shark who wanted her husband to pay up.

Detective Kevin Kerr and others were skeptical, noting Gray seemed to be making up the story as she went along.

During another interview, Quinn Gray changed her story. She said she had been sexually assaulted and that "I was crazy then, I was just doing what I was told to do."

She did give police one telling detail: Her abductor's name was Jasmin, and he drove a white Volkswagen Jetta. She also directed investigators to the warehouse where she was held.

Detectives found Jasmin Osmanovic, driving out of the warehouse in his Jetta. He eventually wrote his version of events in an affidavit.

"I met Quinn Gray about a month and a half ago. We met at a gas station," wrote the young mechanic. He described going to her house and listening to her talk about her marital problems and her issues with drinking — she had nearly split up with Reid Gray and had gone to rehab at a tony Minnesota clinic. Her husband had affairs, she said, and she wondered if he wanted her dead.

On Labor Day weekend, Osmanovic said, the two spent time together — but he didn't know right away that she was plotting the kidnapping. He left her alone several times in a hotel room they shared — she could have left anytime, he said.

Osmanovic touched on one piece of evidence: an audiotape he and Quinn Gray made that weekend. Osmanovic's live-in girlfriend found it and gave it to officers. The recording captured the sounds of Gray and Osmanovic having sex, plotting the kidnapping and talking about mundane things, like how they needed to eat more salads.

Sheriff Shoar said Osmanovic felt that Gray was acting "hinky" and covertly made the recording.

"He is not a dumb guy. He is a very smart guy," Shoar said. "He wanted some proof and reassurance in case she tried to hang him out to dry."

Osmanovic was charged with extortion and is being held at the St. John's County Jail. Gray also was charged with extortion and is being treated at a psychiatric facility.

Osmanovic's lawyers won't comment. Neither will Gray's lawyers, citing a pending gag order in the case. Earlier in the week, however, the lawyers went on national TV to talk about Gray's long history of mental illness and how she eventually identified with the kidnapper.

"Not one e-mail, not one text message, not one cell phone record — there is nothing that supports (authorities') contention that it's a faked kidnapping," said lawyer Mark Miller on NBC's "Today" show. About the audiotape, he said that it is "an audio recording of a woman who has been kidnapped, abducted and being raped."

Interestingly, Gray's husband — the owner of a home health care company who detailed the couple's long, painful history of marital infidelity during hours of police interviews — is standing by his wife. Against the advice of friends and family, he is not seeking a divorce.

"I love my family," Reid Gray wrote in a statement to the media. "And will do whatever I can to make sure that Quinn receives all of the help and support that she needs."



Friday, November 6, 2009


Wanted burglar texts his picture to newspaper posing at police van

Suspected burglar texts newspaper own photo

A wanted man taunted the authorities by sending in a picture of himself posing by a police van.


Harriet Alexander
2:54PM GMT 06 Nov 2009

Matthew Maynard: Suspected burglar texts newspaper own photo

Matthew Maynard contacted his local paper to complain about the mugshot they used of him Photo: ATHENA

Matthew Maynard, 23, texted the picture to a local newspaper from his mobile phone, commenting that he didn't like the photo issued by the police.

The suspected criminal is being hunted following a burglary in Swansea in September.

Mr Maynard was among eight people who were pictured in local media alongside a request for information from the public.

Four were subsequently apprehended, but the rest – including Mr Maynard – remain at large.

Police declined to comment on the provocative picture, taken on Mr Maynard's mobile phone and texted to the newspaper offices, but said that their recent drive to catch criminals was working.

Acting Chief Inspector Nigel Whitehouse said the public had made a very important contribution to solving a number of recent crimes.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Swansea for the information they have provided, which, without any doubt, was instrumental in enabling us to effect a high number of arrests."

Friday, November 6, 2009


Woman passes driver's exam on 950th try

SKorean woman passes driver's exam on 950th try

Associated Press
Updated: November 06, 2009, 2:29 PM



A woman in South Korea who tried to pass the written exam for a driver's license with near-daily attempts since April 2005 has finally succeeded on her 950th time. The aspiring driver spent more than 5 million won ($4,200) in application fees, but until now had failed to score the minimum 60 out of a possible 100 points needed to get behind the wheel for a driving test.

Cha Sa-soon, 68, finally passed the written exam with a score of 60 on Wednesday, said Choi Young-chul, a police official at the drivers' license agency in Jeonju, 130 miles (210 kilometers) south of Seoul.

Police said Cha took the test hundreds of times, but had no specific total. Local media said she took the test 950 times.

Now she must pass a driving test before getting her license, Choi said.

Repeated calls to Cha seeking comment went unanswered. She told the Korea Times newspaper she needed the license for her vegetable-selling business.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009


Woman Calls 911, Says Boyfriend Won't Marry Her

Woman Calls 911, Says Boyfriend Won't Marry Her

Same Person Called 911 Saying She Couldn't Find Car

Carley Gordon


POSTED: 12:56 pm CST November 4, 2009
UPDATED: 11:50 am CST November 5, 2009

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- Clarksville police said they arrested a woman on Wednesday morning after she repeatedly made non-emergency calls to the city's 911 system.

Hee Orama, 34, was arrested after police said she recently made frequent calls to 911 complaining about a man lying to her about marrying her.

Police said they responded to two calls from Orama and explained that this was not an emergency situation and to stop calling.

Orama then called again and was cited by police and told she would be arrested if she kept calling them with non-emergencies.

Police said the woman then called a 911 dispatcher a few minutes later but would not say why she called. Police then arrested Orama and took her to the Montgomery County Jail.

Orama's bond was set at $250. 

Police said Orama's calls cost city workers many hours addressing the situation. 911 supervisor Julie Vogle said they receive non-emergency calls frequently, which often forces two or three officers to respond.

"If the officers are running emergency traffic, that's putting several lives in danger, including the citizens," said Vogle.

Police said they also arrested Orama last week for repeatedly calling 911 because she couldn't find her car.



Thursday, November 5, 2009


Lap dances given to students for therapy

Maia Szalavitz

Neuroscience Journalist

November 4, 2009 12:21 PM


Really Special Education: State Investigation Confirms "Lap Dance Therapy" Allegations

Are lap dances an effective therapy for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or drug addiction? It doesn't seem like a question that should require a serious answer -- but a state investigation of Oregon's Mount Bachelor Academy (MBA) has substantiated allegations made by students and staff that such "therapy" was part of the school's "emotional growth" curriculum and forced an emergency shutdown of the campus.

Just this June, the Supreme Court had decided in favor of a couple who sued for payment of MBA's tuition to treat their son's ADHD and marijuana problem. The Court determined that parents of disabled children do have the right to seek such taxpayer support from a school district, even if they haven't tried public special education first.

While the decision didn't specify whether MBA itself was appropriate, some districts across the country are already reimbursing parents for its current $76,000 annual tuition, despite decades of allegations of similarly inappropriate and unproven practices. (Just one example is.

These abusive practices aren't isolated. MBA is part of the largest chain of "troubled teen" programs in the industry, Aspen Education, serving hundreds of kids. Right now, another Aspen program in Oregon -- best known for being featured in the reality TV series "Brat Camp" -- is under criminal investigation.

That investigation is related to the August death of a 16-year-old boy, which the sheriff's deputy in charge of the case has called a "homicide." As in several earlier deaths in such programs, the boy was made to hike in intense heat and is thought to have died of heat stroke after staff ignored his complaints. The state made Aspen shutter the program, known as Sagewalk, in September.

But look what's going on, even when these programs don't kill kids. On Monday, Oregon's Department of Human Services released a scathing report on Mount Bachelor, saying that its "emotional growth" curriculum is "harmful and damaging" and its "methods of emotional, behavioral and mental health intervention and daily interaction with students perpetuate an environment that poses a pervasive immediate threat which places all children at risk of harm."

The state ordered the school to shut down immediately and demanded numerous disciplinary, educational and staffing changes within 90 days or its license would be revoked.

The report confirmed eight allegations of abuse involving five students, but said that those students were actually "exemplars" whose experience is "substantially consistent with the experience of all children enrolled in the program." It specifically held Executive Director Sharon Bitz to account, saying that she "either knew of the abusive practices of the agency or should have known what was happening under her authority."

Incredibly, despite that $6,400 monthly tuition and advertising claims that MBA is appropriate for teens with conditions ranging from depression, ADHD and addiction to bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorde, the investigation found that "MBA has only one staff member who is an Oregon licensed mental health professional, however, that staff member reported that he does not meet with every student."

Not surprisingly, Bitz attacked the report in a statement released to the press by Aspen's parent company CRC Health. She said, "We vigorously disagree with the state's findings. This surprising action, following seven months of cooperative work by Mount Bachelor with the state since the allegations surfaced, is not only erroneous but also creates an unnecessary burden of distress and disruption for our students and their families. As a result, we are quickly and aggressively pursuing legal options."

The investigators interviewed 65 witnesses over the course of the seven month investigation, including students, staff and the ex-employee whistleblower who first made public the allegations. They determined that MBA violated at least eleven Oregon licensing rules and was "punitive, humiliating, degrading and traumatizing."

According to their report, the school's Lifesteps seminars and other tactics involved "sexualized role play in front of staff and students," and required "students to reenact past physical abuse in front of staff and peers." Allegations of sleep deprivation were also substantiated.

Students who spoke with me for a Time Magazine online story in April -- which helped spur the investigation -- were stunned by the announcement. "I'm so happy now I can't even explain," said Jane* (a pseudonym).

Before being sent to MBA, Jane had been raped. At one of the Lifesteps seminars, the 18-year-old was forced to dress as a "French maid" and perform lap dances while Kelis' sexually suggestive song "Milkshake" and similar music was played. "I was freaked out and traumatized and I couldn't do anything about it," she says.

Her friend Adam -- who asked that only his first name be used -- said he witnessed at least four girls and one boy who had identified himself as bisexual being made to do this "exercise." He said that when the girls performed the lap dance on him, "They were just crying." The bisexual boy had to give lap dances to both males and females.

Amber Ozier, now 24, attended MBA in 2002 and 2003. At the school, she was made to repeatedly re-enact her 10-year-old sister's accidental drowning death, which occurred at Amber's 12th birthday party.

"I feel like bricks have been lifted off me, like other kids won't have to go through the things I went though," Ozier says, "I'm glad they can't hurt any more kids or mentally torture them. That's what I feel like they were doing and I'm glad I'm not being called a liar anymore because the things I said were true."

Melissa Maisa attended MBA from 1992-1994. When I spoke to her for Time, she described having been made to do a bizarre and obscene ritual, for which she had to lie on the floor "in the sluttiest way possible" in front of male staff members and students. Through numerous repetitions, she had to put one foot on a guy's knee and say, "This foot is Christmas." Then, she'd place the other foot, saying "This foot is New Year's. Would you like to meet me between the holidays?"

Maisa said she encouraged the state investigator who interviewed her to get into the positions that she had been made to take. "It's one thing to hear the stories, but another thing entirely to put yourself in that position mentally and physically, to think about being a teenage girl far from friends and family, feeling like no one loves you and then you have to act out no one loving you."

Maisa, who had organized other former students online and urged them to share their stories with investigators added, "Everyone has their jaw on the floor right now. As a group, we're so used to being the bad kids that we can't believe that anyone finally took us seriously."

But the state indeed substantiated allegations that teens were denied necessary access to bathrooms and found that they were sometimes punished by being sent to camp alone on an island in "inclement weather," or by "strenuous" work projects. Alternatively, some were not permitted to "talk, touch or look at others and face the wall during meal time" for a week or longer.

Communication with parents was censored and restricted -- and those who tried to report abuse were immediately punished or cut off from further communication. Teens were also denied legally required access to education during punishments.

During the course of the investigation, the school was aware that the Lifesteps program was under particular scrutiny. Nonetheless, according to the report after the state rejected a proposed revised program called "Transitions" because it "too closely mirrored the prohibited Lifesteps program. MBA proceeded to offer the Transitions program knowing that such choice could result in further investigation."

Failure to report a rape disclosed by a student to child welfare authorities and police as required by law and regulatory violations involving mismanagement or denial of access to medications were also found.

Given the massive number of expensive changes -- such as hiring qualified staff -- that the state requires in 90 days, it may be difficult for MBA to comply successfully in time to retain its license.

Could this be the beginning of the end for the billion dollar troubled teen industry? It's already facing severe economic challenges because of the credit crisis -- parents had paid to send their kids by mortgaging their houses to pay the over-inflated tuition.

Lawsuits could well follow the MBA shutdown and the Sagewalk death -- and school systems are likely to start looking more closely at what they are getting for the hundreds of millions spent nationally to send disabled students to these often-unregulated and rarely scrutinized facilities.

"I feel great, I'm shocked," says Susan Dowren, the whistle-blower, who kept pushing investigators to look more closely. She adds, "There were more employees who wanted to speak out but felt that they couldn't jeopardize their jobs and income. I really think others wanted to, but you can't let that stand in your way, I just wanted everybody to tell the truth."

Whether that truth leads to larger and lasting changes and prompts more humane and effective treatment of teens is now up to you.


Mount Bachelor Academy

Mount Bachelor Academy

Read more at:

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Robber caught after making a wrong turn

Carefully Planned Robbery Foiled By Wrong Turn, Police Say

Jose Arce Pleads Guilty To Robbing Bank

Ben Jackey

                 4:54 pm EST November 4, 2009
UPDATED: 6:35 pm EST November 4, 2009

  LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A Louisville man has pleaded guilty to robbing a rural Indiana bank at gunpoint, and police say he could have pulled it off if not for a minor mistake.


“He kept wanting to know, ‘How'd you catch me? How'd you catch me?,’” said Washington County Detective Capt. Jeff Topping.

Police said less than an hour after Jose Arce held up a bank, he was surrounded by police.

Investigators told WLKY where Arce went wrong.

“I thought he'd done a real good job,” Sheriff Claude Combs said.

Combs admired Arce's planning. He'd researched banks in the area and chose to hit the Campbellsburg National City Bank. The robbery went down without a hitch. Police said Arce had a police scanner and an escape route.

One detective said it was the perfect crime -- until the suspect deviated from his plan.

“The mistake he made was a wrong turn. That's what the mistake was. He went through Mitchell and down,” said Combs.

Arce told police he planned to go left toward Salem and pick up Highway 150. Traffic congestion and panic forced him to turn right. The decision cost him nearly a half-hour.

That gave Topping and a handful of deputies plenty of time to get into place.

And then Arce made another mistake, police said. He went through the trouble of renting a car in Kentucky and stealing an Indiana license plate to put on it.

“If he had stopped anywhere along the line and switched the plate with the Kentucky one back on, chances are he would've got away,” said Topping.

Police in both counties remind robbers that even after committing the crime, you're never home free.

“We work together. We work together as a team for the people,” said Combs. “You're going to have police officers everywhere and they're looking for you.”  Police said less than an hour after Jose Arce held up a bank, he was surrounded by police.

Investigators told WLKY where Arce went wrong.

“I thought he'd done a real good job,” Sheriff Claude Combs said.

Combs admired Arce's planning. He'd researched banks in the area and chose to hit the Campbellsburg National City Bank. The robbery went down without a hitch. Police said Arce had a police scanner and an escape route.

One detective said it was the perfect crime -- until the suspect deviated from his plan.

“The mistake he made was a wrong turn. That's what the mistake was. He went through Mitchell and down,” said Combs.

Arce told police he planned to go left toward Salem and pick up Highway 150. Traffic congestion and panic forced him to turn right. The decision cost him nearly a half-hour.

That gave Topping and a handful of deputies plenty of time to get into place.

And then Arce made another mistake, police said. He went through the trouble of renting a car in Kentucky and stealing an Indiana license plate to put on it.

“If he had stopped anywhere along the line and switched the plate with the Kentucky one back on, chances are he would've got away,” said Topping.

Police in both counties remind robbers that even after committing the crime, you're never home free.

“We work together. We work together as a team for the people,” said Combs. “You're going to have police officers everywhere and they're looking for you.”



Thursday, November 5, 2009


Hired as a man, fired as a woman

Atlanta News 10:29 p.m. Wednesday, November 4, 2009 

Hired as a man, fired as a woman


Christian Boone
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


On Halloween 2006, Vandy Beth Glenn, unlike some of her costumed colleagues, came to work dressed in typical business attire.

For that, the former editor with the Georgia General Assembly was fired, as her then-boss recently acknowledged in court documents Glenn had decided weeks before that she could no longer navigate separate personas, working as Glenn Morrison (her birth name) and living as Vandy Beth. Glenn informed her immediate supervisor, senior editor Beth Yinger, that she had been diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, a psychiatric classification for persons in conflict with their biological sex.

Yinger and Glenn agreed she would make her workplace debut as a woman on Halloween. Glenn dressed conservatively, wearing a knee-length black skirt and a red turtleneck sweater.

"I don't think anything could have turned me back at that point," said Glenn, who would not give her age. "I reached a point in my life where I said it was time to stop fronting. Besides, I thought it was well understood this was a medical condition."

Her boss, Georgia Legislative Counsel Sewell Brumby, saw it differently.

“It makes me think about things I don’t like to think about, particularly at work … I think it’s unsettling to think of someone dressed in women’s clothing with male sexual organs inside that clothing,” said Brumby, in a deposition taken May 11th in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. He's among the defendants in a federal suit filed by Glenn that claims her former employers violated the Constitution's equal protection clause.

"It's always preying on you," Glenn said of her identity disorder. "It doesn't go away, like a monkey on your back it keeps eating at you. It's mentally exhausting carrying that around with you."

In her deposition, Yinger said she supported Glenn's decision, though she expected some would have trouble adopting to the change. “But I did think that he should be allowed to stay employed," said Yinger, who declined to comment for this story.

Brumby, who did not respond to interview requests, disagreed, according to court documents, though he anticipated legal retribution.

"I thought there was a strong likelihood that I would get sued, and I thought there was a strong likelihood that I would be criticized," he said.

But retaining Glenn "would be extremely harmful to our work operations," he said in the deposition. Though Glenn worked in a windowless office and had little, if any, contact with legislators, Brumby worried about their reaction.

“I think some members of the legislature would view that taking place in our office as perhaps immoral, perhaps unnatural, and perhaps, if you will, liberal or ultra-liberal,” he said.

Glenn is not suing for damages. She just wants her job back writing and editing state laws.

"I liked it a lot," she said. "I loved the people. I liked being part of the machinery of government. And work was only four miles from home."

Glenn mostly freelances now. And the self-described political moderate has become a transgender activist, testifying recently before Congress on behalf of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Hearings resume Thursday. If the legislation had been enacted prior to Halloween 2006, Glenn would likely still have her job.

"The rule in Georgia is you can be fired for any reason," said Glenn's attorney, Greg Nevins, "as long as it's not one prohibited by law."

The state's attorney, Richard Sheinis, filed a motion to dismiss last year, arguing that Glenn does not have legal grounds to sue because neither state or federal law mandates transgendered protection. In June, U.S. District Judge Richard Story ruled against the defense.

Regardless of how her case is decided, Glenn has no regrets.

"The most important thing [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people can do is come out," she said. "The way to solve problems like this is to show people how ordinary we really are."



Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Thieves target homes of soldiers deployed in Afghanistan

Fraud ring targets deployed soldier

Megan Matteucci

5:57 p.m. Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Master Sgt. Sylvia Simmons was dodging roadside bombs in Afghanistan while thieves were ransacking her Stockbridge home and running up her credit card bills.

Henry County Police said Simmons, 54, is the one of several victims of a multi-county burglary and credit card fraud ring.

Police are now searching for six suspects – four men and two women -- captured on several Lowe's surveillance cameras using Simmons’ credit card four times. One of the suspects is pregnant, Police Capt. Jason Bolton said.

Police aren’t sure when Simmons’ home was broken into since she has been deployed to Afghanistan since April.

Simmons’ daughter stopped by the soldier’s house in September to check on it and saw the door kicked in.

“My doors were busted in and the house was in shambles,” Simmons said.

Police helped the daughter board up the doors and windows, but it didn’t stop the burglars.

They returned the next day and took the rest of the items. Fingerprints confirmed it was the same suspects.

They took her new 63-inch TV, furniture, clothes and jewelry, including her deceased mother’s wedding band. They even took the sheets off the bed and her father’s dog tags from World War II, Simmons said.

“Those are the kind of things you can’t replace,” she said.

Simmons said she thinks the suspects knew she was out of town. She said thought she had locked all of her credit cards in a bank safety deposit box, but the next month she got a bill.

Thieves had charged $6,500 on a Lowe’s credit card. They bought power tools, generators and bolt cutters at Lowe’s stores in McDonough, Stockbridge and Riverdale.

“The Lowe’s card was in a drawer because I don’t use it that much,” she said.

Detectives reviewed the stores’ security cameras and captured the thieves on the camera.

“I’m just surprised the store let them pay for thousands of dollars of tools with a credit card and never ask for an ID,” Simmons said.

Police said the thieves also are wanted for several other burglaries, including one where they left Simmons’ license at a Stockbridge landscaping company.

Police fear the thieves will continue to hit homes and businesses in the area.

“They purchased bolt cutters and other burglary tools,” Bolton said. “It looks like they are upgrading their burglary tools with this victim’s credit card.”

Police are checking pawnshops, but doubt they will find Simmons’ belongings.

Simmons is home for two weeks before having to return to Afghanistan to finish her deployment, which ends in April. She is hoping police can capture the suspects before she heads back.

Simmons, a mother of three, has spent 30 years in the Army National Guard.

“Hopefully we’re going to break this ring down,” she said. “What makes me sick is that every day we’re in a combat zone fighting for these people’s freedom.”




Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Man licensed to carry gun shoots robber

3 Men Charged In Robbery Attempt


POSTED: Tuesday, November 3, 2009
UPDATED: 6:59 pm CST November 3, 2009


SAN ANTONIO -- A 37-year-old man shot a 21-year-old man who police said was planning to rob him, police said.

Maymi Russell posted a listing to sell a camera on Craigslist, but he decided to do some research on Facebook on the potential buyer, Sammy Villa, before meeting him, said Sgt. Chris Benavides, a San Antonio Police Department spokesman.

When Russell arrived at behind an IHOP Monday afternoon to make the transaction, he saw a man who motioned Russell to finish the transaction, Benavides said.

Russell noticed something was wrong when two other men approached him. Moments later, they demanded the camera from him, Benavides said.

But Russell, who is licensed to carry a weapon, pulled out a gun and shot Villa, Benavides said. The two other men, John McFarland and Cameron McFarland, took off but were later arrested. The three were charged with aggravated robbery and were being held in the Bexar County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bond.

Benavides said that Russell saved his life by being alert and aware of his surroundings but he still should have met the men in a spot where there were people.

"Meet where there's a lot of people around, Benavides said. "You want witnesses should you be the target of a robbery."

Villa was transported to Wilford Hall Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Man shows up alive at his funeral

Man shows up at own funeral on Brazilian holiday honoring the dead


Associated Press

Last update: November 4, 2009 - 11:39 AM


RIO DE JANEIRO — A Brazilian bricklayer reportedly killed in a car crash shocked his mourning family by showing up alive at his funeral.

Relatives of Ademir Jorge Goncalves, 59, had identified him as the victim of a Sunday night car crash in Parana state in southern Brazil, police said.

As is customary in Brazil, the funeral was held the following day, which happened to be the holiday of Finados, when Brazilians visit cemeteries to honor the dead.

What family members didn't know was that Goncalves had spent the night at a truck stop talking with friends over drinks of a sugarcane liquor known as cachaca, his niece Rosa Sampaio told the O Globo newspaper. He did not get word about his own funeral until it was already happening Monday morning.

A police spokesman in the town of Santo Antonio da Platina said Goncalves rushed to the funeral to let family members know he was not dead.

"The corpse was badly disfigured, but dressed in similar clothing," said the police spokesman, who talked on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to discuss the case. "People are afraid to look for very long when they identify bodies, and I think that is what happened in this case."

Sampaio told O Globo that some family members were not sure the body was Goncalves.

"My two uncles and I had doubts about the identification," she told O Globo. "But an aunt and four of his friends identified the body, so what were we to do? We went ahead with the funeral."

The police spokesman confirmed there were doubts: "His mom looked at the body in the casket and thought something was strange. She looked and looked and couldn't believe it was her son," Sampaio said. "Before long, the walking dead appeared at the funeral. It was a relief."

The body was correctly identified later Monday, the police spokesman said, and has already been buried in another state. He declined to release the actual victim's name.

Read more at:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Judge rules robber can sue for being chased and shot

Judge: Mich. man can sue store he robbed

The Associated Press

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 3:30 a.m.

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. - A Michigan judge says a man who claims he was chased, shot and beaten by workers at a store he'd just robbed can sue the men. But only if he comes up with $10,000 within two weeks.

Scott T. Zielinski is serving an 8-year prison sentence after being convicted of unarmed robbery for the November 2007 heist at Nick's Party Stop in Clinton Township.

The 23-year-old filed a lawsuit against the store, its owner and three employees in April. Zielinski was shot twice and claims he was excessively beaten.

Circuit Judge David Viviano ruled this week that although Zielinski is indigent and imprisoned, he must post a $10,000 bond to cover the store and employees' attorneys fees if he looses the case.

Zielinski is seeking $125,000

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Girl, 11, gives birth after going into labor at her WEDDING

11-year-old gives birth to baby girl after going into labor at her WEDDING!

Barbara Degarmo
NY Daily News
Staff Writer


Tuesday, November 3rd 2009, 8:52 PM

An 11-year-old girl became one of the world's youngest mothers - after she went into labor at her wedding.

Kordeza Zhelyazkova, from Sliven, Bulgaria, was still wearing her wedding dress and tiara when she was rushed to the hospital, where she gave birth to a 5-pound, 8-ounce girl.

"I'm not going to play with toys anymore - I have a new toy now," Kordeza told reporters as she showed off little Violeta.

Kordeza - who got pregnant two weeks after her 11th birthday - told the News of the World: "It feels I must grow up. I am not going back to school."

The baby's 19-year-old dad, Jeliazko, met Kordeza when he rescued her from bullies in the playground.

"I was walking past the school when I saw some boys mocking her and I told them to leave her alone," he said. "Then she arranged to meet me and asked me out on our first date.

"We didn't plan to have sex or a baby, although I fell in love with Kordeza the moment I saw her," Jeliazko said.

But within a week, Kordeza was pregnant - and Jeliazko was facing six years in jail for having sex with a minor. The age of consent in Bulgaria is 14.

"I thought she was 15," he said. "She didn't tell me she was 11. I was really scared."

"I didn't want to say in case he wouldn't fancy me," Kordeza confessed.

"I didn't know I was pregnant until my grandmother saw I had put on weight," she added. "I just thought I'd eaten too many burgers."

"It's normal for our girls to have babies young," said Kordeza's grandmother Dida, 55. "It's our tradition. But I didn't want it for my Kordeza - I felt she was too young."

The family planned a three-day Roma wedding so Kordeza and Jeliazko could be married before the baby arrived.

But Kordeza went into labor on the second day. "I had been having pain in the morning and a couple of hours into the wedding, it got worse."

She was rushed to hospital and gave birth 20 minutes later.

"It was quite easy but painful, too," she said. "I was very happy when I saw her. She has a nose like me and hair like Jeliazko."

Violeta's grandmothers will be her guardians, and Kordeza and her daughter will receive about $115 a month in state benefits.



11-year-old gave birth on her wedding day

 Child bride ... Kordeza Zhelyazkova, 11, with baby Violeta Source: The Daily Telegraph



WEDDING: Jeliazko and Kordeza, hours from giving birth

WEDDING: Jeliazko and Kordeza, hours from giving birth

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Pair stole 1,000 pieces of luggage from airport

2 accused of stealing luggage from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

D'Aundra Wallace and Kathleen Gormley

Nov. 3, 2009 12:45 PM
The Arizona Republic


Police allege that after Keith was released, he returned to the airport and stole more luggage. Authorities followed him home, where he was detained.

Police say the do not know how long the thefts have been going on, how many times the thieves have struck, and whether there were other people involved. Keith King does not work at the airport, authorities said.

A search warrant of the Kings' home in Waddell in the northwest Valley reportedly revealed many suitcases, some empty and some with property still in them.

Police said they plan to return as much material as possible, but it would be difficult to identify the victims of the luggage theft because all the tags had been removed from the suitcases.

Eugene Huneycutt, 66, a neighbor, said he has bought 35 to 40 children videos for his granddaughter at yard sales at the Kings' home and became suspicious about how Keith King would possess the items.

Huneycutt said he also saw a lot of pieces of luggage at the sales.

Neighbors reported seeing a trailer full of material arriving to the home in the middle of the night, which they described as suspicious.

People who believe they may be victims in the luggage thefts





Keith Wilson King, 61, is seen in this undated photo provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff's office. King was one of two people arrested Monday, Nov. 2, 2009 and booked on counts of theft of property and possession of stolen property. Phoenix police found up to 1,000 pieces of luggage stolen from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in their home northwest of Phoenix. ((AP Photo/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office))



Stacy Lynne Legg-King, 38, is seen in this undated photo provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. King was one of two people arrested Monday, Nov. 2, 2009 and booked on counts of theft of property and possession of stolen property. Phoenix police found up to 1,000 pieces of luggage stolen from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in their home northwest of Phoenix. ((AP Photo/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office))

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Man stabs himself because he didn't want to work

Man says he stabbed himself because he didn't want to work

Howard Pankratz
The Denver Post

11/03/2009 10:00:12 AM MST

Updated: 11/03/2009 04:01:45 PM MST

A 29-year-old man who claimed he was attacked and stabbed by three people - skinheads or Hispanic males - confessed Monday night that he stabbed himself because he didn't want to go to work, Edgewater Police said today.

The man, Aaron Siebers, walked into his employer, the Blockbuster Video store at 1921 Sheridan about 6:30 p.m. Monday, and reported the attack. He said the trio was dressed in black.

Siebers, of Denver, had a deep stab wound to the lower leg plus several superficial knife wounds, according to Steve Davis, spokesman for the Edgewater Police Department.

Five police agencies responded to the scene. In addition to Edgewater police, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, Mountain View Police, Lakeside

Police and Lakewood Police Department officers set up a large perimeter and began a manhunt for the suspects.

K-9 units were brought into search for the perpetrators.

Siebers was taken to Saint Anthony's Hospital where he was treated. He received numerous stitches to close the leg wound, said Davis.

Davis said detectives went to the hospital and interviewed Siebers and also reviewed videos from a nearby Target store, which had numerous surveillance cameras. A review of the cameras showed no attack had taken place near the Target store as Siebers claimed, said Davis.

After Siebers was released from the hospital, detectives again questioned him. They confronted him with the evidence from the surveillance cameras and his changing stories about who attacked him, said Davis.

At that point, Siebers confessed and told them he stabbed himself because he didn't want to go to work, said the police spokesman.

Davis said Siebers had taken a bus from Denver to the Blockbuster store in Edgewater. The surveillance video from the Target store showed him walking from the bus stop to the store without any indication he was suffering from a deep stab wound, said Davis.

Siebers was arrested and charged with false reporting and obstructing a police officer, both misdemeanors. He was taken to the Jefferson County Jail.

"If you are going to concoct a story about being stabbed, don't do it near a Target store," said Davis

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Bubba vs Dubya Bill Clinton and George Bush to debate

Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to debate at Radio City

David Saltonstall


Originally Published:Tuesday, November 3rd 2009, 2:57 PM
Updated: Tuesday, November 3rd 2009, 4:24 PM


Ex-presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to debate at Madison Square Garden.


Ex-presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to debate at Madison Square Garden.

Don't expect a Steel Cage Death Match, but it will be a presidential duel for the ages: ex-President George W. Bush versus predecessor Bill Clinton, for one night only.

The two ex-presidents have agreed to face off on the same stage as part of MSG Entertainment's third annual "Minds That Move The World" speakers series at Radio City Music Hall in midtown Manhattan on Feb. 25, 2010.

The Republican Bush and the Democrat Clinton - always cordial, if not exactly chummy - will "debate topics ranging from the economy, to foreign policy, to the current administration," according to a statement put out Tuesday by MSG Entertainment.

Melissa Miller Ormond, MSG Entertainment's chief operating officer, said the presidential smackdown comes amid "one of the most exciting and, at times, controversial political landscapes of our time," and would aim to educate.

The debate - with a moderator to be named later - "will not only provide guests with an informative and empowering experience," Ormond said, "but also encourage people to engage in continued dialogue surrounding the most significant current events of our day."

Tickets for the event will go on sale Nov. 16 through Ticketmaster or by calling (866) 858-0008. Prices start at $60 for the cheap seats and rise to $1,250 for high rollers who want to join both presidents at a pre-debate reception for tails and picture-taking.

Read more:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Son, 3, Drank Tainted Tea Father Meant For Wife Who Is A Police Detective

Milwaukee Firefighter Charged With Tainting Wife's Tea

Wife Shared Drink With 3-Year-Old Son, Noticed White Around His Mouth

POSTED: 9:12 pm CST November 2, 2009
UPDATED: 12:51 pm CST November 3, 2009

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee firefighter has been charged with drugging his wife's tea.


Police arrested Michael Dunn on Saturday after the couple's 3-year-old drank the allegedly tainted drink on Halloween night.

According to the criminal complaint, Dunn, 43, said he and his wife had been arguing over bills, and he put half a tablet of Lexapro in the tea to calm her down.

She is a Milwaukee police detective and discovered the medicine when she saw white powder around the 3-year-old's mouth. A little earlier, she had given the child some of her tea to warm him after trick-or-treating.

When she confronted Dunn, he denied putting anything in the cup and said the substance was undissolved sugar, the criminal complaint said.

According to the complaint, she saved the substance and then found Dunn's prescription for Lexapro. When he admitted to putting it into her tea, she called police.

Michael Dunn is an 18-year veteran of the Milwaukee Fire Department. His firehouse, at 64th Street and Fairview Avenue, offered little information on Monday, and only told 12 News it was told to carry him on sick leave.

This is not Dunn's first domestic abuse arrest. Court records reveal a 2004 arrest involving his former wife. Dunn threw a bag of laundry at his 5-year-old daughter and then threw his wife to the ground, police said. As part of a so-called deferred prosecution agreement, the district attorney dropped the charge after Dunn stayed out of trouble for seven months.

Dunn remained in the Milwaukee County jail where he was booked on the felony charge of placing foreign objects in edibles.

The prosecutor said both the wife and child were unharmed.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Bizarre drug smuggling attempts

Monday, November 2, 2009


Just Plain Ugly

JUST PLAIN UGLY!!!,0,4600440.photogallery

Monday, November 2, 2009


Man Dressed As Breathalyzer Arrested for DUI

Man Dressed As Breathalyzer Suspected Of DUI

POSTED: 9:55 am EST November 2, 2009
UPDATED: 11:38 am EST November 2, 2009


OXFORD -- Oxford police said a man they arrested on suspicion of drunken driving over the weekend was wearing a rather appropriate costume.

A police report said that James Miller, 18, was stopped after officers saw him driving the wrong way on a one-way street just before 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

When officers approached, they found Miller was dressed like a Breathalyzer.

Police said Miller had a blood-alcohol level of .158 and had multiple Ohio IDs in his wallet.

Miller was charged with DUI and underage drinking and released to his girlfriend.


Monday, November 2, 2009


Pastor charged with using phony sheriff's badge

Pastor charged with using phony badge


Megan Matteucci

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

6:04 pm Monday, November 2, 2009

An Atlanta pastor was jailed for using a phony sheriff’s badge given to him by former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, officials said.

Anthony J. McMichael, senior pastor at Mt. Nebo Baptist Church, was arrested on charges of impersonating a police officer – a felony. He was released on bond on Saturday, but is facing more charges, police said

A Georgia State Patrol trooper stopped McMichael in Douglas County on Oct. 21 after spotting him speeding on I-20. McMichael pulled out his license, a Clayton sheriff’s badge and sheriff's identification card signed by Hill, State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright said.

“He said he hadn’t had a chance to get the card changed [since the new sheriff took over],” Wright said.

The trooper let McMichael go with a warning, Wright said.

The trooper later called the sheriff’s department to verify McMichael was a deputy. That’s when he learned that McMichael was not a law enforcement officer and was in illegal possession of the badge, Clayton Sheriff Kem Kimbrough said.

Deputies took out a warrant and arrested McMichael last week at his Douglasville home. They searched his home and seized the badge and ID, Kimbrough said.

McMichael, 58, later told investigators that Hill gave him the badge.

Hill purchased dozens of additional badges, which are the same as the badges deputies carry, and distributed them to his friends, Kimbrough said. They went to preachers, campaign contributors, neighbors and other associates.

Reached at his home Monday night, McMichael said Hill swore him in as a reserve deputy because he is a pastor. He serves as pastor at Mt. Nebo on Moreland Avenue in Atlanta and on Tara Boulevard in Jonesboro.

"It was the vindictive spirit of Clayton County to go after any association with Victor Hill," McMichael said. "It was  a set-up on part of Clayton County to intervene into my life style."

McMichael, who said he is a member of the National Action Network, believes he was followed by law enforcement. Troopers said he was stopped for speeding.

McMichael said he didn't remember the conversation between him and the trooper during the traffic stop.

When Kimbrough took over as sheriff, he found a partial list of the people given badges and asked for them to be returned. McMichael was on the list.

"He said he didn't have a badge," Kimbrough said.

Last week, deputies found out McMichael had lied, Kimbrough said.

McMichael declined to comment about that conversation, only saying that Hill never asked him to return the badge.

The phony badges are part of an ongoing federal investigation into Hill, Kimbrough said. Hill is also the subject on an investigation into missing weapons and other sheriff's equipment.

Deputies have only recovered a few of those badges, Kimbrough said.

“We don’t know how many badges are out there,” Kimbrough said.

The sheriff’s department has since issued new redesigned badges to current deputies. The new badges are a seven-point star and have employee numbers listed, Kimbrough said. The old badges have six points.

Civilian employees also don’t carry badges.

“People have to have trust in law enforcement. They have to trust that when presented a badge, they are dealing with a real law enforcement officer,” Kimbrough said. “If you can’t put trust in that, the whole system breaks down.”

McMichael faces 1-5 years in prison and a fine up to $1,000 if convicted, Wright said.

Hill could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Shonterria Renek Martin, did not return a phone call Monday.

The missing badges are just the latest in Hill's legacy, including several lawsuits against the county.

“It is an unnecessary and unwanted distraction from the real business that needs to be done here in Clayton County,” Kimbrough said. “It’s distressing that we have to keep dealing with the past and have to put it behind us.”

Hill lost as bid for a second term last year to Kimbrough. In December, Hill filed for bankruptcy.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Pastor uses money giveaway contest to fill pews

Church's money giveaway: Alsip pastor's cash prizes fill pews

Minister's focus is to help congregation pay bills and begin a debt-free life

Cash prizes at church

In Alsip, the Rev. Dan Willis holds a box with cash that he gives to lucky worshipers at his services. (Tribune photo by Zbigniew Bzdak / October 28, 2009)



Lolly Bowean

Chicago Tribune reporter

November 2, 2009 


At Lighthouse Church of All Nations in Alsip, the congregation can get more than just prayer at the Sunday worship services.

If a lucky -- or "blessed and highly favored" -- churchgoer is in the right seat, they can also receive a cash prize.

At each of the three Sunday services, the Rev. Dan Willis pulls a number of one seat from a bag and the worshiper in that seat wins a cash prize. Two of the churchgoers win $250 and the third gets $500. The church gives away $1,000 each Sunday, Willis said.

The cash prize is part of Willis' recent focus on helping his congregation pay bills and begin a debt-free life, he said.

"We've had soooo many of our people displaced from jobs, facing foreclosure," he said. "When people's faith was high, their debt was down. When their faith was down, their debt was high. I realized the two are connected."

Willis concedes the cash prize is a gimmick to fill the pews. But he's unapologetic about the plan, because it's working. On a typical Sunday, his church draws about 1,600 people to its three Sunday services. But since the money giveaway started, about five weeks ago, the congregation has grown to about 2,500 each week, he said. The money for the giveaway comes from the church offering. Lighthouse is a non-denominational church.

"If I can get someone in here and teach them and give them money, that's what I'm going to do," he said.

As part of the lessons, Willis set up a shredder near the pulpit to encourage church members to shred their credit cards and commit to stop spending. He talks about budgeting, tackling past-due bills and saving. He encourages the prize winners to use the money to pay down their bills, rather than splurge on new items. One Sunday, he gave away 15 savings accounts with $25 already in them. And he had bank representatives at the service so church members could set up accounts.

"The Bible says even an ant stores up in the summer so it can live in the winter," Willis said. "Even an ant can teach us. Even an ant knows how to save. We, with intellect, don't know how to do it. When people see that in Scripture, it takes on a whole different level."

Monday, November 2, 2009


All Cell Phone Numbers Released To Telemarketers Next Month

Cell Phone Numbers Go Public Next Month.


All cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will receive sales calls.


To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone:


           888-382-1222                  888-382-1222

It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. 

  You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. 

You cannot call from a different phone number.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Rev Al Sharpton's ex-wife and daughter arrested

Al Sharpton's ex-wife and daughter get disorderly conduct tickets after dispute over red light

Ryan Mclendon, Wil Cruz and Joe Kemp


Saturday, October 31st 2009, 7:41 PM


Kathy Jordan and her now ex-husband, the Reverend Al Sharpton. Dabin for NewsKathy Jordan and her now ex-husband, the Reverend Al Sharpton. Al Sharpton with his daughter Dominique. Corkery/NewsAl Sharpton with his daughter Dominique.

The Rev. Al Sharpton's ex-wife and oldest daughter were arrested in Manhattan on Friday night for resisting arrest after speeding past a patrol car and through a red light, sources said.

Kathy Jordan, 53, and her daughter, Dominique, 23, were pulled over around 7:30 p.m. for ripping through the light at Eighth Ave. in Harlem, sources said.

As officers attempted to issue the two women a summons for the traffic violation, things got heated, sources said.

The pair became belligerent toward the cops, arguing that they were only trying to get around the squad car that was driving too slow, sources said.

Dominique, who was driving, argued against the summons and she and her mom were collared for disorderly conduct and obstruction of governmental administration, sources said.

The mother and daughter were issued desk appearance tickets and allowed to go home.

"How what was apparently a minor traffic dispute ended up with two arrests with desk appearance tickets is highly questionable and unusual," said Rev. Sharpton's lawyer, Michael A. Hardy.

"Reverend Sharpton has been made aware of the details of the matter and will aggressively support his daughter and her mother, despite their announced change of marital status in 2003," Hardy said.

The couple met when Jordan was a back-up singer for James Brown.

They married in 1980 and divorced after 23 years together.

They have two adult children, Dominique and Ashley, 22.

Dominique works for her father's National Action Network based in Harlem. 

Read more:

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Rush Limbaugh: Obama is 'in over his head'

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Limbaugh: Obama is 'in over his head'

Steven R. Hurst



From his home and on a friendly network, Rush Limbaugh lobbed potshots across the airwaves Sunday at President Obama -- "immature, inexperienced, in over his head," offering the country "radical leadership" and laying siege to the economy.

"We'll let Mr. Limbaugh foment," responded the White House's chief political strategist, dismissing the conservative commentator with the reported $400 million contract ("I'm probably worth more," Mr. Limbaugh said) as no more than an entertainer and not really the right guy to give "lectures on humility."

The banter began on the hourlong "Fox News Sunday," Mr. Limbaugh the lone guest, interviewed from his home in Palm Beach, Fla., on a network the Obama administration has labeled as the voice of the far-right wing of the Republican Party. Obama adviser David Axelrod swung away later in the morning from Chicago on CBS' "Face the Nation."

One question in, Mr. Limbaugh said that his country had "never seen this kind of radical leadership at such a high level of power," that "I have to think" the administration is bent on destroying the private sector on purpose, amounting to "a denial of liberty, an attack on freedom."

He said Mr. Obama's swift rise to the White House after "a five-minute career" makes him a "man-child president."

"I think he's got an out-of-this-world ego. He's very narcissistic, and he's able to focus all attention on him all the time. That description is simply a way to cut through the noise and say he's immature, inexperienced, in over his head," Mr. Limbaugh said.

Mr. Axelrod, one of two guests on the 30-minute CBS broadcast, weighed in with cutting comments of his own.

"I think it's a surreal day when you're getting lectures on humility from Rush Limbaugh. . . . The fact is that he is an entertainer. The president has to run the country," Mr. Axelrod said.

"We walked into a difficult situation. I think he's handling it very, very well, and most people believe that," he added.

Mr. Limbaugh belittled Mr. Obama's surprise, middle-of-the-night trip last week to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to observe the return of 18 flag-covered cases holding the remains of Americans killed in Afghanistan. "It was a photo op" designed to "create the impression that he has all of this great concern," Mr. Limbaugh contended.

Mr. Axelrod said Mr. Obama went to Dover "to represent the American people and pay his respects to the families who had made so much of a sacrifice, to those brave service people who made the ultimate sacrifice. It was the appropriate thing to do, and I think most Americans appreciate that."

As Mr. Limbaugh predicted that a second Obama term "would be painful," Mr. Axelrod got the final word.

"There's no surprise that Rush Limbaugh espouses the views that he espouses. He does it every day on radio. He's marketing the outrageous, and he does very well with it. But as I said, he's an entertainer. We've got bigger responsibilities."


Sunday, November 1, 2009


Man, 112, weds girl, 17

Somali man, '112', weds girl, 17

Ahmed Muhamed Dore and his new wife Safia Abdulleh The couple posed for photos at the wedding celebrations

Hundreds of people have attended a wedding in central Somalia between a man who says he is 112 years old, and his teenage wife.

last updated at 16:45 GMT, Thursday, 29 October 2009



Ahmed Muhamed Dore - who already has 13 children by five wives - said he would like to have more with his new wife, Safia Abdulleh, who is 17 years old.

"Today God helped me realise my dream," Mr Dore said, after the wedding in the region of Galguduud.

The bride's family said she was "happy with her new husband".

Mr Dore said he and his bride - who is young enough to be his great-great-grand-daughter - were from the same village in Somalia and that he had waited for her to grow up to propose.

"I didn't force her, but used my experience to convince her of my love; and then we agreed to marry," the groom said.

Goat-skin documents

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says the marriage, in the town of Guriceel, is being described by Somali historians as the first of its kind in the Horn of Africa nation for more than a century.



Our reporter says reaction to news of the marriage has been mixed.

Some people said while it was allowed under Islamic law, they were concerned about the age gap, but others were happy that age was not a barrier to love.

Mr Dore told the BBC he was born in Dhusamareeb in central Somalia in 1897 - and has a traditional birth certificate, written on goat skin by his father.

Our correspondent says he has an interesting history - in 1941 he joined the British colonial forces as a soldier for 10 years and then served as a police officer after Somalia won independence in 1960.

Altogether, Mr Dore has 114 children and grandchildren. His oldest son is 80 years old and three of his wives have died.

He says he hopes his new bride will give him more children.

"It is a blessing to have someone you love to take care of you," he said.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


6'11' one-armed basketball player has a killer dunk

6'11' one-armed hoopster Kevin Laue aims to inspire, motivate far beyond Manhattan College campus

Oren Yaniv


Sunday, November 1st 2009, 4:00 AM


Kevin Laue dunking the ball in practice.  Pokress for News  Kevin Laue dunking the ball in practice. Kevin Laue was born with a partial left arm and plays basketball for Manhattan College.

Pokress for NewsKevin Laue was born with a partial left arm and plays basketball for Manhattan College.

Manhattan College basketball player Kevin Laue has a killer one-handed dunk.

And he couldn't have it any other way.

The freshman center - at 6'11", he's the tallest player on the team - was born without a left arm below his elbow. He overcame his disability, and the rejection of all but one coach, to earn a Division I basketball scholarship.

"I'm having the time of my life," said the 19-year-old Laue.

"I can't wait for the first game," he said before a recent practice at the college's Riverdale campus, where the Jaspers are getting ready to tip off the season in two weeks.

Laue catches and rebounds using his stunted arm for support, then grabs the ball with his oversized palm to pass or shoot.

"He has to overcompensate with heart and hustle for the things that he lacks," said Manhattan coach Barry Rohrssen.

Laue was born with a tangled umbilical cord that lashed his left arm to his neck, constricting development.

But while his arm never grew, the rest of his body sure did.

Towering above his peers, Laue took up basketball in eighth grade and became a star at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Calif.

"It's a two-handed sport, so it was challenging at first," Laue said matter-of-factly.

His game steadily improved, but he broke his leg senior year, all-but-evaporating his chances of a college scholarship. Still determined, he enrolled in Virginia's Fork Union Military Academy the next year.

"He has basketball ability," said Fork Union coach Fletcher Arritt. "Plus, he offered something else - he's inspirational."

Still, the year ended without any Division I offers.

"You get scared," recalled Laue, who was told that powerhouses like UCLA or Kansas would have pursued him if he had two hands. "Nobody stepped up."

Enter coach Rohrssen.

Plenty of other kids get opportunities despite low grades, poor sportsmanship or trouble-making off the court, Rohrssen said.

"Kevin did things the right way, and he deserves a chance."

Rohrssen, a Brooklyn native who is starting his fourth year as head coach, took a risk and spent a precious scholarship on a one-handed hoopster.

The criticism was swift and cruel. He was told he was committing career suicide and mocked for being unable to find any athletes with two hands. Some remarks were "callous and ruthless," Rohrssen said.

A confident Laue offered a different take. "I was more of a steal as a recruit," he said. "I think he saw that."

The often-smiling redhead betrayed a hint of resentment toward those who focused on his stunted arm and failed to give him a shot.

"It definitely makes you want to prove them wrong," he said. "Try harder."

The Manhattan Jaspers, who finished fourth last year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, start the season Nov. 14.

As a freshman, Laue "will have to earn his minutes" on the court, Rohrssen said.

Having fulfilled his goal, Laue is already earning so much.

He's been getting countless messages, many from people with similar conditions who use his story to motivate themselves.

Playing in high-profile New York, he embraces the opportunity to get the message out. "It goes hand-in-hand with inspiring them, hearing their stories, helping each other out," Laue said.


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Sunday, November 1, 2009


America's 2-to-5 year olds spend 32 hours a week watching TV

America's 2-to-5 year olds spend a whopping 32 hours per week watching TV

Rosemary Black


Friday, October 30th 2009, 2:23 PM




America's couch potatoes in training – its 2- to 5-year olds – spend nearly as much time watching TV as their parents spend at work, according to new research. Preschoolers log more than 32 hours of tube time each week, according to a study by the Nielsen Co.

"Parents depend on the TV as a way to get things done, but when you let your kids watch TV constantly, then they don't know how to do anything except watch TV," says Mike Mosiman, co-author, with his wife, Renee, of "The Smarter Preschooler: Unlocking Your Child's Intellectual Potential." "And the kids who are the most addicted to the TV tend to get bored easily when the TV is off."

If you're thinking of switching off the electronic baby-sitter and getting those bored little tube addicts engrossed in actual play, it may be easier than you think. While you're at it, if you have older children as well, take note of their viewing habits. That same Nielsen study found that 6- to 11-year-olds watch a little less (28 hours a week), but that's because they have to interrupt their tube time to attend school.

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to keep a small child entertained? "Audio tapes actually improve kids' attention," says Renee Mosiman. "Stock up on preschool songs that your child can listen to regularly. These tapes also help kids develop imagination, since they have to imagine the characters and settings as opposed to having it shown to him or her on the TV screen."

Get your kid involved in hands-on music, too: Buy shakers, drums, even toy pianos. "They are great for developing an interest in music," Renee Mosiman says.

At the toy store, skip the electronic toys with loads of bells and whistles, and look for "role-playing" toys – play foods, kitchenware, doctor kits, cash registers, even old Halloween costumes or superhero outfits. "They help kids develop imagination and problem-solving skills," says Renee, who's also a family therapist.

And get your child into the kitchen when you're cooking, says Carol Tuttle, a parenting expert and author of "It's Just My Nature!"

While you whip up supper, let him make super-simple snacks like "ants on a log," which is nothing more than celery sticks spread with peanut butter and topped with raisins. Bake cookies together and give some away to neighbors.

"Cooking has math and literacy skills combined," explains Kathleen Hayes, editor of Highlights High Five magazine. "Plus, kids get to make a mess."

When you have some time to spend with a child who's bored, let him choose the activity, Tuttle says. Play "grab bag" by writing down a bunch of fun activities, putting them into a paper bag and letting your child draw one slip to figure out what you'll do together.

Crafts don't have to cost a lot of money, says Suzy Martyn, author of "Enjoy the Ride: Tools, Tips and Inspiration for the Most Common Parenting Challenges." "Make personalized placemats for dinner," she says. "Trace their hands on a piece of paper and let them color it. Collect leaves and sticks on a nature walk and let them make a craft with it."

Playing dress-up is a cheap form of entertainment, too. Give your child old clothes – hats, blouses, mittens, plastic jewelry – and they'll be endlessly entertained.

Last but not least – and this is a tough one – set a good example by cutting down on your own TV time. If you can't imagine not watching "Mad Men" and "Grey's Anatomy," record them and watch them when your child's asleep. Unless by that point you're so exhausted from playing that you'd rather go to sleep yourself.


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