Atlanta Business News 8:16 a.m. Sunday, January 31, 2010
Bank leaves trail of flipping, fraud
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta’s downtrodden neighborhoods proved a gold mine for Omni National Bank and its founders, who amassed tens of millions of dollars’ worth of mansions, company stock and a private jet after launching an unusual bank that financed renovations of inner-city houses.
LINK TO VIDEO OF HELL HOLE:http://www.ajc.com/video?bcpid=1659825399&bclid=1717763711&bctid=64280468001
But the only thing growing at Omni these days is the list of casualties racked up since the bank’s failure 10 months ago.
Hundreds of homes that should have been improved instead sit vacant and crumbling. Though most depositors weren’t hurt, the bank’s demise has cost the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s insurance fund an estimated $289 million and wiped out shareholders who owned about half the company, once valued at about $100 million.
Meanwhile, the number of Omni-related arrests has reached four, including the bank’s co-founder, Jeffrey L. Levine, who pleaded guilty to bank fraud two weeks ago.
The story of Omni’s rapid rise and sordid fall goes far beyond the usual tale of woe at Georgia’s many failed banks, where risky loans blew up when the real estate bubble burst. More people may be charged in the wide-ranging probe of Omni, and the charges already filed suggest fraud pervaded the bank’s operation.
Federal prosecutors said in court filings that bank records, for instance, were routinely doctored to hide losses, and a loan officer took kickbacks in return for doling out loans. The bank allowed people to “flip” houses three, four and even five times, artificially inflating their value, prosecutors said.
Omni also has been linked to at least two large mortgage fraud operations uncovered by regulators, one involving an ex-con who stole multiple identities and another by a Lithonia man who falsified the income and employment records of borrowers he steered to Atlanta-based Omni.
An attorney for Omni’s co-founder and former chief executive, Stephen Klein, says he is not a target of the investigation; federal investigators won’t say.
A federal audit indicates that even as Omni’s leadership was enriched by the bank’s rapid growth, it masked the institution’s shaky foundation by hiding foreclosures, using flawed appraisals and lending to questionable borrowers, including a convict who got a loan just days after his release from prison — for mortgage fraud.
Through their attorneys, Levine and Klein declined to be interviewed.
Levine “admitted his wrongdoing quite some time ago to the government and has been cooperating with the government’s investigation of Omni since that time,” said his attorney, Jack Williams. Levine, who pleaded guilty to falsifying the bank’s books, faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine as much as $1 million.
Said Klein’s attorney, Craig Gillen: “Mr. Klein was cooperating fully with the investigation and was perceived as a witness.”
From lenders to bank
This wasn’t how things were supposed to turn out when, in the early 1990s, the two men launched a private loan business that eventually became Omni National Bank.
Klein had been director of a Michigan bank and had owned an insurance and real estate investment business. In 1992, he partnered with Levine, a real estate lawyer, to start a firm that made short-term loans of $20,000 or so to inner-city home renovators who didn’t have easy access to loans from traditional banks.
The company made big profits bankrolling the rehabilitation of derelict homes and declining neighborhoods — sometimes making loans with hefty upfront fees and interest rates exceeding 18 percent.
“Our borrowers were more than glad to pay that, because there was no other source of funding available to them,” Klein told a group of investors in 2007, according to a transcript on investor Web site SeekingAlpha.com .
Starting in 2000, Omni expanded rapidly. It acquired a collection of banks, which allowed it to tap a new, cheap source of funds: bank customers’ deposits, which were FDIC-insured — “backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government,” as the FDIC’s motto goes.
Omni’s growth continued. Fueled by deposits that reached $797 million by the time it failed, Omni’s assets grew more than ninefold between 2001 and 2009, to $956 million.
Meanwhile, it spread out from its southeastern base, adding bank branches or loan offices in Chicago, Birmingham, Philadelphia and Dallas. Omni’s reported profits soared, rising from $685,000 in 2002 to $9.3 million in 2006.
But much of those profits turned out to be a mirage. Like many of Georgia’s hundreds of small banks, Omni was swept up in the real estate boom in metro Atlanta and other cities, making a growing pile of loans that were based on seemingly ever-rising property values.
By 2007, rehab and other commercial real estate loans totaled $488 million — 75 percent of Omni’s loans.
When the real estate market crashed later that year, the loans quickly soured and the bank eventually failed.
That’s a story common to many of the 32 Georgia banks that have failed in the past 17 months. But the federal probe and interviews with those familiar with the bank reveal a darker tale at Omni.
A magnet for flippers
For years, Omni was a magnet for so-called property flippers, some of whom do superficial repairs and resell homes at inflated prices. Often, a scammer recruits straw buyers to obtain fraudulent loans.
The scammers obtain ever-bigger mortgages through a series of fraudulent sales transactions, often in collusion with appraisers, loan officers and real estate attorneys who lie about home values and the borrower’s income in loan documents. They then keep the proceeds from the home sales at inflated prices but often don’t repay some of the loans.
A number of such schemes, say federal investigators, were run by a Lithonia man, Delroy Davy, who ran a one-stop shop for wannabe house flippers in metro Atlanta that promised a road map to riches.
For hefty fees reaching $30,000, Davy offered access to bargain-priced properties and a team of expert renovators, and even found Section 8 renters to cover short-term expenses.
Davy now sits in federal custody on charges that he defrauded many of his customers as well as the banks that financed the deals, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Atlanta. His go-to lender in many cases: Omni National Bank.
Perhaps the most explosive allegation among the charges: Davy paid kickbacks to an unnamed loan officer at Omni who gave approval for funding to investors who wanted to buy Davy-owned properties.
Ralph Roberts, a Michigan-based author of how-to books on real estate investing who runs a flippers Web site, said people across the country told him they were victims of the scheme. Some said they were chauffeured around Atlanta on a tour that included a stop at his sprawling mansion.
“Everyone I talked to lost everything they put in,” said Roberts. “It wasn’t set up to make [them] money. It was set up to make Delroy Davy money.”
‘Most egregious’ lender
In another flipping case, an East Point man, Mark Anthony McBride, pleaded guilty to falsifying his identity and using straw borrowers to obtain millions in loans from Omni and other banks.
Amazingly, he began working on the scheme in 2006 while still in prison for mortgage fraud, collecting his first Omni loan only days after his release.
Such schemes have worsened the damage in some of Atlanta’s struggling neighborhoods, said Brent Brewer, a civil engineer turned neighborhood activist. Several houses flipped with Omni financing have driven up property taxes in his West End neighborhood, he said. Yet the homes mostly sit vacant, attracting criminals and squatters.
Omni is “the most egregious of the lenders because they’re local. They can ... see if the appraisals are correct,” he said.
Brewer said Omni repossessed, sold and financed one house near him three separate times, even though for much of that time it sat vacant and windowless, with huge sections of its exterior walls torn away. (See accompanying story.)
Property records confirm Omni took possession and resold the house three times in two years at rising values — following a pattern that allowed the bank to hide its growing number of foreclosures, federal auditors said.
The audit said Omni often sold and refinanced foreclosed properties before month’s end to keep them off monthly reports. Omni CEO Klein later halted the foreclosure sales when falling prices would have forced the bank to book more losses, the audit said.
Success brings spoils
While all this was happening, the fortunes of Omni’s founders were soaring.
In 2002, Levine bought a riverfront home in Sandy Springs for $1 million, according to Fulton County tax records. A year later, Klein and his wife built an 8,398-square-foot home downriver worth $1.7 million, according to tax records. Meanwhile, a condominium they had bought in Fernandina Beach, Fla., in 2000 they later sold for $2.1 million, according to Nassau County records.
Klein, a private pilot, also sold his Cessna jet to Omni for $2.6 million in 2004. Despite the sale, Klein retained use of the jet for up to 40 hours a year as an executive perk.
In 2006, Klein and Levine decided in 2006 to take Omni public, selling $33 million worth of stock to investors.
At one point, the deal valued Klein’s 30 percent stake at $32 million and Levine’s 11 percent stake at almost $12 million. The pair were also the highest-paid employees at Omni. Klein’s salary, stock and other compensation in 2006 was $597,199; Levine’s was $521,997.
Then in 2007, the real estate market collapsed. Soon, Omni was awash in foreclosures, setting off a chain of events that led to criminal conduct as the bank tried to cover up losses and turn money-losing loans into earning assets.
Bad debts come to light
Omni tried to mask its growing pile of foreclosed properties from banking regulators and investors, according to the Treasury Department audit.
Many foreclosed properties were “sold with new Omni-financed redevelopment loans within the same month” so Omni could avoid reporting the foreclosed properties on monthly reports, auditors said. “In some cases, properties were foreclosed and sold multiple times for higher amounts to avoid losses and mask the bank’s condition.”
A sampling of property records for some of Omni’s largest home loans in Fulton County bears out that pattern.
Of the top dozen Omni deals ranging from $226,500 to $500,000, about half showed signs of being involved in flipping schemes. Often, Omni financed the deals two or three times at rising prices. In some cases, their values ballooned more than 100 percent.
Indeed, Omni recycled bad loans on 169 foreclosed properties with $25 million worth of new loans during a 12-month period in 2006 and 2007, the audit shows. Those loans accounted for about one-sixth of its redevelopment loans.
Auditors criticized Omni’s primary regulator, the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, for not catching the bank’s lending practices and other problems until late 2007. Even then, the OCC took almost a year to take formal enforcement action, in October 2008, though a new examiner had found “severe management and control deficiencies,” according to the audit.
The OCC agreed that its supervision came up short, but disagreed that it took too long to take formal action because Omni had already shut down its redevelopment lending.
Indeed, with property values crashing in 2008, Omni could no longer sell foreclosed properties with new loans big enough to cover the old ones.
But according to the audit, the bank’s CEO still tried to avoid reporting losses. Klein “directed bank managers to refrain from selling foreclosed properties at discounted prices because it would force the bank to recognize significant losses,” according to the audit.
Auditors said Omni also violated banking rules by inflating the value of foreclosures on its books and telling appraisers to come up with inflated property values to support new loans.
In summer 2008, regulators ordered the bank to write off a third of the value of its foreclosed properties. Within seven months, Omni was shut down.
“This case demonstrates the damage that can result when senior bank officials ignore rules and regulations designed to protect a bank,” acting U.S. Attorney Sally Quillan Yates said when announcing Levine’s guilty plea.
How we got the story
After a key former executive and the bank’s second-largest shareholder pleaded guilty two weeks ago to fraudulently hiding its financial condition, we decided to take a deeper look at Omni National Bank, which failed last March. We interviewed officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, lawyers for people involved in the investigation and the banking industry, and people in the neighborhoods affected by alleged property-flipping schemes that were financed by Omni. We also reviewed property records and a federal audit conducted after Omni failed, as well as court documents and indictments related to federal investigators’ probe into the bank and various mortgage fraud schemes connected to the bank.
|Posted: Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 - 08:40:44 am CST
Grandma charged with drugging babyNews Tribune staff and sources
A Jefferson City woman has been charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly feeding a blood thinner to a 1-year-old girl.
According to court documents, Terri Chilton, 41, 720 Route T, committed the crime on Jan. 12.
A police department probable cause statement shows Chilton is the maternal grandmother of the victim.
Between Dec. 28, 2009, and Jan. 12, Chilton engaged in a series of attempted deceptions to make the parents believe the baby had ingested a rodent poison, with the active ingredient being a blood thinner.
Chilton did this in hopes of having the child's parents, who are in the process of divorcing, getting back together because they had a sick child.
Web site domain king GoDaddy.com says this ad about an effeminate former football player has been rejected by CBS to air during the Super Bowl.
Rollover leads to large drug bust
Updated: Saturday, 30 Jan 2010, 11:18 PM MST
Published : Saturday, 30 Jan 2010, 11:18 PM MST
TUCUMCARI, N.M. (KRQE) - A man stashing a cash crop rolled his car Saturday and now he's got bigger troubles than a wrecked car.
New Mexico State Police patrolling Interstate 40 near Tucumcari Saturday morning responded to an accident call.
Henry Alan, 40, of El Paso lost control of his sedan and crashed into a snow pile along the interstate.
Officers noticed tracks leading back and forth from the trunk of the rolled car.
They discovered 238 pound of marijuana in large plastic-wrapped bundles. The street value of the pot is around $643,000.
Lowe was treated for a gash to the head. Then police arrested him and booked him into the Quay County Detention Center.
LINK TO VIDEO:
THE NOVACK FAMILY
Troubled Novack son goes from drifter to millionaire
In another twist to a famous family's history, a troubled son has inherited millions from his mother.
A little more than a year ago, a homeless drifter named Ronald Marc Novack surfaced to claim a $100,000 inheritance from the estate of his late mother, Bella Novack.
It was a curious rags to riches story: the long lost 62-year-old man who spent most of his adult life living in the woods could now eat a handsome meal and sleep in his own bed.
What wasn't known at the time was that his mother's estate wasn't worth $100,000; it was worth millions -- and he was the sole heir.
He also carried a secret: He was the adopted son of Bella and the late Ben Novack Sr., who built and ran a number of hotels in Miami Beach, including the storied Fontainebleau resort.
His father and mother went through a bitter divorce. Ben Novack Sr. was having an affair with a model, Bernice, whom he later married, and together, had a son, Ben Novack Jr., in 1959.
Ben Novack Sr. had very little to do with his adopted son after the divorce. And when he died in 1985, he left the bulk of his estate to his biological son and, in a codicil, willed Ronald Novack just $1.
The Novack sons would live very different lives -- one would fall into mental illness and eventually wander the streets, panhandling; the other enjoyed all the spoils of rich and famous parents: private schools, elaborate parties, exotic vacations, chauffeur-driven limousines.
Until last July, when tragedy befell part of the Novack family. Novack Jr. turned up dead in a New York hotel room leaving police to sort out the murder and family members to fight over his multimillion-dollar estate.
In the meantime, Novack's disowned son surfaced to collect his mother's inheritance -- eight years after her death.
And in a twist of fate, Ronald Novack would end up with something from his father that was far more valueable than the $1 he had left him.
TALE OF 2 BROTHERSThe probate file in the Broward County Courthouse is now four inches thick -- its contents filled with accusations of infidelity, theft and murder.
It's labeled simply: ``Ben Novack Jr.''
Novack Jr., a self-made multimillionaire, was found beaten to death July 12 in what appears to have been a hit.
Now, a legal fist-a-cuffs battle between his wife and other family members wages on as the file is stuffed almost daily with depositions, interrogatories and court orders.
A probate trial on his estate is set to start Monday.
Novack Jr.'s wife, Narcy -- a prime suspect in his murder -- is fighting off attempts by her daughter and her husband's aunt to block her from being named personal representative of the will on the grounds that she committed the murder. But no one has been charged in the crime, and until that is settled, the estate has been placed in the hands of a curator, Fort Lauderdale lawyer Douglas Hoffman.
But the will of another member of the Novack dynasty has also been under scrutiny in the county's probate division -- that of Bella Novack -- who died in 2001.
Turns out that as part of her divorce settlement, Bella Novack received a 1.5-acre piece of land at 3101 Collins Ave., which was once the former Sans Souci Hotel.
By the time of his death, Ben Novack Sr., had lost all his hotels and had very little left of his fortune. His relationship with his biological son was strained for many years and, prior to his father's death, Ben Jr. tried to have his father declared mentally incompetent.
But Bella Novack held onto the Miami Beach property, collecting about $30,000 annually after taxes for the leased building.
After she died, the estate fell into the hands of a trustee -- a cousin and Oregon musician Craig Einhorn-- who was assigned to disburse the estate in installments to Ronald Novack.
Einhorn and his family began looking for Ronald Novack in 1999, hiring private investigators and using other sources, all of them unsuccessful. Ronald Novack worked for a time as a desk clerk at the Fontainebleau, but vanished off and on, sometimes showing up at his mother's Fort Lauderdale doorstep when he needed money.
Life on the streets meant hand-outs, food stamps and sleeping in cars.
Finally, believing Ronald Novack was dead, Einhorn moved to terminate Novack's interests in 2008.
``We looked for him for years. We thought he fell into a ditch and was eaten by an alligator,'' said Einhorn, 44.
But two days before a judge was to declare him dead, Ronald Novack surfaced at the Broward County Courthouse and walked up to a stranger, telling him about the inheritance.
The stranger, lawyer Richard Ansara, had doubts, but promised to look into it. But by the time Ansara confirmed that Novack was entitled to money from his mother's will, the drifter had disappeared again.
Ansara went public with the story of the missing homeless heir, and a few days later, on Aug. 7, 2008, Novack came forward.
He never revealed that he was part of the famous Novack family, saying that his father ``Benjamin'' was ``a landlord'' who died in the 1970s. He admitted that he had a record of petty theft, mostly related to his homelessness.
``Please be advised that I, Ronald Marc Novack, is alive and well,'' Novack wrote the judge overseeing his mother's estate after he surfaced.
Ansara tried unsuccessfully to show that Einhorn was trying to prevent his cousin from collecting the estate.
The estate has since been settled with no dispute, and Ronald Novack is being well taken care of, said Einhorn's lawyer, Douglas Hoffman -- the same lawyer in charge of Ben Novack Jr.'s estate.
``Bella's will is not being contested,'' Hoffman said. ``Ronnie is a very troubled young man. There is a trust for his benefit. He receives all the benefits and more from the assets.''
RAGS TO RICHESTurns out that Ronald Novack, once a pauper, is now prosperous. Einhorn sold the Collins Avenue property for $7.5 million and has invested the money so that his cousin will live out the rest of his life comfortably.
Einhorn said he got a good deal for the land, considering it was sold after the real estate bust and that the hotel on the property has a 99-year lease. Private appraisers valued the property at only $1.5 million, he said.
Concerned that Novack would misspend the money, his mother created a trust, allocating her son $400 a week and $5,000 more a year on the anniversary of her death. His healthcare and any emergency provisions are to be covered by the trust.
Einhorn said Novack has received far more than his mother decreed in her will, and that he is living well -- though Einhorn won't say where.
The Miami Herald was unsuccessful in reaching Ronald Novack's new attorney, Adrian Thomas, or his former attorney, Richard Ansara.
As for the sale of the property, Einhorn said that the rent for the estate -- after taxes -- wasn't worth keeping the property because it was fixed at the same amount since it was leased more than seven decades ago.
``The appraisal takes into consideration the lease which is binding on the property. The land apart from that lease I'm sure was worth a lot more,'' Einhorn said.
Other than the costs of administering the trust, he said he hasn't made a penny.
Einhorn said he was keeping his cousin's location secret because he wants to protect him.
``I feel any articles written about my cousin, Ronnie, is not in his best interest,'' Einhorn said. ``Because he lives a transient lifestyle, any information that gets published might make people go out and take advantage of him.''
Craig's mother, who was close to Bella, said they are happy that Ronald Novack is now safe.
``Here is someone who could have had everything and he was living on the streets,'' said Leah Einhorn, who is related to the family by marriage.
She said his mother tried her best to care for her son, but he refused to take medication.
``Mental illness is such a tragedy. It's so sad, because if he took the medication, he could have had a wonderful life.''
LINK TO PHOTOS AND RELATED STORIES:
They may be rivals, but President Obama (l.) and newly elected Mass. Sen. Scott Brown are tenth cousins, according to a genealogical society.
President Obama's failed bid to derail the candidacy of newly elected Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown wasn't just politics - it was a family feud.
It turns out that Obama and the rising Republican star are 10th cousins, the New England Historic Genealogical Society says.
"The President's reaction is that Sen. Brown clearly comes from the better-looking branch of the family," White House spokesman Bill Burton said Friday when told of the finding.
Brown, who once posed in the pages of Cosmo, was also complimentary after learning earlier that he and Obama were kin.
"I'm glad to be in such distinguished company," Brown said.
Don't expect a family reunion anytime soon. Brown's unexpected victory - over the Democrat that Obama had been backing to win the seat that the late Sen. Ted Kennedy held for a half-century - derailed the president's plans to push through health care reform.
Obama's late mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, and Brown's mother, Judith Ann Rugg, both descend from Richard Singletary of Haverhill, Mass., who died in 1687 at the remarkably ripe age of 102.
"I think it's a really interesting thing, where you have the separation between a Democrat and a Republican, but you have one link," said geneologist David Allen Lambert, who helped make the connection.
But Brown is not the only Republican in Obama's ancestral closet.
Two years ago, the society discovered that Obama was also distantly related to presidents George H.W. Bush, his son, George W. Bush, and Gerald Ford - all Republicans.
He's also related to president James Madison, who was a Democrat-Republican.
Obama can also claim as kin former Democratic presidents Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman - and actor Brad Pitt.
January 29, 2010
Shoe theft suspect arrested
Police in Delaware announced Friday night that they have arrested a man in connection with a spree of burglaries over the past two decades in which thousands of pairs of men's shoes and photos of men were stolen.
The break in the case came after a passerby spotted three duffel bags of shoes left in a Maryland creek near the Delaware line and reported seeing a person drive off in a yellow Mitubishi Eclipse, according to authorities.
Police said the suspect, from Delaware, mainly targeted student housing in the off-campus area of the University of Delaware, striking during breaks such as Christmas and Easter.
Police said the searched the man's home and seized 150 boxes of shoes and photograhs, photos taken from a college fraternity, eight guitars, one mandolin, eight snowboards, a surfboard and sports equipment, all linked to burglaries.
Authoritie also said they confirmed that the shoes found in the Maryland creek were from the burglaries, which they said span a period of 20 years.
Walter J. Rubincon, 46, of Newark, has been charged with 25 counts of burglary, 77 counts of theft and 15 counts of criminal mischief.
Here's a statement from police in Newark, Delaware:
SUBJECT: Shoe Burglar In Custody
The Newark Police Department announces the arrest of the “Shoe Burglar”. Working from the description of the yellow Mitsubishi Eclipse provided by a witness, the investigator was able to connect the defendant to numerous burglaries and thefts involving men’s shoes and photographs of men.
Three truckloads of stolen property were recovered from the defendant’s house. The property includes approximately 150 boxes of shoes and photographs. A count has not yet been conducted, but it is a safe estimate that the boxes contain several thousand shoes. Several fraternity composite pictures were also seized. The remaining recovered items include eight guitars, one mandolin, eight snowboards, a surfboard, and sports equipment that were also stolen during the burglaries. It has been confirmed that the shoes recovered last week from the Little Elk Creek in Cecil County, MD were part of the shoe burglar’s stash. The investigation revealed that the defendant has been stealing shoes in and around Newark for about 20 years.
January 28, 2010 12:06 am
Deputies honed in on two suspects after monitoring a jail phone call.
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
AP / January 28, 2010
This photo provided by the Pubelo County Detention Center shows Felisha Trujillo, who Pueblo County authorities say tried, with her boyfriend, to get narcotics into jail, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 through a courtroom exchange at her own sentencing hearing. (AP Photo/Pubelo County Detention Center)
Scott, 30, who is legally married to Thomas because he still has a female birth certificate, says he is eagerly looking forward to giving birth.
They have decided to call the child ‘Miles’.
‘We know some people will criticise us but we are blissfully happy and not ashamed,’ Scott said.
The couple, from California, already have two children - Gregg, 12, and Logan, 10 - who Thomas had with a previous female partner.
The case is similar to that of Thomas Beatie, from Oregon, who made headlines around the world in 2008 when he gave birth to a girl.
Scott, who started out in life as a girl named Jessica, first realised he wanted to be a man when he hit puberty aged 11.
‘When I told my family they thought I was crazy but they gradually realised I was serious and allowed me to start taking male hormones when I was 16 years old,’ he said.
His parents paid $4,600 for Scott to have his 36DDD chest removed. However, he could not afford the gender surgery, so still has female organs.
Thomas, who used to be called Laura, had a hysterectomy and gender reassignment surgery last year.
'Not ashamed': Scott and Thomas posted photos of themselves online. They have been together since 2007 after meeting at a support group for transgender men
They met in 2005 at a support group meeting for transgender men but lost touch – but saw each other again in 2007.
‘We knew we had to be together,’ Scott said. ‘Two months later I gave up my job to live with Thomas and the boys.
‘Now they call me “dad two”.’The couple, who live in a four-bedroom house, decided in December 2008 to try for a baby.
Scott was inseminated with the sperm of a male friend and fell pregnant in June 2009.
‘We were so happy we did what all gay men do when they get excited - we went shopping,’ Thomas said.
'Two dads': Scott and Thomas with Gregg and Logan at their home in California. Thomas had the boys with a previous female partner who died
The couple have dismissed concerns that Miles might be teased at school, saying they are confident they can deal with it.
‘We've been through it already,’ Thomas said.
‘My son Logan was bullied but now he just says to teasers: “You may have a problem with my two dads but I don't so you're not hurting me”.’
Scott plans to have a natural birth at their local hospital. Their doctor and obstetrician have told the medics at the local hospital.
‘We didn't want everyone to be shocked when a man turns up to give birth,’ Scott said.‘We found it very difficult to get a doctor and midwife at first. It was hard when people didn't want to treat me.
‘No pregnant person should be denied healthcare just because they are a man.’
But he added: ‘I'm looking forward to giving birth now. With Thomas at my side everything will be just fine.’
Thomas said: ‘We want to show the world that trans-families can be healthy, loving and nurturing.’
LINK TO PHOTOS OF NEW BABY AND FAMILY:
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1246153/Second-pregnant-man-Scott-Moore-birth-baby-boy-month.html#ixzz0e3hGRaY3
LINK TO STORIES OF FIRST PREGNANT MAN:
Alcoa pastor's son accuses him of pulling gun during argument at church
The Daily Times
Originally published: January 28. 2010 3:01AM
Last modified: January 28. 2010 12:19AM
The 32-year-old son of a well-known Alcoa pastor has taken out an order of protection against his father, claiming the man threatened him with a gun during an argument over the younger man's lack of church attendance.
The order of protection filed Monday by Michael Louis Colquitt, 32, Grayson Drive, Alcoa, stems from a Friday incident Colquitt reported to Alcoa police Sunday.
Colquitt reportedly told officers that his father — Joe Colquitt, 60, Evergreen Farms Lane, Greenback — called him to St. John Missionary Baptist Church, 178 Bessie Harvey Ave., Alcoa, “so they could talk.” Joe Colquitt was listed in the Alcoa report as being pastor at the church.
Once Michael Colquitt arrived to meet his father, he said Joe Colquitt was upset because he wasn't attending church like he should, and at some point alleged the argument came to a head with the pastor pulling out a handgun.
“(Michael) Colquitt stated (Joe) Colquitt pulled out a handgun and stated he would kill him, his wife and family,” the report said. “(Michael) Colquitt stated (his father) was upset because he cussed him.”
In the order of protection filed by Michael Colquitt — which was served to Joe Colquitt Tuesday — the allegations made by the younger man go one step further, as he claims his father “pulled out a gun and loaded it ... he pointed it at me numerous times ... he also punched me in my face.”
When officers contacted Joe Colquitt, he reportedly admitted that he did pull out a handgun during the argument, but said he pointed it at the ceiling, not his son.
The pastor denied threatening his son's wife and family, but said he told the 32-year-old that “because he cussed his father, God could kill his wife and family.”
According to the Tennessee Department of Safety, Joe Colquitt does not currently have a permit to carry a handgun.
Joe Colquitt declined to comment for this story when contacted by The Daily Times.
A phone message left for Michael Colquitt seeking comment was not returned.
The Alcoa police report also listed Joe Colquitt as an employee of Blount Memorial Hospital. While a representative of the hospital said she could not “confirm the employment status of any Blount Memorial Hospital employee or potential employee,” Colquitt was listed as working in customer relations in a BMH newsletter from October 2009. He was also listed as a BMH chaplain and customer service representative in an April 3, 2009 article in The Daily Times.
When the reporting officer contacted the Blount County District Attorney's Office about the case and explained the situation Monday, the office declined to prosecute Joe Colquitt “based on the conflicting stories and (because) there were no witnesses,” the report said.
The order of protection filed Monday prohibits Joe Colquitt from contacting Michael Colquitt or his family, and seeks to have a judge order the minister to “attend available counseling programs that address violence and control issues or substance abuse problems,” and prohibit him from owning, possessing, transporting or using a firearm or ammunition.
The case involving the order of protection is set to be heard at 9 a.m. Feb. 4 in front of Blount County General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick.
The Daily Times
Joe Colquitt's son has taken an order of protection out against him.
Link to Order of protection:
Link to Alcoa police report:
Dead man not dead
A POLISH funeral director said he opened the coffin of a 76-year-old man to retrieve items for the bereaved family only to discover the man was still alive
Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 3:12 PM on 25th January 2010
A Polish beekeeper pronounced dead after he suffered a suspected heart attack was about to be sealed up in a coffin when a funeral director miraculously discovered a faint pulse.
Jozef Guzy collapsed as he started work among his beloved hives near the southern city of Katowice.
An ambulance was called and an experienced doctor declared that the 76-year-old had died.
Jerzy Wisniewski, a spokesman for the Regional Ambulance Service in Katowice, said: 'The patient was not breathing, there was no heart beat, the body had cooled - all are the characteristics of death.
Three hours later, an undertaker arrived to take Mr Guzy's body away.
As Mr Wysluchato fiddled with the watch chain he happened to touch Mr Guzy's neck and detected a pulse.
He said: 'I touched around the neck artery and suddenly realised he asn't dead after all. I checked again and shouted, "It's a pulse!"
'I had a friend check and he noticed the man was breathing. God, it was a miracle!"
The ambulance was called again and the same doctor returned. He confirmed the pensioner had 'come back from the dead'.
Mr Guzy was taken to hospital where puzzled doctors failed to find anything wrong with him.
After a few days rest, he was sent home.
Mr Wysluchato said: 'Thank God I did not close the coffin - if I had done that it would have been a tragedy.
'Something touched me to touch his neck - I'm so pleased he's alive.'
His wife, Ludmila, said: ‘I could not believe it when they said he was dead. The doctor put a white sheet over him and three hours later local undertakers pulled up.’
Mr Guzy added: ‘The undertaker saved my life. The first thing I did when I got out of hospital was take him a pot of honey.’
Florida Baby Born Without Eyes
A baby in Florida is born with a rare condition that has left her without eyes.
No Sex For A Year Could Equal Divorce In Md.
Current Law Requires Many Couples To Live Seperately For Year
POSTED: 2:23 pm EST January 28, 2010
UPDATED: 7:32 pm EST January 28, 2010
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- A Maryland lawmaker wants to allow courts to grant divorces to couples after they go a year without having sex instead of forcing them to live apart during the waiting period.
Click To Read The Bill
Montgomery County Delegate Luiz Simmons is behind the legislation.
Simmons, an attorney, said he's backing the measure to ease the initial financial burden for couples seeking a mutual, uncontested divorce.
Maryland divorce law currently requires many couples to live separately for a year before they can receive an uncontested divorce.
Simmons said the cost of that requirement can be very challenging for some couples, especially when both parties must live in places large enough to accommodate children.
The measure would allow couples to remain in the same house if they're not having sex during the yearlong waiting period.
Dentist's drill bit left in head for 11 months, lawsuit says
Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
TAMPA — Donna Delgado just wasn't healing properly after dental surgery.
There was too much bleeding, too much pain. Her head hurt. She was dizzy. She had nosebleeds and sinus infections.
And with good reason, according to her lawsuit: The surgeon left an inch-long piece of steel in the wound.
Lodged in Delgado's right maxillary sinus, the drill bit burr made the 35-year-old woman miserable for nearly a year as she held down a job and cared for her children, her lawyer said.
She wound up in a hospital, where the medical staff detected the foreign object. She was referred to another hospital for surgery.
"The poor thing," said the lawyer, Anthony Martino. "You don't know how horrible it's been for her."
Reached by phone, the oral surgeon, Ralph Eichstaedt, would not discuss Delgado's treatment or the lawsuit.
"I don't think I have any comment at this time," he said. Nor was there any immediate comment from Dental Health Group, also named in the suit.
Delgado, who declined to be interviewed, first visited the dental office at 1060 W Busch Blvd. in August 2008, according to the suit.
Eichstaedt, who has since stopped practicing there, recommended pulling two decayed teeth, the suit said. Delgado returned two weeks later for the procedure.
Eichstaedt used the burr to separate the teeth and make the extraction easier, Martino said. Somewhere along the line, the burr became detached and lost.
A simple X-ray during a followup visit would have detected the metal piece, Martino said.
Instead, he alleges, Delgado was sent away repeatedly.
A nurse for an insurance company, Delgado had premium dental coverage, he said.
It didn't matter.
"She was discharged, and they said, 'Get over it,' " he said. "When she went back to complain, they kept saying, 'This is normal,' and 'Stop complaining.' "
According to the lawsuit, which asks for unspecified damages and a jury trial, Delgado was experiencing dizziness and numbness on her right side, where the burr was.
Concerned about the numbness, she was taken for emergency treatment at St. Joseph's Hospital on July 13, 2009.
Not knowing about the burr, doctors performed a magnetic scan that caused the object to move inside her head, Martino said.
"She was in excruciating pain," he said, adding that the shifting of the burr could have killed her.
Doctors debated whether it would be safe to remove the object, but Dr. Dennis Agliano, an ear-nose-and-throat specialist, said it must come out.
He removed it on Aug. 27.
Delgado still has not fully recovered from the effects of the incident, which could include nickel poisoning, Martino said.
[STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times]Donna Delgado’s lawyer holds up an inch-long drill bit burr that he says was left behind after her dental surgery was botched in 2008.
Police: Baby Left At Day Care For Week
Baby In Protective Custody; Teen Mother To Undergo Evaluations
POSTED: 10:10 am EST January 28, 2010
UPDATED: 10:32 am EST January 28, 2010
OMAHA, Neb. -- An 18-year-old Nebraska woman is accused of child neglect after police said she left her baby with her day care provider for a week, Omaha TV station KETV reported.
The baby is 2 months old.
The day care provider told KETV that she knew the infant's mom, Haley Nugent, from about five years ago.
Nugent asked if the baby could live with her because she didn't have suitable housing for the baby, the provider said.
She said she told Nugent she could move in with her and help with care. On Jan. 18, Nugent told her she needed to collect a few things and asked her to watch the baby for just one night, police said.
But after seven days, Nugent still had not returned despite repeated attempts by the day care provider to contact her, the provider said.
Nugent said she eventually called the day care provider, but the provider said Nugent was drunk and told her she was coming to get the baby without a car seat.
The provider called Child Protective Services, which put the 8-week-old in protective custody.
Health and Human Services said Nugent will go through a series of evaluations to determine if she'll get her daughter back.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Toyota to halt sales, shut down factories over sticking accelerator pedals
| 2009 Matrix compact wagons sit at a Toyota dealership in the south Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File) (David Zalubowski, Associated Press / August 16, 2008)
January 26, 2010
Players suspended for season; Arenas says he won't appeal
Posted Jan 27 2010 4:00PM
Updated Jan 27 2010 5:02PM
NBA commissioner David Stern has suspended Gilbert Arenas for the rest of the season, and the Washington Wizards' star guard has told associates that he will not appeal the league's decision, according to a league source.
Arenas has been suspended without pay since early January for his role in an incident with teammate Javaris Crittenton in which both Arenas and Crittenton brought guns into the team's locker room at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., a violation of both the league's constitution and of the city's laws requiring any guns in the city be licensed in Washington and kept in the home. Arenas brought his guns from his Virginia home.
Crittenton also was suspended for the rest of the season in the decision handed down Wednesday afternoon.
The suspension will cost Arenas the final 50 games of the season and an approximate $7.4 million of his $16.1 million salary this season. After this season, Arenas -- who was the Wizards' leader this season in scoring (22.6 points per game) and assists (7.2) -- has four years and $80.1 million remaining on the six-year, $111 million contract extension he signed in 2008.
"The issue here is not about the legal ownership and possession of guns, either in one's home or elsewhere," Stern said in a statement. "It is about the possession of guns in the NBA workplace, which will not be tolerated."
Arenas, who had already spoken with league attorneys investigating the incident, met with Stern and National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter in Stern's office for about an hour Wednesday morning before departing.
Arenas is awaiting sentencing in D.C. Superior Court March 26 after pleading guilty Jan. 15 to one felony count of carrying a pistol without a license, a crime whose punishments range from probation to a maximum five years in prison. Prosecutors, however, recommended that Arenas only serve six months to Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin, who will ultimately decide Arenas' fate. Morin set a sentencing date of March 26, before which he will receive a report on Arenas from the District's court services division. Prosecutors and defense attorneys will each make a recommendation on how much jail time Arenas should serve to Morin.
Crittenton pleaded guilty this past Monday to a misdemeanor count of possession of an unregistered firearm after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors. Judge Bruce Beaudin sentenced Crittenton to a year of unsupervised probation and a $1,250 fine as part of the plea agreement and ordered him to mentor young people in Washington and aid in relief efforts for victims of the Haitian earthquake earlier this month.
Crittenton, who has not played this season for Washington and was not likely to be retained by the Wizards next season even before the incident with Arenas, met with Stern on Tuesday.
"Both have expressed remorse for their actions and an understanding of the seriousness of their transgressions. Both have volunteered to engage in community service in order to turn the lessons they have learned into an educational message for others. I accept fully the sincerity of their expressions of regret and intent to create something positive from this incident," Stern said in the statement. "Nevertheless, there is no justification for their conduct."
The Wizards fully backed Stern's decision.
"[Arenas' and Crittenton's] poor judgment has also violated the trust of our fans and stands in contrast to everything that [owner] Abe Pollin stood for throughout his life," the team said in a statement. "It is widely known that Mr. Pollin took the extraordinary step of changing the team name from "Bullets" to "Wizards" in 1997 precisely to express his abhorrence of gun violence in our community. We hope that this negative situation can produce something positive by serving as a reminder that gun violence is a serious issue."
The union's president, Lakers guard Derek Fisher, acknowledged late Tuesday night that the union is walking a tightrope between being there for Arenas and protecting his rights of appeal and due process and a possible public backlash against players should the union be viewed as defending the indefensible -- all while the union and the league begin discussions on a new collective bargaining agreement that would stave off a possible lockout before the 2011-12 season.
"I think that's a real issue," Fisher said. "That's the best way for me to put it. At this point, it's something that's on the table, it's up for discussion, and we have to be real about that. But at the same time, we can't forgo our responsibilities as a union to provide support, assistance, belief amongst our members that if there's anybody on earth that's going to be there for them, it's us. So it's a delicate balance and one that, once the NBA makes their decision ... it's going to be a delicate dance, and we're going to have to play it exactly right."
Fisher said Tuesday that he didn't have a specific number of games in mind that would be considered acceptable from the union's perspective for a suspension.
"That's another tricky part," he said. "Because there's not a precedent that you can balance it against. People have thrown out the brawl in Detroit (in 2004) and how many games those guys got. But that's a totally different set of circumstances--fans being involved, people getting physically injured. So it's hard to compare those. But at the same time, it's not just as simple as saying 'you brought a gun in the locker room, and that's it.' I don't know if we have a number in mind, that would be acceptable, or that would be too high or too low...hopefully we can have honest enough dialogue with the NBA about what goes into that decision. As long as we can fairly, in a proper manner, lay out our reasons--if it is way high, in anybody's opinion--as long as we can state our reasons why we feel it is over the top, that may be all we can do."
The Pistons-Pacers "Brawl at Auburn Hills" on Nov. 19, 2004, was one of the worst incidents in league history, beginning with a fight between the two teams in the final minute of their game that sprawled out of control and went into the stands. Fisher's now-Lakers teammate, Ron Artest, then playing for Indiana, was suspended by Stern for the final 73 games of that season after he went into the stands and punched a fan whom he (mistakenly) believed had thrown a cup of soda at him. (The fan who actually did throw the soda at Artest was banned from Pistons games for life.)
Stephen Jackson, then Artest's Pacers teammate and now in Charlotte, received 30 games for also going into the stands and punching fans. Jermaine O'Neal, who'd hit a fan on the court, received 25 games, but that punishment was reduced to 15 upon appeal. Six other players were suspended a total of 15 games for their respective roles in the incident.
The Arenas-Crittenton incident took place Dec. 21, in the Wizards' locker room. Crittenton and Arenas intially had a dispute two days earlier, on the team's plane ride back from Phoenix to Washington at the end of a road trip. The dispute, according to sources, involved a gambling debt that Crittenton believed Arenas owed him.
The prosecution's version of events, based on grand jury testimony from Arenas, Crittenton and other witnesses, states that Crittenton challenged Arenas to a fight. Arenas replied that he was too old to fight and that he would either burn Crittenton's car or shoot him. Crittenton replied that he would shoot Arenas in his knee, which had been surgically repaired in 2007 through a microfracture procedure.
After the team had the next day, Sunday, Dec. 20, off, it reconvened at Verizon Center for practice the morning of Dec. 21. Arenas brought four guns from his home to the arena, took them out and placed them on a chair in front of Crittenton's locker, and wrote "PICK 1" on a piece of paper. When Crittenton asked what was going on, Arenas said, "You said you were going to shoot me, so pick one."
Crittenton replied that he had his own gun, and tossed one of Arenas' guns across the locker room floor. Contrary to a published report in the Washington Post, the prosecution's version of what happened does not claim that Crittenton chambered a round of ammunition into his gun. Nor did Arenas or Crittenton point weapons at one another, as the New York Post claimed in its initial report of the incident. While Arenas has always maintained that he was joking about every threat he made to Crittenton, Crittenton told prosecutors he believed Arenas was serious, and that's why he brought the gun to practice.
Sources indicate that at least two players witnessed the incident. Several players and Wizards Coach Flip Saunders were subpoenaed to testify.
Stern suspended Arenas indefinitely Jan. 6, after Arenas had spent the previous weekend making light of what he deemed inaccurate coverage of the matter on his since-discontinued Twitter page, followed by a claim that he hadn't done anything wrong in a postgame interview Jan. 5 following Washington's game in Philadelphia. The capper was likely a picture of Arenas before the 76ers' game, surrounded by several laughing teammates, in which he was using his fingers to pantomime guns and was "shooting" his teammates.
At the time, Stern said in a statement, "Although it is clear that the actions of Mr. Arenas will ultimately result in a substantial suspension, and perhaps worse, his ongoing conduct has led me to conclude that he is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game."
Arenas also issued a statement after the initial suspension, saying, "While I never intended any harm or disrespect to the NBA or anyone else, my gun possession at the Verizon Center and my attempts at humor showed terrible judgment. I take full responsibility for my conduct."
The Wizards, who had been instructed by the Commissioner not to comment or take action against Arenas until the league had done so, have issued three statements since the initial incident. The last, which was issued the day Arenas pleaded guilty, said in part, "Gilbert used extremely poor judgment and is ultimately responsible for his actions."
NBA COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN STATEMENT ON GILBERT ARENAS AND JAVARIS CRITTENTON
NEW YORK, January 27, 2010 – National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern issued the following statement today:
“The NBA has conducted a thorough investigation of events relating to this matter.
“It is not disputed that, following an argument on the team’s flight home from a game in Phoenix, both Mr. Arenas and Mr. Crittenton brought guns to the Verizon Center locker room and – with other players and team personnel present or nearby – displayed them to one another in a continuation of their dispute. The players engaged in this conduct despite a specific rule set forth in the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the Players Association prohibiting players from possessing a weapon at an NBA facility, and reminders of this prohibition given annually by the NBA to players both in writing and in person.
“The issue here is not about the legal ownership and possession of guns, either in one’s home or elsewhere. It is about possession of guns in the NBA workplace, which will not be tolerated.
“I have met separately with Mr. Arenas and with Mr. Crittenton. Both have expressed remorse for their actions and an understanding of the seriousness of their transgressions. Both have volunteered to engage in community service in order to turn the lessons they have learned into an educational message for others. I accept fully the sincerity of their expressions of regret and intent to create something positive from this incident.
“Nevertheless, there is no justification for their conduct. Accordingly, I am today converting Mr. Arenas' indefinite suspension without pay to a suspension without pay for the remainder of the 2009-10 season, and am also suspending Mr. Crittenton without pay, effective immediately, for the remainder of the 2009-10 season.”
Friday, January 22, 2010
If you read the confessions of the Greeley couple dubbed the “Bonnie and Clyde” robbers, it could be a chapter of “We'll be home for Christmas.”
In court affidavits obtained Thursday, the couple — Joseph Nieto and Christine Drummond — confessed to two robberies in Greeley in December, saying they were “unable to find jobs and needed money to get back to California ... to be with their children by Christmas.”
One of the robberies, at Guaranty Bank, 930 11th Ave., occurred on the morning of Christmas Eve, and police say the couple left later that day to drive to California.
They also have been charged in a December robbery at the Premier Cash Advance store, 3820 W. 10th St.
Robbers got away with about $14,500 from Guaranty Bank and $2,000 from Premier Cash Advance, according to court records.
Another man, Michael Gabriel Nieto, 28, of Greeley was arrested this week and charged with robbery. Court records state he is Joseph Nieto's brother and charge that he was the driver of the getaway car in the two robberies. Although Michael Nieto told police he didn't know the couple were robbing the bank and cash store, and he just waited in the car for them, they both said they gave him some of the money taken in the robberies.
Court records also say employees at the check-cashing store recognized Drummond because she'd applied for a job at the store two months before the robbery. Police were given Drummond's job application, which also gave her California address.
Using the cell phone number on the job application, Greeley detectives were able to trace Drummond's telephone calls, beginning at three minutes after the bank robbery on Christmas Eve. They then followed the calls made on the phone from Greeley, across the mountains and eventually into Visalia, Calif., where the couple was later arrested.
California law officers arrested the couple, then searched their home, where they found two handguns, clothing that matched the robbers on bank video tapes, and bank bags from Guaranty Bank.
The couple will likely be extradited within the next month from California back to Greeley for trial in the robbery cases.
Michael Nieto remains in the Weld County Jail on a $50,000 bond.
James O'Keefe ARRESTED In Mary Landrieu Phone Scheme, 3 Others Also Charged
MICHAEL KUNZELMAN | 01/26/10 10:08 PM
NEW ORLEANS — A hero of conservatives who bruised the liberal group ACORN by posing as a pimp on hidden camera is now accused in an attempt to tamper with phone lines at Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's office inside a federal building.
It's not clear what James O'Keefe, 25, and three other young conservatives were trying to accomplish Monday at the New Orleans office of Landrieu, who has been criticized for securing more Medicaid benefits for her state in exchange for her support on health care legislation.
State Democrats quickly called the alleged plot a "Louisiana Watergate," but federal officials have not yet said why the men wanted to interfere with Landrieu's phones, whether they were successful, or even if the goal was political espionage.
A staff member in the office told the FBI that two of the suspects, including the son of an acting U.S. Attorney, wore white hard harts, tool belts and flourescent vests and said they needed to fix a problem with the phone system.
According to an FBI affidavit, O'Keefe was already sitting in the waiting area and recorded the men on his cell phone when they walked in.
A federal law enforcement official said one of the suspects was picked up in a car a couple of blocks away with a listening device that could pick up transmissions. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not part of the FBI affidavit.
O'Keefe said only "veritas," Latin for truth, as he left jail Tuesday with suspects Stan Dai and Joseph Basel, both 24. All declined to comment.
As he got into a cab outside the jail, O'Keefe said, "The truth shall set me free."
The fourth suspect, Robert Flanagan, 24, was released earlier Tuesday. His father, Bill, is the acting U.S. Attorney based in Shreveport. He was first assistant under Republican President George W. Bush appointee Donald Washington before Washington stepped down this month. President Barack Obama recently nominated Stephanie A. Finley for the post. His father's office declined to comment.
All four suspects were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Flanagan is the only suspect from Louisiana. Basel is from Minnesota; O'Keefe, New Jersey; and Dai, the D.C.-Virginia area.
"It was poor judgment," Flanagan's lawyer, Garrison Jordan, said in a brief interview outside the courtroom. "I don't think there was any intent or motive to commit a crime."
Flanagan recently criticized Landrieu for her vote on the Senate health care bill after securing a Medicaid provision estimated in value at up to $365 million for Louisiana. Conservatives accused her of selling her vote but she insisted no "special deals" were made.
"Do not be fooled into believing Landrieu is helping the state of Louisiana," Flanagan wrote in a Nov. 25 post on the Web site for the Pelican Institute, a Louisiana think tank that promotes the free market and limited government. "If the proposed healthcare legislation were to be signed into law, the $300 million allocated to Louisiana will pale in comparison to the long-term debt Louisiana citizens will ultimately shoulder."
Dai, who authorities said was arrested outside the building, is a former assistant director of a program at Trinity Washington University that taught students about careers in intelligence, university president Patricia McGuire said.
The program was part of a national effort following the Sept. 11 attacks to interest students at liberal arts colleges in careers as spies. McGuire said Dai was an administrator and that the program did not teach spy craft. He was also active in the conservative newspaper and other organizations at George Washington University.
O'Keefe and Basel were also active in conservative publications at their respective colleges, Rutgers University and the University of Minnesota-Morris. They gave a joint interview Jan. 14 to CampusReform.org, a Web site that supports college conservatives on student publications.
The allegations quickly prompted outrage from Democrats and claims of vindication at ACORN, which lost its affiliation with the U.S. Census Bureau and federal funding after the uproar over O'Keefe's videos.
Landrieu, who was in Washington at the time, said in a statement Tuesday that the plot was "unsettling" for her and her staff. She said she looked forward to the investigation to learn their motives.
O'Keefe's arrest "is further evidence of his disregard for the law in pursuit of his extremist agenda," ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis said in a statement. The organization's Twitter feed commented on the news: "Couldn't have happened to a more deserving soul."
O'Keefe managed to do what Republicans had been trying to for years: hurt the political affiliates of ACORN, which have registered hundreds of thousands of voters in urban and other poor areas of the country.
Using a hidden camera, O'Keefe, posing as a pimp and accompanied by a young woman posing as a prostitute, shot videos in ACORN offices where staffers appeared to offer illegal tax advice and to support the misuse of public funds and illegal trafficking in children.
The videos were first posted on biggovernment.com, a site run by conservative Andrew Breitbart. In the past, Breitbart has said O'Keefe – now a paid contributor to biggovernment.com – is an independent filmmaker, not an employee.
In a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press, Breitbart said: "We have no knowledge about or connection to any alleged acts and events involving James O'Keefe at Senator Mary Landrieu's office. We only just learned about the alleged incident this afternoon. We have no information other than what has been reported publicly by the press. Accordingly, we simply are not in a position to make any further comment."
O'Keefe's father, James O'Keefe, Jr., of Westwood, N.J., said he hasn't spoken to his son in several days and didn't know he traveled to New Orleans, let alone why he went to Landrieu's office.
"That would not be something that I can even imagine him doing," he said of the allegations against his son. "I think this is going to be blown out of proportion."
O'Keefe said his son travels frequently for speaking engagements.
"He's a good kid," he said. "He's a very talented, very creative creative guy."
Reporter Stephanie Lambidakis has more on the arrests
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten says it was the quick thinking of the senators staff that lead investigators to arrest the men allegedly posing as phone repairmen.
Drunken man tries to break into jail
A jailbreak usually involves someone trying to bust out of jail, but Medford police arrested a man trying to break into the Jackson County Jail early Monday morning, Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen said.
At 4:10 a.m., sheriff's deputies at the jail spotted a man scrambling over a tall fence that surrounds a secure lot where arresting officers unload potential prisoners and escort them inside. Jail officials met the man on the ground and contacted Medford police.
The man, James Merrill DeVore, 28, told police that he was distraught over the death of his mother two years ago and admitted that he had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. He told officers that he needed help, so he went to the jail to ask for assistance. When he didn't get an answer at the front entrance, he decided to go around to the back.
Medford police charged him with disorderly conduct and trespassing.
But even the two criminal charges didn't land DeVore in jail. He was taken to the county's sobering center, referred to the county's mental health program and cited to appear in court later.
Toby Harnden is the Daily Telegraph's US Editor, based in Washington DC.
Barack Obama is in denial
Last updated: January 26th, 2010
Barack Obama is in trouble. His signature health care reform has been doomed by the Democrats losing their Senate super-majority. He needs to reconnect with ordinary Americans, his advisers tell him. So what does he do? He does a long interview with Diane Sawyer, the new ABC News anchor, in which he states that his big mistake was “we started worrying more about getting the policy right than getting the process right”.
Then the White House pushes out the disastrous Valerie Jarrett – who recently and hilariously described the Obama administration as “speaking truth to power” by bashing Fox News – to tell Politico that “there’s no one more frustrated than President Obama” and that the Scott Brown Massachusetts massacre was, er, nothing to do with Obama. “I don’t think it was directed at Barack Obama,” she said. “In fact, Senator Brown said himself he didn’t run against the President.”
This comes after Representative Marion Berry of Arkansas, announcing he would not fight an election he would almost certainly lose in November, revealed that Obama had told Blue Dog conservative Democrats that the difference between 1994 and 2010 was that “You got me.”
So which is it? It’s nothing to do with Obama but then again it’s all about him? Good luck with that message in November.
Democrats who (unlike Obama) face re-election in November are noting that the President campaigned for candidates in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts – all of which he won comfortably in 2008 – but they still bombed.
The Obama line that Massachusetts is about disgust with “process” not policy and the Jarrett line that it is about some vague unfocused frustration lead to the inevitable conclusion that this White House just doesn’t get it.
As William McGurn in the WSJ points out, the central problem is that Americans – only 20 per cent of whom view themselves as liberal – view the Obama agenda as too far Left. “There’s no sign that Obama buys any of this,” writes McGurn. “His team argues, apparnetly oblivious to the inherent condescension, that no intelligent American could possibly oppose his health-care agenda on substance.”
Yep, the mindset is one of: sooner or later these dumb Americans will realise that we know what’s best for them.
Obama also gave the game away during the Sawyer interview when he yet again compared governing the US to the election campaign.
“I’ve gone through this before,” he said. “I went through this through the campaign. When your poll numbers drop, you’re an idiot. When your poll numbers are high, you’re a genius. If my poll numbers are low, then I’m cool and cerebral and cold and detached. If my poll numbers are high, well, he’s calm and reasoned.”
So in the parallel universe that Obamaland has become, this is just like the summer of 2007 when the poll numbers of the man who Oprah Winfrey would call “the One” were slumping and Hillary Clinton was riding high – and then America woke up and realised that Obama was the answer to all their problems.
Well, I’d say that although Obama and his team have not moved on, Americans have. Things are different from the campaign. It’s now all about Obama only to the extent that his policies and their results are now being judged. It’s not all about Obama in the sense that his transcendent personality will trump everything in November.
Obama himself doesn’t seem to be able to grasp this. He’s suffering from what his predecessor George W. Bush was so often accused of: he’s in a state of denial.
LINK TO STORY:
Bill Gates at Sundance: Geeks just want to have fun
Sunday January 24, 2010 5:14 PM
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is interviewed at the Bing VIP Happy and Douchebag Premiere Party" during the Sundance Film Festival On Friday, (AP Images for Bing)
You go, Bill.
According to our ever-reliable Sundance Film Festival spy, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, 52, was spotted rocking out big time at Saturday’s John Legend/The Roots concert in Park City, Utah., hosted by search engine Bing.com. And, it seems, the brainiac sure can cut a rug.
Here’s the scoop, from our source:
“About halfway through the concert, I saw Bill Gates standing on a booth, talking to partygoers. As soon as the live music ended, a DJ started and Bill began dancing like a maniac.
“When Whitney Houston’s ‘I Want to Dance With Somebody’ came on, he really got into it right through to Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer.’ Then, ‘Hey Mickey’ came on and he started doing the swim and getting low, almost touching the ground. He clearly had the most fun during ‘Old Time Rock and Roll,’ clapping, shaking his head and grooving back and forth like a nut.
“He had a security team in front of him trying to block guests from snapping pics. Finally, he got down from the booth but nearly fell, prompting security to help him out.”
Jan 22, 2010 7:47 pm US/Eastern
Spurned Mistress Of Obama Advisor Takes Revenge
Highlights Relationship On Billboards In Several Cities
NEW YORK (CBS)
The billboard reads: Charles and YaVaughnie, "you are my soulmate forever." YaVaughnie Wilkins is the mistress, Charles Phillips, the head of Oracle Corporation, an advisor to President Obama, and married. Wilkins apparently had these billboards put up in Times Square, Atlanta and San Francisco after Phillips reconciled with his wife.
Dianna Musumeci of Kings Park approves "Good for her," she said. "You're cheating on your wife and then you go back to the wife."
"That's karma. What goes around comes around," said Tevin Gaider, D.C. resident.
On the bottom of the billboard was listed a website, filled with pictures of the affair and plenty of personal notes. Phillips released a statement saying: "I had an 8.5 year serious relationship with YaVaughnie Wilkins. My divorce proceedings began in 2008. The relationship with Ms. Wilkins has since ended and we both wish each other well."
Not going to happen, said infidelity expert and author of the book "Is he cheating on you?" Ruth Houston. "This is what happens when men cheat and don't check out their mistresses out."
"Pick better judgment in girls. That is ridiculous," said Anthony Spillman, D.C. resident.
Houston said the revenge factor was huge, and infidelity often tears everything apart. "Look at John Edwards. Look at Steve McNair. An out of control mistress can cost you your job, your wife, your marriage, all sorts of things. It cost Steve McNair his life."
She said infidelity was an epidemic affecting 80-percent of marriages and relationships in one form or another, and if you're going to take the risk you need to know who you're dealing with.
"You should not be out there cheating. If you're going to cheat, protect yourself and your family by checking these women out. You don't know who they are. You don't know what they're capable of doing," said Houston.
Houston said the best place to start is on the computer. You can either do your own investigation or there are plenty of websites where you can get background checks in minutes.
The billboards were taken down Friday after the scandal broke, but the damage was already done. While the billboard company wouldn't release how much Wilkins paid for the revenge campaign, it's been estimated it may have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Joplin jewelers thwart suspected ring thieves
January 22, 2010 10:37 pm
A Joplin woman got her stolen ring back Thursday when a suspected thief literally coughed it up in front of police.
The ring belonging to Rebecca Moore was inside her purse in a vehicle parked at Northpark Mall when someone broke into the vehicle and stole the purse about noon Thursday. Her husband, Tom Moore, said the two-carat diamond ring — worth about $20,000 — was a family heirloom passed down to his wife from her mother.
“It meant the world to her,” he said.
Moore had just picked the ring back up from Comeau Jewelry store, where she’d had some repair work performed. She drove to the mall lot and parked, leaving her purse in the car while she went inside the mall. She discovered the theft when she came back out, and police were notified at 12:34 p.m.
Less than four hours later, a man and a woman walked into Newton’s Jewelry in downtown Joplin with a ring they wished to have appraised.
Store owner L.T. “Bunny” Newton recognized the ring right away from a picture Comeau’s sent to local jewelers in the wake of the theft. Newton said the diamond was distinctively set between two sapphires and was “easy” to spot.
“So we stalled, and kept weighing and measuring it,” he said.
Newton said the young couple represented the ring as having been her grandmother’s. The man told the jeweler they might be interested in selling it.
The business in the meantime had contacted police. Newton said he suggested that the store might need to steam clean the piece to appraise it properly, as a way of further stalling the couple. About 15 minutes had passed since they first came in.
“He got kind of antsy then,” Newton said. “You could tell he suspected something was going on.”
The man decided to take the ring back from the jeweler at that point, and the couple appeared about to leave when police officers walked into the store.
Newton said he never noticed, but the man must have swallowed the ring when he spotted the police. The officers asked the couple about their ring, and the man told them Newton still had it.
“I told him: ‘No, you took it back from me,’” Newton said.
Officers searched the suspect and could not find the ring. But the man began to cough uncontrollably, Newton said.
“And they kept questioning him, and he kept coughing,” he said. “Finally, he coughed it up.”
It was off to jail next for Cleon L. Harris, 23, and Breanna M. Johnston, 19, both of Joplin. They were charged with receiving stolen property. The arrest caused Harris to miss a court date Friday on a prior felony weapon charge, and another warrant was issued on him while he remained in jail.
Tom Moore said his wife wasn’t up to talking about the matter yet on Friday.
“She’s just very grateful that the retailers at both jewelry stores took the extra time and effort to distribute the information and respond to it,” he said.
He said their gratitude extends to the Joplin Police Department as well.
Thursday’s capture of a couple in alleged possession of a stolen ring was not the first time Joplin jeweler L.T. “Bunny” Newton, 87, has had a brush with lawbreakers or thwarted a crime in progress.
The World War II veteran scuffled with three masked men who invaded his family’s home in 1961 and struck him in the head with a gun. The men fled without accomplishing whatever their goal had been. Almost 20 years later, he was abducted at gunpoint outside his store by members of a four-state crime ring, who robbed him of a ring and cash before letting him go on the west side of town after he feigned a heart attack.
Police: Woman says she's eating powdered donut, turns out to be cocaine
Whitney Alison Holte
The Daily Times
Originally published: January 22. 2010 3:01AM
Last modified: January 21. 2010 7:57PM
When officers pulled a 21-year-old Knoxville woman over on Airport Highway in Alcoa early Thursday, she allegedly told officers it was a powdered donut she was eating when they came to the window.
But a field test on the substance indicated the white powder she put in her mouth was not from a sugary pastry, but, rather, was cocaine, according to an Alcoa police report.
Whitney Alison Holte was arrested and charged with possession of a Schedule II substance with intent to sell or deliver and three attachments for contempt; she was also cited with driving on a suspended driver's license, driving without proof of insurance, failure to maintain her lane of traffic and possession of drug paraphernalia.
She was being held at the Blount County Jail in lieu of bonds totaling $12,250 pending 1:30 p.m. Jan. 25
Obama's middle-class pitch: Dream alive
'We all know what the American dream is'' -- pledging to keep it alive.
January 25, 2010 1:00 PM
With what will serve as a preview of his State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama today gave the nation an outline of new policies to help the middle class cope with lower expectations and the loss of faith in achieving the American Dream.
In televised remarks aimed at his task force that studied middle-class issues, Obama said his administration was committed to creating more jobs, increasing incomes and helping the battered middle class to grow. The task force is chaired by Vice President Joe Biden, who introduced the president.
"Hopefully, some of these steps will reestablish some of the security that has slipped away in recent years," Obama said, "because in the end, that's how Joe and I measure progress.
"Not by how the markets are doing but by how the American people doing. It's about whether they see some progress in their own lives," Obama said.
The administration's plan is designed to ease some of the pressure on people caught between an aging generation of parents and the new generation of youngsters trying to get established, Biden said. All three groups face special difficulties in these tough economic times.
Specifically, the administration wants to double the child care tax credit for families earning less than $85,000 a year. It wants a $1.6 billion increase in federal funding for child care programs and to place a cap on student loan payments so that those who pay for college can come out of debt easier and sooner.
Other proposals would offer incentives to help increase retirement savings and require employers to provide workplace savings plans. Tax credits would also be offered to help families care for the elderly.
Interestingly, Obama also made only a glancing mention of healthcare reform, noting that there was a need to prevent insurance companies from abusing consumers through refusing to pay for previous conditions, for example.
This was a far cry from past statements on a more ambitious healthcare overhaul, but a nod to the new political realities in the wake of the senatorial seat upset in Massachusetts which cost democrats their 60-vote super-majority.
In his comments, Obama repeatedly used the word "fight" or "fighting," continuing a usage that accelerated last week in his criticism of banks and during a town hall-style session in Ohio. "But above all we're going to keep fighting to renew the American Dream, and keep it alive not just in our time, but for all time," Obama said today.
"We all know what that American Dream is,'' the president said at a White House meeting of his Middle Class Task Force.
"It's the idea that in America we can make of our lives what we will. It's the idea that if you work hard and live up to your responsibilities, you can get ahead -- and enjoy some of the basic guarantees in life: A good job that pays a good wage, health care that'll be there when you get sick, a secure retirement even if you're not rich, an education that will give our kids a better life than we had.
"They're very simple ideas,'' he said. "But they're the ideas that are at the heart of our middle class -- the middle class that made the 20th Century the American Century.''
LINK TO VIDEO:
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AND THE VICE PRESIDENT
AT MIDDLE CLASS TASK FORCE MEETING
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hey, folks. A year ago when President Obama established the Middle Class Task Force and asked me to chair it -- and I might add, we were only in office I think two days, Melody, when he set up this Middle Class Task Force -- because as we campaigned around the country, he made it clear that we were going to be sure that as we grew this economy, the middle class was not left behind as they had been the previous 10 to 12 years. And as we move from recession to recovery, our focus is the middle class.
Today -- today, living a quality middle class life starts, as it always has, with a good-paying job. And by job, we're not talking about merely a paycheck; it's more than a paycheck. And we're talking about dignity, we're talking about security. We're talking about knowing your pension is safe, your health insurance is reliable, your elderly parents and your children are going to be cared for, your neighborhood is safe, there's decent schools, and that your kids are going to be able to grow up and if they desire and you desire, be able to attend college. It's the old-fashioned notion of American Dream. I mean, it sounds corny, but that's literally what it is.
And the President -- and you and I -- have long believed that you can't have a strong America without a growing middle class. It's that simple. It's that basic. And right now, the middle class is nowhere near as strong as it needs to be.
So next month, the Middle Class Task Force is going to deliver its final report -- not final, its year-end report to the President. And this afternoon, we're spotlighting some of the items in that report that the President is going to be including in the upcoming budget. And these include, first of all, an expansion of the child tax credit. Since 2000, child care costs have grown significantly faster than inflation and twice as fast -- twice as fast as the median income of families with children. And that's why we're asking Congress to nearly double the credit for middle class families with incomes up to $85,000 and increase the credit for nearly every family making under $115,000.
Secondly, the President is going to be proposing an increase in funding for child care and -- the so-called Child Care and Development Fund to serve an additional 235,000 children in America. This is going to help working parents who are struggling to lift their families into the middle class.
And, thirdly, elder care. I mean, we all -- we're a generation -- the so-called baby boom generation is becoming very knowledgeable about elder care and the need to help middle class families who are caring for aging parents and relatives. People like Jill and me are part of what's called that "sandwich" generation. And I make a very good salary, but just going through caring for my mother the last year and a half, and before that, my father, who, thank God, lived to ripe old ages -- it was -- it's not easy. And I -- we sit there -- when my brother and sister and I -- brothers and sister and I divided up the cost of the care, we were able to do that, no complaints, not a problem. But I thought to myself, my lord, what would it be like -- a couple with two kids making $85,000 a year, even $125,000 a year? How do they do it?
So today we're proposing more support for caregivers by providing counseling, training, help with transportation, and temporary respite care when they just need a break or they have to work -- which most all of them do.
This is going to allow nearly 200,000 people who are now balancing work and providing care to an elderly relative to be served, and 3 million hours of respite care are going to be provided.
The fourth thing is we're going to be strengthening the income-based repayment program for student loans -- fancy way of saying a lot of kids and families graduate with significant loan responsibility and literally -- literally are left with very few options. They've got to go out and get the highest-paying job they can, maybe in an area they had no intention of working in, just to pay back the loan.
Today the average debt of a graduating senior from college -- now, listen -- the average debt -- people of my generation -- the average debt is $23,000. That is literally $2,000 more than my first house cost. But in any standard, it's a lot of money -- average debt. Some are graduating with a great deal more debt than that.
So our proposal ensures that Federal Student Loan payments for overburdened borrowers are never more than 10 percent of their income -- a change like that makes a real difference for a kid just out of school. For someone who earns 30,000 bucks and owes $20,000 in loans, this would lower his or her monthly
payment from $228 a month under the standard repayment plan to $115 a month. People who have to budget every day just to get by, they understand that's a big difference. That's a big difference.
And finally, we want to strengthen retirement security, which we talked about with the Secretary of Treasury, for American workers. Too many working people in this country don't have a good option to save their hard-earned money for retirement. And too many of those who do save are finding that at the end of the day they don't have enough saved to afford the basic retirement they deserve.
That's why we're proposing to give more workers better access to retirement plans at work, to match retirement savings for middle class Americans so they can save more, and to strengthen and update the 401(k) regulations so that they can save with greater confidence.
This means establishing an automatic individual retirement account. Today, 78 million Americans, working Americans --roughly half the workforce -- don't have employer-based retirement plans anymore. Our proposal lays the groundwork for an employer who do not currently offer retirement plans to enroll their employees in direct deposit IRAs. We found it's a simple proposition -- when you do that, people, if you're automatically enrolled, you can opt out. But they save a great deal more. And it just puts in place the requirement of the employer to provide that access out of their paycheck to go into an IRA. It's a simple proposition, but it's a big deal.
It also means simplifying and expanding the saver's credit, which helped working families save for retirement by providing a 50 percent match on the first $1,000 of retirement savings. So if you put a thousand bucks into a retirement account, your government is going to add even more -- another $500. It's an incentive, but long term it saves the government a lot more money than the 500 hundred bucks put in if in fact we find we have a generation that's able to care for themselves and not have to look to the government to provide some basic needs they need. This will not only help build up a nest egg for existing savers, but it's going to encourage workers who currently have no retirement accounts to start to save.
Taken together, these and other middle class proposals we believe will go a long way toward easing the strain on working families, allowing them to save more today to get further ahead tomorrow. Because if we give a working man and woman in this country -- and first of all, we make sure they've got good jobs -- if we give them an opportunity, they're the most productive workers in the world. We give them the tools, the flexibility, even just a chance to succeed, we're not only going to rebuild this economy, we're going to offer millions of Americans to build a future that they hope and still believe is available to them.
So I wanted to thank all you guys. You've been meeting with me on a regular basis. I've been a little bit of a pain in the neck. I know you have urgent, urgent, urgent things that were left on our plate -- placed on our plate when we took office. And one of the things you've done -- and I thank you for it -- when the President set up this task force is you have not taken your eye off the ball, you have serious people inside each of your agencies doing nothing every day but getting up, putting both feet on the floor, and saying, what are we going to do inside my shop that's going to ease the burden and increase the opportunity for people to get into the middle class and stay in.
So, Mr. President -- I think the President is here -- I'd like to invite him to come out because we owe the President a great deal for focusing this issue throughout the campaign and the first thing you did when you came to office. Mr. President, it's an honor working with you on this.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, Joe. Hey, guys, everybody have a seat -- have a seat.
Well, I wanted to stop by to comment on all the great work that the Middle Class Task Force is doing. And you've just seen why Joe is the right person to do it. No one brings to the table the same combination of personal experience and substantive expertise. He's come a long way, and achieved incredible things along the ride, but he's never forgotten where he came from and his roots as a working-class kid from Scranton. He's devoted his life to making the American Dream a reality for everyone -- because he's lived it.
Now, we all know what that American Dream is. It's the idea that in America we can make of our lives what we will. It's the idea that if you work hard and live up to your responsibilities, you can get ahead -- and enjoy some of the basic guarantees in life: A good job that pays a good wage, health care that'll be there when you get sick, a secure retirement even if you're not rich, an education that will give our kids a better life than we had. They're very simple ideas. But they're the ideas that are at the heart of our middle class -- the middle class that made the 20th century the American Century.
Unfortunately, the middle class has been under assault for a long time. Too many Americans have known their own painful recessions long before any economist declared that there was a recession. We've just come through what was one of the most difficult decades the middle class has ever faced -- a decade in which median income fell and our economy lost about as many jobs as it gained.
For two years, Joe and I traveled this country and we heard stories that are all too familiar: stories of Americans barely able to stay afloat despite working harder and harder for less; premiums that were doubling, tuition fees that were rising almost as fast; savings being used up, retirements put off, dreams put on hold. That was all before the middle class got pounded by the full fury of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Their stories are why Joe and I ran for this office: to reverse those trends, to fight for the middle class, to make sure working families have a voice in the White House, and to do everything within our power to make sure they don't just survive the crisis, but again they can thrive.
And when we walked through these doors last year our first and most urgent task was to rescue our economy, to give immediate relief to those who were hurt by its downturn, but also to rebuild it on a new, stronger foundation for job creation. So we helped state and local governments keep cops and firefighters and teachers on the job, helping to plug their budgets. We invested in areas with the most potential for job growth both immediate and lasting -- in our infrastructure, in science and technology, in education, in clean energy. And these steps have saved or created about 2 million jobs so far.
But more than 7 million have been lost as a consequence of this recession -- an epidemic that demands our relentless and sustained response. Now, last month the House passed a new jobs bill. The Senate, as we speak, is hard at work developing its own job creation package. Creating good, sustainable jobs is the single most important thing we can do to rebuild the middle class -- and I won't rest until we're doing just that.
But we also need to reverse the overall erosion in middle class security so that when this economy does come back, working Americans are free to pursue their dreams again. There are a variety of immediate steps we can take to do just that -- steps we're poised to begin taking in the budget that I'll put forward next week.
Joe already spoke about some of these proposals in detail -- proposals that make it a bit easier for families to get by, for students to get ahead, and for workers to retire. To make balancing work and family more realistic, we'll make it easier to care for children and aging loved ones. To make college more affordable, we'll make it easier for students to pay back their loans, and forgive their debt earlier if they choose a career in public service. And to make retirement more secure, we're going to make it easier to save through the workplace.
Joe and I are going to keep on fighting for what matters to middle class families: An education that gives our kids a chance in life; new, clean energy economy that generates the good jobs of the future; meaningful financial reform that protect consumers; and health reform that prohibits the worst practices of the insurance industry and restores some stability and peace of mind for middle class families.
None of these steps alone will solve all the challenges facing the middle class. Joe understands that; so do I. So do all my members of the Cabinet and our economic team. But hopefully some of these steps will reestablish some of the security that's slipped away in recent years. Because in the end, that's how Joe and I measure progress -- not by how the markets are doing, but by how the American people are doing. It's about whether they see some progress in their own lives.
So we're going to keep fighting to rebuild our economy so that hard work is once again rewarded, wages and incomes are once again rising, and the middle class is once again growing. And above all, we're going to keep fighting to renew the American Dream and keep it alive -- not just in our time, but for all time.
So, again, to our team -- and that includes, by the way, the folks over here -- thank you for the great work that you've done. I'm excited about a lot of the proposals that you've come up with. And we expect that we're going to be able to get some of these critical initiatives passed soon so that folks can get some help right away.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Christopher priest arrested for felony theft
Benton Evening News
Mon Jan 25, 2010, 01:42 PM CST
West City, Ill. -
A Catholic priest from Christopher was arrested at 4:49 p.m. on Jan. 21 on alleged shoplifting charges at the Wal-Mart SuperCenter, according to West City Police.
The Rev. Steven F. Poole, 41, faces two counts of felony theft over $150.
He serves as priest for St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Christopher and St. Mary's Catholic Church in Sesser.
Poole, who has a previous arrest for stealing in Missouri, was arrested after Wal-Mart store surveillance video caught him on camera failing to scan a $3.22 container of butter and a $60 sofa cover, police said.
Police said Poole then allegedly headed to the store's bedding department and picked up a memory foam mattress. He returned to the self-checkout lane where he was allegedly observed on tape switching the pricing bar code, causing the $144.88 item to be scanned for $30.88.
Loss prevention personnel then stepped in, police said, and accompanied him to the West City Police Department.
There Poole was found to be in possession of a laptop computer power pack, also allegedly taken from store, police said.
Poole was taken to Franklin County Jail where he was released on personal recognizance.
Obama to skip jury duty in Bridgeview
January 24, 2010 6:14 PM
WASHINGTON -- If Cook County had had its druthers, President Barack Obama would have shown up Monday for jury duty.
But court officials were told several weeks ago the prospect was a no-go, a White House official said today. The summons showed up at the president's home in Chicago's Kenwood neighborhood.
Obama, a 1991 graduate of Harvard Law School, president of its law review and later a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, would have been bound for the courthouse in suburban Bridgeview, had he not been otherwise occupied.
With his first State of the Union speech on tap Wednesday, it's a busy week for the president -- though not strictly business.
His official schedule Monday calls for a meet-and-greet with the Los Angeles Lakers, the reigning NBA champions. The White House said players will be joined by the coaches, team staffers, NBA officials and former Laker greats.
Then, no doubt, it's back to business.
Lottery lovers, we've got your numbers.
If you have a dollar and dream -- and believe you can beat the odds -- start with 14, 36 and 48.
Those three numbers have hit more than any others among the 414 winning Mega Millions tickets sold between 2005 and Jan. 12.
And since June 24, 2005, when the latest version of the game launched, they've appeared on the winning six-number combinations the most often.
That's according to an analysis of Mega Millions payouts compiled by Matthew Vea, a consultant in Ernst & Young's financial services department in Midtown, who looked at the results of every drawing over the last 4½ years.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - MARCH 07: New York Lottery personality Yolanda Vega announces the Mega Millions Lottery numbers worth an estimated $370 million at the ABC Studios in New York City on Tuesday, March 6, 2007.
The game encourages players from 12 states, including New York and New Jersey, to plunk down a dollar in the hope of becoming fabulously wealthy.
A player's six picks must match the numbers that come up when officials randomly draw a half-dozen balls numbered 1 to 56.
With odds of more than 175 million to 1, jackpots routinely reach hundreds of millions. The record payout was $390 million in 2007. Tuesday's jackpot is an estimated $121 million.
The number 14 is a big winner.
Not only has it appeared on 48 of the 414 winning tickets since 2005 (a rate of more than 11 percent), it's been the second-hottest number during the last three months, averaging just 30.2 days between appearances on somebody's lucky ducat, Vea's analysis shows.
The number 36 also popped up 48 times since 2005, while 48 appeared 47 times. Three others -- 53, 5 and 46 -- hit 46 times.
Experts caution that every drawing is random, so playing "hot" or "cold" numbers is, statistically speaking, still a losing proposition.
"It's perfectly natural that in a small sample size, 414 drawings, that you would have a [hot] number," said NYU math professor Gerard Ben Arus. "But of course if you get a huge sample size, tens of thousands, it would equal out."
The most popular numbers chosen by players for New York's Numbers and Win 4 games are 111 and 0000, lottery organizers say.
After 111, the next most popular Numbers choice is 222, followed by 333, 777 and 999.
Among Win 4, they are 1111, 2222 and 3333.
Officials said that news events sometimes spur a run on numbers, such as 911, which sells out every year on Sept. 11, and 1549, the number of the US Airways flight that hero pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger safely landed in the Hudson River a year ago.
A consultant at Ernst & Young studied the numbers picked for the Mega Millions lottery since 2005. The results:
Most frequent winning numbers
14 On 48 winning tickets — 11.6%
36 On 48 winning tickets — 11.6%
48 On 47 winning tickets — 11.4%
Least frequent winning numbers
47 On 23 winning tickets — 5.6%
6 On 25 winning tickets — 6%
49 On 26 winning tickets — 6.2%
OTHER US LOTTERIES
The hottest numbers in 107 state lottery drawings nationwide between Jan. 7 and Jan. 13 this year:
20, 23, 30, 42, 7, 32, 16
Most popular numbers picked by players:
111, 222, 333, 777, 999
NY WIN 4
Most popular numbers picked by players:
1111, 2222, 3333
OTHER POPULAR NUMBERS
911 Sells out every Sept. 11 and won in 2002
1549 The number of the US Airways flight that splash-landed in the Hudson
White House advisers promise sharper focus on jobs
In this Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010, photo provided by Fox News Sunday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs speaks on Fox News Sunday at their studio in Washington. Gibbs said Obama presidential campaign manager David Plouffe is returning to a greater role in the administration primarily to deal with this year's midterm elections for Congress and state governors. (AP Photo/Fox News Sunday, Freddie Lee)
WASHINGTON—A politically shaken White House promised Sunday a sharper focus on jobs and the economy, but key advisers were less sure-footed on health care reform. They took a wait-and-see approach as the dust settles from the punishing loss of the late Edward M. Kennedy's Senate seat.
President Barack Obama's poll numbers are off -- primarily because of the slow economic recovery and double-digit unemployment. And a majority of Americans also have turned against health care reform, the president's signature legislative effort that was likely killed with Scott Brown's stunning upset in the special election in Massachusetts.
"The president has always gotten the message," top Obama adviser David Axelrod said. "The message is, we need to grow this economy in a way that allows hardworking people who are meeting their responsibilities to get ahead instead of falling behind."
Axelrod said Americans would learn more about White House plans for the economy on Wednesday when the president delivers his first State of the Union address. The adviser offered no specifics; there has been talk of a second economic stimulus package, one totaling around $175 billion.
On health care, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said discussions were under way to see whether Democrats can take some kind of action in Congress. Valerie Jarrett, another top adviser, said Obama had spoken to congressional leaders over the weekend "to try to see what the climate is, what's the art of the possible."
Indications are that independent voters, key to Obama's 2008 victory over Sen. John McCain, may move heavily to Republicans in November midterm elections for Congress and governors.
Looking to prevent future surprises like Brown's Senate victory and to block the feared Republican surge in November, Obama has brought back to the White House his adviser David Plouffe, the political mastermind of Obama's against-the-odds presidential victory.
"He will help supplement an already good political staff ... in helping us watch the 2010 elections, the gubernatorial, the Senate and the House elections," Gibbs said. Both Gibbs and Axelrod said there was no White House shake-up in the works.
Having watched Obama suffer through one of the cruelest political weeks of his first year in the White House, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had no plans to give the president any help or breathing room. He said the only hope for health care was to "stop and start over and go step by step to fix the cost problem."
More largely, McConnell said Obama needs to move to the political center. "I think he'll find a lot more Republican support than he's had in the first year," the senator said.
With health care languishing, Obama was likely as well to run into heavy Republican opposition as he turns up the verbal heat on America's big banks and financial institutions, calling for legislation that would clamp off moves to grow even larger. He has spoken of federal fees on transactions by those banks that have taken government assistance and are once again showing massive profits and paying outsized bonuses.
Obama is moving in that direction even as opposition grows in the Senate to his nomination of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to a second term. Officials in the White House and Senate, however, predicted that Bernanke would be confirmed for a new four-year term.
Gibbs said Bernanke was needed to ensure stability in the financial system and warned lawmakers against "playing politics in any way" that would send a negative message to financial markets.
Jarrett said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had assured Obama that Bernanke had strong support among Democrats, and McConnell said he anticipated bipartisan confirmation, although he would not say how he planned to vote.
Bernanke, appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, is widely credited with helping to prevent the recession from turning into a depression. But his support of Wall Street bailouts has angered the public.
Obama called Senate allies on Saturday to make his case for Bernanke, whose term ends Jan. 31. The Senate is scheduled to vote on Bernanke by week's end.
Gibbs spoke on "Fox News Sunday" while Axelrod appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" and ABC's "This Week." Jarrett and McConnell spoke on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Bin Laden takes responsibility for Christmas Day bombing attempt
Associated Press Writer
4:04 p.m. EST, January 24, 2010
LINK TO VIDEO OF BIN LADEN:
Obama Moves to Centralize Control Over Party Strategy
JEFF ZELENY and PETER BAKER
January 23, 2010
WASHINGTON — President Obama is reconstituting the team that helped him win the White House to counter Republican challenges in the midterm elections and recalibrate after political setbacks that have narrowed his legislative ambitions.
Mr. Obama has asked his former campaign manager, David Plouffe, to oversee House, Senate and governor’s races to stave off a hemorrhage of seats in the fall. The president ordered a review of the Democratic political operation — from the White House to party committees — after last week’s Republican victory in the Massachusetts Senate race, aides said.
In addition to Mr. Plouffe, who will primarily work from the Democratic National Committee in consultation with the White House, several top operatives from the Obama campaign will be dispatched across the country to advise major races as part of the president’s attempt to take greater control over the midterm elections, aides said.
“We are turning the corner to a much more political season,” said David Axelrod, a senior adviser, who confirmed Mr. Plouffe’s role. “We are going to evaluate what we need to do to get timely intelligence and early warnings so we don’t face situations like we did in Massachusetts.”
As Mr. Obama prepares to deliver his State of the Union address on Wednesday and lay out his initiatives for the second year of his presidency, his decision to take greater control of the party’s politics signals a new approach. The White House is searching for ways to respond to panic among Democrats over the possible demise of his health care bill and a political landscape being reshaped by a wave of populism.
Improving tactical operations addresses only part of his challenge. A more complicated discussion under way, advisers said, is how to sharpen the president’s message and leadership style.
The reinforcement of the White House’s political operation has been undertaken with a sense of urgency since Tuesday, when a Republican, Scott Brown, won the Massachusetts Senate seat that had been held by Edward M. Kennedy. The White House was caught off guard when it became clear that Democrats were in danger of losing it, and by the time alarm bells sounded from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, it was too late.
The president summoned Mr. Plouffe to the Oval Office hours before the polls closed and asked him to assume the new role because of the implications the midterm elections hold. Mr. Plouffe built a reputation in 2008 as a master of the nuts and bolts of campaigns, and will assemble a team to provide unfiltered information that serves as an early-warning system so the White House and party officials know if a candidate is falling behind.
The day-to-day political operation will be run by Jim Messina, a deputy White House chief of staff, but Mr. Plouffe will coordinate the effort.
The party is trying to become less reliant on polls conducted by candidates, which can often paint a too-rosy picture of the political outlook. The president’s leading pollster, Joel Benenson, will be among those conducting research for Mr. Plouffe, aides said, along with others who will divide the country by regions.
Mr. Plouffe, who did not follow Mr. Obama to the White House last year, has remained in the president’s tight circle of advisers and has frequently worked on projects for the party.
The first indication of Mr. Plouffe’s more prominent role came in an op-ed article he wrote for the Sunday issue of The Washington Post, presenting a blueprint for how Democrats could avoid big defeats in the fall. He acknowledged the challenges ahead, saying, “We may not have perfect results, but November will be nothing like the nightmare that talking heads have forecast.”
Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said he had “no interest in sugarcoating” the defeat in Massachusetts. Several party leaders said they expected Mr. Menendez to remain in his position for the rest of the election cycle, but the move by the White House had the effect of subverting at least some of the committee’s authority.
“Our own political operation will be more rigorously in communication with the other elements, so we can compare notes,” Mr. Axelrod said. “What we learned from Massachusetts is that we need to be more assiduous about getting our own data and our own information so we have a better sense of where things stand.”
The White House intends to send Mr. Obama out into the country considerably more in 2010 than during his first year in office, advisers said, to try to rekindle the relationship he developed with voters during his presidential campaign.
His first big chance will come when he delivers his State of the Union address. Rather than unveil a laundry list of new initiatives, advisers said, Mr. Obama will try to reframe his agenda and how he connects it with public concerns. In particular, he will focus on how his ideas for health care, energy and financial regulation all fit into the broader economic mission of creating what he calls a “new foundation” for the country, the key words being “rescue, restore and rebuild.”
While presidents typically experience rough patches, this one is particularly challenging for Mr. Obama. Liberals have grown disenchanted with what they see as his unwillingness to fight harder for their causes; independents have been turned off by his failure, in their view, to change the way Washington works; and Republicans have become implacably hostile.
The long and messy legislative fight over health care is a leading example of how Mr. Obama has failed to connect with voters, advisers say, because he appeared to do whatever it would take to get a bill rather than explain how people could benefit.
“The process often overwhelmed the substance,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “We need to find ways to try to rise above the maneuvering.”
The discussion inside the White House includes at least two distinct debates: Should Mr. Obama assume a more populist or centrist theme in his message? And should the White House do what it takes to pass compromise legislation or should it force votes, which even if unsuccessful can be used to carry an argument against Republicans in the fall?
It remains an open question how much new legislation will pass Congress, but the coming months will help frame the campaigns. While some form of financial regulation and job creation measures may pass, Obama aides said, larger initiatives like health care, a cap on carbon emissions and an immigration overhaul may have to wait, even though the White House denies trimming its ambitions.
“I wouldn’t say the door is shut on trying to find some places where you can develop a strategy for a bipartisan vote in the Senate,” said John D. Podesta, a former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton who advises the Obama team.
But he said Republicans appeared determined to oppose any initiative Mr. Obama offers. “They would try to deny him passing the Mother’s Day resolution,” he said.
Some veterans of the Clinton White House have advised their friends in the West Wing to take a breath and not make lasting decisions in the immediate aftermath of the election, when it might be tempting to overreact.
Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff and himself a Clinton alumnus, gave a pep talk at the senior staff meeting last week. “These things go in cycles,” participants recalled him saying. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. Keep your head up and keep going.”
Police: Man poses as cop, robs couple
January 23, 2010 11:38 AM
A Lincoln Park man has been charged with impersonating a police officer after allegedly luring a couple into his car and robbing them, authorities said.
Dwayne Carter, 37, of the 1700 block of Clark Street, is scheduled to appear in bond court today with aggravated false personation of a police officer, aggravated robbery and possession of cannabis.
About 4:30 p.m. Friday, the suspect, driving a silver Chevrolet Impala, stopped the vehicle alongside a man and woman in the 4800 block of North Hamlin Avenue in Albany Park, police said. The suspect showed the couple a pair of handcuffs, a police scanner, and what they believed was a handgun.
The suspect ordered the victims into the car, telling them he was an undercover office, and drove the two to a nearby alley, where he took their belongings, including cell phones, an iPod and an unreported amount of cash, police said.
Albany Park district police officers were called to the scene and broadcast a description of the suspect and vehicle over the radio. Patrol officers later spotted and stopped the car in the 3400 block of West Leland Avenue and called the victims to the scene.
The couple identified Carter as the suspect and have since retrieved their belongings, police said.
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Obama's State of the Union agenda: Yes, I get it
WASHINGTON – Seizing a chance to reconnect, President Barack Obama will use his first State of the Union address to try to persuade the people of a frustrated nation that he's on their side, with a familiar sounding agenda recast to relate better to everyday struggles.
In a time of deep economic insecurity, Obama will use this stage on Wednesday to offer hope after a grueling, grinding first year of his presidency, aides say. For the many who think the United States is still on the wrong track, Obama will attempt to present a clearer sense of how everything he's pursuing fits together to help.
And for jittery Democrats facing re-election this fall, Obama will seek to give them an agenda they can sell to voters.
Obama will propose ways to help the middle class. But any new ideas probably will play a supporting role to the plainspoken narrative he wants to tell, that his agenda works for people despite their growing doubts.
"Obviously you want to write a speech in a way that is interesting enough that people want to listen, and that leaves them feeling a sense of momentum and progress," senior Obama adviser David Axelrod told The Associated Press. "But these are serious times. I don't think this is a time for rhetorical flights of fancy."
What to expect in the speech, which comes during a rocky period for Obama?
Heavy does of health care, despite the setbacks of the past week, and job creation. Obama will address the budget deficit, his bid to take on the financial industry, energy, education and immigration. All those issue, he says, fit into his plan to rebuild the economy.
On national security, he will address terrorist threats, the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan and nuclear disputes with Iran and North Korea.
Recent big events won't escape notice, such as Haiti's humanitarian crisis and the Supreme Court ruling allowing businesses and labor unions more power to influence elections. Obama will directly confront a seething frustration with Washington, evident in Republican Scott Brown's stunning Senate victory in Massachusetts that rattled Democrats and cost Obama the voting bloc he needed in the Senate.
It all points to the message Obama wants to convey: Yes, I get it.
Obama is emerging from a year in Washington that, he now says, has left the public with a sense of "remoteness and detachment" from what he's been trying to do.
The president says his agenda is not about him. But in important ways, this speech will be.
Moments like this are opportunities for presidents to take or lose command. Obama's poll numbers on how he handles major issues have been dropping; less than half the people support his management of the economy, taxes and other issues. Unemployment is in double digits and terrorism fears are rising.
To regain his footing, Obama is putting himself on the side of the people. He's challenging special interests on health care and banking. He's reminding people that while he got an economic stimulus plan through, he bailed out Wall Street and the auto industry only by necessity.
Expect plenty of looking back, too. Obama wants people who may tune in only occasionally to what happens in Washington to know, as he sees it, that he got some things done this year, particularly on the economy.
Aides say the speech also will feature promises that Obama wants to return to — changing Washington and restoring trust in it. That case looks much more difficult than when Obama was sworn in, as partisanship is as entrenched as ever, and backroom side deals remain a messy part of legislation.
What the speech won't do is reshape Obama's agenda. He ran on it and will defend it anew.
"I didn't run to kick these challenges down the road," Obama told an audience in Ohio on Friday, seeming to find a campaign voice that had not appeared in so many of his remarks this year. "I ran for president to confront them — once and for all."
Those familiar with the address say it reflects Obama's tendency toward consistency and his opposition to a laundry list of programs. "It's not going to be a series of disjointed offerings, poll-tested offerings," Axelrod said. "It's going to be a narrative about where he wants to lead, and why, and for whom."
Obama gave his speechwriters an outline of what he wanted, and has exchanged drafts. He was spending more time on it over the weekend, and will keep doing so until he steps before a struggling nation on Wednesday night.
Burglar leaves ultimate calling card: his wallet
January 22, 2010 at 11:21 a.m.
As clues go, deputies couldn’t do much better than the one they found at the scene of a break-in in southeast Shelby County last week.
The suspect’s wallet, with a Tennessee I.D. card, birth certificate and Social Security card inside, was lying on a staircase.
Agandus Osborn, 26, has been charged with aggravated burglary and theft in connection with the incident Jan. 15 in the 7900 block of Carmen Cove.
Deputies were called to the address at 3:30 p.m. after the resident reported that two large televisions, an Xbox and other items – with a total value of more than $5,000 – had been stolen.
But the case was cracked quickly when the deputy found the suspect’s calling card. Neither the victim nor his son knew Osborn, and they said he had no business in their home.
He was booked Thursday into the Shelby County Jail, where he was being held on $75,000 bond.
“It’s not often that an alleged criminal might leave a calling card,” said Shelby County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Steve Shular. “This one happened to have not only a name and address, but a picture I.D. of the suspect.”
Osborn told deputies he was set up by someone else, said Shular, who said the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office decided the wallet was evidence enough to bring charges.
A spokeswoman at the A.G.’s office wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley
January 22, 2010 03:53 PM
Democratic Panic and the Meaning of Massachusetts
"Those who do not learn the lessons of history," George Santayana famously said, "are condemned to repeat them." But those who overinterpret the lessons of history may also draw erroneous - even catastrophic - inferences about their meaning. As Democrats contemplate the implications of their defeat in the Massachusetts Senate election, there is every sign that they are in the process of making the second mistake, with disastrous consequences for the Democratic Party and the nation.
Let us briefly review what happened in Massachusetts last Tuesday. In a special election to the Senate, the Republican candidate, Scott Brown, defeated the Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, by 4.8 points. In a state in which there had not been a Republican Senator since 1978, the Republicans won a clear-cut victory. But this was anything but a landslide; had Coakley managed to attract 55,000 Brown voters in an election in which over 2,200,000 ballots were cast, she would have emerged triumphant.
Let us imagine what the outcome might have been had candidate Coakley not done the following:
Many more examples could be cited, but the point is clear: this was not simply a bad campaign, but a calamitous one. Can anyone doubt that a minimally competent Democratic candidate could have won this election?
To be sure, losing Ted Kennedy's seat - and with it their 60-vote filibuster-proof majority - was a major blow to the Democrats. But to conclude from this particular election - which could easily have had a different outcome - that Democrats need to beat a hasty retreat on health care reform is to take overinterpretation to absurd lengths. After all, the Democrats still have a 59-41 majority in the Senate and a 256-178 majority in the House - far better numbers than George W. Bush ever enjoyed. Nevertheless, squeamish Democrats seem to be headed for the exit doors, worried that they be accused of "not hearing the message" from the voters of Massachusetts.
Yet as Steve Pearlstein of the Washington Post and others have pointed out, there is little reason to believe that the Massachusetts vote was a referendum on health care. True, Massachusetts voters were angry and wanted to send a message, but this anger had more to do with the general state of the economy and the failure of those in power to address ordinary people's concerns. According to a survey by Hart Research Associates of 810 voters in the special election conducted on the evening of the election, the most important quality voters were looking for was "electing a candidate who will strengthen the economy and create more jobs" (79% single-most/very important factor). Those who felt the economy was "not so good or poor" (52%) voted for Brown 56 to 39%, while voters who said the economy was "excellent, good or fair" voted for Coakley 52 to 43%. Surprisingly, especially given national media coverage, Coakley won among the 59% of voters who identified health care as one of their top two issues (50% Coakley, 46% Brown); moreover, 67% favor the Massachusetts law that ensures almost universal coverage, including a remarkable 53% of Brown voters.
As the Democrats make the fateful decision of whether to stand and fight on health care reform or to fold their tents, it is important to remember that what is at stake is a fundamental moral issue that transcends the policy and political debates of the moment. Maintaining the status quo means that each year 5,000,000 people will lose their medical insurance, over 900,000 will go bankrupt for medically-related reasons, and 45,000 people will die because of lack of health insurance. This is unconscionable in a society as wealthy as the United States, and it is hard to see how the Democratic Party - if it is to stand for anything - can permit such a system to continue.
It would be tragic indeed if the defeat in Massachusetts continues to be grossly overinterpreted by Democrats, causing a fatal loss of nerve when courage and steadfastness are required. After nearly one hundred years of struggle to establish the principle of universal health care, the Democrats have finally reached the one-yard line. Opportunities like these are rare, and if the Democrats - with control of the White House and with substantial majorities in both the House and Senate - cannot get the ball into the end zone, they will justifiably lose the people's confidence in their capacity to govern. Democrats simply must find a way to get this done. Failure to do so will cost them grievously at the polls, but the real casualty will be a growing loss of faith in the very possibility of progressive social change.
Deputies seek car theft suspect, find him playing 'Grand Theft Auto'
1:32 p.m. EST, January 22, 2010
When Polk County deputies tracked down a suspect in the theft of a 1998 Dodge Durango, they were surprised by what they found — the suspect sitting on a couch playing the video game "Grand Theft Auto."
The saga began around 12:30 p.m. on Thursday when Polk County Sheriff's detectives said they received information about the location of a stolen green 1998 Dodge Durango.
The vehicle had been reported stolen from the Sebring Wal-Mart parking lot.
Polk County Sheriff's Office detectives, along with other law enforcement units, responded to a residence in Haines City, where the stolen Durango was found in front of the home.
Inside, detectives located suspect Michael Ray Ekes, 30, of Haines City. Deputies said he was sitting on a couch playing Grand Theft Auto. Ekes was placed under arrest. The home's owners, Scott Boozer and Janet Dees, were also inside the residence but have not been charged, deputies said.
Detectives said they found a syringe filled with methamphetamine inside Ekes' pants pocket. Ekes told detectives he "shoots" meth and had just finished using before detectives arrived.
Ekes was already out on bail for previous charges of . . . wait for it . . . two counts of grand theft auto.
When asked if the "Grand Theft Auto" video game was anything like the real thing, the Sheriff's Offices said Elks replied, "It's a blast."
"Crime is not a game," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. "Real life crime, has real life consequences — and I hope he goes to prison for a good long while, where they don't have Grand Theft Auto video games."
Ekes was charged with burglary of a conveyance, grand theft auto, possession of burglary tools with intent to use, possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
January 20, 2010
Beauty-store heist suspects visit station, one arrested
News Journal Online
DELAND -- Two women suspected of robbing a beauty supply store showed up at the DeLand police station wanting to know why they were shown on news reports, a sheriff's spokesman said Tuesday night.
"At 8 p.m. the two women in the video went to the DeLand police station saying they had seen themselves on the news and they wanted to know what is going on," sheriff's spokesman Brandon Haught said.
A sheriff's deputy then escorted the women to the sheriff's District 2 Office and an investigator interviewed them, Haught said.
It was determined that Myesha Williams, 20, was the one who robbed the store, Haught said.
Williams was charged with strong arm robbery and retail theft, Haught said. The other woman, whose identity was not available late Tuesday night, was not charged because she had left the store when Williams confronted the store employee, he said.
According to investigators, the women were in Isis Beauty Supply & Accessories on East New York Avenue on Friday at 5:31 p.m. when a worker saw the women look at hairpieces and suspected they might be shoplifting, Haught said. The worker confronted the two and one of the women walked toward the exit and left the store. But Williams headed to the cash register, said she had a gun and asked for money, Haught said.
The suspects then left the store with an unknown amount of money and about $150 in beauty supplies, Haught said.
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9:19 p.m. Jan. 20, 2010
Police impersonator arrested after interrupting prostitution sting in Detroit
ERIC D. LAWRENCE
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
A man impersonating a Detroit police officer interrupted a prostitution sting being conducted by the Wayne County Sheriff's Office on the city's east side today.
The 51-year-old Detroit man flashed a badge and told an undercover detective to get off the street while she was talking to a potential customer in the area of Vernor and Oakdale about 5 p.m., according to the Wayne County Sheriff's Office. After the customer ran away, the man, who was driving a red pickup, began following the detective, shouting that he was an officer.
When the detective replied that she was also an officer, the man sped off, and he was stopped a short distance away.
Despite denying that he was carrying a badge, a search of the man's truck uncovered a loaded .40-caliber gun, a Detroit Police Department badge and clothing with a police department logos, the sheriff's office said.
The man, who faces one count of impersonating an officer and possibly other charges, is in jail in Hamtramck pending arraignment.
“This is a very bizarre situation that could have become deadly,” said Sheriff Benny Napoleon in a statement. “This guy was so bold as to interrupt officers conducting a sting. … Who knows what other crimes he would commit in the future had our team not taken him down?”
Lotto Winner Lost Money After Investing Funds
A Towson University student who hit it big on a Maryland Lottery scratch-off ticket said he's found out that a seve...
Boy Robber Has Mom As Getaway Driver Police say a Tennessee woman drove the getaway car after talking her 11-year-old son into committing an armed robbery at a finance company where she had worked.
Trucker admits hauling 14 tons of marijuana on Interstate 15
10:49 PM PST on Wednesday, January 20, 2010
An Ontario man arrested in what Riverside County sheriff's officials described as the largest marijuana seizure in county history pleaded guilty this week to transporting about 14 tons of marijuana with the intent to distribute it, federal court records show.
Angel Guillen Raya, 51, is scheduled for sentencing April 12.
His attorney, Jan Edward Ronis, said Guillen Raya has been a truck driver all his life and is married with stepchildren.
He was pulled over Aug. 26 on Interstate 15 south of Temecula driving a big rig stuffed with bundles of marijuana. According to the plea deal with the U.S. attorney's office, Guillen Raya had agreed to haul 28,000 pounds of marijuana from San Diego County to San Bernardino County in exchange for $10,000.
It wasn't the first time. Guillen Raya admitted he had been driving similar loads of marijuana for at least three months before his arrest, but the court documents do not specify how many trips he made.
According to an affidavit filed with the court, a Riverside County sheriff's deputy was driving north on Interstate 15 in a marked police vehicle about 9:30 a.m. when he saw a semitrailer tailgating another truck. As the deputy pulled alongside the semitrailer, the driver, later identified as Guillen Raya, changed lanes and nearly crashed into the deputy's vehicle, court records show.
The deputy pulled Guillen Raya over for making an unsafe lane change. A few minutes later, another deputy arrived with a drug-sniffing dog that "alerted" deputies to the presence of drugs in the truck, court records show.
Inside the trailer, deputies found pallets of marijuana stacked to the ceiling. Guillen Raya said it was the second delivery he had made that week to Ontario, court records show.
Sheriff's officials have said the deputy had no advance information about the truck and that the stop was purely the result of the deputy witnessing the unsafe lane change.
Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said no else has been charged in connection with the case but there is an ongoing investigation into the source of the marijuana.
John Edwards Admits Paternity Of Quinn
01/21/10 11:22 AM
RALEIGH, N.C. — Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards finally admitted Thursday he fathered a child during an affair before his second White House bid, dropping long-standing denials just ahead of a book by a former campaign aide who initially took the fall.
Edwards released a statement admitting paternity of the girl, Frances Quinn Hunter, who was born in 2008 to videographer Rielle Hunter as the result of an affair Edwards has already confessed to.
"It was wrong for me to ever deny she was my daughter," he said, adding he was providing financial support for the child and mother. "I am Quinn's father."
The admission comes ahead of the Feb. 2 release of a book by former Edwards aide Andrew Young that is expected to describe how Edwards worked to hide his paternity with Young's help.
Young initially claimed he was the child's father shortly before the 2008 presidential primary contests began. Word that Young was naming Edwards as the father first came when details of his book proposal were reported by The New York Times in September. Edwards' lawyer at the time declined to comment.
The child was born Feb. 27, 2008, indicating that she was conceived in the middle of 2007, several months after Hunter stopped working for Edwards. John and Elizabeth Edwards renewed their wedding vows in July of 2007 to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.
Hunter's lawyer, Michael Critchley, said the admission is "good for everyone."
Critchley said Edwards' statement amounted to a public acknowledgment of something that was known privately.
He said Hunter did not have an immediate comment. It is not clear where she and the child are living.
In an excerpt of an ABC News interview released Thursday, Young says that Edwards asked him to arrange a fake a paternity test.
"Get a doctor to fake the DNA results," Young said Edwards told him. "And he asked me ... to steal a diaper from the baby so he could secretly do a DNA test to find out if this (was) indeed his child."
An Edwards spokeswoman declined to comment on the ABC interview.
Elizabeth Edwards, whose cancer returned in an incurable form in March 2007, has stood by her husband despite the affair. She has said that it does not matter to her whether her husband fathered a child with Hunter, saying, "that would be a part of John's life, but not a part of mine."
Harrison Hickman, a longtime friend of John Edwards who worked as his political pollster, said Elizabeth Edwards was supportive of the decision of her husband to come forward.
"She's hoping, like a lot of people are hoping, that its the beginning of the end of the public part of this," Hickman said.
Since admitting the affair in August 2008, Edwards has largely gone into seclusion. He has acknowledged a federal investigation into his campaign finances while both Young and Hunter – with her child – have made appearances at a federal courthouse in Raleigh.
In his statement, Edwards said, "I will do everything in my power to provide her (the child) with the love and support she deserves. I have been able to spend time with her during the past year and trust that future efforts to show her the love and affection she deserves can be done privately and in peace."
Edwards also said, "It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me."
"I have been providing financial support for Quinn and have reached an agreement with her mother to continue providing support in the future," the statement said. "To all those I have disappointed and hurt, these words will never be enough, but I am truly sorry."
Edwards' attorney, Wade Smith, said Edwards wrestled with the decision to come forward but took so long to do it because "he's not the only person involved in this."
"It's a complex family situation, and he had to keep in mind that other people have concerns and worries about it," Smith said.
Smith said there would never be a logical explanation for why Edwards initially denied being the father. But he added that Edwards was "very pleased" to finally set the record straight.
"To say that life has been hard for John Edwards for the past year would be an enormous understatement," Smith said. "His life has totally fallen apart. It's been a very difficult time for him. He recognizes that he has been at fault."
Edwards, a former U.S. senator representing North Carolina from 1998 until his vice presidential bid in 2004, acknowledged in May that federal investigators were looking into how he used campaign funds. Grand jury proceedings are secret, and the U.S. attorney's office in Raleigh has declined to confirm or deny an investigation. Smith declined to comment Thursday about the probe.
Edwards adamantly denied during an interview with ABC News last summer that he had fathered a child with Hunter, and he welcomed a paternity test. He said then that the affair had ended in 2006. That year, Edwards' political action committee had paid Hunter's video production firm $100,000 for work.
Tea Party shows its muscle in Bay State
The anger driving this loose coalition of activists, united by a distrust of government, helped vault a little-known Republican state lawmaker into the Senate seat held for 47 years by liberal icon Edward M. Kennedy.
As Scott P. Brown’s populist message began making inroads into Democrat Martha Coakley’s commanding lead, the call went out online, via e-mail and in chat rooms, drawing Tea Party activists to Massachusetts to woo its famously liberal electorate.
“It was a miracle moment,’’ said Christen Varley, a 39-year-old blogger from Holliston who helped found the Greater Boston Tea Party last year. “Boom, he went from zero on the radar screen to what everyone was paying attention to.’’
Several Tea Party activists now are considering candidacies for state representative and state auditor, as well as Congress, said Varley. But many are focused on just making a statement, rather than building a viable third political party.
“I guess it’s just a way to vent our frustration, to make our voice heard,’’ said Barbara Klain, who cofounded the Greater Lowell Tea Party with a bunch of signs and no e-mail address. People were not sure what to make of their Tea Party Boat Float in the Chelmsford Fourth of July Parade, she said. Now she has about 400 members.
“It seems to be working,’’ Klain added. “I had no idea we were going to have this impact when I started last year. It’s very satisfying. And it’s a little scary, too.’’
Until recently, the Tea Party movement had not seemed to be surging in Massachusetts. Activists in Boston, Worcester, and Lowell held protests on tax day, April 15, like their compatriots. Some joined a Sept. 12 protest in Washington, D.C. But Varley’s group launched a website only in December, a month after meeting with other Massachusetts activists and deciding that they would not endorse a Senate candidate.
Enthusiasm for Brown began to soar, however, after the campaign asked Varley to recruit voters for a fund-raiser and about 150 of those on her e-mail list of 1,300 turned out for a snowy morning breakfast fund-raiser in Westborough. He spent 2 1/2 hours, Varley said, talking to conservative voters who urgently wanted to be heard.
“I spent the next two days saying, if you like Scott Brown, go out and spread the word,’’ Varley said. “That’s what they did. And it exploded.’’
The same thing was happening elsewhere, as conservative pundits began training their attention on the race and activists from states including Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York began flocking to Massachusetts to hold signs, make calls, or do whatever it took to help block health care reform through Brown’s election.
That word-of-mouth fervor was helpful for a minority-party candidate who had limited infrastructure in Massachusetts and no funding expected from the national party that had given up on the seat.
Brown’s candidacy began going viral among conservatives just after the new year, at about the same time the campaign launched a controversial ad showing President John F. Kennedy’s likeness morph into Brown’s and at a time when Brown was hitting the conservative airwaves and the Coakley campaign was mostly dormant.
Brown was not a perfect fit for the Tea Party platform, an amalgam of antigovernment complaints that coalesce around issues of shrinking government and preventing national health care reform.
In a scorching analysis circulated a week before the election, Massachusetts small-government activists Michael Cloud and Carla Howell tried to dissuade Tea Party voters from supporting Brown, noting that as a legislator he had supported health care reform in Massachusetts and urged voters to defeat their popular but unsuccessful 2008 ballot question to eliminate the income tax.
“Scott Brown is the worst fake tax-cutter in the Massachusetts legislature,’’ they wrote. “And a fake ally is more dangerous than an open enemy,’’
Senate candidate Joseph L. Kennedy, a 38-year-old Libertarian from Dedham who was a Tea Party enthusiast before he was a candidate for the Senate against Brown, thinks he should have been the beneficiary of the activists’ fervor.
“The people in the tea parties sold their own soul,’’ Kennedy said.
Yesterday, as the next round of challengers lined up to continue the electoral surge, Brown endorsed Republican Bill Hudak’s candidacy against US Representative John Tierney.
Martin Lamb of Holliston plans to challenge US Representative Jim McGovern; Brad Marston is running for state representative, and independent Kamal Jain of Lowell for state auditor, members of the group said. Massachusetts GOP chairwoman Jennifer Nassour was leery of giving too much credit to the insurgent Tea Party movement.
“I couldn’t tell you who they were if they walked past me,’’ said Nassour. “I think that really, the people that got involved on Scott’s race were the ones that just really were motivated for things to be different here.’’
That said, she is not going to decline the assistance when the party represents such a small fraction of the state’s voters.
“We’re 12 percent, so quite honestly, anyone who’s going to come along and help us are welcome,’’ said Nassour.
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Wide-Bodied Passengers Charged Double To Fly
1:20pm UK, Wednesday January 20, 2010
Overweight passengers who cannot squeeze into a single plane seat are to be charged double to fly with Air France.
Air France is to make larger passengers pay for two seats
People who cannot fit into a standard seat will be asked to pay for two seats, or not be allowed on board for "safety reasons", according to the airline.
Air France spokeswoman Monique Matze said: "We have to make sure that the backrest can move freely up and down and that all passengers are securely fastened with a safety belt.
"The charge will only apply on flights that are fully booked. They will get their money back on flights where spaces are available."
The airline intends to charge passengers 75% of the cost of the second seat on top of the full price for the first.
Air France was ordered to pay £5,000 damages in 2007 for "humiliation" to a 27-stone passenger at an airport check-in desk in New Delhi.
Frenchman Jean-Jacques Jauffret, 43, had his stomach measured by Air France staff before being told he needed to buy two seats.
Mr Jauffret claimed he was told: "People as fat as you need to buy two seats."
United Airlines introduced the same policy last year, making passengers with extra-wide bodies pay for an extra seat.
Air France's new charges will apply for people who book their tickets from February 1 for all flights from April 1.
Experts: Sitting Too Much Could Be Deadly
Scientists Say Exercise Won't Necessarily Cancel Out Prolonged Sitting
AP Medical Writer
POSTED: 10:42 am EST January 20, 2010
UPDATED: 6:33 pm EST January 20, 2010
LONDON -- Here's a new warning from health experts: Sitting is deadly.
Scientists are increasingly warning that sitting for prolonged periods -- even if you also exercise regularly -- could be bad for your health. And it doesn't matter where the sitting takes place -- at the office, at school, in the car or before a computer or TV -- just the overall number of hours it occurs.
Research is preliminary, but several studies suggest people who spend most of their days sitting are more likely to be fat, have a heart attack or even die.
In an editorial published this week in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Elin Ekblom-Bak of the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences suggested that authorities rethink how they define physical activity to highlight the dangers of sitting.
While health officials have issued guidelines recommending minimum amounts of physical activity, they haven't suggested people try to limit how much time they spend in a seated position.
"After four hours of sitting, the body starts to send harmful signals," Ekblom-Bak said. She explained that genes regulating the amount of glucose and fat in the body start to shut down.
Even for people who exercise, spending long stretches of time sitting at a desk is still harmful. Tim Armstrong, a physical activity expert at the World Health Organization, said people who exercise every day -- but still spend a lot of time sitting -- might get more benefit if that exercise were spread across the day, rather than in a single bout.
That wasn't welcome news for Aytekin Can, 31, who works at a London financial company, and spends most of his days sitting in front of a computer. Several evenings a week, Can also teaches jiu jitsu, a Japanese martial art involving wrestling, and also does Thai boxing.
I'm sure there are some detrimental effects of staying still for too long, but I hope that being active when I can helps," he said. "I wouldn't want to think the sitting could be that dangerous."
Still, in a study published last year that tracked more than 17,000 Canadians for about a dozen years, researchers found people who sat more had a higher death risk, independently of whether or not they exercised.
"We don't have enough evidence yet to say how much sitting is bad," said Peter Katzmarzyk of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, who led the Canadian study. "But it seems the more you can get up and interrupt this sedentary behavior, the better."
Figures from a U.S. survey in 2003-2004 found Americans spend more than half their time sitting, from working at their desks to sitting in cars.
Experts said more research is needed to figure out just how much sitting is dangerous, and what might be possible to offset those effects.
"People should keep exercising because that has a lot of benefits," Ekblom-Bak said. "But when they're in the office, they should try to interrupt sitting as often as possible," she said. "Don't just send your colleague an e-mail. Walk over and talk to him. Standing up."
JOLIET, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire)
Police: Man Says Woman Refused Sex After He Paid For It
Man, Woman Both Charged With Prostitution
5:46 pm EST January 19, 2010
MARLBOROUGH, N.H. -- A man and a woman were charged with prostitution Tuesday after, police said, the man called them to report that the woman didn't have sex with him after he paid for it.
Jeanna Mercure, 22, of Manchester, N.H., and Robert Smith, 32, of Marlborough, were charged with prostitution.
Police said Smith called the Marlborough Police Department on Monday and reported that he had paid Mercure and a third party $150 to have sex with him on Sunday night. Smith called police after Mercure failed to have sex with him, police said.
Mercure is scheduled to be arraigned on May 24, and Smith is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 11.
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With 60th vote gone, a search for a new strategy
Democrats split on starting anew on health deal
WORK TO DO
January 20, 2010
WASHINGTON - Republican Scott Brown’s victory has deprived President Obama and his party of the crucial 60th Senate vote they were counting on to pass a sweeping overhaul of the US health care system in the coming weeks, sending Democratic leaders racing to devise an emergency alternative strategy and creating the very real possibility the effort could collapse.
Democrats were sharply divided over what to do. Some vowed to press on. But a number of others rejected the notion of using parliamentary maneuvers or having the House quickly pass the Senate bill, saying it was time to step back and reevaluate their approach.
“It would be wrong substantively and politically for Democrats to try to pass the bill despite the election,’’ said Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts. “I think we now have to begin some negotiations over a different bill.’’ He said the next step should be to see whether Republicans will make good on their persistent offers to start anew on a bipartisan deal.
The loss of the 60th Senate vote means Democrats will need at least one Republican to accomplish virtually anything on their or the president’s agenda. Relations between the parties have soured to such a degree that even relatively routine matters became full-fledged partisan parliamentary battles late last year.
Failure to enact a health care bill, which the president made his top domestic priority and Congress spent a year pursuing, could be a political disaster of epic proportions for Democrats, casting serious doubt on their ability to govern and further jeopardizing their political position heading into this year’s elections.
After President Clinton’s health bill died in 1994, Democrats suffered record losses in the midterm elections.
And if the legislation dies, there is no telling when any president or Congress might try again to address the problem of the nation’s nearly 50 million uninsured.
“Members will feel there is no political upside for dealing with it,’’ said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA and a leading proponent of the overhaul effort. “I think it is now or one or more decades from now.’’
Democratic leaders showed little interest in trying to hurry up and pass a compromise bill based on the House-Senate negotiations of this month before Brown is formally seated.
They also seemed loath to use a special parliamentary process known as “reconciliation,’’ which allows revenue-related items to pass the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes, to shoehorn through a scaled back, and possibly more partisan, bill. Another route could be for the House to pass the Senate bill, with the understanding that it would be “fixed’’ later using reconciliation.
Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, the son of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, said he thought this was the best way forward.
“We’ve got to get it done,’’ he said. “To start from scratch and try to cobble something together is politically a very difficult thing to do.’’
House majority leader Steny Hoyer would not comment on the postelection strategy yesterday, but he told reporters, “I think the Senate bill is clearly better than nothing.’’ But the difficulties of engineering such a strategy would be great because House members disagree with the Senate on so many fronts.
House leaders would have to proceed quickly and carefully, gauging whether they could coax enough nervous House members to trust them to fix what they regard as the bill’s flaws.
If anything could make the House leaders’ situation even worse, it would be for the House to try to pass the Senate bill - and fail.
Representative Bart Stupak, Democrat of Michigan and the leader of the antiabortion Democratic contingent in the House, said: “I wouldn’t consider it. Promises don’t make it.’’
Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have to both reassure members the party will bolster their reelection bids and discipline recalcitrant members.
“She’s got to lean on people,’’ he said.
But some members rejected all of those approaches, arguing the party should take a step back. Frank said, “Any suggestion that Democrats try to get cute with this is a terrible idea.’’
Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, said: “When you have large numbers of citizens in the United States of America who believe this is going in the wrong direction, there’s a limit to which you can keep saying that OK, they just don’t get it, if we just pass a bill, they’ll get it,’’ he said.
Len Nichols, a health economist with the New America Foundation, said he still thinks the best way forward for Democrats would be to return to Senator Olympia Snowe, Republican of Maine, and possibly her fellow moderate Maine Republican, Susan Collins, and strike a compromise.
“I know just from interacting with staff on both sides of the aisle that she and Collins engaged in various amendments right up until the end,’’ he said. “I don’t think they are beyond the pale.’’
But others doubted that strategy would work. After Brown’s victory, Republicans would put almost inconceivable pressure on any member of the GOP who would offer political smelling salts to their adversaries.
Susan Milligan of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
January 20, 2010
Barack Obama floundering a year on after wave of goodwill crashes
When Barack Obama took the oath of office before a shimmering wave of humanity a year ago today with his approval rating at 70 per cent, he and the Democrats controlling Congress believed that history beckoned — and that they had the clout and popular support to shape it.
Yesterday the President and his party were scrambling to avoid losing Teddy Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat — an unthinkable development even a month ago — and are bracing themselves for a bloodbath in congressional elections this November. It shows just what a debilitating first year they have suffered, and what a perilous 2010 beckons.
On that freezing but sparkling January morning 12 months ago, Mr Obama promised to usher in a new era of bipartisanship in Washington and to remake the American economy and the country’s social contract with a wealth of historic legislation that a Democratic-controlled Capitol Hill would send to his desk.
Today his approval rating has dropped to less than 50 per cent. Democrats are nervous and depressed. In November’s mid-term elections they will almost certainly lose their 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate — if they have not already lost it by ceding the Massachusetts seat. Last night Mr Obama acknowledged the possibility of losing it.
In the House, it is likely that the party will lose between 20 and 30 seats, and could cede control of the lower chamber entirely. Such a notion appeared impossible a year ago.
Mr Obama remains personally popular, but his policies have unnerved many Americans who voted for him, in particular independents, whose support was critical to his election victory. In a poll this week, only 49 per cent of unaffiliated voters approved of Mr Obama’s performance: lower than any of his recent predecessors at this stage in their presidencies.
Voters are angry, restless and deeply disaffected with Washington. They are unconvinced that Mr Obama’s prescription of massive government intervention has succeeded in any area, except in exploding the federal budget deficit and leaving generations of Americans awash in national debt. On inauguration day, only 19 per cent of Americans thought that the country was on the right track. That rose to 50 per cent by April but has slipped to 37 today.
Last year’s financial collapse was not brewed on Mr Obama’s watch but voters hold the President and his party responsible for fixing it. The approval rating for Democrats has dropped to toxic levels.
Unemployment remains stubbornly stuck at 10 per cent, despite $2 trillion of federal stimulus and other forms of intervention. Americans are disgusted and outraged that the very banks who caused the crisis, and who were bailed out with billions of taxpayer dollars, are now paying huge bonuses again.
Republicans are running on an obstructionist agenda that has at its core a passionate opposition to Mr Obama’s ten-year $1 trillion health reform legislation, the heart of his domestic agenda. It is bearing fruit, as the closeness of the Massachusetts race has demonstrated. For months, voters have wanted Mr Obama to focus on job creation but he has invested enormous time and political capital in health insurance reform that a majority now say they do not want.
Republicans have succeeded in painting his domestic legislative agenda as reckless big government that will bankrupt America. Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, summarised the fears of many voters: that Mr Obama might become “a failed, big-government president”.
“What I haven’t been able to do in the midst of this crisis is bring the country together in a way that we had done in the inauguration,” Mr Obama admitted recently. “That’s what’s been lost this year.”
A majority of Americans oppose Mr Obama’s troubled pledge to shut Guantánamo Bay and his decision to try the self-confessed mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks in a civilian court a few blocks from Ground Zero. They also fear that his efforts at reaching out to America’s enemies, such as Iran, leave the US looking supine.
The next few months will be critical for Mr Obama. If he succeeds in passing healthcare reform it will be a big victory. If he fails, it will be a disaster. By November his super-majority in Congress will be gone and his domestic agenda — along with his presidency — will be dangerously stalled.
Police: Easton man broke into city home, showered, cut hair and cooked chicken
January 19, 2010, 12:25PM
An Easton man broke into a West Ward home on Sunday, cut his hair, took a shower, cooked fried chicken then refused to leave when the homeowner found him watching television, court records say.
According to court records:
Jose N. DeGracia, of the first block of North Fourth Street, broke into the home in the first block of South 15th Street by smashing the front door window with a large rock.
Grace Kraus, who lives at the home, told police she came back to find DeGracia sitting in her television room. She told police she did not know the man and he refused to leave.
Police said it appeared as though DeGracia had visited every room in the house. Kraus' family photos were turned face down and several photos were taken off the walls. Dressers and closets had been rummaged through. DeGracia had also allegedly taken a shower and cut his hair in the kitchen, where he was also preparing fried chicken.
DeGracia was arrested and charged with burglary, criminal trespass, theft and criminal mischief. He was sent to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $15,000 bail.
'Smoking Baby' Sparks Up Facebook Outrage
Tuesday January 19, 2010
A teenage mother has received a visit from the police after a photo of her baby son with a cigarette hanging from his mouth was posted online.
Police said they had "no immediate concerns" over the welfare of baby Ollie
Rebecca Davey, 18, was apparently reported by concerned friends who had seen the picture on Facebook.
It showed six-month-old Ollie posing with the unlit cigarette.
Essex police learned of the image on Saturday and traced the teenager's home address to Southend in Essex.
A spokesman said they had "no immediate concerns" for the boy's welfare after the visit, but confirmed the matter had been referred to social services.
The offending photo has since been removed from the site, but it was printed in The Sun.
Southend Borough Council said its officers would be visiting the child's family again within the day.
Sue Cook, head of specialist children's services, said: "The purpose of the visit is to ensure that any child within the household is being appropriately cared for."
Friends of Ms Davey were quick to offer their support after the photo appeared in the media.
One online friend, Harry Afc Digenous, posted: "F*** The Sun. Take them to court."
Another friend, Jade Clark, told the mother she had spotted the image in the paper, just above a posting from Davey herself, announcing Ollie has two teeth "bless him".
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Georgians uncover Facebook flaw
6:32 a.m. Tuesday, January 19, 2010
San Francisco — A Georgia mother and her two daughters logged onto Facebook from mobile phones last weekend and wound up in a startling place: strangers’ accounts with full access to troves of private information.
The glitch — the result of a routing problem at the family’s wireless carrier, AT&T — revealed a little-known security flaw with far-reaching implications for everyone on the Internet, not just Facebook users.
In each case, the Internet lost track of who was who, putting the women into the wrong accounts. It doesn’t appear the users could have done anything to stop it. The problem adds a dimension to researchers’ warnings that there are many ways online information — from mundane data to dark secrets — can go awry.
Several security experts said they had not heard of a case like this, in which the wrong person was shown a Web page whose user name and password had been entered by someone else. It’s not clear whether such episodes are rare or simply not reported. But experts said such flaws could occur on e-mail services, for instance, and that something similar could happen on a PC, not just a phone.
“The fact that it did happen is proof that it could potentially happen again and with something a lot more important than Facebook,” said Nathan Hamiel, founder of the Hexagon Security Group, a research organization.
Candace Sawyer, 26, says she immediately suspected something was wrong when she tried to visit her Facebook page this month.
After typing Facebook.com into her Nokia smart phone, she was taken into the site without being asked for her user name or password. She was in an account that didn’t look like hers. She had fewer friend requests than she remembered. Then she found a picture of the page’s owner.
“He’s white — I’m not,” she said with a laugh.
Sawyer logged off and asked her sister, Mari, 31, her partner in a dessert catering company, and their mother, Fran, 57, to see whether they had the same problem on their phones.
Mari landed inside another woman’s page.
Fran’s phone — which had never been used to access Facebook before — took her inside yet another stranger’s page, one belonging to a young woman from Indiana. They sent an e-mail to one of their own accounts to prove it.
They were dumbfounded.
“I thought it was the phone — ‘Maybe this phone is just weird and does magical, horrible things and I have to get rid of it,’ ” Candace Sawyer said.
The women, who live together in East Point, had recently upgraded to the same model of phone and all used the same carrier, AT&T.
awyer contacted The Associated Press after reporting the problem to Facebook and AT&T.
The problem wasn’t in the phones. It was a flaw in the infrastructure connecting the phones to the Internet.
That illuminates a grave problem.
Generally Web sites and computers are compromised from within. A hacker can get Web pages or computers to run programming code that they shouldn’t. But in this case, it was a security gap between the phone and the Web site that exposed strangers’ Facebook pages to the Sawyers. Misconfigured equipment, poorly written network software or other technical errors could have caused AT&T to fumble the information flowing from the Sawyers’ phones to Facebook and back.
Fortunately, Hamiel said, the vulnerability would be of limited use to a hacker interested in pulling off widespread mayhem, because this hole would let him access only one account at a time. To do more damage the criminal would have to pull off the unlikely feat of gaining full control of the piece of equipment that routes Internet traffic to individual users.
AT&T spokesman Michael Coe said its wireless customers have landed in the wrong Facebook pages in “a limited number of instances” and that a network problem behind those episodes is being fixed.
The Sawyers experienced a different glitch. Coe said an investigation points to a “misdirected cookie.” A cookie is a file some Web sites place on computers to store identifying information — including the user name that Facebook members would enter to access their pages. Coe said technicians couldn’t figure out how the cookie had been routed to the wrong phone, leading it into the wrong Facebook account.
He also said AT&T could confirm only that the problem occurred on one of the Sawyers’ phones, possibly because they had logged off Facebook on the other two before reporting the incident.
Facebook declined to comment and referred questions to AT&T.
Some Web sites would be immune from this kind of mix-up, particularly those that use encryption. A Web browser would have trouble deciphering the encryption on a page that a computer user didn’t actually seek, said Chris Wysopal, co-founder of Veracode Inc., a security company.
Sensitive sites and those used for banking and e-commerce generally use encryption. But most other sites, including some Web-based e-mail services, don’t use it. One way of checking: The Web addresses of encrypted sites begin with “https” rather than “http.” Facebook uses encryption when user names and passwords are entered, to cloak the sign-on from snoops, but after the credentials are entered the encryption is dropped.
It’s unclear how many people were affected by the problem the Sawyers discovered, and whether it was limited to Facebook.
The reason all three women experienced the glitch is a function of the way cellular networks are designed. In some cases, all the mobile Internet traffic for a particular area is routed through the same piece of networking equipment. If that piece of equipment is misbehaving or set up incorrectly, strange things happen when computers down the line receive the data.
Usually that means a Web site simply won’t load, said Alberto Solino, director of security consulting services for Core Security Technologies. In the Sawyers’ case, “somehow they got the wrong user but they could keep using that account for a long period of time. That’s what’s strange,” he said.
The AP tried to contact two of the people whose Facebook pages were exposed to the Sawyers, but the calls and e-mails were not returned. It’s unclear whether they are also AT&T customers, though security experts said that’s likely the case.
Indeed, it was the case in a similar incident in November.
Stephen Simburg, 25, who works in marketing, was home for Thanksgiving in Vancouver, Wash., when he logged onto Facebook from his cellphone. He didn’t recognize the people who had written him messages.
“I thought I had gotten really popular all of a sudden, or something was wrong,” he said. Then he saw the picture of the account owner: A young woman.
He got her e-mail address from the site, logged off and wrote the woman a message. He asked whether he had met her at some point and she had borrowed his phone to check her Facebook account.
“No,” she wrote back, “but I was just telling my family that I ended up in your profile!”
Simburg and the woman figured out they were both using AT&T to access Facebook on their phones. (AT&T had no comment because the incident wasn’t reported to the company.)
“I felt like I had been let down by the phone company and by Facebook,” he said.
He says he has put the incident behind him. But one piece of it remains: He and the young woman are now Facebook friends.
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I-95 billboard 'man and bear' prompt 911 calls
02:13 a.m., Saturday, January 16, 2010
BRIDGEPORT -- A local car dealer's unconventional billboard advertising is attracting more than passing attention from motorists.
A life-sized mannequin perched with a teddy bear atop the billboard near Interstate 95's northbound exit 26 is also prompting occasional calls to the emergency "911" number from travelers who fear the figures are about to topple off.
But dispatchers at State Police Troop G barracks tell concerned callers that the "man" isn't real -- and that he and his companion bear have been up there for a while.
A marketing device designed to increase customer traffic for BMW of Bridgeport's overnight test drive offer, the mannequin is dressed in pajamas. The man and bear were lifted to the top of the billboard about two months ago, said Tim Coughlin, the North Avenue dealership's general sales manager.
No one expected the mannequin idea -- which dealership officials brainstormed roughly three years ago -- to generate 911 calls, he said.
"For whatever reason, it's working because people are looking at it," Coughlin said with a chuckle. "It has become distinctive and sort of like a signature."
Before the teddy bear motif, another BMW of Bridgeport billboard featured a dummy with extra long legs hanging down over the sign to signify the dealership's growth, he said.
According to Troop G, there have been at least three calls since the current billboard went up, and they've mostly come after dark.
This isn't the first time BMW of Bridgeport has heard comments on its advertising.
Most of the feedback has been positive, Coughlin said, but there was the time that a man came to the dealership and waited 10 minutes to speak to a manager.
"He says, `I want to know, why do you have that mannequin with the long legs?' " Coughlin recalled. "He said, `I don't get it. I don't think it's funny and I'm offended by it.' "
Still, the dealership has found that putting dummies atop billboards is smart advertising.
The dealer hopes the teddy bear and pajamas promote the message, "We'll take care of you," Coughlin said. Under the program, the dealership allows prospective buyers to take home a new BMW and "let it sleep in your garage for the night" before committing to buying the vehicle.
"It's done very well for us ... We do a lot of overnight test drives because of it," he said, adding that such prolonged "test drives" often result in sales.
And while the man ensconced on the billboard has been seated securely from the start, the teddy bear has been in peril.
The giant stuffed toy even disappeared for a time -- whether he was taken or simply fell off the billboard, no one knew -- and never was found.
The dealership considered offering a reward, Coughlin joked, but in the end, "We just replaced him."
Lt. J. Paul Vance, the State Police spokesman, could not be reached for comment Friday because of a statewide State Police awards ceremony.
A mannequin and giant teddy bear sit on top of a billboard, advertising BMW of Bridgeport, near exit 26 northbound on I-95, in Bridgeport, Conn. Jan. 15th, 2010. (Courtesy: Ned Gerard / Connecticut Post)
Driver shoots out window to survive accident
The Press Tribune
A Roseville man used quick thinking to survive a Sunday morning accident that left his car submerged in an Industrial Avenue creek.
The unidentified 28-year-old man, an armed security guard employed by Thunder Valley Casino, was able to use his handgun to shoot a hole in one of the car's windows as the vehicle sank into Pleasant Grove Creek on Industrial Avenue in Roseville near the Santucci Justice Center.
The man was able to crawl through the broken window and to make it back up to the roadway, where he flagged down a passing motorist.
The driver told investigators that he struck the guardrail and went into the creek after his Blue Tooth phone device startled him while driving. There were no signs of drugs or alcohol, according to Roseville Police Lt. Michael Allison. The incident took place at approximately 9 a.m. Sunday.
Industrial Avenue had to be closed for a few hours while officials pulled the 2005 Ford Focus station wagon out of the creek.
A Good Samaritan in Eugene, Ore., is arrested after putting coins in expired parking meters.
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MICHELLE DECLARES WAR ON OPRAH . . . AND HILLARY!!!
Furious Michelle Obama has declared war on Oprah Winfrey - saying she has proof the talk-show titan is plotting with Hillary Clinton to take the White House from her husband.
"Michelle claims Oprah is a political traitor who has switched her loyalties from President Obama to Hillary and is planning to support her in the next presidential election," divulged a source.
"The president refuses to believe Oprah would turn on him, but Michelle says her sources overheard conversations in which Oprah promised she would throw her money and influence behind Hillary if she decides to run."
Michelle is convinced Oprah believed her help getting Obama elected would be repaid by having very close ties to the White House and being an adviser to the first family, according to the source.
"Instead she has been invited only three times, and two of them were for interviews."
Oprah believes she played a major role in getting the president elected and expects the first family to be grateful, says the source.
"Although Michelle appreciates that Oprah endorsed her husband, she considers her role minor. And the first lady resents that Oprah flirted with Barack - trying to make people think she was way closer to him than she really was.
"Michelle knew they weren't having an affair, but it was as though Oprah wanted people to wonder."
During Oprah's initial White House interview with the first lady, the frostiness in the air was clearly visible - and the talk queen left "seething," says the source.
"Oprah has admitted to friends she feels betrayed and used. She has never supported a politician before and expected at least to be respected.
"Hillary immediately picked up on what was going on and made a move to win over Oprah. They quickly bonded and became good friends.
"Now Oprah wishes she had thrown her support to Hillary in the primaries."
Hillary, now serving as secretary of state, will challenge the president in upcoming primaries if his popularity continues to decline, according to the source.
"But Barack subscribes to the idea you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer - and gave Hillary the job despite Michelle's angry protests. Now Michelle is doing a major 'told you so.'
"She is insisting Hillary be fired and Oprah banned permanently from the White House.
"Barack is very reluctant to start a war with the two women, especially with all the other problems he has on his plate. But Michelle is spoiling for a fight and says if he won't confront the two 'plotters,' as she calls them, she will!
"Hillary and Oprah are certainly not shy about taking on the first lady. If Michelle wants a fight, they will happily step into the ring with her."
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Police: Theft suspect drove by officer
Jan 17, 2010
12:10 am EST
KRQE CBS 13 Albuquerque
How to beat Blue Monday
Today is officially the most depressing day of the year – but thankfully help is at hand.
7:00AM GMT 18 Jan 2010
Today is Blue Monday, but there are ways to cheer yourself up Photo: Alamy
It’s freezing and dark outside, you’re statistically likely to have broken your last remaining New Year resolution at the weekend, Christmas is but a distant memory, and the largest credit card bill you’ll get all year has just landed on your doormat. So it’s no wonder that today has been designated the most depressing day of the year.
Psychologist Cliff Arnall, from the University’s Cardiff Centre for Lifelong Learning and an expert in seasonal disorders, has designated January 18 as "Blue Monday". But it needn’t get you down. Try these quick-fix tips to help beat the blues.
Eat chocolate for breakfast
Chocolate has long been held to be a mood-lifter. It boosts levels of serotonin, the brain’s antidepressant, as well as endorphins, the feel-good chemicals released after exercise. It’s also a known source of theobromine, a stimulant that has a lasting relaxing effect. But there’s evidence to suggest that chocolate is less fattening when eaten at the start of a dark, depressing day such as Blue Monday. According to endocrinologists in Venezuela, women who ate a 600-calorie breakfast, which included a piece of chocolate, lost more weight than those on a low-carb diet. Dr Daniela Jakubowicz attributed the success to kick-starting the body’s metabolism at the time of day it was most receptive to food. So will it be muesli or Maltesers?
Enjoy your garden
After breakfast, step outside and pick a flower. If you’re lucky enough to have something sweet-smelling in the garden, such as the lovely, pale yellow Chimonanthus praecox (Wintersweet), Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn’ or Sarcococca confusa, all the better. By the time you return from work, tired, cold and depressed, their honey scent will have filled a room. If you don’t own any of these irresistibly cheering species, order them now for next year.
Boost your alertness with bright morning light
Spending 15 minutes exposed to bright light before leaving for work in the morning is a great way to boost your alertness, says Vicki Ravell, a light therapy researcher at the University of Surrey. “Whether you turn on the light in your kitchen and have a cup of coffee or take the dog for a walk, getting a good dose of bright light will reset your body clock, lift your mood and help you feel more alert.”
Cancel a meeting
Bosses take note. The advantage of cancelling a meeting at short notice on the worst day of the year is multi-fold, says leading executive coach Tom Preston (www.thomaspreston.co.uk). “First, you get some time that you thought you didn’t have, as do the others in the meeting. Yet the preparation, for when the meeting is rescheduled, is all done. Everyone gets the benefit of a little “me” time or time to catch up on all the things that feel like a tsunami that we have yet to do so far in 2010.”
Force a smile with a pencil
In 1988, psychologist Fritz Stack asked a group of participants to clench a pencil between their teeth for 20 seconds so that their lips did not touch it, creating the impression of a smile. The pencil-biters then reported enjoying a comedy show more than another group who had been asked to forced a frown.
Book a holiday
When spending your way to happiness, do it wisely. Professor Richard Wiseman, author of 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot (Macmillan, $12.99) says splashing out on a city break or summer holiday, rather than material things like a new handbag, are the best way to lift your mood. “Experiences promote one of the most effective happiness-inducing behaviours – spending time with others.”
Imagine the end
Sounds morbid but, says Richard O’Connor, author of Happiness: The Thinking Person’s Guide (Vermilion, $8.99), but picturing your own death is a great way to improve your state of mind. “In your final moments, you are at peace and your thoughts are clear. You can get in touch with a number of regrets. Fortunately it’s not yet the end of your life. You have the time to correct some of the problems.”
Eat certain fruits
Eating key foods can improve your mood. Blueberries are packed with vitamin C, which can alleviate stress. Pomegranate is one of the richest sources of flavanoids, an antioxidant with mood-enhancing properties. Though not a superfruit, cherries can also give you a lift. “They were renowned in the East for combating mental fatigue,” says Cherry Chappell, author of Grandma’s Remedies (Arrow, $7.99). “It was advised that 10 to 20 were to be taken daily along the Silk Route.”
Forage for borage
Raid your high-street health food stores for products loaded with this traditional English herb. Borage tea – which is available in bags – can “dispel sadness and boost courage,” according to Chappell. “We don’t use it much today, but it was widely used in medieval remedies to lift the mood. Roman thinker Pliny is reputed to have said borage 'maketh a man merry and joyful’.” Try a spoonful of borage honey – or 'happy honey’ as the Romans called it. Or apply a moisturiser with borage extract to tired skin.
Capsaicin, the substance that gives chilli its kick, also raises the body’s natural endorphin levels, which improve one’s mood. Even better news, it’s an appetite-suppressant. According to a Japanese study, people who ate breakfast with red chilli ate less than normal at lunch. Reason to be cheerful, part three? Capsaicin is also a foot soldier in the fight against cancer because, according to research at Nottingham University, it can attack mitochondria, the engine rooms of cancer cells.
Go for dinner with fat friends
If you’ve already given up your resolution to eat healthier, arrange to dine out tonight with fat friends. “A thin friend who eats a lot may lead you to eat more than you normally would,” says said Gavan Fitzsimonds of Duke University. “If you eat with a heavy-set friend, you are likely to adjust your behaviour and eat less.”
Change your gym playlist
Propel yourself towards the gym by adding a thumping new mix compilation to your iPod. Dr Costas Karageorghis, a reader in sport psychology at Brunel University and supporter of 'Run to the Beat’, London’s music marathon, says: “Repetitive listening can lead to boredom and irritation, so vary the playlist.” Edging up the tempo of the music will also encourage you to train at a faster rate.
Exert a positive influence
According to Mark Twain, “the best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” Over the course of the day, slip your colleagues three compliments, and watch the positivity ripple out across the office.
Go to bed an hour earlier
If you’ve still had a bad day, hit the hay. A study from the University of Wisconsin and Stanford University found people who regularly slept less than seven hours, 42 minutes a night had a higher body mass index than those who slept for longer.
Globes win makes Mo'Nique an Oscar favorite
Woodlawn native earns best-supporting actress award for her role in 'Precious'
Actress Mo'Nique poses with her Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture award for "Precious." (Getty Images photo / January 17, 2010)
Baltimore Sun reporter
9:24 p.m. EST, January 17, 2010
Edina doctor's shocking errors punished
The state disciplined Edina doctor who removed wrong kidney, made biopsy error.
Star TribuneLast update: January 15, 2010 - 10:42 PM
Photo by Dulas Floyd
A veteran Edina doctor has been disciplined for removing the wrong kidney of a patient during cancer surgery, a medical mix-up that made headlines across the state in 2008, and for taking a biopsy from the wrong organ of another patient a few months later.
Dr. Erol T. Uke, a urologist, has been reprimanded and indefinitely barred from inpatient surgery by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, the board said Friday.
Uke, 59, could not immediately be reached for comment. His attorney, Paul C. Peterson, said in a statement: "Dr. Uke is very sorry for the medical errors that occurred here. The isolated conduct involved is not representative of the high quality of care he has provided to thousands of patients during his career.''
A state report issued in the summer of 2008, while not naming Uke, said he made the initial error while performing surgery on a patient with kidney cancer in March 2008 at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park. Uke told investigators he removed the wrong kidney because he was distracted by beeper calls and other patients and that he failed to read the radiologist's notes to ensure he was operating on the correct side, according to a report by the state's Office of Health Facility Complaints.
The case drew wide attention at the time, and Methodist admitted the error in a rare public apology on March 17, 2008, six days after the surgery.
Later, the hospital imposed new rules for "mistake proofing" the operating room, including extra steps to doublecheck radiology images and mark patients' surgery sites before procedures. State investigators concluded the hospital has taken corrective action and would not be cited for the incident.
In a statement at the time, the hospital's owner, Park Nicollet Health Services, said it took full responsibility for the "tragic medical error" and cooperated fully with the investigation. "We work continuously to eliminate errors and will not rest until we reduce them to zero," the statement said.
Hospital spokesman Jeremiah Whitten declined Friday to reveal anything about the identity or the fate of the patient, citing "patient and personnel privacy restrictions." But the state report revealed that the patient had subsequent surgery at another hospital to try to remove the tumor and save his remaining kidney.
Uke's erroneous biopsy followed about four months later, the Board of Medical Practice said. In that case, the doctor performed a biopsy on a patient's pancreas rather than a kidney. The board report did not say where that procedure occurred or what became of the patient.
The board lists no other disciplinary actions against Uke.
Uke has had his Minnesota doctor's license since 1982. He graduated from Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago and had post-graduate training at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and at Northwestern.
A psychological evaluation determined that Uke "had experienced two incidents of isolated surgical errors" and recommended that he limit his practice to outpatient work and procedures.
He can regain his privileges after the board determines that he is "fit and competent to resume the performance of surgery," the board said. In other restrictions, the board said Uke: cannot practice more than 40 hours per week; is limited to outpatient surgery in clinic or office settings; is subject to quarterly reports to the board by a supervising doctor; and must meet quarterly with a board member.
In the period that includes Uke's surgical errors, October 2007-2008, 18 people died and nearly 100 were seriously injured as a result of medical mistakes, accidents or negligence in Minnesota hospitals, according to a state Health Department report on medical errors. Hospitals reported 77 cases of surgical errors, including 21 operations on the wrong body part, and two on the wrong patient.
LINK TO PHOTO OF DR:
LINK TO: Minnesota Board of Medical Practice's disciplinary order regarding Dr. Erol T. Uke
'Pants On The Ground' Web Hit For Vet
Civil rights veteran Larry Platt, 63, performs "Pants On The Ground" on "American Idol." The performance quickly became a viral hit onYouTube and Twitter.
$150,000 lottery winner escapes jail despite claiming $15,000 in benefits
Last updated at 7:33 PM on 17th January 2010
A mother who fiddled the benefits system despite winning $154,000 on the National Lottery has walked free - to the frustration of a judge powerless to jail her.
Sandra Bellamy, 52, owned three houses and enjoyed a string of holidays after banking the windfall in 2006 but posed as a struggling single mother to claim income support, council tax and housing benefits.
The fraudster was paid $15,000 in benefits she was not entitled to, but avoided jail after being given a suspended sentence.
Suspended sentence: Sandra Bellamy, pictured arriving at court for an earlier hearing, was paid almost $15,000 in benefits she had no entitlement to
Judge Samuel Wiggs said Bellamy could previously have been sent to prison, but a recent overhaul of national sentencing guidelines had left his hands tied.
He said: 'A few years ago this would have resulted in a custodial sentence, but guidelines have changed.
'This may not have started dishonestly but it continued dishonestly. It was a blatant offence.'
The mother-of-one had already failed to declare her $30,000 divorce settlement and a house she owned in Southend, where she lived until the breakdown of her marriage, when she won $154,026 on the lottery in May 2006.
The houses (above and below) are owned by Bellamy. They are both worth around $250,000 and have been rented out by her for around $3,000-a-month
Bournemouth Crown Court heard she moved to the resort in 2004 following her divorce, and began claiming the benefits in September that year.
John Dyer, prosecuting, said Bellamy, whose daughter was at boarding school, used her divorce settlement as a deposit for a flat, and later bought a third house, also in Bournemouth, with another $30,000 deposit which came from her lottery win.
The Bournemouth properties were both worth around $250,000 and were rented out by Bellamy for $3,000 a month, the court heard.
Mr Dyer said Bellamy had savings of more than $16,000 which would have 'greatly affected' the level of benefits she was able to claim, had the cash been disclosed.
'In May 2006 she won $154,026 on the National Lottery', he said.
'In July 2006, she withdrew her claim for income support without giving a reason, but in October she had gone back to income support.
'She didn't tell the authorities about the lottery win or about the flats she owned. In total, the overpay was $14,814.41.'
Mr Dyer added that Bellamy admitted her guilt when she was found out.
Bellamy said at the time: 'I just thought if I could get things sorted, I could work things out.'
There were withdrawals from her account in Croatia, Turkey, Barbados and New York, he said.
Bellamy had earlier admitted three charges of false representation in relation to housing benefit claims, failure to notify the authorities of changes to circumstances and dishonestly obtaining benefits from the Department of Work and Pensions.
She was sentenced to a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered her to do 200 hours' community service.
San Jose says pot clubs popping up like weeds, starts crackdown
Posted: 01/16/2010 04:06:07 PM PST
Updated: 01/16/2010 09:54:26 PM PST
San Jose is yanking the welcome mat for medical marijuana dispensaries that have proliferated across the city in recent months — from just a handful last fall to as many as 30, according to one online directory.
With San Jose, which had no known dispensaries a year ago, now home to perhaps as many as San Francisco — and more than four times as many as Santa Cruz — code enforcement officials have begun telling owners their operations are illegal under city law.
"We've started to receive some complaints, and we're currently doing investigations on a number of these," said Mike Hannon, the city's code enforcement official. "If it looks as though they're operating as dispensaries, we're going to advise the owners to shut the dispensaries."
Pot clubs have proliferated in San Jose since City Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio, alarmed by their rapid spread in other places, last fall suggested legalizing and taxing a limited number of them.
Some fledgling clubs have filed business-tax paperwork with the city that makes no mention of marijuana — describing the operations vaguely as counseling, retail or health services.
Hannon is sending letters to the dispensaries he and his staff have confirmed are operating, notifying them they must close within 30 days. The dispensaries' landlords could face fines up to $2,500 a day if the outlets remain open after that deadline.
Andy Schwaderer, who operates the Pharmers
Health Center dispensary off De Anza Boulevard, says he's optimistic the nonprofit cooperative can work things out with the city and avoid litigation.
Though Hannon told him during a recent inspection that the dispensary is illegal, Schwaderer believes state law is on his side.
"We're eager to work with the city and establish a good relationship," said Schwaderer, who opened his doors last month. "We will wait and respond accordingly to whatever the city has to say."
Voters in 1996 made California the first state in the nation to legalize medicinal use of marijuana for those with a doctor's recommendation, but the move has been mired in legal uncertainty ever since.
Superseding federal law continues to outlaw the drug as a dangerous narcotic, although the U.S. attorney general last year stated that federal drug agents won't bust those who comply with state medical marijuana laws.
Dispensaries have proliferated in California since then. That in turn has sparked a backlash among local officials seeking to limit their number or ban them outright.
Three dozen cities, including Santa Clara, have joined in support of Anaheim's court battle in a closely watched case over the right to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. A patients' group had challenged the Anaheim ban as a violation of state law, and an appellate court is expected to rule sometime in the spring.
Gilroy, Los Gatos, Saratoga and Los Altos also have recently passed dispensary moratoriums.
Oliverio in October proposed an ordinance that would allow a limited number of dispensaries in industrial areas with restrictions, and an additional tax to ease the city's chronic money shortages. A combination of winter holidays, open-government noticing rules and the need to analyze some legal issues has delayed efforts to get the proposal before the council.
The city's Rules and Open Government Committee, which sets agendas for the full council, is scheduled to consider the measure again Jan. 27.
Oliverio said the city's dithering is inviting chaos as medical marijuana providers rush to stake a claim on the local market.
"We've gone from a couple of places that have opened to several," Oliverio said. "The council needs to have a discussion."
Already there are signs of a budding backlash as more residents and businesses find themselves neighbors to new dispensaries.
Lisa Roberts, whose law firm on the Alameda is near a proposed new dispensary, told the rules committee this week that the city should enact a moratorium.
"I'm not personally against the concept" of medical marijuana, Roberts said. "It's just the location. Just the fact that a proposal has been made is viewed as a welcome mat."
San Jose approved zoning for medical marijuana providers in 1998, but the city dropped the provision while updating its zoning laws in 2001. City Attorney Rick Doyle said that makes any dispensaries operating in San Jose today illegal.
Even so, the city has collected the $150 business license tax from a third of the dispensaries said to be operating here. In some cases, those dispensaries were quite clear about their intentions: San Jose Dispensary on West Hedding Street described itself on its business tax forms as a "medical marijuana delivery srvc."
Others were less explicit on the city documents, though quite clear in their advertisements. Plant Providers Plus described its operation on the tax paperwork only as "plant materials." But online, it advertises as "San Jose Area Medical Marijuana Delivery," with products described as "green crack" and "big bang brownie."
The South Bay Cannabis Buyers Collective on Monroe Street listed its operation on city tax paperwork under "SJCBC Inc." as "retail/internet." But its Web site offers a "free joint for new members."
Deputy Finance Director Julia Cooper, whose department handles the business license taxes, noted that acceptance of payment doesn't mean the city confers any legal status to a business — a matter left to code enforcement.
"It means they've paid a tax," Cooper said. "It doesn't mean they've complied with all regulations."
January 16, 2010
Obama Rewards Losers, Punishes Winners
Real Clear Politics
President Obama's misbegotten bank tax is precisely the wrong policy at precisely the wrong time. It will wind up backfiring across the board. Why? Because bank consumers and borrowers are the ones who will wind up paying this tax, creating an obstacle to economic recovery.
Obama is actually rewarding losers and punishing winners -- exactly the reverse of free-market capitalism.
Who's being rewarded? Obama's bank-tax penalty is being used to finance the failed government takeovers of GM, GMAC, and Fannie and Freddie. And let's not forget the $75 billion failure of the so-called foreclosure loan-modification program. To this day, no one knows where that money went. But the big banks are going to be forced to finance this through a tax that will damage lending, stockholders and consumers.
This is sheer political favoritism. Crony capitalism at its worst, with a sub-theme of bailing out Obama's Big Labor political allies. It's just like his bailout of the unions by exempting them from the so-called Cadillac insurance tax until 2018, all while the rest of us may have to suffer under that tax.
Speaking of political unfairness and favoritism, mortgage giants Fannie and Freddie will not pay a nickel of this tax. These government-sponsored enterprises were at the very center of the financial maelstrom, financing the government's quotas and targets for unaffordable mortgages.
Think about this for a second. President Obama is out there bashing away at excessive bonuses. And yet Fannie and Freddie's CEOs stand to make $6 million in the next year or two. Huh? These are big-government-owned bureaucrats. They ought to be paid like GS-18s.
Of course, the Federal Reserve, which is having its most profitable year ever, was probably the main culprit in all this, with its negative-real-interest-rate easy-money policy, which amounted to throwing red meat to a pack of sharks in the deepest waters. But this tax punishes and penalizes the biggest banks -- institutions that have already met their obligations by paying down TARP, with interest, and by providing taxpayers with a tidy profit on the stock warrants they held.
Now, this is not to condone the major mistakes made by the big banks. They were overleveraged, borrowed way too much and sold highly flawed mortgage bonds and other complex derivatives. And the banks should not be paying big bonuses for 2009 -- not for the period during which they were TARPed. That's their biggest mistake.
With the banks having paid down TARP, however, the U.S. government should not be waging war against them. Somebody ought to tell the White House that al-Qaida is the real enemy, not the banks.
At the same time, taxing the living hell out of the banks will not promote economic recovery and long-term prosperity.
President Obama says he wants to stop risky bets. Well, look, the way to accomplish that is through higher capital requirements, stricter limits on leveraged borrowing and an end to the policy of "too big to fail." Across-the-board FDIC insurance assessments are a much better way of maintaining a bank safety net.
Instead, Team Obama wants to place a 15-basis-point tax on the banks, essentially layering it on non-insured bank funding. It amounts to a tax on future lending, shareholder equity value and the consumers of bank services who will pay the tax costs passed on by the banks. It's just like the corporate tax: Businesses don't pay taxes, people do.
And consider this: One dollar of bank capital generally works out to around 10 dollars of potential bank loans. That means this $90 billion tax proposal could very well cut off a staggering $1 trillion of future bank lending when credit demand picks up.
That's how this works. This tax will slow down profits and capital. And the diminished capital will mean fewer loans when loan demand picks up. It's exactly the reverse of what we need to grow our economy.
And the unfairness continues. Insurer MetLife, a bank holding company, and the regional Hudson City Bank Corp., both of which never took a dime of TARP money, will be penalized by this tax. That just ain't fair.
President Obama's crony politics rewards losers and penalizes winners. He is engaging in sheer, raw, left-wing class-warfare politics. It's yet one more reason why the Democrats are going to get clobbered at the polls come November.
Voters know a smoked turkey when they see one. Remember, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time.
Mark my words, all of this left-wing demagoguery, political favoritism and crony capitalism will not end well for the Obama Democrats.
Lawrence Kudlow is host of CNBC's The Kudlow Report and co-host of The Call. He is also a former Reagan economic advisor and a syndicated columnist.
LINK TO STORY:
Woman who stripped to avoid arrest gets six months jail
Sheboygan Press staff
January 15, 2010
Julia E. Laack
A 36-year-old Sheboygan woman will spend six months in prison for a bizarre series of offenses that began with stealing beef jerky and ended with stripping in front of her children and kicking a police officer in the groin.
Julia E. Laack, of 1603 S. 13th St., was sentenced Thursday by Judge Timothy Van Akkeren to the jail term and two years probation, said Assistant District Attorney Chris Stock.
She accepted a plea agreement two weeks ago under which she was convicted of felony battery to a law enforcement officer and misdemeanor counts of retail theft and resisting or obstructing an officer.
The charges carried a maximum penalty of more than four years in prison, and Stock had recommended nine months in jail as part of the agreement.
According to a criminal complaint, the Oct. 8 incident began after Laack was captured on surveillance video stealing beef jerky and a lighter from a convenience store. When police came to her home, Laack told officers they couldn't arrest her because she was going to be naked and then stripped to her underwear as her children stood by.
While being handcuffed, Laack tried kicked one officer in the groin, then manipulated a spit hood to spit into the mouth of a female officer who had re-dressed her. In the squad car, Laack exposed her buttocks against the rear window and told the female officer her children are going to die.
A breath test showed Laack had a blood-alcohol level of 0.11.
In an unrelated case, Laack is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 12 for allegedly working with her brother and another man to extort money from a 20-year-old gay man. The victim told police the three adults trapped him in a bedroom and forced him to pay them after they witnessed what they believed was inappropriate behavior toward a 15-year-old boy.
Laack accepted a plea agreement Jan. 12 under which she was convicted of felony false imprisonment and threats to injure or accuse of a crime. The crimes carry a maximum penalty of six years in prison.
In A Gender Shift, More Moms Become Breadwinners
Income Stats Show Gender Shift
Associated Press Writer
POSTED: 12:23 pm EST January 15, 2010
UPDATED: 1:36 pm EST January 15, 2010
WASHINGTON -- The number of working moms who are the sole breadwinners in their families rose last year to an all-time high, and the number of stay-at-home dads edged higher, in a shift of traditional gender roles caused partly by massive job losses.
The number of moms who were the only working spouse rose for the third straight year, according to Census Bureau figures released Friday. The number of dads who were the only working spouse dropped, and the number of stay-at-home dads ticked higher.
The figures are for married couples with kids under 18.
"Women are really stepping in and helping families stay afloat. The question is whether men are stepping up and picking up the slack around home," said Kristin Smith, a family demographer at the University of New Hampshire.
In most households with moms as breadwinners, both parents were working until the husband was laid off or retired, and the wife remained in her job. In other situations, a non-working wife may have rejoined the labor force, in a growing industry such as teaching or health care, to sustain the family income after the husband was let go.
By the numbers, about 4 percent or 963,000 moms were the only parent in the labor force. The share of fathers as the sole worker was much bigger -- 28.2 percent or 7.3 million -- but still the lowest since 2001. The share of couples who both work stayed the same at 66 percent or 17 million.
There were 158,000 stay-at-home dads, up from 140,000 in 2008. Still, the number is less than 1 percent of married couples.
The recession's toll has been harder on male-dominated industries such as construction and manufacturing. There are also longer-term cultural changes at work, too, as more women earn college degrees and the better job opportunities they bring.
"The economic crisis is heavily affecting families, and what the latest data show is that gender roles are flexible and are going in the direction of egalitarian roles," said Pamela J. Smock, a sociology professor at the University of Michigan.
She said the shifts could have lasting effects after the economy rebounds, as people become more accustomed to the roles of breadwinner moms and stay-at-home dads.
Smith sees a continued reliance on wives as breadwinners, "particularly if we see a jobless economic recovery like we did after the 2001 recession."
Her research on working moms found that employed wives last year contributed to 45 percent of total family earnings. That was up from 44 percent in the previous year, the large single-year increase in the last decade.
The latest trends coincide with overall increases in women in the work force. In fact, women are close to outnumbering men in the work force for the first time: Women held 49.9 percent of the nation's 131 million jobs last November, the most recent data available.
Analysts cautioned the latest numbers may be somewhat illusory, since women still hold fewer executive positions and their jobs, particularly among mothers, are often part-time.
Women's pay still lagged men's, though the gap has slowly been narrowing. Women with full-time jobs earned salaries equal to 77.9 percent of what men earned, up from 77.5 percent in 2007 and about 64 percent in 2000.
According to the Census data, the increase in the number of moms as the only worker was seen across all racial and ethnic groups. But it was biggest among black women, whose numbers rose from 9 percent in 2007 to 12 percent last year as black men suffered disproportionately higher rates of unemployment. The share of Hispanic moms rose from 5 percent to 8 percent, while the share of white non-Hispanic women rose from 4 percent to 7 percent and the share of Asian women grew from 5 percent to 7 percent.
Other findings include:
--There are an estimated 5.3 million "stay-at-home" parents in the U.S., based on a narrow definition in which one spouse is in the labor force for the entire year and the other spouse is not for the reason of "taking care of home and family."
--The number of stay-at-home moms declined from 5.3 million in 2008 to 5.1 million last year. That was the lowest since 2001, which was also during a recession.
--About 22.6 percent of married couples with children under 15 had a stay-at-home mom, down from 23.7 percent in 2008.
The 2009 data is based on the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, which was conducted last March.
Police: Fight Over Spam Led To Attack
Howard Jones Accused Of Assault On Roommate
POSTED: 3:08 am CST January 16, 2010
OKLAHOMA CITY --
Police say a fight over Spam led to a sledgehammer attack.
Investigators said it happened at a southwest Oklahoma City home when Howard Jones thought his roommate ate his Spam.
Officers said the men argued and then Jones hit him in the head with a sledgehammer.
The other man suffered only minor injuries.
Police arrested Jones on suspicion of assault.
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SJ Man Repossesses Car With Two-Year-Old Boy In Backseat
Posted: 10:47 pm PST January 13, 2010
Updated: 12:43 am PST January 14, 2010
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A San Jose mother had the scare of her life Tuesday night when her car was repossessed with her two-year-old son inside.
Isabel Leuvano said it was about 7 p.m. when she parked her car in the driveway of her ex-husband's house and stepped out with the engine still running to pick up her daughter. A man suddenly jumped into the car and drove away.
"All we do is hear the car door shut and the car just take off over the curb and just hit the right corner and speed off," said Leuvano. "And I'm freaking out hysterical that this is my son and he's in the car. They just stole my car and the baby."
Police said the man who took the car was Alberto Luna, the owner of used car dealership Alberto Auto in San Jose. Luna told police he repossessed Leuvano's 2000 Honda Accord because she was late with her payment.
Police learned the car had been repossessed 30 minutes after they launched a full-scale search for the child.
Police found the two-year-old boy named Cyrus in the office of the car lot.
"The child was okay," said San Jose Police Sgt. Ronnie Lopez. "We were able to take the mom to the dealership and reunite the mother and the child."
Leuvano was back at the dealership on Wednesday trying to get her car back. She admitted to being 17 days late on her most recent payment because she had just moved into a new apartment and had to pay first and last month's rent. But she also said she talked to the dealership on the phone Monday.
The car dealer had no comment for KTVU, but Leuvano's boyfriend Joseph Rodriguez said they told him that she would have to pay the $285 late payment plus and additional $300 to cover the cost of the repossession.
"Today it seems like it's nothing to them," said Rodriguez. "They're like 'We made a mistake and that's it. Where's our money at and we'll give you your car back.' It's not like 'We're sorry. We can work this out.'"
Police said that while the district attorney will review the case, it doesn't appear any law was broken.
"What we would have liked to have seen is a little bit more professionalism; a little more courtesy," said Sgt. Lopez
Leuvano said she's seeing a lawyer.
"If they do take repossession of a car, they should go through the steps to check the car to see if a child was in there," said Leuvano. "They gave me the biggest scare of my life; I thought I would never see my son again."
Thursday is Cyrus' third birthday. His mother said the lesson she learned is never to let her son out of her sight.
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Report: Tiger Woods has checked into sex addiction rehab program
Biloxi Sun Herald
Radar on line is reporting that golf pro Tiger Woods is in Hattiesburg, Miss., seeking treatment for sex addiction.
Woods reportedly has checked into Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services, according to a story on the website.
Dime Wars also is reporting Woods' entry into Pine Grove.
The program is directed by Dr. Patrick Carnes, who has pioneered treatment for sexually compulsive behavior.
According to Pine Grove's website, ``Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Hattiesburg, Miss., is known as one of the nation's most comprehensive treatment campuses. Since 1984, Pine Grove has offered a continuum of services ranging from outpatient to inpatient and residential treatment for adults, children and adolescents suffering from psychiatric and addictive diseases.
``Specialized services include the treatment of addictions, eating disorders, and professionals struggling with interpersonal difficulties. The Pine Grove Mission is to be a leader in healing and changing lives by providing the highest quality behavioral health services.''
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Arenas pleads guilty to felony gun possession
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas pleaded guilty Friday to carrying a pistol without a license in the District of Columbia, a felony conviction that could jeopardize his future in the NBA.
Arenas pleaded guilty to a single count of violating the city's strict gun laws as part of a plea bargain in D.C. Superior Court. He will remain free at least until his sentencing March 26.
The charge stems from a Dec. 21 incident in which Arenas acknowledged he stored guns in his locker at the Verizon Center and took them out to play a joke on a teammate.
The NBA has suspended him indefinitely. A pre-sentence report is not yet complete, but defense attorney Kenneth Wainstein said Friday that prosecutors have agreed not to seek a sentence longer than the low end of sentencing guidelines, which call for six months to two years. That could include probation, jail time or some combination. Judge Robert E. Morin emphasized he is not bound by prosecutors' recommendation.
Arenas "accepted full responsibility for his actions, acknowledged that those actions were wrong and against the law, and has apologized to all who have been affected by his conduct," Wainstein said in a statement.
Prosecutor Chris Kavanaugh, reading in court from a statement of facts that Arenas agreed to, said the charge stemmed from a Dec. 19 dispute with another player over a card game. Kavanaugh did not identify the other player, but authorities have searched the home of teammate Javaris Crittenton for a gun.
Kavanaugh said the disagreement developed during a team flight back from Phoenix. The other player offered to settle matters with a fist fight, but Arenas, 28, said he was too old for that and suggested he would instead burn the other player's Cadillac Escalade or shoot him in the face. The argument on the plane ended with the other player saying he would shoot Arenas in the knee. Arenas has a history of knee problems.
Two days later, Kavanaugh said, Arenas brought at least one gun to the Verizon Center in a black backpack. He laid out four guns on a chair in front of the other player's locker with a sign saying, "Pick 1."
When the other player asked, "What is this?," Arenas responded with words to the effect of: "You said you were going to shoot me, so pick one."
The other player said he had his own gun, threw one of Arenas' weapons across the room and then displayed what appeared to be a silver-colored firearm, Kavanaugh said.
Since Arenas first acknowledged keeping guns in his locker, he has publicly employed a "goof ball" defense, claiming he wasn't aware of the law, meant no harm and never takes anything seriously.
But he was subdued in court Friday, wearing a gray suit with a light pinstripe and responding in a soft voice to the judge's questions.
U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips said in a statement that "playing with firearms is no joke."
"Today's guilty plea to a felony count of carrying a pistol without a license reflects the seriousness and grave risk of such conduct," Phillips said.
Arenas, a three-time All-Star, earlier acknowledged storing four unloaded guns in his locker, saying he wanted to keep them away from his young children and didn't know it was a violation of the city's strict gun laws. He says he took them out of the locker Dec. 21 in a "misguided effort to play a joke" on a teammate. After the fracas, authorities seized four unloaded handguns from Arenas, including a gold-plated Desert Eagle .50-caliber semi-automatic that the manufacturer sells for about $2,000. The other weapons were a .500 Magnum revolver, another semi-automatic and a pistol.
He was charged Thursday, hours after Crittenton's northern Virginia apartment was searched by police looking for the silver- or chrome-colored semiautomatic handgun with a black handle. The search warrant indicated police were investigating crimes that include brandishing a weapon. No evidence was seized, according to court documents, and Crittenton has not been charged. Prosecutors said Friday that Crittenton has denied he had a firearm, but they are continuing to investigate.
Crittenton has previously said he did nothing wrong.
Even if Arenas avoids jail, the outcome of the legal process will have important implications on his future in the NBA and specifically with the Wizards. Possession of a gun at an NBA arena is a violation of the league's collective bargaining agreement, and last week commissioner David Stern suspended Arenas indefinitely without pay pending the outcome of the investigation, a move supported by the Wizards.
Stern was particularly upset that Arenas repeatedly joked about the matter with reporters and on Twitter. Arenas at one point said: "I'm a goof ball and that's what I am, so even doing something like this, I'm going to make fun of it and that's how I am."
LINK TO GILBERT ARENAS SLIDE SHOW:
Alleged Oakland Robbers Found Wedged Between Buildings
Posted: 7:40 am PST January 14, 2010
Updated: 8:44 am PST January 14, 2010
OAKLAND, Calif. -- An intense manhunt for a gang of alleged home invasion robbers came to an abrupt end early Thursday when four of the fleeing suspects became wedged in a narrow space between two buildings, authorities said.
Police said they received a 911 call at about 2:30 a.m. of a break-in at a live-work loft on Chapman Street in an industrial area of Oakland that is home to many artists.
Arriving officers were told that six men had broken into a home on search of drugs, but when they found none decided to take computer equipment. The alleged robbers had fled the home and scrambled across rooftops and through backyard gardens in an attempt to escape.
Police quickly began a search of the neighborhood with search lights and tracking dogs.
“I heard someone come through my gate and run pass and they came to this cubby way (a foot wide space between buildings),” local resident Dave Moore told KTVU. “It turns into a funnel at the end so they tried to come back through and got stuck. “
The four suspects were found by officers wedged in a six-by-12 inch space between buildings and taken into custody.
Two other suspects were also taken into custody elsewhere in the neighborhood. The search was still underway for the guns alleged used in the robbery.
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City forgot to hold 2009 electionPosted: Jan 13, 2010 11:05 PM EST Updated: Jan 14, 2010 1:31 AM EST
Addie Cutts, DeSoto City Council
DESOTO, GA (WALB) – Two members of the city council in a small Sumter County town weren't actually elected to those posts.
No one in the city realized they were supposed to hold an election last year.
The Secretary of State's office says they better fix it soon.
They face seven potential violations, including failing to publish public notice 30 days prior to the election, and failing to appoint an election superintendent.
"We just forgot it, that's the only thing that happened we just forgot it," said Addie Cutts, City of DeSoto Councilwoman.
She said no one in the city council ever raised the question of holding elections in 2009 during their regular scheduled meetings.
"We never mentioned it, not to my knowledge," said Cutts.
DeSoto is in Sumter County and population is 204. The city has 100 registered to vote; Cutts said the voting mistake is being rectified.
"The mayor said he was going to let someone who handles elections do it for us every year so we won't forget it," said Cutts.
Councilwoman Cutts told WALB the state gave them until March to hold the election.
DoSoto also faces other violations because they can't provide records that show election results from 2005 and 2007
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$500 Tip Leads Police To $66M In Fake Bills
Counterfeit Money Found In $1 Million, $100,000 Bills
POSTED: 10:37 pm EST January 14, 2010
UPDATED: 1:44 am EST January 15, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysian police have arrested a Lebanese man allegedly carrying fake currency with a face value of $66 million after he tipped a hotel staff with a $500 note, an official said Friday.
The largest U.S. note currently in wide circulation is a $100 bill. But police found bundles of $1 million, $100,000 and $500 notes in the man's hotel room in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, said Izany Abdul Ghany, head of the city's commercial crime unit.
Hotel staff alerted police after a housekeeper received a $500 note tip and found out it was fake when she tried to convert it to local currency at a money changer, Izany said.
The man could be charged for possessing counterfeit money and, if found guilty, face up to 10 years in jail, he said.
The largest U.S. note ever printed was a special edition one for $100,000 in 1934. Bills of $500 were last printed in 1945 and are now no longer in wide circulation, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
This is not the first time the man has been in trouble with the law in Malaysia, Izany said.
A Malaysian court charged him last week with cheating over the sale of office supplies in 2005 in a separate case. Cheating, or fraud, carries a maximum penalty of five years.
Wizards' Arenas charged with felony gun possession
The Associated Press
6:40 p.m. EST, January 14, 2010
Deputies: Mom Offered Daughter For Gun
Mom Arrested After Police Get Tip
POSTED: 9:09 am EST January 14, 2010
UPDATED: 9:57 am EST January 14, 2010
MESA, Ariz. -- Authorities said a woman who offered to trade her daughter for a gun is in the custody of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Phoenix station KPHO-TV reported.
Deputies claim Tanya Nareau, 33, offered to give to her daughter to one of the girl’s relatives in exchange for a gun.
Deputies got a tip about the offer and arrested Nareau on Tuesday.
The girl’s family members told KPHO that Nareau originally made the offer during a phone call last week.
They said Nareau unexpectedly showed up at the relative’s workplace Monday and handed him her daughter. He did not give her a gun.
It is unclear why Nareau wanted a gun, but she cannot legally buy or own a firearm because she is a convicted felon.
Nareau did explain why she wanted to give her daughter away, according to Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Doug Matteson.
“She told sheriff’s deputies she felt that she couldn’t raise the daughter adequately, so she would give the daughter to someone who could,” he said.
He said the girl is now safe and will stay with her father’s family members.
Nareau is in a Maricopa County jail, charged with unlawful sale of a child and solicitation to commit possession of weapon by prohibited possessor.
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LINK TO PHOTO:
The News Tribune
01/11/10 12:05 am | Updated: 01/11/10 1:21 am
A Tacoma-based blood center is appealing to donors with an eye-catching offer: Give a pint of blood, get a pint of beer.
The promotion has worked well at six Tacoma pubs and breweries in the past 16 months, organizers say. Now Cascade Regional Blood Services is expanding its “Give blood, get beer” promotion, bringing its bloodmobile to a pub in Federal Way this week and Steilacoom later this month.
“It’s a fun way for us to get more donors, and it’s good for the restaurants as well,” said Jamie Pernaa, who lines up the businesses for Cascade.
Cascade is the first blood center in Washington to use the promotion, called a “Pint-for-Pint Blood Drive,” said Pernaa, community relations specialist.
“It’s just a fun thing to do,” said Dan Schmitt, Cascade’s director of donor resources.
Donors who are at least 21 years old are given a coupon for a free pint of beer. The pub must wait at least four to six hours after the blood drive ends before donors can cash in on their free pint.
Schmitt said he first heard of a beer-for-blood drive several years ago at a meeting where other blood centers said the approach was successful. Years later, Schmitt suggested trying it in Tacoma.
Donors often eat at the pubs before giving blood and return later for their free beer, said Lauren Buchholz, who handles marketing and community support for Cascade. That social aspect is what makes the “Pint-for-Pint Blood Drives” fun for donors, Buchholz said. The coupons are good only for the business that Cascade’s bloodmobile visits that day.
Cascade’s organizers say they’ve received no complaints about giving away beer.
Karen Minahan, a regional spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said her organization doesn’t have a problem with the promotion as long as it complies with Washington State Liquor Control Board regulations and no beer is given to anyone younger than 21.
Cascade uses a variety of giveaways to encourage people to donate blood, from drawings for donated iPods in the summer to donated ski lift tickets in December and January.
Each of the blood drives at the six Tacoma pubs and breweries has averaged about 15 donors, which Cascade says is about its goal.
That number is only a fraction of the 150 donors Cascade needs every day to maintain the blood supply for South King and Pierce counties. Cascade has about 100 blood drives a month.
Cascade Regional Blood Services is the sole provider of blood and blood products for MultiCare Health System and Franciscan Health System in South King and Pierce counties.
The Swiss pub in downtown Tacoma was first in September 2008 to hold a “Pint-for-Pint” drive and held another one 13 months later.
“It was just a great opportunity for our customers and the people who work around here to make it real easy to give blood,” said Swiss co-owner Jack McQuade.
Cascade pays the pubs a negotiated fee for the beers the blood center gives away. State regulations say the promotion is OK as long as businesses are paid for the cost of their beer, said Anne Radford, a liquor board spokeswoman.
McQuade said the drives at the Swiss don’t encourage drinking and people didn’t give blood simply to get a beer.
“It was just an added bonus,” he said. “It was a good thing to do for the community.”
POSTED: 12:02 am EST January 14, 2010
UPDATED: 3:21 am EST January 14, 2010
A survey of more than 33,000 girls and women aged 12 to 17 found that 26.7 percent had been involved in a serious fight at school or work, a group-against-group fight or had attacked someone with the intent to harm the person in the previous year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported Thursday.
"In the public mind, acts of teenage violence are most commonly associated with boys," the report observed, but "it is clear that the problem is pervasive among girls as well."
Males do have a higher rate of violence, the report added, with 33.6 percent engaged in one of the types of acts in the year before the study.
Still, SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde called the report alarming. "We need to do a better job reaching girls at risk and teaching them how to resolve problems without resorting to violence," she said.
The new survey was done between 2006 and 2008 and the results are similar to those in a SAMHSA study from 2002-2004.
The new analysis found that 18.6 percent of females aged 12 to 17 were involved in a serious fight at school or work, 14.1 took part in a group-against-group fight and 5.7 percent attacked others with the intent to do serious harm. Some engaged in more than one type of violent behavior.
Rates of violent behavior were higher for who engaged in binge drinking or used marijuana. Also, rates were higher among families with low income and for adolescents who were not attending school. For those in school, violence was more common among those with poorer grades.
Violence rates were highest for blacks, 38.0 percent, and lowest for Asians, 17.3 percent. Among other groups: mixed race, 30.2 percent; Hispanic, 29.0 percent; American Indian or Alaska native, 26.8 percent; and white, 23.7 percent.
The data was collected as part of SAMHSA'S National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
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Armored car guard gets maximum in staged heist
January 13, 2010 4:07 PM |
Jason Jackson had been working for about six months as an armored-truck driver when he hatched a plot with his wife and best friend to stage a robbery of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from his truck, authorities say.
The friend, John Robinson Jr., posing as the robber, made off with $407,000 last March 4. But the plot quickly unraveled when the FBI suspected an inside job after a witness saw the masked bandit enter the armored car through an unlocked door at a gas station in Hazel Crest. Arrests were made the same day as the robbery and all the cash was recovered.
Today, Robinson and Jackson's wife, Richella Goeloe, who acted as a getaway driver, each pleaded guilty to a single count of theft of bank funds. Moments later, Jackson was sentenced to 2-½ years in prison for his role in the heist. He had pleaded guilty last summer to larceny. All three reside in Chicago.
Jackson, who worked for Garda Armored Services, wept as he asked to be sentenced to about a year in prison.
"I need a chance, your honor, to be a productive citizen," he said.
But U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo imposed the maximum sentence under federal guidelines. "This is unforgiveable in my book," the judge said. He also warned Robinson and Goeloe to keep out of further trouble before their sentencing in April.
Obama concedes he hasn't brought country together
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
(01-13) 04:01 PST WASHINGTON (AP) --
President Barack Obama says he has not succeeded in bringing the country together, acknowledging an atmosphere of divisiveness that has washed away the lofty national feeling surrounding his inauguration a year ago.
"That's what's been lost this year ... that whole sense of changing how Washington works," Obama said in an interview with People magazine.
The president said his second-year agenda will be refocused on uniting the country around common values, "whether we're Democrats or Republicans."
"We all want work that's satisfying, pays the bills and gives children a better future and security," Obama said in the interview, which the magazine conducted with the president and his wife, Michelle Obama, at the White House last Friday.
The president's comments came as Republican leaders rallied against the core items of his agenda, from his economic stimulus plan to health care. The mood of the country has remained in a sustained slump, too, as double-digit unemployment followed a campaign built upon "hope" and "change."
Obama said people have "every right to feel deflated, because the economy was far worse than any of us expected." But he insisted that his government's economic steps in 2009 are paying off and that people should have confidence in this new year.
On other topics:
_The president said Tiger Woods, the champion golfer who has fallen into disgrace amid reports of extramarital affairs, can be "rehabilitated," as his interviewer put it. "Absolutely," Obama said. "I don't want to comment on his personal relationship with his wife and family, but I'm a strong believer that anybody can look within themselves, find their flaws and fix them."
_The first lady said one of the most memorable moments of the year came when their daughters, Sasha and Malia, met the pope at the Vatican. "It was interesting," she said, "the picture of the pope and Malia and Sasha standing there exchanging conversation: 'How's school?''It's fine.'
_The president opted not to lower the grade he had given himself for his own performance in 2009 — a B-plus — in light of the intelligence and security failures that allowed a suspected terrorist to board a Detroit-bound plane with explosives in an effort to blow it up. "When you look at what we've done this year on national security, we performed at a very high level in as difficult an environment as you can imagine," he said.
_The president said he misses daily, spontaneous interactions while living in a bubble. He said the job is lonely in another way — the gravity of sending troops off to war or responding to an attempted terrorist attack. "That side of the loneliness of the job is what I signed up for and I actually think I'm pretty good at," he said.
The new issue of People will be on newsstands Friday.
Court Gun Bust Leads Deputies To Pot Grow
Grant Thomas Being Held On $500,000 Bail
POSTED: 12:52 pm PST January 13, 2010
UPDATED: 1:11 pm PST January 13, 2010
Grant Thomas, 29, is facing gun charges after a deputy saw him drop a handgun and then put it back in his waistband before walking into the Washington County Justice Court at about 3:30 p.m., said Sgt. David Thompson of the Washington County Sheriff's Office in a news release.
Deputies said they quietly notified the judge to clear the courtroom and then took Thomas into custody without incident.
He was armed with a loaded .45-caliber handgun, detectives said, and does not have a concealed handgun permit.
Deputies determined Thomas had more guns in his car along with evidence of a marijuana grow, Thompson said.
Thomas has a valid Oregon medical marijuana card, but a search of his house revealed he was growing more plants than the law allows, deputies said.
Detectives said they seized 44 pot plants from the house, but left 24 plants -- the amount allowed under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.
Another handgun was also seized from the suspect's house, deputies said, in addition to a loaded AR-10 .308-caliber assault rifle from his car.
Thomas is being held at the Washington County Jail on $500,000 bail.
Deputies said he is facing charges of possession of a firearm in court, unlawful possession of a firearm and carrying a concealed weapon.
Charges related to the marijuana grow are forthcoming, Thompson said.
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First-Grader Accused Of Sexual Harassment
POSTED: 7:40 am PST January 13, 2010
UPDATED: 7:50 am PST January 13, 2010
Superintendent Jeff Rose said the district is keeping a close eye on students at the Ninety-One School on South Whiskey Hill Road.
Several parents allege that a boy in first grade at the school harassed and abused their children and that some of the harassment was sexual in nature. The parents said the actions of the boy involved bullying and that the school has known about the problems since the start of the school year.
Rose said the district has been involved since last week.
"Certain things are handled at the school level and certain things are handled at the district level," Rose said. "What I am aware of, most acutely aware of, my involvement goes back to last Tuesday."
The district has met with the families and child involved. The student is under more direct supervision by certified staff, according to the district.
Parents said the boy is still in school but the school district would not confirm that.
Rose sent out an e-mail to parents to inform them of the sensitive situation.
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Foxy 'Roxxxy': world’s first 'sex robot' can talk about football
The world’s first “sex robot”, a life-size rubber doll called Roxxxy who can have real conversations with her owner, including about football, has been unveiled.
7:30AM GMT 11 Jan 2010
Douglas Hines said Roxxxy could even have a conversation about Manchester United with her owner. Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES
The dark-haired, negligee-clad, life-size robotic girlfriend comes complete with artificial intelligence and flesh-like synthetic skin.
Standing five feet, seven inches tall, the doll weighs 120 pounds, comes with five “personalities”, is “ready for action” her developers said.
Aspiring partners can customise her features, including race, hair colour and breast size.
Roxxxy, who can chat with her flesh-and-blood mate about subjects including Manchester United, also elicits comments depending on how she is touched.
The anatomically-correct robot, who can even snore, has an articulated skeleton that can move like a person but can't walk or independently move its limbs.
There is Wild Wendy, who is outgoing and adventurous, Frigid Farrah, who is reserved and shy, a young unnamed doll with a naïve personality, “matriarchal kind of caring” Mature Martha and S & M Susan, who is geared for more adventurous types.
Coming with a laptop the doll, priced between US$7,000 (£4,350) to US$9,000 (£5,993), was unveiled at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas at the weekend.
Douglas Hines, the robot’s football loving inventor, said the real aim was to make the doll someone the owner can talk to and relate to.
“She can't vacuum, she can't cook but she can do almost anything else if you know what I mean,” the New Jersey-based artificial intelligence engineer said.
“She's a companion. She has a personality. She hears you. She listens to you. She speaks. She feels your touch. She goes to sleep. We are trying to replicate a personality of a person.”
She is wirelessly linked to the internet for software updates, technical support and to send her man email messages, he said.
Mr Hines, from TrueCompanion, said the doll could carry out simple conversations and was designed to “know exactly what you like”.
“Sex only goes so far, then you want to be able to talk to the person,” he said.
“She knows exactly what you like. If you like Porsches, she likes Porsches. If you like soccer, she likes soccer.”
People’s customised personalities can be shared with other users online through his company's website.
"Just think about wife or girlfriend swapping without actually giving the person to someone else," he said.
Its robotic movement is built into "the three inputs" while a mechanical heart powers a liquid cooling system.
Mr Hines said it was not only a recreational innovation but also something that shy people with sexual dysfunction, and those who want to experiment without risk, could use.
In a 2007 book, "Love and Sex with Robots," British chess player and artificial intelligence expert David Levy argues that robots will become significant sexual partners for humans, answering needs that other people are unable or unwilling to satisfy.
Inspiration for the sex robot sprang from the September 11, 2001 attacks, he said, where a friend died and he vowed to store his personality forever.
The sex robot is available in Europe and the United States and will eventually be available all over the world.
A male version of the doll, dubbed Rocky, is also planned.
Clayton police burn $12M in drugs
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Metro Atlanta / State News
9:15 p.m. Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Clayton County police burned more than $12 million worth of drugs that had accumulated in the departments crowded evidence room, authorities said.
Police received a court order from a Superior Court judge to allow them to burn nearly 10,000 pounds of marijuana, crystal meth and other assorted narcotics, Clayton County police spokeswoman Lt. Tina Daniel said."This is in response to the audit of the police department," Daniel said.
As part of a scathing indictment of former Police Chief Jeff Turner's management of the department, county Chief of Staff Alex Cohilas cited a narcotics evidence room that was "in shambles."
The burns happened on two different occasions, last week and Tuesday, in an undisclosed, secure location, Daniel said.
"This is just a small part of the police department's aggressive efforts to fight illegal drug use and sales in Clayton County," police chief Timothy Robinson said.
The burn was done with the aid of the Clayton Fire and Emergency Services, the Clayton County Sheriff's Office and the Clayton County District Attorney's Office.
LINK TO PHOTO
Fla. grandmother forgotten in jail for 15 days
Report: Woman, 78, missed Thanksgiving after arrest for driving violation
updated 12:24 p.m. ET, Tues., Jan. 12, 2010
A Florida grandmother was arrested for driving on a suspended or revoked license and spent 15 days in jail — including Thanksgiving — before being released, the Miami Herald reported on Tuesday.
The 78-year-old woman, Gabrielle Shaink Trudeau, was initially pulled over in September for driving too slowly. She was then issued a ticket for driving on a suspended or revoked license. After failing to show up for a court appearance, a judge issued an arrest warrant for the criminal charge that carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Ten days after the ticket was issued, Shaink Trudeau received a letter from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, saying that her driving privileges were restored pending further review. While she believed her driving troubles were solved, the letter was actually in response to another incident.
In November, police arrested Shaink Trudeau at her home.
"They came on real strong, like I had killed somebody or something,'' she told the Miami Herald of the arrest.
Public defenders failed to appear at her initial court appearance, and no assistant public defender met with Shaink Trudeau at the Broward County Jail, the newspaper reported. On the morning of her initial appearance, the pretrial services division found that Shaink Trudeau was eligible for pretrial release on her own recognizance, but failed to alert the judge of that, the newspaper reported.
Finally, at her arraignment on Dec. 2, 15 days after her arrest, prosecutors dropped the charges against her.
"She's handcuffed like Houdini, for the record. She's got chains around her waist, and she's got handcuffs in front around her hands as if she was some kind of a violent criminal,'' the judge said at her final hearing on Dec. 2, according to the newspaper. "I want her released. I think she's suffered enough at our system's mistakes.''
Prostitute fined $820,000 for unpaid tax
Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:15pm EST
WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's tax office has levied a fine of 2.3 million zlotys ($820,000) on an unemployed woman for failing to pay tax on income worth at least 13.7 million zlotys she said she had earned as a prostitute.
The woman told the tax office in the southern city of Katowice that she had very "generous" customers, the website gazeta.pl, which is linked to leading Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, reported Tuesday.
One of her clients paid the woman 5 million zlotys during the 1997-2002 period, she was quoted as saying.
The website gave no further details.
(Reporting by Kuba Jaworowski)
Man buying marijuana carjacked in Pittsburg
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 01/11/2010 08:44:54 PM PST
Updated: 01/11/2010 09:55:44 PM PST
PITTSBURG — A man who drove to a Loveridge Road apartment complex to buy marijuana was robbed at gunpoint and carjacked Monday evening.
The man, a 25-year-old Pittsburg resident, drove to the Loveridge Terrace Apartments, off Loveridge Road and near East Leland Road. about 7 p.m., police Lt. Brian Addington said.
He was supposed to meet with someone in the parking lot to buy marijuana. Instead he was approached by two men with a gun who ordered him to give them his wallet and get out of the car.
The robbers then got into the car and drove away south on Leland. The man was not injured.
Addington said it was not clear whether the men who robbed the victim were the ones who were supposed to sell him drugs, or whether the robbery was a coincidence.
Gwinnett County News
5:37 a.m. Monday, January 11, 2010
Math miscue costs Snellville city attorney his job
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A numerical blunder has cost the Snellville city attorney his job, officials said.
Mike Williams, who was hired in 2008, won’t be reappointed at tonight’s City Council meeting. In late September, he miscounted the number of days required between the call of a Sunday alcohol sales referendum and the actual vote.
“We need a city attorney who can count to 40,” said Councilman Tod Warner, noting that Williams’ miscalculation meant the city was three days shy of the state-mandated time period. “He screwed up.”
The blunder led to the council changing its liquor laws by council vote, rather than referendum. Although Williams told the city it was on firm legal ground to do so, the vote prompted a lawsuit and temporary restraining order against Snellville. The matter is being heard later this month.
Williams offered his resignation after the Sept. 28 mistake, but Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer wouldn’t talk about it until after the November election. The city appoints or renews the contract for the city attorney each January.
“I thought Mike did a good job as the city attorney,” Oberholtzer said. “The issue in my book was we needed someone who understood the politics of Gwinnett County.”
But, Oberholtzer added, he knew the city needed to make a change after the miscount.
Williams, who is managing partner of a law firm in Jonesboro, did not return phone calls Friday seeking comment.
Although Williams’ numerical mistake was the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” there were other issues, Warner said.
Namely, Warner said, the city attorney took part in crafting a group homes ordinance that cost the city about $10,000 in legal fees but couldn’t pass constitutional muster.
Williams also had trouble standing his ground against a divided City Council, officials said.
“I’ve enjoyed working with Mr. Williams,” Warner said, “ but we need somebody who will champion what’s right, and not what the council wants. He just wasn’t forceful enough.”
Although Williams won’t be the city attorney, he’ll still be on the payroll handling the city’s ongoing battle over Sunday liquor-by-the-drink sales.
Three weeks ago, an attorney working on behalf of eight residents requested a temporary restraining order against Snellville. He argued that city leaders acted unlawfully Dec. 14 when by council vote rather than referendum, they opened the tap on Sunday alcohol sales to help struggling restaurants.
A magistrate judge on Dec. 28 issued the order, which temporarily prevents the city from handing out any additional Sunday alcohol licenses.
Tonight, Oberholtzer said he will recommend Tony Powell, Lawrenceville’s once-longtime city attorney, as Williams’ replacement.
Powell recently led an investigation into allegations that Lawrenceville Mayor Rex Millsaps violated the city’s ethics code 18 times, mostly by presiding over deliberations or voting on contracts involving a local architectural and engineering firm where he works. Last week, the Lawrenceville City Council absolved Millsaps of any wrongdoing.
Sarah Palin joins Fox News as a contributor in multi-year dealRichard Huff
Originally Published:Monday, January 11th 2010, 2:20 PM
Lee/APSarah Palin signs with Fox News as a contributor.
Sarah Palin is becoming a TV star.
The former Alaska Governor has signed a multi-year deal to serve as a contributor to Fox News, effective immediately.
"I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News," Palin said in a statement. "It's wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balance news."
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Joining Fox News, the top-rated cable news network, is the latest twist in Palin's meteoric rise to fame after being named Sen. John McCain's vice presidential candidate for the 2008 election.
Since then she's left her job as governor, saying she can do more out of office than in, and written a book "Going Rogue: An American Life."
"Gov. Palin has captivated everyone on both sides of the political spectrum and we are expected to add her dynamic voice to the Fox News lineup," Bill Shine, Fox News' executive vice president of programming said in a statement.
Palin has been no fan of the media, either. She slammed CBS' Katie Couric and ABC's Charles Gibson for the way she was treated in interviews during the presidential race.
She's also been in the middle of a tabloid squabble with Levi Johnston, the father of her daughter's child, over parental visitation.
As a contributor to Fox News, Palin will offer political commentary and analysis for all of the network's platforms, as well as special event political coverage for Fox Broadcasting.
She will also host periodic episodes of FNC's "Real American Stories," a series looking at inspirational real-life tales set to launch this year.
Palin joins an on-air team that also includes former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who hosts a weekend show, and Fox News analysts Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove.
Man accused of trying to ship illegal drugs through mail
January 11, 2010 8:21 AM
Florida Freedom Newspapers
CRESTVIEW — A Crestview man faces a felony charge of possession of methadone, with intent to deliver within 1000 feet of a school.
Jack Anthony Houle, 26, of the 100 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, was released from the Okaloosa County Jail on a $5,000 bond.
Police allege that on Wednesday, Houle attempted to mail 100 methadone pills to Nederland, Texas at One Stop Mail Service in Crestview.
According to a Crestview Police Department arrest report, employees at the mail center said Houle entered the store and asked that a package already wrapped be sent immediately and requested it not be opened.
“The reporting party suspected Houle might be trying to ship illegal drugs,” the report states. “…Due to the shipping store having the right to open and inspect all packages before shipping them, they opened the package.”
Employees alerted police after discovering the pills, the report continues.
Houle was arrested and told police he was shipping the pills to a man in Texas, who had been staying with him, who has a valid prescription for the pills.
“Houle stated he did take ‘a few’ of the pills, and further stated he sold some because ‘times are tough,’” the arresting officer states in the report. “Houle insisted if (the man in Texas) was contacted, he would be able to claim the pills as his, however, Houle would not provide (the man’s) information.”
Book 'Game Change' portrays Sarah Palin as unstable ignoramus who believed Saddam was behind 9/11Helen Kennedy
Monday, January 11th 2010, 4:33 AM
Engman/GettyIn 'Game Change' (below), Sarah Palin is portrayed as having an erratic personality.
The gossipy new campaign book that has the political world buzzing portrays Sarah Palin not just as an ignoramus who believed Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 but also as possibly mentally unstable.
"Game Change," the 2008 deconstruction, says the stress of vaulting onto the national stage caused Palin to have wild mood swings.
"One minute, Palin would be her perky self; the next she would fall into a strange blue funk," the authors write.
The morning of her ill-fated CBS interview with Katie Couric, Palin - "her eyes glassy and dead" - was unresponsive to attempts to prep her as she was being made up.
"As they were about to set off to meet Couric, Palin announced 'I hate this makeup' - smearing it off her face, messing up her hair, complaining she looked fat," the book relates.
Palin went on to give answers to Couric that were so incoherent the interview permanently damaged her.
Palin went into a tailspin. She stopped eating or sleeping, and drank only a half a can of diet soda a day, recounts the book written by John Heilemann of New York magazine and Mark Halperin of Time magazine.
"When her aides tried to quiz her she would routinely shut down - chin on her chest, arms folded, eyes cast to the floor, speechless and motionless, lost in what those around her described as a kind of catatonic stupor," the book says.
"If I had known everything I know now, I would not have done this," the book quotes Palin as saying.
She talked often about her baby, Trig, who spent most of the time in Alaska, and some John McCain aides thought she might be suffering postpartum depression.
When the campaign took her to Arizona to prep for the veep debate, McCain's staff made sure a doctor friend was on hand "to observe her," the book says.
Palin's spokeswoman Meg Stapleton has dismissed the book's allegations as inaccurate gossip from people who weren't there.
"The governor's descriptions of these events are found in her book, 'Going Rogue.' Her descriptions are accurate," Stapleton said in a statement Sunday night to 60 Minutes." "She was there. These reporters were not."
"Game Change," which features priceless images like Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mike Huckabee in a line at a pre-debate urinal, making fun of the absent Mitt Romney - also up contains many other revelations:
The book says aides feared Bill Clinton was jeopardizing his wife's run by having an affair in 2006. The book says a trio of Hillary's top aides formed "a war room within a war room" to counter gossip about her husband and were able to discount all philandering rumors but one.
Bookie refuses to pay out $11 million on snow bet
Fri Jan 8, 2010 1:38pm EST
LONDON (Reuters) - Bookmaker Ladbrokes is refusing to pay out more than 7 million pounds ($11 million) to a man who gambled on a white Christmas across the UK, as the bet was accepted by mistake.
Cliff Bryant, 52, had placed two 5-pound accumulator bets that snow would fall on 24 towns and cities across the north of England on Christmas Day.
"We have apologized to the customer for any confusion and for mistakenly accepting an accumulator bet when our own rules state that only single bets are available on a market of this nature," said a Ladbrokes spokesman.
"We are happy to void the bets and to pay the customer his winnings on the relevant singles."
They however amount to just 31.78 pounds, rather than the 7.1 million Bryant was expecting.
The graphic designer from Southampton, who told the local Southern Daily Echo newspaper he was "gutted" and would seek legal advice, claims the first accumulator would have won him 4.9 million pounds, with the second adding 2.2 million.
"If I make a mistake in my work like that it costs me dearly and I think the offer should be a lot more generous than they have made," he told the paper.
Ladbrokes should have made their rules clearer, he added.
"They are one of the leading bookmakers in the country and I think they ought to do their homework a bit better in future."
Ladbrokes gave Bryant details of the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS), an impartial adjudicator on disputes that arise between gambling operators and their customers.
Danny Cracknell, a manager of the IBAS, told Reuters that Bryant had been in contact and they would be investigating the issue once he had completed the relevant forms.
Attacked Walmart greeter says he was fired
ASSOCIATED PRESS • January 10, 2010
PALM BAY — A local Walmart greeter seen on video getting punched by a customer says he's been fired.
Ed Bauman told WESH TV his termination notice called the incident an act of "gross misconduct."
A Wal-Mart statement says Bauman violated company policy on how they treat customers, and his actions put other customers' safety in jeopardy.
The 69-year-old Bauman was working at the Palm Bay store on Dec. 26 when 23-year-old Skyler Lowery set off the alarm. Bauman asked to see Lowery's receipt. Lowery showed the receipt quickly and kept walking, and Bauman followed Lowery. Police say Lowery grabbed Bauman's clipboard and punched him in the head.
Lowery was charged with battery.
LINK TO VIDEO
Bill Clinton told Ted Kennedy that Obama 'would be getting us coffee' a few years ago: 'Game Change'Helen Kennedy
Sunday, January 10th 2010, 2:44 PM
Vucci/APTed Kennedy famously endorsed Barack Obama for President, after Bill Clinton (below) reportedly belittled the future president.
Bill Clinton helped sink his wife's chances for an endorsement from Ted Kennedy by belittling Barack Obama as nothing but a race-based candidate.
"A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee," the former president told the liberal lion from Massachusetts, according to the gossipy new campaign book, "Game Change."
The book says Kennedy was deeply offended and recounted the conversation to friends with fury.
After Kennedy sided with Obama, Clinton reportedly griped, "the only reason you are endorsing him is because he's black. Let's just be clear."
The revelations in "Game Change" are guaranteed to reopen the 2008 Clinton racial wounds that had been scabbing over amid his post-election public silence and his wife's high marks as Secretary of State.
Laden with potent pass-the-torch symbolism, the January 2008 endorsement of Obama by Kennedy and his niece, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg was a pivotal campaign moment that allowed the Democratic establishment to abandon the Clintons.
Bill Clinton wasn't the only one to bungle handling the Kennedys - the book says Hillary Clinton managed to alienate Caroline by fobbing off a key request on staff instead of calling personally.
When a group of prominent New Yorkers headed to Iowa to campaign for Hillary Clinton, Caroline "dreaded" getting a call to join them because she "would have found it impossible to refuse," the book says.
When Hillary Clinton's staffer called, someone "who sounded awfully like" Caroline said she wasn't home.
Bill Clinton, whose stock with black voters was so high he used to be referred to as "America's First Black President," severely damaged his rep in his overheated drive to help elect his wife.
Earth 'to be wiped out' by supernova explosion
The Earth could soon be wiped out by the explosion of a star more than 3,000 light years away, according to American scientists.
9:39AM GMT 06 Jan 2010
T Pyxidis Photo: NASA
The star, called T Pyxidis, is set to self-destruct in an explosion called a supernova with the force of 20 billion billion billion megatons of TNT.
Although the star is thought to be around 3,260 light-years away – a fairly short distance in galactic terms – the blast from the thermonuclear explosion could strip away the Earth's ozone layer, the scientists said.
Astronomers from Villanova University, Philadelphia, in the US, said the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite has shown them that T Pyxidis is really two stars, one called a white dwarf that is sucking in gas and steadily growing. When it reaches a critical mass it will blow itself to pieces.
It will become as bright as all the other stars in the galaxy put together, they said. The Hubble space telescope has photographed the star preparing for its big bang with a series of smaller blasts or "burps", called novas.
These explosions came regularly about every 20 years from 1890 – but stopped after 1967.
So the next blast is nearly 20 years overdue, said scientists Edward M Sion, Patrick Godon and Timothy McClain at the American Astronomical Society in Washington.
Robin Scagell, vice-president of the UK's Society for Popular Astronomy, said: "The star may certainly became a supernova soon – but soon could still be a long way off so don't have nightmares."
Men think about sex 5,000 times a year
Men think about sex almost 5,000 times a year – but only get down to doing it 104 times, a new study has found
10:33AM GMT 08 Jan 2010
Men think a candlelit dinner is the best way to get women in the mood Photo: GETTY
Researchers found the average male turns their thoughts to sexual intercourse 13 times a day – a total of 4,745 times every year.
Almost a third even admitted it is often the first thing they think about when they wake up in the mornings.
In comparison, women think about sex just five times day – or 1,825 times a year.
But when it comes to actually having sex, men have to make do with it an average of just twice a week, or 104 times a year.
A spokesman for market research company www.Onepoll.com said: ''Men are well-known for thinking about sex a lot, but to find out exactly how often is staggering.
''It seems blokes have sex on the brain whether they are going through a dry spell or jumping between the sheets on a regular basis.
''They can't even get away from the sexy thoughts when they first wake up in the morning.
''So when you catch your man staring into space, you know what he's likely to be thinking about.''
The study of 3,000 people also showed that despite the difference in the amount of times men think about sex and actually do it, almost three quarters claim they are happy about the amount of sex they were getting.
But just 58 per cent of women said the same.
And 43 per cent of couples also admitted arguing over who instigates the lovemaking, with men most likely to make the first move.
Researchers also found one in three guys think a candlelit dinner is the best way of getting a woman in the mood, followed by a relaxing massage.
But women are more likely to play romantic music or cook their partner's favourite meal to try and get them into bed.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
KFC Commercial Pulled After Complaints Of Racism
KFC has been making positive moves with its KGC brand, or its grilled chicken. However, in terms of KFC commercial advertising and political correctness, it appears they have a way to go. In reality, though, it's because of a stereotype that doesn't exist in Australia.
This Australian KFC commercial (below) features a white man surrounded by a group of black revelers. To calm the situation, he hands them a bucket of chicken. The KFC commercial, however, is titled "Cricket Survival Guide," and the Colonel's response is that the KFC commercial was meant to celebrate West Indian Cricket team.
In the KFC commercial, the white man asks if "you need a tip when you're stuck in an awkward situation?" as he's surrounded by the revelers. There's no violence involved, just a bunch of people enjoying themselves.
Still, in America, the image of blacks and fried chicken is known as a racial stereotype. "It is a light-hearted reference to the West Indian cricket team ... The ad was reproduced online in the US without KFC's permission, where we are told a culturally-based stereotype exists, leading to the incorrect assertion of racism." The reference to a "culturally-based stereotype" seems to point to the fact that in Australia such a stereotype does not exist, and thus the company would not have caught how un-PC the KFC commercial might appear, to some.
Of course, that doesn't mean racism does not exist in Australia. It does mean that this stereotype does not resonate there, so to that country, the KFC commercial does not appear to exhibit racism.
At any rate, while the KFC commercial has been pulled, it still lives on (until they remove it for copyright reasons) via YouTube
. Watch the KFC commercial and decide for yourself.
LINK TO COMMERCIAL
1:30 p.m. Saturday, January 9, 2010
Report: Michael Vick got ‘adrenaline' rush while killing dogs
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Michael Vick seemed to get an “adrenaline high” when he killed dogs that didn’t measure up at his now-defunct Virginia dog fighting operation, according to documents obtained by WSB TV.
The records from the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- part of the federal investigation of the former Atlanta Falcons, now Philadelphia Eagle, quarterback – describe graphically how Vick and others at Bad Newz Kennels killed dogs that lost or refused to fight.
Losing was not accepted, according to the records.
”All of the pit bull dogs were destroyed after they lost a fight or refused to fight,” an unnamed confidential witness told investigators. “The dog that won the fight was the only dog that was allowed to live.”
Vick pleaded guilty in 2007 to bankrolling a dog fighting operation and then served a year and a half of a 23-month federal prison sentence. Released to home confinement on May 22, 2009, he volunteered with the Humane Society of the United States' anti-dog fighting program that targets young men who may tempted because they find that world glamorous.
While still serving his federal prison sentence, Vick also pleaded guilty to a Virginia state charge of attending, sponsoring and participating in dogfights. He received a three-year suspended prison sentence for the Virginia charges.
Three others associated with Bad Newz Kennels -- Tony Taylor, Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace -- also have pleaded guilty and were sentenced to federal prison time.
In public, the former football star has been contrite about his zeal for fighting pit bulls. But the records of interviews in the federal investigation suggest a man who was more interested in the bloody fights, one of which lasted more than three hours, than in the money that came out of them.
“Vick never took portions of the winning wages,” according to a summary of an interview with one of the witnesses, whose identity was redacted from the records.
Witnesses said Vick, known as “Ookie” at the kennel, would bankroll bets for others but he didn’t claim any winnings. He also didn’t take the cash prize for the winning dogs.
And the money collected at the door to get into the fights – between $5 and $20 per person – was used only to buy food for the dogs, according to the WSB documents.
Yet, Vick paid for almost everything.
He paid for the dogs and the Surry County, Va., property for the kennel. He paid for a double-wide trailer to go on the land and then covered the costs of building a $400,000 house and sheds for training, fighting and treating injured dogs, a witness told investigators.
According to the records:
• In 2003, Vick and two other men attended a dog fight in Blackstone, Va., bringing with them two pit bulls. Both lost so “the dogs were left with the owner of the property because Vick did not keep dogs that lost matches.”
• In April 2007, Vick tested several dogs to determine if they had the predisposition to fight and if they were capable of winning. Vick ordered six or eight dogs destroyed because they did not meet his standards. The witness said Vick personally helped drown three or four dogs, a process that took two people to hold the animal’s legs while the dog’s head was held under water. Vick also hung dogs. The witness told investigators Vick, Peace and Phillips “seemed to get an ‘adrenaline high’ when killing the dogs.”
Attempts to reach Vick or his representative have not been successful.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized Saturday for his "no Negro dialect" comments.
WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized Saturday for comments he made about Barack Obama's race during the 2008 presidential bid.
And Obama accepted.
Reid's remarks were reported in a book about the campaign to be released this week. The Nevada Democrat described Obama as "light-skinned" and "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."
"I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words," Reid said in a statement. "I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African-Americans for my improper comments."
Obama said Reid called him and apologized personally.
"I accepted Harry's apology without question because I've known him for years, I've seen the passionate leadership he has shown on issues of social justice and I know what's in his heart," he said. "As far as I am concerned, the book is closed."
Reid was neutral during the Democratic primary contest between Obama and Hillary Clinton. But the book, "Game Change," says he urged Obama to run.
|Girl's six-fingered hand|
Doctors have operated on a Chinese girl who was born with six virtually identical fingers on her right hand and no thumb.
Four-year-old Xiao Qian, of Wuhan, eastern China's Hubei province, also has five fingers on her left hand, reports Chutian Golden News.
Her parents took her to see doctors in Pu'ai Hospital who said they had never seen a hand like the little girl's before.
Although, six-fingered hands were not very rare, it was highly unusual for somebody to have six nearly identical fingers, they said.
Doctor Xin Danmo operated on Qian, removing her left-most finger and trying to thicken the second finger in a bid to turn it into a thumb.
He believes that the girl's abnormity was caused by radiation or chemical exposure to the mother during pregnancy.
LINK TO PHOTO OF HAND WITH SIX FINGERS
Shoplifter gets 10 years for purloined tenderloin
T&D Staff Writer
Thursday, January 07, 2010
An Orangeburg man will spend the next 10 years behind bars after a jury answered the question: “Where’s the beef?”
Mark Zachary, 51, of 1336 Weeping Willow Drive, was given the maximum sentence when jurors decided he was guilty of shoplifting, third offense or greater.
The Aug. 26 incident was actually Zachary’s ninth offense, said prosecuting Assistant Solicitor Glenn Justis. He feels the 10 years is justified.
“How many shopliftings do you have to have before you get the max?” he said.
Defense attorney Ash Chisolm reminded jurors in his opening statement that there’s two sides to a story. Chisolm pointed out the state had no video of the incident.
“All we’re going to ask is you pay close attention to the witnesses,” Chisolm said. “Pay close attention to the evidence you’re not given.”
The jury was deadlocked after two hours of deliberation on Tuesday. Circuit Court Judge James Williams then gave them a choice -- decide the matter on Wednesday or a mistrial would be declared, in effect leaving the job for another jury panel in another trial.
The jury spent two more hours debating on Wednesday before coming back with a guilty verdict.
The trial began on Tuesday with jurors hearing testimony from two employees of Reid’s grocery store of Orangeburg. The employees said they confronted Zachary Aug. 26 after noticing he had a large, bulky object underneath his shirt.
The incident began around 8:13 p.m. when an employee noticed Zachary carrying an $80 side of New York strip in his hands.
A few minutes later, he noticed the bread box-sized side of beef was gone and a large bulk had appeared on Zachary’s person, according to a police report.
The employee then reported Zachary’s actions to the store manager. Justis said the manager approached the man about the object underneath his shirt.
Zachary fled at that point, unwittingly into the arms of off-duty police officer, Kevin Dukes, who was entering the store.
On the stand, Zachary denied taking the side of meat, saying rather he was “massaging it,” Justis said.
“Where’s the beef? That was the famous tagline in the Wendy’s commercials back in the 1980s,” Justis said in his opening argument. “Well, I can tell you where it should not have been, it should not have been hidden in Mark Zachary’s shirt as he walked through Reid’s supermarket that evening.”
12-year-old holds up store with toy gun
January 08, 2010 3:50 PM
WALTON COUNTY – A 12-year-old boy was arrested Thursday after pointing what turned out to be a toy gun at a convenience store clerk in northern Walton County.
Just after 7 p.m., the boy walked into Paxton Tom Thumb on U.S. Highway 331, according to a press release by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the release, the boy pointed a wood barreled, long gun at the clerk and demanded money from the cash register. After handing him an undisclosed amount of money, the clerk told deputies the boy said thank you and left the store.
A Walton County Sheriff’s deputy on patrol in the area noticed the boy walking north on Highway 331. The boy attempted to run before being stopped.
The boy was crying and said, “Please don’t take me to jail,” to the deputy. Authorities found the stolen money and toy weapon used in the stick-up just off U.S. Highway 331.
The boy was first transported to the Walton County Jail, and later transferred to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Crestview.
An investigator for the Department of Children and Families has been contacted, and is assisting the Walton County Sheriff’s Office in the case, the release said.
Liberty Head 1913 nickel sells for $2.3m
A US nickel dubbed the "Mona Lisa of rare coins" has sold at auction for $2.3 million.
Published: 6:19PM GMT 08 Jan 2010
A rare 1913-dated U.S. Liberty Head nickel Photo: AP
Tens of millions of the Liberty Head coins were made between 1883 and 1912 but the design changed to depict an American Indian in 1913.
However, five nickels with the old design were secretly were made at the Philadelphia Mint that year and eventually sold to collectors.
The coin became famous when it was featured in an episode of Hawaii Five-O entitled The $100,000 Nickel in 1973.
It has previously been owned by King Farouk of Egypt who was deposed in 1952 and Los Angeles Lakers owner, Dr Jerry Buss.
The names of the seller and the winning bidder at the sale in Orlando were not disclosed.
Glenn Beck may have stepped in it again.
The radio host and Fox News Channel commentator has folks in a minor uproar for even questioning the term African-American on his syndicated radio show Thursday.
“African-American is a bogus, PC, made-up term,” Beck said, in a discussion about the new Census forms.
That is not a race. Your ancestry is from Africa, and now you live in America. Okay, so you were brought over, either your family was brought over in the slave trade, or you were born here and your family immigrated here, or whatever. But that is not a race.”
Beck’s on-air guests agreed, noting the frequent misuse of African-American as a label, using, for instance, the term incorrectly applied to someone from Jamaica. Also, it’s not used to describe South African-born Charlize Theron. who is white and now a U.S. citizen.
The conversation stemmed from the new Census documents that give respondents three boxes from which to chose from: Black, African-American or Negro.
The watchdog group Media Matters picked up on the conversation and posted a clip on its Web site as has Thinkprogress.org.
“Negro used to be — is it still — not acceptable, is that still the clinical term, I don’t know,” Beck said. “It has negative connotations in this country. But what I’m asking is: what are the clinical categories?”
Not surprising, the clip, now circulating in the blogosphere, has generated a load of anti-Beck comments.
Last July, Beck created a real firestorm when when, during an appearance on the Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends,” he said President Obama’s initial reaction to the Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrest situation in Cambridge, Mass., suggested a “deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”
The show’s co-host, Brian Kilmeade then reminded Beck Obama had many whites in prominent positions.
“I’m not saying he doesn't like white people. I'm saying he has a problem,” Beck responded. “This guy is, I believe, a racist.”
LINK TO VIDEO
Daily Herald Staff
A Northbrook man arrested at his own wedding reception for slugging his new brother-in-law admitted guilt to misdemeanor battery Tuesday under a plea deal in which prosecutors dismissed seven felony weapons charges stemming from the same incident.
Sean T. Kelly, 26, of the 3500 block of Lawrence Lane, was sentenced to two years probation, fined $250 and ordered to undergo an anger evaluation under terms of the negotiated plea. He also was sentenced to 30 days in the McHenry County jail, but that already has been served since his July 26 arrest in Huntley.
In exchange for the guilty plea, county prosecutors dropped six counts of possession of a firearm without a valid firearm owner's identification card and one count of possession of ammunition without a FOID card filed after police arresting Kelly found three rifles, three handguns and 39 rounds of rifle ammunition in the trunk of his car.
The charges, which alleged Kelly could not lawfully possess the weapons because his FOID card had been revoked, were Class 3 felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.
Kelly's attorney, Senior Assistant Public Defender Richard Behof, noted Tuesday that it was his client who told police about the guns because he feared someone would take them from his car.
"He thought his card was valid and was doing the right thing," Behof said. "He didn't want to leave (the weapons) on the street. He was trying to be responsible."
Huntley police arrested Kelly after a brawl left several people bloodied and bruised during his wedding reception at a home on the 11200 block of Nicollete Lane. During the altercation, police said, Kelly punched a 30-year-old man later identified as his roommate and new brother-in-law, in the face.
Police said the brawl began when an exchange of words got out of hand. Many of those involved in the fight, police said, were intoxicated.
As officers arrested Kelly, police said, he asked if he could give his brother some items in the trunk of his car. Those items turned out to be the guns and ammunition, police said
Courtroom scuffle with texter leaves deputy with broken leg
Anne Arundel authorities to review their cell phone policy
Andrea F. Siegel
2:44 p.m. EST, January 7, 2010
Swiss millionaire fined $290,000 for speeding
Court bases record-breaking fine on man's wealth of over $20 million
ST. GALLEN, Switzerland - A Swiss court has slapped a wealthy speeder with a chalet-sized fine — a full $290,000.
Judges at the cantonal court in St. Gallen, in eastern Switzerland, based the record-breaking fine on the speeder's estimated wealth of more than $20 million.
A statement on the court's Web site says the driver — a repeat offender — drove up to 35 miles an hour faster than the 50-mile-an-hour limit.
Court clerk Heidi Baumann-Becker said Thursday the unidentified driver can appeal the decision, handed down in November, to the Swiss supreme court.
The Blick daily newspaper in Zurich reported the fine was more than twice the previous Swiss record of about $107,000.
29-year-old lottery winner found dead at home
Police have launched an inquiry after one of Britain's youngest lottery jackpot winners was found dead at his home.
4:08PM GMT 07 Jan 2010
One of Britain's youngest lottery winners Stuart Donnelly, who was found dead at his home in Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire Photo: PA
Stuart Donnelly, 29, won almost 2 million when he shared a $25 million jackpot at the age of 17 in 1997.
The trainee pharmacist, who famously toasted his win with Coca Cola because he was too young to drink champagne, was said to have become a “virtual recluse” in recent years.
He used his money to buy homes for his parents – his father has since died - an executive seat at Celtic Park and a new house in the countryside near Castle Douglas in south-west Scotland.
He was found dead at his home on Wednesday morning and although police are investigating they said there were no suspicious circumstances.
Mr Donnelly, who also gave $15,000 to Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow where his younger brother was treated for a genetic disorder, told of the strain of winning the lottery at such a young age in an interview in 2003.
He said: "It was very hard to deal with all the attention I got. I even had people camping outside my house. It put a huge strain on me and my family."
On his page on the social networking site Bebo, he admitted that he was scared of socialising, and listed his activities as: "Sleeping, watching TV, listening to music, surfing the net. Basically, anything that involves not leaving the house."
A Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary spokesman said: "We can confirm we are investigating the death of 29-year-old Stuart Donnelly from the Castle Douglas area. The procurator fiscal has been informed of the death.
"Early investigations suggest that there are no suspicious circumstances and a post mortem is being arranged."
NM Family Sues Funeral Home Over Brain In Bag
Family Receives Mother's Brain In Bag Of Personal Effects
POSTED: 6:53 pm MST January 6, 2010
UPDATED: 11:58 am MST January 7, 2010
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A New Mexico family is suing after making a gruesome discovery -- a bag of personal effects given to them after their mother's death contained her brain.
Funeral homes in New Mexico and Utah, where the woman died in a Sept. 28 car crash, are blaming each other for the mistake.
According to the complaint filed Monday in state District Court in Albuquerque, the woman's relatives "smelled a foul odor coming from the bag" they received from DeVargas Funeral Home and Crematory of the Espanola Valley.
Funeral home owner Johnny DeVargas denied any fault, telling The Albuquerque Journal that the Utah funeral home was responsible.
The lawsuit names DeVargas, Serenicare Funeral Home in Draper, Utah, and Inman Shipping Worldwide, an Ohio shipping company that transported the body to New Mexico.
A woman, who answered the telephone after hours at Inman's, said nobody from the company was available to comment.
Serenicare owner Dick Johnson denied that his funeral home combined the brain and personal items in a single bag.
The chief medical examiner in Utah told a TV station in Salt Lake City that the standard procedure post-autopsy is to "return all organs and tissues to the body."
If a body part can't be put back, it's place in a bright red bio hazard bag and placed with the body.
Albuquerque attorney Richard Valle is handling the family's suit.
"No loved-one's brain should be part of those belongings," Valle told the Albuquerque Journal.
The lawsuit sites 17 areas of concern including professional negligence, mishandling of a body and outrage. Funeral homes in New Mexico and Utah, where the woman died in a Sept. 28 car crash, are blaming each other for the mistake.
According to the complaint filed Monday in state District Court in Albuquerque, the woman's relatives "smelled a foul odor coming from the bag" they received from DeVargas Funeral Home and Crematory of the Espanola Valley.
Funeral home owner Johnny DeVargas denied any fault, telling The Albuquerque Journal that the Utah funeral home was responsible.
The lawsuit names DeVargas, Serenicare Funeral Home in Draper, Utah, and Inman Shipping Worldwide, an Ohio shipping company that transported the body to New Mexico.
A woman, who answered the telephone after hours at Inman's, said nobody from the company was available to comment.
Serenicare owner Dick Johnson denied that his funeral home combined the brain and personal items in a single bag.
The chief medical examiner in Utah told a TV station in Salt Lake City that the standard procedure post-autopsy is to "return all organs and tissues to the body."
If a body part can't be put back, it's place in a bright red bio hazard bag and placed with the body.
Albuquerque attorney Richard Valle is handling the family's suit.
"No loved-one's brain should be part of those belongings," Valle told the Albuquerque Journal.
The lawsuit sites 17 areas of concern including professional negligence, mishandling of a body and outrage.
LINK TO VIDEO:
The Obama Administration's Systemic Failure on Terrorism
Former Governor of New York State
January 6, 2010 07:31 PM
Following the Christmas Day near-disaster on an international flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, President Obama referred to a "systemic failure" of our nation's intelligence sharing. He is right in referring to a systemic failure, but it is not just in intelligence sharing. From day one, the Obama Administration's anti-terror policies have amounted to a systemic failure that have placed our country's security in grave jeopardy. As one who has seen and experienced the consequences of prior failures up close, I am urging the Administration to drastically change its approach to defending America.
Virtually every decision this Administration has made has placed American security at greater risk, since refusing from the very beginning to even acknowledge the existence of a War on Terror, or to call enemy combatants terrorists.
It is time for the Administration to wake up and smell the explosives.
It is time for them to acknowledge their mistakes and change course. Let me outline five specific actions that the president should take:
First, the decision to return six terrorists to Yemen last month was a mistake that should not be repeated. The Pentagon reported this week that one in five terrorists released from Guantanamo are either suspected or confirmed to have returned to the battlefield in places like Afghanistan. The president should suspend his effort to shut Guantanamo until we are certain of a secure alternative facility to hold all detainees.
Second, end the wrong-headed investigation of our own CIA officials. Against the strong recommendation of CIA Director Leon Panetta, the Obama Administration has begun an investigation into CIA agents who interrogated terrorists, even though this action was rejected time and again by prior Justice Department officials. The September 11th attacks were largely the result of a weak intelligence apparatus, and this Christmas Day near-disaster again was again a failure to appropriately share intelligence. The decision to investigate those devoting their lives to protecting us is an example of left-leaning political correctness run amok and greatly hurts morale at that agency at a time when we need a strong CIA more than ever.
Third, treat our military with respect and honor, not as criminals. Yes, we need our military to be professional, respectful and honorable, and they are. But to court-martial Navy Seals -- among the bravest of the brave, who are willing and prepared to die for our country -- because a barbaric terrorist complains of a bruised lip is absurd and unconscionable. What's next? Assault charges against the brave passenger who foiled the Christmas Day bomber? We count on our military professionals to protect us. They should be able to count on their government to support and stand with them against America's enemies.
Fourth, reverse the decision to treat Khalid Sheik Mohammad as a criminal defendant instead of a terrorist. He was captured while continuing to fight a war against us that he acknowledges, even if the Obama Administration refuses to acknowledge the same. As the mastermind of the September 11th attacks, he does not belong in our civilian court system and should be prosecuted under the military tribunal system created for this purpose. To give this butcher and his followers a global media forum to act like victims and spew their hate defies logic. It will inflame anti-American actions across the globe. To show the world such a weak, politically correct response to terrorists makes America and Americans less safe. This is an unprecedented, dangerous mistake and I implore President Obama to reverse this horrible decision before it is too late.
Finally, fire Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and replace her with a competent professional. I have met Secretary Napolitano and found her to be a perfectly nice, reasonable person. But on homeland security, she like the rest of the Obama Administration has been consistently wrong. From confidently asserting "the system worked" in the wake of the Christmas Day near-disaster, to her previous assertion that returning American servicemen and women were prone to right-wing terrorism and presented possible threats to our safety, she has consistently proven that she does not get it and is not up to the challenge of protecting Americans from terror threats.
I could go on. Failure to let Army officials know of the potential dangers prior to the Fort Hood massacre; calling the Christmas day bomber an "isolated extremist" although he was associated with the same radical Yemeni Islamist cleric who instructed the murderer at Fort Hood; issuing a hard timeline for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan at the same time as we are implementing a limited surge... The point is clear. Every week adds more to the growing list of missteps and mistakes made by the Obama Administration that greatly weaken American security and undermine our ability to identify threats and prevent terrorist attacks.
By taking the five steps outlined above, the president would demonstrate to the American people and the world that he understands the threats to our security and is willing to do what it takes to defend and protect our country.
Target dealing with bold shoplifter
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
5:39 p.m. Wednesday, January 6, 2010
He doesn't own the Target. He just acts like it.
Courtesy of Henry County Police On Tuesday, Dec.r 29, 2009, at about 8:15 AM, this man walked out of the Target located at 1850 Jonesboro Road, McDonough, Georgia 30281, without paying for 2 Dyson vacuum cleaners valued at $549 each. The suspect was last seen driving away in a small red/maroon vehicle.
Four times since June, a brazen shoplifter has struck the same Target on Jonesboro Road in McDonough. Each time, he grabs valuable merchandise and walks out without paying.
The one time he was confronted, he didn't back down. He pulled a baton and threatened the store's loss prevention officer.
"Most shoplifters, when confronted, will drop the stolen items and try to get away as quickly as possible," Henry County Police Capt. Jason Bolton said.
The latest theft came Dec. 29, when the suspect wheeled out two vacuum cleaners worth $549 apiece. He drove away in a small red or maroon vehicle. In the other cases, the suspect drove away in a blue Ford Freestar van.
On June 12, police say, he stole two Blue-Ray disc players worth $600. On Aug. 21, he stole GPS devices worth $640.
On Sept. 30, he was leaving with stolen merchandise when an employee approached him.
"When this suspect was confronted by loss prevention, he pulled out an ASP baton and threatened the employee with it, and then took the stolen items by force," Bolton said. "By doing that he changed it from a simple case of shoplifting to an armed robbery."
Police believe he's also responsible for other Target thefts in the Atlanta area.
LINK TO PHOTO
Woman bank manager 'stole $1,000,000 by regularly walking out with wads of $25,000 in cash after locking up'
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:47 AM on 07th January 2010
A crooked bank manager stole almost $1million in a ‘sustained, sophisticated and calculated course of deception’, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.
Ania Wadsworth, 28, was a trusted boss at a branch of Lloyds TSB for five years but was repeatedly helping herself to $25,000 bundles of notes ready for cash machines.
She manipulated in-house bank accounts to hide her deceit from bosses and auditors, it was said.
Wadsworth, who started out as a team leader but was swiftly promoted to a branch operations manager, is accused of stealing $921,716 between 2002 and 2007.
When the scam was uncovered in March 2007 Wadsworth admitted taking the majority of the money.
However, she said she did it because her boyfriend Keith Preddie, 30, who was ‘from the wrong side of the tracks’, threat- ened and intimidated her to help pay off his spiraling drug debts.
He is accused of banking more than $145,000 of the stolen cash between 2003 and 2005.
Wadsworth was promoted rapidly at the Lloyds TSB branch in Golders Green, north London, above
Prosecutor Mark Paltenghi said the case did not involve a complicated paper trail and electronic transfers but the ‘taking of physical cash and removing it from the premises’.
Wadsworth and Preddie began their relationship 12 years ago, while she was still a 16-year-old schoolgirl and he was 18.
She came from a normal background but unemployed Preddie struggled with drug addiction and debt and was living in a crack house, spending $500 a day on his habit.
They split after eight years together, during which time Preddie had served a prison sentence.
Wadsworth started work at the Golders Green branch in North London in 2000 and within a year was appointed operations manager, with responsibilities for loading cash machines.
Mr Paltenghi said: ‘By all accounts, she was a highly respected member of staff. She was a woman who was trusted by everybody with whom she worked. Sadly, that trust was misplaced.’
She started stealing small amounts, but over time it ‘increased considerably’. Mr Paltenghi said the money for cashpoints would be in bundles of $25,000.
‘She was usually the last person to leave the bank and during the day she would simply leave aside a bundle of cash and take it away with her when she locked up,’ he added.
'She said she had done this a number of times.’
Wadsworth was to tell police she took the cash home to Preddie, who created a constant fear that ‘he was able to kill her’.
The prosecutor added: ‘On several occasions she took more than one bundle with her for him.
‘She would cover up what she had done by debiting foreign accounts.
‘When she was in control of the cashpoints she was the person to load it and it was her responsibility to raise any discrepancies.’
Mr Paltenghi added: ‘How was Miss Wadsworth able to get away with it for so long? Trust, opportunity and a sophisticated cover-up.’
He said expert witnesses would later explain how the cover-up worked. Jurors were told that Wadsworth admitted stealing around $870,000 but claimed Preddie had forced her into doing it.
She also said she gave him her wages, which ranged between $1,000 and $1,800 a month, and was forced to take out three loans.
Wadsworth claimed ‘she was scared he would come after her and her family and she lived a life of fear’, said the prosecutor.
‘She said she wanted to get out of the relationship but couldn’t.’
But Mr Paltenghi said there was evidence Wadsworth had benefited from the scam, keeping her personal account overdrawn to prevent unwanted attention.
Wadsworth, of Archway, North London, denies theft.
Preddie, of Romford, Essex, denies money laundering. He denies that he forced Wadsworth to steal or that he knew the money was stolen.
The trial continues.
LINK TO PHOTO OF WADSWORTH
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1241059/Bank-manager-stole-1m-years-walking-wads-cash-locking-up.html#ixzz0btaPyROT
Bride who stole $470,000 from her employer to pay for dream wedding jailed for 2 years
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 5:45 PM on 06th January 2010
A bride who stole nearly half a million pounds to fund her dream wedding has been jailed for two years.
Joanne Kent, 26, hired every room in a cliff-top hotel, laid on a fireworks display, splashed on flowers and even bought Armani bracelets for guests.
The mother-of-two spent the money on the lavish ceremony in Newquay, Cornwall, in September 2007 while tying the knot to fiance David.
Enlarge Wag-style wedding: Joanne Kent on her big day... paid for with money she stole from her employer
Kent pilfered $470,000 from her former employers Wilson UK Ltd, a Walsall subsidiary of an American company supplying the oil industry, before leaving the firm two months before her wedding.
Guests were treated to a night at the Hotel Victoria funded by the bride, unaware that the champagne they were quaffing had been funded by the firm.
Kent, originally from Cannock, Staffordhsire, who now lives in Fraddon, Cornwall, even blew more than $50,000 on cars, paying for an Audi A4 and a $38,000 Mazda.
The court heard she transferred cash to her bank accounts after disguising the money as payments to other firms.
Joanne Kent hides her face arrives at Wolverhampton Crown Court
The scam was only discovered when Kent used the wrong currency for one transfer, making a supposed payment to an American company in sterling instead of dollars.
But today at Wolverhampton Crown Court she was finally punished for conning her employers out of so much money.
Prosecutor Mark Phillips said she worked the scam by paying money out of the firm to existing clients, but changing the bank details so it went to her.
He said: 'Mrs Kent accepts that she spent $50,000 on her wedding, the hotel bill alone was over $37,000, without the flowers, cards, or fireworks on the beach.
'She also admits bracelets were given as gifts to guests. With the money she also bought a Mazda worth $38,000 and an Audi A4. Some of the cash was also spent on mortgages on properties.
'Using dormant companies she would put in her own bank details so the records showed existing creditors as paid when it was her and nothing would be thought of it.
'The financial manager acted after she saw a discrepancy in a $22,000 payment. It was to a U.S. company who should have been paid in dollars and not in pounds sterling.
'But for this discrepancy it is very unlikely that Mrs Kent would ever been caught.'
Kent had pleaded guilty to one count of theft of $296,047 from her employers between July 5, 2005, and April 11, 2007.
She also admitted fraudulently obtaining $177,845 from the firm during the period of April 12 to June 21 the same year.
Dressed in black, Kent starred at the ground for the whole hearing but sobbed as the judge spoke to her.
Louise Howard, defending, said her client's family would suffer because of her crimes.
She said: 'There is no way to justify how Mrs Kent spent the money, however a significant amount was spent on other people.
'She will have to live with the fact that her husband and her children will be living in a desperate situation because of her actions.'
Judge Michael Challinor appeared to take pity on the mum-of-two as he jailed her.He said: 'This was a relatively sophisticated fraud. Only a mistake in the type of currency used gave away what you were doing.
'Most of the money you stole was squandered on an extravagant lifestyle for yourself or in order to show off to your friends.
'Although the company had a turnover of over $10million the amount of money stolen was very significant.
'Because you have an eight-week old baby and it suffers from hip problems I will attempt to sway the prison service to allow you to attend a mother and child unit.
'I sentence you to two years and eight months imprisonment, reduced to two years due to the fact you have two small children.'
A separate hearing into whether the money taken can and will be repaid will take place later this month.
LINK TO PHOTO OF BRIDE AT WEDDING
Mouse nest found on policeman's filthy desk
Exterminators called in to deal with an infestation at a police station found a mouse nest on a messy desk.
Published: 9:21AM GMT 05 Jan 2010
Mice made a home on one policeman's messy desk Photo: GETTY
Pest controllers were called to an office in Kennington, south London, used by weapons and technology experts at the Metropolitan Police after reports of 'mice everywhere'.
According to internal police reports, a family of mice even set up home in one police worker's desk - burying themselves in his paperwork.
The report reminds workers of 'the Met's clear desk policy' - meaning everything on your desk must be filed away by the end of each day so cleaners can do their jobs.
It states: "Employees came across a number of mice at a police building.
"Action was taken to remove the mice from the premises and there have not been any sighting of mice since."
A spokeswoman for the Met said that the 'paperwork home' set up on one desk by mice consisted of 'paperwork that did not relate to operational police matters'.
"Some of the desks were so messy it was a wonder anyone could find anything," said one officer.
"It got to the stage where mice droppings were found on desks and that's when everyone thought 'it's time to do something about our desks'.
"That's when one guy found a mouse nest in his paperwork. It's fair to say he was a little embarrassed."
Lambeth cops spend more than $25,000 on vermin exterminators last year, including $4,299 to get rid of 'unwanted birds' and $12,018 on 'rodent or mammal extermination'.
The sum also included $108 for 'getting rid of geese', although a police spokesman could not shed any further light on this particular expense.
Florida Keys cops leave ransom note for pot, nab suspected grower
MARATHON -- After a citizen's tip led undercover detectives to six large marijuana plants growing in a vacant wooded lot in the Florida Keys, the detectives half jokingly left a ransom note.
``Thanks for the grow! You want them back? Call for the price (305) 481-4494. We'll talk.''
The detectives never expected the grower of the illegal drugs to call. But 10 minutes later, he did.
``He's got to win one of America's dumbest criminal awards,'' said Col. Rick Ramsay of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.
Steven Locascio, 48, negotiated to get his six-foot-tall pot plants back for $200, saying he couldn't believe he had to pay to get his own marijuana back.
``He probably put a lot of sweat and hard work and energy into growing the plants,'' Ramsay said. ``The plants were worth about $1,000 each. So he probably thought it was a good deal to get them back for only $200.''
The undercover detectives loaded the six plants in the back of a pickup truck and drove to the corner of Coco Plum Drive and Avenue H in Marathon. After Locasio handed over the cash, he was arrested.
A search warrant was issued for his nearby apartment, where detectives found 20 smaller marijuana plants, four pounds of freshly harvested marijuana in a freezer and several 80-milligram Oxycontin pills. Detectives also seized $1,380 in cash.
Locascio and his wife, Christine Locascio, 50, were both charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and sale of marijuana.
``If he didn't show up, there would have been no way to prove who grew the plants,'' Ramsay said. ``The detectives left the note as a last ditch effort, thinking he would never call. But sometimes people do stupid things.''
Kenosha woman found chained in filth; relatives charged
January 5, 2010 11:07 AM | UPDATED STORY
A former Chicago woman and her son have been charged after Kenosha police found the woman's 38-year-old daughter--who has the intellectual capacity of a child--at the family home disfigured from neglect, covered in her own excrement and chained to a weight bench.
Sally M. Adams, 56, and her son, Ernest Claiborne, 34, were arrested in their home in the 1300 block of 69th Street in Kenosha on Saturday. Police went there after the father of Adams' grandson complained to authorities that Adams had barred him from seeing his 2-year-old son since September and that Adams' own daughter might be neglected and chained to furniture in a filthy house, according to criminal complaints filed Monday.
Adams and Claiborne both face charges of felony false imprisonment, abuse of a person at risk and reckless endangerment in connection to their alleged treatment of the woman who is Adams' daughter and Claiborne's sister. Claiborne also faces a misdemeanor child neglect charge related to his treatment of the 2-year-old.
According to criminal complaints, the defendants both told police that the allegedly abused woman has the mental capacity of a 5-year-old.
Adams and Claiborne were both being held in Kenosha County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail, according to the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department.
A Kenosha police officer went to Adams' and Claiborne's home about 4:45 p.m. Saturday in response to the child-abuse complaint from the boy's father. A 13-year-old boy answered the door, and Claiborne allowed the officer to come in to check on the boy's well-being, according to the complaints.
Inside, the officer found a home in "complete disarray" with "an odor of urine and faces so strong he nearly vomited," according to the complaints.
The officer found the 2-year-old boy in a small, dark bedroom, strapped in a car seat on top of a mattress. There was no food in the house suitable for the boy, the complaints said.
In the dining room, the officer found Adams' 38-year-old daughter lying on the floor and chained by her left ankle to a weight bench. The woman, who was shivering and wearing only a T-shirt, was covered in urine and feces, lying next to a similarly rank blanket, police said.
The woman, who was unable to communicate with police, weighed between 60 and 70 pounds, according to the complaints. She could not straighten her legs, stand or walk.
Claiborne told officers he didn't know where the key to the chain on the woman's leg was, and said she had been chained to the weight bench because she otherwise would leave the house and get lost, police said.
The 13-year-old who answered the door told police he had known Adams and Claiborne about 3 years, and that she had chained that whole time. He said she was only unchained "once in a while" to be cleaned, the complaints state.
In a later police interview, Claiborne claimed he had been planning on taking a nap about 4 p.m. Saturday, and that his sister had been chained because his mother had gone shopping.
He said he had not taken her to the bathroom or fed her Saturday.
Claiborne explained he had put the 2-year-old in the car seat so the boy would not disturb him as he napped.
Kenosha Fire Rescue had to cut the chain to free the woman. When she was being taken to Kenosha Hospital, police found she had ligature marks on her ankle, as well as 10 to 15 marks on her back, according to the complaints.
In statements to police after she returned to her home and as she was taken to the police station, Adams denied knowing who had chained up her daughter, but echoed her son's statement that her daughter was intellectually disabled and would run off if not chained.
Adams told police her daughter could use the bathroom herself "if she remembers," and could feed herself and talk. But she said she gave her over-the-counter sleeping pills to keep her from leaving the house, the complaints state.
The father of the boy told police that between 1999 and 2006, when Adams and her daughter lived in Chicago, he frequently visited their home and saw the daughter walking and using the bathroom, the complaints state.
Adams had in the past locked the doors to keep her daughter from leaving home, but the father told police he had only heard second-hand before Saturday about the daughter being chained up.
Adams and Claiborne were scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Jan. 12 in Kenosha County Circuit Court before Judge Carl Greco.
Defendant: Sally M. Adams
( Kenosha, Wis., Police Department photo / January 5, 2010 )
Defendant: Ernest Claiborne
(Kenosha, Wis., Police Department photo / January 5, 2010)
Defendant: Sally M. Adams( Kenosha, Wis., Police Department photo / January 5, 2010 )
Defendant: Ernest Claiborne(Kenosha, Wis., Police Department photo / January 5, 2010)
Smacked children more successful later in life, study finds
Children who are smacked by their parents may grow up to be happier and more successful than those spared physical discipline, research suggests.
Published: 1:26PM GMT 03 Jan 2010
Research suggests children who are smacked when young are more successful later in life
A study found that youngsters smacked up to the age of six did better at school and were more optimistic about their lives than those never hit by their parents.
They were also more likely to undertake voluntary work and keener to attend university, experts discovered. The research, conducted in the United States, is likely to anger children’s rights campaigners who have unsuccessfully fought to ban smacking in Britain.
Currently, parents are allowed by law to mete out "reasonable chastisement'' on their children, providing smacking does not leave a mark or bruise. These limits were clarified in the 2004 Children’s Act.
But children’s groups and MPs have argued that spanking is an outdated form of punishment that can cause long-term mental health problems.
Marjorie Gunnoe, professor of psychology at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said her study showed there was insufficient evidence to deny parents the freedom to determine how their children should be punished.
She said: “The claims made for not spanking children fail to hold up. They are not consistent with the data.
“I think of spanking as a dangerous tool, but there are times when there is a job big enough for a dangerous tool. You just don’t use it for all your jobs.”
The research questioned 179 teenagers about how often they were smacked as children and how old they were when they were last spanked.
Their answers were then compared with information they gave about their behaviour that could have been affected by smacking. This included negative effects such as anti-social behaviour, early sexual activity, violence and depression, as well as positives such as academic success and ambitions.
Those who had been smacked up to the age of six performed better in almost all the positive categories and no worse in the negatives than those never punished physically.
Teenagers who had been hit by their parents from age seven to 11 were also found to be more successful at school than those not smacked but fared less well on some negative measures, such as getting involved in more fights.
However, youngsters who claimed they were still being smacked scored worse than every other group across all the categories.
Prof Gunnoe found little difference in the results between sexes and different racial groups.
The findings were rejected by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which has fought to ban smacking.
A spokesman for the charity said: "The NSPCC believes that children should have the same legal protection from assault as adults do.
“Other research has shown that smacking young children affects their behaviour and mental development, and makes them more likely to be anti-social.”
However, Parents Outloud, the pressure group, welcomed the research, saying parents should not be criminalised for mild smacking.
Its spokeswoman, Margaret Morrissey, said: “It is very difficult to explain verbally to a young child why something they have done is wrong.
“A light tap is often the most effective way of teaching them not to do something that is dangerous or hurtful to other people – it is a preventive measure.
“While anything more than a light tap is definitely wrong, parents should be allowed the freedom to discipline their children without the fear that they will be reported to police.”
Aric Sigman, a psychologist and author of The Spoilt Generation: Why Restoring Authority will Make our Children and Society Happier, told the Sunday Times: “The idea that smacking and violence are on a continuum is a bizarre and fetishised view of what punishment or smacking is for most parents.
“If it’s done judiciously by a parent who is normally affectionate and sensitive to their child, our society should not be up in arms about that. Parents should be trusted to distinguish this from a punch in the face.”
Previous studies have suggested that smacking children can lead them to develop behavioural problems such as being more aggressive.
US Spends Ten Times More On Afghanistan Than Airport Security
First Posted: 01- 4-10 04:44 PM | Updated: 01- 4-10 05:21 PM
The botched Christmas airliner attack, followed by a steady stream of alarming reports about the vulnerability of airports, has prompted questions about the budgetary priorities that underline U.S. national security.
First and foremost is a fairly straightforward query: why is the U.S. spending so heavily in Afghanistan and Iraq, when a terrorist who nearly blew up an aircraft over Detroit journeyed from Nigeria to London to Yemen, all the while apparently being managed by al Qaeda in Pakistan?
The numbers indeed are sobering. In fiscal year 2009, the Transportation Security Administration was allocated $7.99 billion, $5.74 billion of which was earmarked for aviation security (Page 154). Only $128 million of that total was geared towards "enhancements at passenger checkpoints to improve the detection of prohibited items, especially weapons and explosives" which is roughly $100 million less than the tax break granted to Alaska fishermen in the stimulus package passed early this Congress.
Contrast those numbers with the dollars being poured into the two wars. A report released in September by the Congressional Research Service estimated that $94.8 billion was spent in Iraq in FY09. Another $55.2 billion is going to Afghanistan (more than ten times the amount spent on aviation security) with the number rising to $72.9 billion in 2010. That total, does not include the expected $30 billion that will be required to pay for additional troops.
For some national security experts, the imbalance is cause for concern. Not because one activity is being funded at the cost of another. But, rather, because homeland security requires attention and resources that more closely parallel overseas military operations.
"Yes, I think we are under-funding [airport security]," said Larry Korb, a defense analyst at the Center for American Progress. In late December, he and his organization released a report, which called on the Obama administration to pay for its escalation in Afghanistan through strategic cuts to the defense budget -- specifically to obsolete weapons programs. That money could also be used to fill in the appropriate holes when it comes to domestic security operations.
"Obviously we are putting far more of our resources into offensive action as opposed to defense or development," said Korb.
Not everyone is alarmed about the prospects that the United States is too bogged down in Afghanistan to handle the global threat of terrorism. In an interview with the Huffington Post last week, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-M.D.) said that there was no disputing the notion that the failed airliner bombing had "transnational connections."
"And yes," he added, "you cannot fight in just one place. But that doesn't mean you don't fight anywhere."
Nor, for that matter, does that mean U.S. forces can't fight in two or more places at once. And as Von Hollen pointed out, the Obama administration "has already been engaged both in Somalia and in Yemen working with the government to go after the al Qaeda cells there."
Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), likewise, took to the Obama administration's defense on Afghanistan, telling the cast of "Morning Joe" that he thought the country was better prepared to handle a terrorist attack today than in 2001.
"If you are concerned about [being distracted in Afghanistan], you've got to add Bosnia," Kerrey added. "Was that a distraction, going into Bosnia, to make an effort? Was it a distraction to try to make an effort to go into Somalia? Was Desert One a distraction?
Few in or out of government suspect that the botched airline attack will compel the administration to deviate from its plans for Afghanistan or Iraq. It is far more likely that a separate check will be written to cover the problems in airport security. But, for those who already argue that Afghanistan should not be the locus of America's counterterrorism efforts, the lapses in airport security serve as an affirmation of sorts.
"[I]f I said to you normally, 'Tell me what, what, what distinguishes the murderer at Fort Hood, the people we arrested in Denver and Detroit and New York, and the five people who were just picked up in Pakistan?' You could say, 'Well, they weren't Rotarians,'" former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said during a taping of "Meet the Press" on December 27. "But it would be politically incorrect to describe the one common characteristic they have, which is they all belong to an irreconcilable wing of Islam which wants to destroy our civilization. Now, until we can have an honest conversation and not be self-deceptive about our enemies, it's pretty hard to design a strategy. And that's why the Afghanistan argument is a subset. It's like debating Guadalcanal in World War II."
Tough Tiger Woods pictured shirtless on Leibovitz Vanity Fair cover
Tiger Woods appears shirtless and "pumping iron" in a photograph by the photographer Annie Leibovitz published for the first time by Vanity Fair magazine.
Tom Leonard in New York
9:45PM GMT 04 Jan 2010
Tiger Woods on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine.
The picture was taken in 2006, long before allegations of the golfer's serial philandering emerged.
The photo, one of several "raw" shots of Woods to be printed in the magazine's forthcoming February issue, is a far cry from the squeaky clean image that the golf star once enjoyed both on and off the green.
An accompanying article by the writer Buzz Bissinger seeks to discover why the sportsman was able to keep his "sex addict" nature hidden for so long.
One revealing insight into the "real" Woods, he writes, was provided by a taped interview the golfer gave to GQ magazine in 1997, when his image was not so tightly controlled by publicity advisors.
During the interview, Woods, then 21, told a series of dirty jokes about lesbian sex and the endowments of black sportsmen, some of them as he "flirted" with four women who were assisting him during a photo-shoot.
Joe Logan, a long-time golf writer, told Vanity Fair that Woods later "learned very well to talk forever and say nothing" at tournament press conferences.
Woods was equally detached with other players "though he was always affable, never antagonistic," said Mr Bissinger.
Michael Bamberger, a golf writer for Sports Illustrated magazine, said that Woods learned early on that to succeed in professional golf, particularly as a black man in a white man's game, he had to conform.
"What seems clear now is that he lived a very abnormal life all his life in a sport in which guys are very conventional," he said.
"And if you are not conventional, you get ostracised right away."
As sponsors have deserted Woods, 33, and his public approval ratings have plunged, Mr Bissinger speculated that the golfer might be damaged most by recent charges against Anthony Galea, a Canadian doctor accused of providing athletes with human growth hormone.
Dr Galea treated Woods for an injured knee. Although he conceded that there was no evidence that the golfer took performance enhancing drugs, Mr Bissinger said sports writers who covered Woods noticed as long ago as 2007 that "from the back he was beginning to look like Barry Bonds" - a reference to a baseball star embroiled in a recent steroids scandal.
Disgraced Miss. judge reports to federal prison
Associated Press Writer
JACKSON, Miss. – Bobby DeLaughter, a former Mississippi prosecutor and judge whose legal conquests became the subject of books and a movie, reported to federal prison Monday for lying to the FBI in a judicial bribery investigation.
The next chapter of DeLaughter's life, as inmate No. 12930-042, marks a long fall from the height of his legal career in 1994 when he was a prosecutor who helped convict a civil rights-era assassin for the 30-year-old murder of NAACP leader Medgar Evers.
The 55-year-old DeLaughter (deh-LAW'-ter) reported to a federal prison camp in Pine Knot, Ky., before his 2 p.m. deadline, said Federal Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Felicia Ponce.
The prison has a medium-security facility and minimum-security camp, though Ponce said she did not know how DeLaughter would be classified. All inmates in the federal system must work if they are physically able, with jobs ranging from cooks to groundskeepers, she said.
Prisoners make from 12 cents to 40 cents an hour depending on the job and their experience.
DeLaughter was sentenced to 18 months in November after pleading guilty to lying about secret conversations he had with a lawyer while presiding over a dispute between wealthy attorneys over legal fees. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped conspiracy and mail fraud charges.
DeLaughter made a name for himself as an assistant district attorney when he helped put away Byron de la Beckwith for Evers' 1963 murder. The case was the basis for the 1996 movie "Ghosts of Mississippi," with Alec Baldwin playing DeLaughter.
DeLaughter also wrote a book about the prosecution, "Never Too Late: A Prosecutor's Story of Justice in the Medgar Evers Case."
That acclaim helped DeLaughter get appointed to a vacant seat on the bench in 2002. He was later elected to the position.
His storied career ended with the same bribery scandal that toppled Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, chief architect of the multibillion-dollar tobacco litigation of the 1990s — which was depicted in the movie "The Insider," starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe.
DeLaughter was presiding over a lawsuit in which a lawyer sued Scruggs for a bigger cut of millions in legal fees from asbestos litigation. Prosecutors said DeLaughter ruled in Scruggs' favor in exchange for a promise that he'd be considered for a federal judgeship, with help from Scruggs' high-powered connections.
DeLaughter ruled in 2006 that Scruggs didn't owe the former partner anything more than a belated $1.5 million payment. The ruling was contrary to the findings of a special master appointed to weigh the evidence before trial.
DeLaughter pleaded guilty only to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with his old boss, former Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters. Peters was accused of receiving $1 million to influence DeLaughter, but he cooperated in the investigation and was not charged.
World's tallest skyscraper opens in Dubai
Dubai has opened the world's tallest skycraper, renaming it the Burj Khalifa in honour of the man who bailed the financially troubled Gulf city-state out of its debts.
Richard Spencer in Dubai
5:31PM GMT 04 Jan 2010
Surprising those gathered on Monday evening for an opening ceremony lit up by fireworks, the Burj Dubai, whose height was officially given as 828 metres or 2717 feet, became the Burj Khalifa - or Khalifa Tower.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan is the ruler of the neighbouring emirate of Abu Dhabi, and president of the United Arab Emirates. He and his brothers personally intervened last month to lend Dubai £6 billion to pay off the pressing debts of one of Dubai's biggest state-owned companies.
The tower was launched by Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, with a spectacular display of fireworks, which fired out from the sides of the building all the way up its tubular spire to its peak.
Its inauguration, on the fourth anniversary of the sheikh's accession to the emirate, has brought a much-needed feeling of festivity to Dubai, which has been battling all year with a debt crisis caused by a collapse in property prices amid the world financial crisis.
The tower has become symbolic of the emirate's woes: historians have pointed out that an obsession with skyscrapers is a good sign of an economic bubble. The Empire State Building was commissioned when New York's stock market was at its peak in the 1920s, and opened after the Wall Street Crash.
The passion for tall buildings moved to Hong Kong and other parts of Asia in time for the 1997 financial crisis.
The tower's exact height had been long kept a secret, with the builders, the specialist Chicago skyscraper firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, allowed and even encouraged to keep going until they thought they could go no further.
At 2,717 feet, it is a full 1,046 feet higher than the world's previous highest occupied building, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan, and 654 feet higher than the tallest man-made structure, the KVLY-TV tower in North Dakota, America, a broadcasting mast.
It will contain more than 1,000 apartments, an Armani-branded hotel, and offices up to the 160th floor. Financial analysts are looking forward to discovering how many have been let, and at what cost, given that property prices have halved in the city in the last year.
The top 40 floors - growing ever smaller towards the top - will be occupied by the tower's service centres.
The first chance to see the interior - and the view - came with the opening of an observation deck on the 124th floor on Monday.
It provides a good platform from which to view the city's achievements, for good or ill.
After ascending in a single lift ride at more than 30 feet per second, visitors who pay £17 will be able to see the tops of the city's other skycrapers hundreds of feet below.
They will, in fact, be able to see the whole "World" spread out at their feet - the archipelago of artificial islands out in the Gulf which is supposed to be a base for luxury villas, hotels and shopping developments but which is currently almost entirely empty.
This being Dubai, they will also have the opportunity to shop. The souvenir stall sells a range of "Burj Dubai" tee-shirts, with some noticeable additions: 299 dirhams, just short of £50, is the cost of a drink of water, as the bottles have a portrait of the tower and its name picked out in diamante.
Visitors will have a stark vision of Dubai's economic growth in the last three decades - from desert to the tower's south to its thriving port and commercial centre to the north and east.
Mohammed Alabbar, the chairman of the tower's developer, Emaar Properties, showed he was aware of the irony of the tower's opening at the nadir of the city's fortunes.
"Crises come and go. And cities move on," he said. "You have to move on. Because if you stop taking decisions, you stop growing."
The city's defenders point out that even if Manhattan and Hong Kong suffered financial crises when their most celebrated buildings opened, they have not done badly since. North Korea, on the other hand, has few skyscrapers.
LINK TO VIDEO:
January 03, 2010
Toledo woman pleads not guilty to broken drive-through window
A Toledo woman, who allegedly put her fist through a fast-food drive-through window after being told her order couldn't be filled, appeared in court Saturday on a felony vandalism charge.
Melodi Dushane, 24, of 1332 Felt St. became "upset that chicken nuggets weren't available" and "punched out the drive-through window," according to Toledo police.
Police were called Friday to the McDonald's restaurant at 90 Main St., where Ms. Dushane was arrested.
Before Ms. Dushane was booked into the Lucas County jail, she was treated at Mercy St. Charles Hospital for injuries sustained when she allegedly punched at the window.
Ms. Dushane pleaded not guilty to the charge yesterday in Toledo Municipal Court.
She was released on a supervised recognizance bond.
She was ordered not to have any contact with the restaurant and will return to court on Jan. 28.
January 03, 2010 10:29 AM
LAKE FOREST – In what Pastor Rick Warren called radical giving, Saddleback Church members not only heeded his call to quickly raise $900,000 but exceeded it by at least $1.5 million.
A packed church erupted today in applause and cheers when Warren made the announcement at the 4:30 p.m. service. By New Year’s Eve, church members brought $2.4 million to the church, a tally that does not include mailed donations, Warren said.
“This is pretty amazing,’ Warren exulted. “That’s a record. I don’t think any church has gotten a cash offering like that off a letter.”
"We're starting the new decade with a surplus,” he said. “It came from thousands of thousands of ordinary people. There was not one big fat cat.”
The outpouring started Wednesday after Warren posted a message on the church’s Web site appealing for donations to overcome a $900,000 shortage in collections.
Men, women and children flocked to the church, stuffing donation boxes so rapidly that security guards emptied them every 30 minutes.
On Friday night, Warren issued an update on the church’s Web site, calling the outpouring “history-making” and urging his flock not to miss the weekend services.
“I can't wait to share with you what happened this week,” Warren wrote. “It speaks volumes about you, the depth of commitment in this fellowship, and where God is taking us in 2010 – our 30th Anniversary year. I'm simply calling this week's message ‘The Miracle.’”
The money will go toward the church’s ministries, including feeding more than 200,000 families, helping orphans and supporting bible studies and small group ministries.
Warren addressed some of the criticisms associated with media reports in recent days, suggesting that many are unaware of how a church operates. He also added that his letter was directed at the Saddleback Church members.
“I knew critics and pundits would misunderstand this,” he said. “We have never asked outsiders to give to the church.”
Warren reiterated an earlier message to the church members explaining what led to the financial shortfall.
“The cause of our financial shortfall was not a management issue but simply by the way Christmas occurred in this year’s calendar,” he said. “After 10 packed Christmas services, and with Christmas Day on Friday, many people were out of town or too tired to come back for weekend services, so the unusually low attendance created an unusually low offering. That is understandable.”
He called on his flock to remember that radical giving does not only mean giving monetarily. He reminded them to give of themselves and of their heart in the coming year.
“Thank you Lord that you took ordinary people and do ordinary miracles,” he prayed closing out the service.
Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church said that by New Year's Eve, church members brought $2.4 million to the church, a tally that does not include mailed donations.
Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, January 1, 2010
Harold Camping lets out a hearty chuckle when he considers the people who believe the world will end in 2012.
"That date has not one stitch of biblical authority," Camping says from the Oakland office where he runs Family Radio, an evangelical station that reaches listeners around the world. "It's like a fairy tale."
The real date for the end of times, he says, is in 2011.
The Mayans and the recent Hollywood movie "2012" have put the apocalypse in the popular mind this year, but Camping has been at this business for a long time. And while Armageddon is pop science or big-screen entertainment to many, Camping has followers from the Bay Area to China.
Camping, 88, has scrutinized the Bible for almost 70 years and says he has developed a mathematical system to interpret prophecies hidden within the Good Book. One night a few years ago, Camping, a civil engineer by trade, crunched the numbers and was stunned at what he'd found: The world will end May 21, 2011.
This is not the first time Camping has made a bold prediction about Judgment Day.
On Sept. 6, 1994, dozens of Camping's believers gathered inside Alameda's Veterans Memorial Building to await the return of Christ, an event Camping had promised for two years. Followers dressed children in their Sunday best and held Bibles open-faced toward heaven.
But the world did not end. Camping allowed that he may have made a mathematical error. He spent the next decade running new calculations, as well as overseeing a media company that has grown significantly in size and reach.
"We are now translated into 48 languages and have been transmitting into China on an AM station without getting jammed once," Camping said. "How can that happen without God's mercy?"
His office is flanked by satellite dishes in the parking lot that transmit his talk show, "Open Forum." In the Bay Area, he's heard on 610 AM, KEAR. Camping says his company owns about 55 stations in the United States alone, and that his message arrives on every continent.
'I'm looking forward to it'
Employees at the Oakland office run printing presses that publish Camping's pamphlets and books, and some wear T-shirts that read, "May 21, 2011." They're happy to talk about the day they believe their souls will be retrieved by Christ.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Ted Solomon, 60, who started listening to Camping in 1997. He's worked at Family Radio since 2004, making sure international translators properly dictate Camping's sermons.
"This world may have had an attraction to me at one time," Solomon said. "But now it's definitely lost its appeal."
Camping is a frail-looking man, and his voice is low and deep, but it can rise to dramatic peaks with a preacher's flair.
As a young man, he owned an East Bay construction business but longed to work as a servant of God. So he hit the books.
"Because I was an engineer, I was very interested in the numbers," he said. "I'd wonder, 'Why did God put this number in, or that number in?' It was not a question of unbelief, it was a question of, 'There must be a reason for it.' "
Camping is not the only man to see truths in the Bible hidden in the numbers. In the late 1990s, a code-breaking phenomenon took off, led by "The Bible Code," written by former Washington Post journalist Michael Drosnin.
Drosnin developed a technique that revealed prophecies within the Bible's text. A handful of biblical scholars have supported Drosnin's theory, lending it an air of legitimacy, and just as many scholars have decried it as farce.
One of Drosnin's more well-known findings is that a meteor will strike Earth in 2012, the same year some people believe the Mayan calendar marks the end of times, and the same year the "2012" action movie surmised the Earth's crust will destabilize and kill most humans.
Meaning in numbers
By Camping's understanding, the Bible was dictated by God and every word and number carries a spiritual significance. He noticed that particular numbers appeared in the Bible at the same time particular themes are discussed.
The number 5, Camping concluded, equals "atonement." Ten is "completeness." Seventeen means "heaven." Camping patiently explained how he reached his conclusion for May 21, 2011.
"Christ hung on the cross April 1, 33 A.D.," he began. "Now go to April 1 of 2011 A.D., and that's 1,978 years."
Camping then multiplied 1,978 by 365.2422 days - the number of days in each solar year, not to be confused with a calendar year.
Next, Camping noted that April 1 to May 21 encompasses 51 days. Add 51 to the sum of previous multiplication total, and it equals 722,500.
Camping realized that (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722,500.
Or put into words: (Atonement x Completeness x Heaven), squared.
"Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story," Camping said. "It's the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you're completely saved.
"I tell ya, I just about fell off my chair when I realized that," Camping said.
James Kreuger, author of "Secrets of the Apocalypse - Revealed," has been studying the end of times for 40 years and is familiar with Camping's work. While Kreuger agrees that the rapture is indeed coming, he disputes Camping's method.
"For all his learning, Camping makes a classic beginner's mistake when he sets a date for Christ's return," Kreuger wrote in an e-mail. "Jesus himself said in Matthew 24:36, 'Of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only.' "
'It is going to happen'
Camping's believers will have none of it.
Rick LaCasse, who attended the September 1994 service in Alameda, said that 15 years later, his faith in Camping has only strengthened.
"Evidently, he was wrong," LaCasse allowed, "but this time it is going to happen. There was some doubt last time, but we didn't have any proofs. This time we do."
Would his opinion of Camping change if May 21, 2011, ended without incident?
"I can't even think like that," LaCasse said. "Everything is too positive right now. There's too little time to think like that."
Former civil engineer Harold Camping of Oakland, who runs Family Radio, has studied the Bible for almost 70 years.
Photo: Lance Iversen / The Chronicle
Metro Atlanta / State News
9:52 a.m. Sunday, January 3, 2010
Evander Holyfield and Botha to fight in Uganda
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield will challenge Francois Botha for the lightly regarded WBF title in Uganda on Jan. 16.
Organizers of the fight in Kampala's Nambole Stadium said on Thursday that both fighters had signed contracts. A turnout of about 80,000 fans was predicted."I am very much looking forward to going to Uganda and I expect a tough fight against Francois Botha," Holyfield said. "I am going to win and I will cherish the WBF world title."
Holyfield (42-10-2) has not fought since losing a points decision to Nikolai Valuev a year ago. The 47-year-old American, also a former cruiserweight champion, believes a victory could give him a shot at a more prestigious title that would allow him to achieve his goal of retiring as a heavyweight champion.
Holyfield has earned more than $200 million in the ring, including a reported $34 million for his second bout with Mike Tyson in 1997. That was the "Bite Fight" that ended with Tyson being disqualified for chewing off a chunk of Holyfield's ear.
Holyfield also beat Larry Holmes, lost two of his three contests with Riddick Bowe, drew with and then lost to Lennox Lewis and had a win-lose-draw sequence against John Ruiz.
Three defeats in a row — to Chris Byrd, James Toney and Larry Donald — accelerated his decline, and Holyfield was out of the ring for 21 months before returning in August 2006 to start a run of four straight wins.
Holyfield's last two fights were losses to Sultan Ibragimov and then to Valuev, a majority decision he disputed. Since then, Ibragimov has retired and Valuev surrendered his WBA title to David Haye.
Botha (47-4-3) has lost to Tyson, Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko and Michael Moorer, but retained his WBF title by drawing with Pedro Carrion of Cuba in Germany in October.
"I have always been my own harshest critic. My performance against Carrion, without making any excuses, was arguably the worst of my career," the South African said.
"Expect the fittest, toughest and best ever — and extremely serious — Francois Botha in Uganda in January. I owe my fans and members of Team Botha the performance of my life. I intend to make good on that."
Couple arrested for giving kids tattoos
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
7:11 p.m. Saturday, January 2, 2010
A northwest Georgia couple arrested for giving six of their children homemade tattoos say they didn't do anything wrong. The kids, they say, wanted the tattoos to be like Mom and Dad.
"I'm their mother," Patty Jo Marsh said late Saturday. "Shouldn't I be able to decide if they get one?"Georgia law prohibits tattoos from anyone other than a licensed professional. Children under 18 are also prohibited from getting tattoos.
Marsh and her husband, Jacob Bartels, did the tattoos in their Summerville home. They cleaned up a tattoo machine someone gave them, and used guitar strings as a needle. Out of the seven children in their custody, only the youngest child did not get a tattoo.
"They weren't hurt by them," Marsh said. "We would never do anything to hurt them."
Marsh said the children, ages 10 to 17, wanted the small cross tattoos, and the couple did them after Thanksgiving. But when two of the children spent a weekend after Christmas with their biological mother, she reported it to DFACS and police.
At least 10 police officers searched the family's home on Dec. 28, Marsh says, and she and her husband were arrested. They were each charged with cruelty to children, reckless conduct and tattooing, something Marsh they didn't realize was illegal.
"If we knew that, we wouldn't have done it," Marsh said.
The couple bonded out of jail Friday, and now is awaiting a court date. DFACS temporarily took the children out of the home, Marsh said. But now all of the children are home.
Marsh says she feels that the entire incident has gotten blown out of proportion. The couple contends they are good parents, but now they're being labeled child abusers, which Marsh says is untrue.
“If I’m such a bad parent, then how come they brought the kids back right after I got out jail?" Marsh asked.
Barack Obama is vulnerable on terror – and he knows it
Barack Obama is playing politics over the attempted Christmas Day terrorist attack and Republicans sense he is weak on the issue, writes Toby Harnden in Washington
Published: 4:45PM GMT 02 Jan 2010
Barack Obama said both human and systematic failures allowed the foiled Christmas Day attack on Northwest flight 253 to take place Photo: GETTY
In his weekly radio address yesterday, President Barack Obama patted himself on the back for having "refocused the fight - bringing to a responsible end the war in Iraq, which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks".
He then told people to remember that "our adversaries are those who would attack our country, not our fellow Americans", before decrying "fear and cynicism" and "partisanship and division" - the code phrases for horrid Republicans used during his 2008 election campaign.
Complacency, faux moralising and partisan shots at Republicans. It was a neat summary of where Obama is going wrong after the Christmas Day debacle when the Nigerian knicker bomber managed to waltz onto a Detroit-bound flight.
For a man who campaigned denouncing the politicisation of national security under President George W Bush, it is worth noting how intensely political Obama's treatment of what might henceforth be known as Underpantsgate has been.
His White House recognised its political vulnerability more readily than it comprehended the level of danger faced by Americans.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's father had courageously contacted the American Embassy in Abuja in November and met the CIA station chief to tell him that his son was involved with fundamentalist elements in Yemen. American intelligence had also intercepted discussions in Yemen about a possible attack by "the Nigerian".
The Obama administration knew most, if not all, of this by last Sunday, 48 hours after the attack was thwarted. But the priority in Obamaland was to play things down and take pot shots at the Bush administration.
Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security chief – who prefers the term "man-caused disasters" to "terrorism" - blithely stated that there was "no indication that it is part of anything larger". She then insisted that the "system is working".
Although Napolitano has taken a lot of flak for these comic utterances, she was not "misspeaking" but trotting out the agreed talking points of the day.
Robert Gibbs, Obama's chief mouthpiece, also stated that "in many ways this system has worked" and would say nothing about a possible wider plot.
In Hawaii, where Obama was holidaying, Gibbs's deputy Bill Burton told the press that "we are winding down a war in Iraq that took our eye off of the terrorists that attacked us" and that Obama was reviewing "procedures that have been in place the last several years" (i.e. Bush instituted them). He added, without apparent irony, that "the President refuses to play politics with these issues".
Meanwhile, the White House was working overtime to build a case against Bush. A source in the White House counsel's office told The American Spectator of memos frantically seeking information that would "show that the Bush Administration had had far worse missteps than we ever could".
Republicans smell blood. There is a pattern in the Obama administration of dismissing Islamist terrorist attacks as regrettable random acts. In his radio address after Major Nidal Hassan's slaughtered 13 at Fort Hood, Texas, Obama made no mention of terrorism or militant Islam, instead blandly promising that the "ongoing investigation into this terrible tragedy" would "look at the motives of the alleged gunman".
Hassan was a committed Islamist who had corresponded with the fanatical Yemeni imam Anwar al-Awlaki. In June, Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad, a Muslim convert being watched by the FBI and who had previously travelled to Yemen, murdered a US Army recruit in Arkansas. That rated only a tepid statement by Obama about a "senseless act of violence".
But the violence wasn't senseless, it had a calculated objective - just as Abdulmutallab was not, as Obama described him, an "isolated extremist". No wonder many Americans want to grab Obama by the lapels and scream: "It's the Jihad, stupid." Dick Cheney, the former vice-president, clearly struck a nerve when he charged last week that Obama was "trying to pretend we are not at war".
The White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer eagerly descended into the political fray, responding to Cheney with the obligatory jibe about Iraq and also a litany of examples of Obama's "public statements that explicitly state we are at war".
It's a sure sign that you're losing the argument when you have to research quotes from your boss's speeches to prove that he gets it that America is at war. The problem for Obama is that people are now judging him by his actions as well as his words.
The incompetence of the US intelligence bureaucracy is not the only thing that makes Underpantsgate so damaging for Obama. More serious is his failure to understand or acknowledge the nature of the enemy - and to view war as mere politics.
UT basketball players free on bond, suspended from team
News Sentinel staff
Posted January 2, 2010 at 4:04 p.m.
Photo by UTSports.com
Photo by UTSports.com
Photo by UTSports.com
Photo by UTSports.com
KNOXVILLE - Four University of Tennessee basketball players remain free on bond today, a day after their arrests on drug and weapons charges when a Knoxville police officer stopped the car they were riding in for speeding on Alcoa Highway near Kingston Pike.
The four, who posted bond Friday night, are: Cameron Tatum, who was driving the vehicle; Tyler Smith, who was sitting in the front seat; Melvin Goins, a rear seat passenger; and Brian Williams, also sitting in the backseat.
All four face misdemeanor charges. Knoxville lawyer Don Bosch said today he is representing Smith, but had no further comment.
Knoxville police say information they previously released that Smith and Williams faced felony charges was incorrect.
UT coach Bruce Pearl suspended the four players late Friday.
“I’m deeply saddened and troubled by today’s news,’’ Pearl said Friday. “Accordingly, I’m suspending Melvin, Cameron, Tyler and Brian pending further information.
“I apologize for the embarrassment this has brought to the university.”
According to Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk, a KPD officer stopped the car about 11:30 a.m. Friday. He smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from the car as he spoke with the driver. He requested back-up and a K9 officer.
After the officer’s dog signaled the presence of drugs in the vehicle, the four young men were removed from the car so police could search it.
Inside the vehicle, according to DeBusk, officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, “accessible by either the driver or left rear seat passenger.” They also found a handgun, with an altered serial number under the passenger seat, accessible by either the front seat passenger or right rear seat passenger, according to DeBusk.
They also found a baggy of marijuana and an open container of alcohol.
“It could not be determined if the driver and passengers were under the influence of marijuana or not, although the strong odor indicated that marijuana had been recently smoked in the car,” according to a statement from DeBusk. “Because of this, physical arrests were made instead of misdemeanor citations for the misdemeanor charges.”
Tatum, 21, faces charges of illegal possession of a gun and having an open container of alcohol. His bond was set at $1,000.
Smith, 23, faces charges of illegal possession of a gun and possession of a gun with an altered serial number. His bond was set at $2,000.
Goins, 22, faces charges of illegal possession of a gun and possession of marijuana. His bond was set at $1,500.
Williams, 22, faces charges of illegal possession of a gun, possession of a gun with an altered serial number and possession of marijuana. His bond was set at $2,500.
DeBusk said the vehicle used was a Dodge Charger and had Illinois plates. A source told the News Sentinel the vehicle was a rental and was borrowed from a player’s friend.
UT compliance office is expected to look into the relationship between the players and the person responsible for the rental car to determine if the NCAA would deem it to be a violation of the extra benefit rule.
Smith is a senior and the starting power forward, Tatum is a redshirt sophomore who has started on the wing, Williams is a junior backup center and Goins is a junior college transfer who is the backup point guard.
The 14th-ranked Vols (10-2) flew back from Memphis Thursday night after defeating the Tigers 66-59.
UT’s next game is Wednesday at Thompson-Boling Arena against Charlotte.
Smith has started all 12 games and is averaging 11.7 points per game and 4.7 rebounds. Tatum has started 6 games and is averaging 8.7 points per game. Williams has averaged 5.9 points and 5.4 rebounds off the bench. Goins has made one start and is averaging 6.1 points.
Smith announced in June he would not enter the NBA draft. Pearl said when it became apparent that Smith was not “locked down” as a first-round pick, Smith weighed that against his opportunity to return to UT and graduate and lead the team.
Smith said he considered playing in Europe but never seriously pursued it.
“There was a very slim chance I’d go there,” Smith said. “I thought about it, but you can’t get better fan support and exposure over there than you can right here at the University of Tennessee.”
Police find man who was cooking meth in a car
THE DAILY NEWS JOURNAL
January 1, 2010
At 10:28a.m. this morning Murfreesboro Police responded to 2125 N.W. Broad Street in reference to a male subject passed out in a vehicle at the fuel pumps. The complainant was an employee of the Shell Station and advised that the vehicle had been parked there for approximately one hour.
When officers arrived, they discovered Nathan E. Beasley (Murfreesboro, 4-14-78) unresponsive inside the vehicle in the driver’s position. Officers quickly noticed he was in the process of cooking methamphetamine in the rear of the vehicle. The fluids in the bottles were in the process of chemical reaction and were actively cooking.
Officers removed Beasley from the vehicle and he was transported to Middle Tennessee Medical Center by Rutherford County EMS. Beasley was reported to be conscience and responsive at the hospital.
Officers are still investigating and charges are pending.
Currently, MPD and MFD Hazmat crews are securing and dismantling the mobile meth lab.
Britain's oldest twins celebrate New Year's Day and 102nd birthday
Britain's oldest twins Betty Richards and Jenny Pelmore have a double reason to celebrate New Year's Day - it is also their 102nd birthday.
Published: 8:00AM GMT 01 Jan 2010
Jenny Pelmore and Betty Richards (right) from Cornwall who will celebrate their 102nd birthday tomorrow, January 1 2010 Photo: SWNS
The sprightly siblings came into the world on January 1, 1908 - the year Henry Ford produced his first Model T car.
They were born in Manchester when King Edward VII was on the throne and the doctor who delivered them arrived - on horseback Betty and Jenny are both widowed and still live near each other in Feock, near Truro, Cornwall.
They plan to celebrate their big day with friends and family - with a gin for Jenny and brandy and ginger for Betty.
''They are both amazingly well and fit and see each other all the time," family friend Tricia Prescott said.
''They spent Christmas and New Year together as always and are in fine health.''
Mrs Pelmore insisted she didn't think about her age much. "The secret is keep smiling and keep going," she said.
''Life is much faster now but the only thing I don't understand is computers," Betty added.
Great grandmother-of-two Jenny was a nursery teacher and married Hugh Pelmore, an RAF pilot who raced Bentley cars.
Betty was a secretary and married Brandon Richards in 1936 and had children Peter and Gina.
Friday, January 1, 2010
Chicago Cop Tasered Diabetic Undergoing Seizures Eleven Ttimes
A suburban Chicago police officer tasered a man 11 times while he was having a diabetic seizure, says a lawsuit filed in a federal court in Chicago. The policeman tasered the victim because accidentally lashed out and hit the officer during his seizure.
Prospero Lassi, 30, and an employee of Southwest Airlines, filed the lawsuit following an April 9, 2009, incident. Lassi was taken to hospital following a violent diabetic seizure, and being tasered 11 times while unconscious.
According to reports, Lassi's roommate found him on the floor of his apartment experiencing the diabetic seizures. The roommate called 911 for help, and police officers from the Brookfield and LaGrange Park police departments arrived to deal with the situation.
However, a paramedics attempted to move Lassi to an ambulance, the man, still in the throes of his seizures, and described as "unresponsive," involuntarily hit one of the officers with his arm. The complaint goes on:
"Reacting to Mr. Lassi’s involuntary movement, one or more of the [officers] pushed Mr. Lassi to the ground, forcibly restraining him there. [LaGrange Park Officer Darren] Pedota then withdrew his Taser, an electroshock weapon that uses electrical current to disrupt a person’s control over his muscles, and electrocuted Mr. Lassi eleven times.
"Mr. Lassi remained immobile on the floor and was unable to defend himself during this attack. None of the other LaGrange and Brookfield Defendants attempted to interrupt Defendant Pedota's repeated use of the Taser."
The lawsuit goes on to state Lassi spent five days in hospital, and "as a result of this incident, Mr. Lassi has permanent scars on his skin, including a scar on his face. Mr. Lassi has also suffered, and continues to suffer, neurological and musculoskeletal injuries, among other injuries." Lassi is seeking punitive damages for battery, excessive force, and failure to intervene.
LINK TO COPY OF LAWSUIT:
Wizards Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton pull pistols on each other
Teammates pull weapons on each other
PETER VECSEY and DAVID K. L I
Last Updated: 10:18 AM, January 1, 2010
Posted: 2:53 AM, January 1, 2010
Guess they're still the Bullets at heart.
NBA all-star Gilbert Arenas and his Washington Wizards teammate Javaris Crittenton drew guns on each other in the team's locker room during a Christmas Eve dispute over a gambling debt, The Post has learned.
League sources say the pistol-packing point guards had heaters at the ready inside the Verizon Center, the Washington, DC, home of the Wizards -- whose name was changed from the Bullets over gun- violence concerns.
It was the three- time all-star Arenas, 27, who went for his gun first, sources said, drawing on the 22-year-old Crittenton, who quickly brandished a firearm as well.
FREEZE! Washington Wizards Gilbert Arenas (above) and Javaris Crittenton had allegedly been arguing over a bet debt when they drew guns.
It was not clear whether other teammates saw the shocking standoff, which happened on a practice day.
The duel in DC -- unprecedented in sports history -- was sparked when Crittenton became enraged at the veteran guard for refusing to make good on a gambling debt, a source said.
"I'm not your punk!" Crittenton shouted at Arenas, according to a league source close to the Wizards.
That prompted Arenas to draw on Crittenton, who then also grabbed for a gun, league security sources said.
A playground pal of Crittenton's from Atlanta, Kendrick "Bookie Ball" Long, confirmed the locker-room standoff and said he learned of it directly from the third-year player out of Georgia Tech.
"He [Arenas] was f- - -ing with him; he [Crittenton] was just defending himself!" declared Long, who said the dispute was over money but would not elaborate.
The Wizards announced on Christmas Day that Arenas had admitted to bringing guns to the locker room and had turned them over to team security. No ammunition was handed over.
The NBA club's statement didn't disclose how Wizards officials discovered that Arenas was storing weapons on the job.
But a league source said Arenas' weapons were uncovered only after the confrontation with Crittenton.
Wizards General Manager Ernie Grunfeld declined to comment. "It's in the hands of [Washington] authorities," said Grunfeld, a former star Knicks player and president. "We're going to get to the bottom of this, if there is a bottom to this."
Washington police said they were investigating Arenas for gun-possession violations. But the Wizards' gun grab has also drawn the attention of the feds.
"We're working with the Metropolitan Police Department on the investigation. That's about all we can say at his point," said Ben Friedman, a spokesman for the US Attorney's Office in DC.
The feds have been investigating gambling within the NBA since disgraced ex-referee Tim Donaghy admitted betting on games and feeding information to bookies. It was not clear whether the gambling debt that sparked the Arenas-Crittenton duel had anything to do with league games.
A top players-union official said he was shocked by the allegations. "This is unprecedented in the history of sports," said Player's Association Executive Director Billy Hunter. "I've never heard of players pulling guns on each other in a locker room."
Team owner Abe Pollin -- his sensitivity heightened by the fatal shooting of his good friend Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 -- changed the club from the Bullets to the Wizards in 1997 because he didn't like the violent overtones of the original name. Pollin died in November.
Arenas, who has three kids, reportedly told team officials he brought guns to his Verizon Center locker so they wouldn't be close to his newborn at their home in Great Falls, Va.
He denied pulling a gun on Crittenton and even mocked the suggestion he would ever point a weapon at a teammate.
"You guys, I wanted to go rob banks, I wanted to be a bank robber on the weekends," Arenas said sarcastically after a game this week.
Firearm laws in Washington are among the nation's strictest. Until a recent US Supreme Court ruling, private ownership of guns was illegal in the nation's capital.
As it stands now, gun owners are allowed to transport firearms only within DC under very limited circumstances -- such as taking the weapon to be registered or to a practice range. There's no provision under current DC law for a private citizen to have a gun at work.
In 2003, Arenas pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of carrying a concealed weapon in San Francisco.
Arenas claimed the gun was legally registered in Arizona -- where he was star player for the University of Arizona Wildcats -- and said he forgot he needed California authorization to carry it there.
Crittenton hasn't played a minute this season for the Wizards and has struggled to overcome a bone bruise and strained tendons.
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