WASHINGTON — The White House called for a "simple up-or-down" vote on health care legislation today as Speaker Nancy Pelosi appealed to House Democrats to get behind President Barack Obama's chief domestic priority even it if threatens their political careers.
In voicing support for a simple majority vote, White House health reform director Nancy-Ann DeParle signaled Obama's intention to push the Democratic-crafted bill under Senate rules that would overcome GOP stalling tactics.
Republicans unanimously oppose the Democratic proposals. Without GOP support, Obama's only chance of emerging with a policy and political victory is to bypass the bipartisanship he promoted during his televised seven-hour health care summit Thursday.
"We're not talking about changing any rules here," DeParle said. "All the president's talking about is: Do we need to address this problem and does it make sense to have a simple, up-or-down vote on whether or not we want to fix these problems?"
DeParle was optimistic that the president would have the votes to pass the massive bill. But none of legislation's advocates who spoke on Sunday indicated that those votes were in hand.
"I think we will get to that point where we will have the votes," predicted Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., a member of the Senate Democratic leadership. "I believe that we will pass health care reform this spring."
In a sober call to arms, Pelosi said lawmakers sometimes must enact policies that, even if unpopular at the moment, will help the public. "We're not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress," she said. "We're here to do the job for the American people."
Pelosi said it took courage for Congress to pass Social Security and Medicare, which eventually became highly popular, "and many of the same forces that were at work decades ago are at work again against this bill."
It's unclear whether Pelosi's remarks will embolden or chill dozens of moderate House Democrats who face withering criticisms of the health care proposal in visits with constituents and in national polls. Republican lawmakers unanimously oppose the health care proposals, and many GOP strategists believe voters will turn against Democrats in the November elections.
Pelosi, from San Francisco, is more liberal than scores of her Democratic colleagues. But she generally walks a careful line between urging them to back left-of-center policies and giving them a green light to buck party leaders to improve their re-election hopes.
Her comments seemed to acknowledge the widely held view that Democrats will lose House seats this fall — maybe a lot. They now control the chamber 255 to 178, with two vacancies. Pelosi stopped well short of suggesting Democrats could lose their majority, but she called on members of her party to make a bold move on health care with no prospects of GOP help.
"Time is up," she said. "We really have to go forth."
As a result, a new plan would call for the House to pass the Senate bill and send it to Obama. The Senate would then use budget reconciliation rules to make several changes demanded by House Democrats. Those rules prohibit filibusters.
Exactly what the legislation would look like remained a matter of negotiation within Democratic ranks. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, "is working with his caucus, the White House and the House leadership on strategy and next steps," Reid spokesman Jim Manley said Sunday.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky renewed his party's demand that Obama and the Democrats start over and write a bipartisan health care bill. He said that while the reconciliation process has been used to pass legislation in the past, it should not apply to health care legislation.
"There are a number of other Republicans who do not think something of this magnitude ought to be jammed down the throats of a public that doesn't want it through this kind of device," McConnell said.
Pelosi said that "in a matter of days" Democrats will have specific legislative language on health care to show to the public and to wavering lawmakers. She predicted voters will warm up to the bill once they understand its details.
"When we have a bill," she said, "you can bake the pie, you can sell the pie. But you have to have a pie to sell."
At that point, added House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, top Democrats will make their pitch to their members.
"Within the next couple of weeks we're going to have a specific proposal and start counting votes to see whether or not those proposals could pass," he said.
Pelosi appeared on ABC's "This Week" and CNN's "State of the Union." DeParle and Cantor were on NBC's "Meet the Press," Hoyer was on CBS' "Face the Nation," while Menendez appeared on "Fox News Sunday" and McConnell spoke on CNN.
Charlotte owner Robert Johnson is selling controlling interest in the Bobcats to Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan has saved his own job of running the Charlotte Bobcats by buying the Charlotte Bobcats.
Charlotte owner Robert Johnson announced early Saturday that he is selling controlling interest in the team to Jordan, who has been the Bobcats' top basketball executive since 2006.
Jordan beat out former Rockets president George Postolos, who, league sources said, would have replaced Jordan as the team's top basketball executive if he had been able to buy the club. Jordan and Postolos were the only people interested in buying the team.
League officials were skeptical that Jordan, a part owner of the Bobcats, would exercise his right to buy the team from Johnson, who founded the Bobcats in 2003 and was the NBA's first solo minority owner. The Bobcats have been beset by losses during Johnson's tenure and Jordan has been known in the past for talking a good game when it came to purchasing teams, but never following through. In recent weeks, Jordan was able to put together a team of investors.
Jordan struck a deal with Johnson minutes before his exclusive negotiating window was to expire late Friday night.
NBA owners are expected to approve the sale, terms of which were not disclosed. The league clearly wanted Jordan to step forward and make the necessary moves to become majority owner.
"I am certain that as Michael Jordan returns to his home state as the principal owner of the Bobcats the team will continue its growth as a success on the court, as a business success and as a valued community asset," NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement. "We expect the expedited approval process to be completed by the end of next month."
The Bobcats are in contention for their first playoff berth. Jordan's recent moves, including the hiring of coach Larry Brown, have helped erase some of his earlier mistakes in the draft, trades and the hiring of coaches.
‘My husband just shot me,’ woman says in 911 call
Drunk man disputes wife’s account, says it was an accident
Theodore Malewski (Volusia County Branch Jail)
4:29 p.m. EST, February 26, 2010
House Way and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., makes a statement on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010, regarding an ethics panel's finding against him.
WASHINGTON - President Obama abandoned his defense of Rep. Charles Rangel against a raft of ethics charges Friday as a handful of rank-and-file Dems echoed GOP demands to demand that Rangel give up his chairman's gavel.
White House officials have privately called Rangel "untouchable" in the past, but Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama stressed that "rules are put in place for a reason and that those rules can and must apply to each and every person."
Obama also said that members of Congress "ought to be accountable," Gibbs reported, "and that applies to everyone," including the powerful 79-year-old Harlem Democrat who chairs the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Rangel typically tried to wisecrack his way out of trouble, saying he would not resign as chairman following his "admonishment" by the House ethics committee for taking two corporate-sponsored trips to the Caribbean.
Rangel snapped at reporters: "Why don't you ask me if I'm going to stay chairman of the committee in light of the fact that we're expecting heavy snow in New York?"
In a statement later, Rangel was defiant and unrepentant. He called the committee's report "ill-considered, unprecedented, unfair to Congressman Rangel, and wrong on the facts and the law."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) played for time, giving lukewarm support to Rangel on the issue of the Caribbean trips.
Rangel didn't "knowingly violate the rules," Pelosi said, acknowledging more serious allegations are pending with the ethics committee. "We'll see what happens with that."
Fearing fallout from the Rangel scandals on their own reelection bids, four Democrats - Reps. Gene Taylor (Miss.), Paul Hodes (N.H.), Bobby Bright (Ala.) and Mike Quigley (Ill.) - called on Rangel to step aside as Ways and Means chairman.
"He should step down until all this is resolved," Taylor said.
Other House Dems, including members of the New York delegation, withheld comment out of personal affection and respect for Rangel, but several acknowledged he has become a drag on their campaigns and Democrats' efforts to retain the House majority.
Rangel's office issued a detailed rebuttal to the ethics committee's charge that he violated gift rules by accepting free trips to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008.
The committee said it couldn't determine whether Rangel knew about the financing, but concluded Rangel's staff knew and the congressman should have known.
The committee has yet to rule on charges that Rangel failed to pay taxes on a Dominican villa, hid $500,000 in income and had a sweetheart deal on four rent-controlled apartments.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2010/02/27/2010-02-27_dont_want_charles_in_charge_rangel_should_quit_chairman_post__dems.html#ixzz0gnPFxNSX
Third-place 'American Idol' contestant Elliott Yamin became an unlikely voice from the Chilean earthquake after documenting his experience on Twitter.
Former "American Idol" contender Elliott Yamin was in Chile during Saturday's massive earthquake and has been tweeting his experience there.
"I just escaped w my life, from an 8.3 earthquake!!!…is everybody ok?…where was the [epicenter]?” Yamin wrote on Twitter moments after the quake, which was later determined to be an 8.8 magnitude.
Yamin's tweets were picked up by news outlets including ABC, CNN and NBC, thrusting the third-place finsher on "Idol's" season 5 into the spotlight in the hours immediately following the disaster.
"I was on the sixth floor of our hotel ... I was actually tweeting at the time that the earthquake struck," Yamin said in a CNN interview. "It was obviously without warning ... just a very abrupt kind of swaying back and forth. The building was swaying back and forth, as was my room.
"Stuff was starting to fall off of the wall. The light was starting to flicker on and off.
"I stood up and headed towards my doorway ... I was yelling very frantically."
Yamin was staying in Vina del mar, 90 miles outside of Santiago, when the earthquake struck. He had been in town for the Vina del mar International Song Festival.
8.8 Earthquake hits Chile
Emanuel, Pelosi Meet In Capitol To Chart Health Care Course
02-26-10 06:50 PM
Updated: 02-26-10 07:34 PM
Rahm Emanuel ventured to the Capitol Friday evening to hash out health care strategy with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a White House aide confirmed.
The meeting comes as Democrats are searching for a way to get to the health care finish line, though neither chamber wants to move first. Senate leaders want the House to pass the Senate bill first, after which the Senate would use reconciliation to fix the legislation to the liking of the Senate. House leaders contend that the votes aren't there for the Senate bill if the upper chamber doesn't move. The House, after two centuries of watching the Senate lag behind, doesn't trust that it'll act.
Senior Hill aides speculated to HuffPost that Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, would bring the message that the House must move first, with a pledge from Senate Democrats that they would follow. It's hard to make amendments to a law through reconciliation if that law hasn't been made official yet, they argue.
Pelosi's office wouldn't confirm that the meeting, which was still ongoing as of the early evening, was taking place or comment on what Pelosi's reaction might be. A White House aide said he was unsure what message Emanuel would deliver.
The meeting comes after Pelosi got under the skin of Senate Democrats on Wednesday by making a veiled challenge at a press conference. "We can't say to [the American people], at the end of the day, well, we had an idea, we had a vision, we had a majority, but the process did not allow us to make a change for your lives," she said. "We need to have the courage to get the job done, and I think we will. And I think today took us a step closer to passing health care."
Beer-drinking, smoking chimp sent to rehab
The former performer reportedly pesters zoo passers-by for booze
Tanya Ustinova and Amie Ferris-Rotman
updated 12:02 p.m. ET,
Fri., Feb. 26, 2010
A Russian chimpanzee has been sent to rehab by zookeepers to cure the smoking and beer-drinking habits he has picked up, a popular daily reported on Friday.
An ex-performer, Zhora became aggressive at his circus and was transferred to a zoo in the southern Russian city of Rostov, where he fathered several baby chimps, learned to draw with markers and picked up his two vices.
"The beer and cigarettes were ruining him. He would pester passers-by for booze," the Komsomolskaya Pravda paper said.
It added he has now been transferred to the city of Kazan, about 500 miles east of Moscow, for rehabilitation treatment.
Richard Peterson's appearance on 'Springer' landed him in hot water.
Richard Peterson's appearance on 'Springer' landed him in hot water.
From Jerry Springer to jail
February 24, 2010 4:59 PM
LINCOLNTON — Richard Peterson’s 15 minutes of fame cost him 72 hours in jail.
The Lincolnton man appeared on a recent episode of “The Jerry Springer Show.” Bragging rights could’ve been what led him into trouble with his probation officer.
Peterson told District Court Judge Anna Foster Wednesday that he boasted about being on the show with the topic, “It was the greatest one-night stand.”
He told Foster he’s no longer crowing.
Probation Officer Melissa Seals told the judge how she came to learn of Peterson’s brush with infamy.
“I was at lunch the other day and found out he was at the show,” Seals said.
Seals confirmed Peterson’s appearance on the show filmed in Stamford, Conn., by looking it up on Springer’s Web site.
The show featured people who had cheated on their significant other. Peterson revealed the truth of his one-night stand to his girlfriend on the show.
A video clip on Springer’s Web site shows Peterson running around the stage dodging swings from his girlfriend.
While the couple fought, a stripper started twirling around a pole and flashed her censored breasts to the audience. When Peterson’s girlfriend learned that the stripper was the “other woman,” the women followed Springer Show etiquette and engaged in a fistfight.
Peterson admitted his cameo on the show during court. The 30-hour all-expenses-paid trip for Peterson and his girlfriend was hardly worth it, he told the judge.
Peterson stood before Foster in an orange jumpsuit often holding the chains that connected his handcuffs to his leg shackles.
The courtroom erupted in laughter as Peterson told of the circumstances that led him to the Jerry Springer stage.
Peterson and his father are big fans of the show. When he called producers to nominate a neighbor for one of the topics, Peterson said he was approached about flying up for a taping.
“They really suckered us into the whole deal, and I feel like an idiot for going,” said Peterson. “They made me look like an idiot.”
The courtroom lost its serious tone as Peterson told his story. Everyone in the room laughed at least once.
“This might be my most humorous time as a judge in 11 years,” Foster said.
But Foster also addressed the seriousness of Peterson’s infraction, violating his probation by traveling outside the state without permission.
Peterson was serving a year’s probation for possession of marijuana and resisting a public officer. The 30-year-old man broke into tears a couple of times while telling the judge about his attempts to change the direction of his life. He spoke of getting sober and earning an associate’s degree.
Peterson’s probation officer confirmed that he always made appointments, passed drug tests and paid most of his payments.
Foster showed some concern that Peterson didn’t use money he earned from the Springer Show to pay his debt.
Peterson said the production paid him $150, which he split with his girlfriend.
Foster ruled to release Peterson after 72 hours in jail and imposed a $161 fine
80-year-old woman gets 3-year sentence for Torrance burglary
Larry Altman and Denise Nix
80-year-old Doris Thompson has a long rap sheet.
Thompson said she deserved a longer prison sentence.
Police arrested her Feb. 4 as in the burglary at the Children's Medical Group office at 3440 Lomita Blvd.
Employees at the doctor's office believe she slipped inside as a male employee worked Dec. 19, and stayed inside when the worker left.
"She just kind of came through and ransacked the drawers and stole money," an employee said. "She was very sly and quiet."
Thompson had plenty of experience with crime.
State Department of Corrections records - which list her as Betty March, one of 27 aliases - show her first offense as "disturbing the peace" in 1955.
For more than five decades to follow, Thompson spent time in and out of lockup for crimes ranging from petty theft to burglary.
Records show that in 1957, police arrested her in connection with a homicide, but she was deemed insane and committed to a hospital.
In 1965, she received 90 days in jail for petty theft, and another seven days for a theft in Beverly Hills. In 1967, it was second-degree burglary and a prison sentence.
In 1969, forgery and theft convictions landed her in jail for 180 days. In 1972, another 44 days in prison for burglary.
The arrests and sentences continued: Grand theft property in Glendale in 1975, misdemeanor theft in Beverly Hills in 1977, and burglary again in Beverly Hills in 1980.
She moved north to Redwood City and San Mateo, where she was held for burglary but never prosecuted.
Thompson received another six months in jail for burglary and receiving stolen property in Pasadena in 1981. Then there were two years in state prison in 1983 for second-degree burglary in Los Angeles; and another 30 days in 1984 for burglary.
She reportedly escaped from jail for that one, but went back in 1985 following a sentence for petty theft in San Francisco in 1985.
In 1990, she went back to prison when prosecutors say she cracked open a safe in Los Angeles.
When she got out, she committed more crimes in Newport Beach in 1993. A judge sent her to prison for 20 more months in 1999 for burglaries in Orange.
As she moved into her 70 s, Thompson went to prison in 2002 on a four-year sentence for receiving stolen property. She was released in 2006, but went straight back to jail for a two-year sentence for burglary in 2008 in Beverly Hills.
Thompson was released on parole in October.
Shortly after the December crime, a detective in Torrance remembered the elderly woman when he saw the surveillance video from the doctor's office. He remembered the wanted flier he received from Beverly Hills police a couple of years ago.
"We worked with Beverly Hills P.D. from their prior cases and were able to identify the suspect as Doris Gamble," Torrance police Sgt. Jeremiah Hart said.
Gamble turned out to be another alias.
During questioning by officers, Thompson told them she had worked as a nanny, cook and clerk. She explained her life of crime by saying she "wouldn't do all this nonsense if the government gave us more money," Deputy District Attorney Paulette Paccione said.
Then, at her first appearance in Torrance court on Feb. 5, she said she wanted to plead guilty "because she does her time like a lady," Paccione said.
Wearing a blue jail jumpsuit, the elderly, 5-foot-3 defendant walked into the courtroom in shackles and sat before the judge.
"I can't hear," she said as the proceeding began. "I have a hearing impairment."
Paccione moved in front of her and talked directly to her. Sokolov spoke loudly from the bench, asking several times "Can you hear me OK?"
In entering her plea, Thompson said she agreed to pay $1,427 to the the Children's Medical Group as reimbursement for her crime.
Before she left the courtroom, Thompson asked Sokolov if she could go to a state prison immediately. County jail, she said, was not a place she wanted to be.
Sokolov granted her request.
"Thank you," she said as she left. "God bless you."
Posted: Feb 23, 2010 10:18 PM EST
Updated: Feb 23, 2010 10:18 PM EST
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A spitting match between two students at Riverview Elementary School Monday apparently led to a bizarre encounter in the office Tuesday morning.
"She had spit on me so I spit on her back," said second grader Aaliyyah Price.
Price and her grandmother spoke with us from the family's home. They said 32-year-old Toni Price went to the school to confront the parents of the girl who spit on her daughter.
"She said she went up there to talk to the girl's parents," said Bennie Price. "But the girl's parents wasn't there."
According to court records, Toni Price ended up inside the school where an employee reported a drunk woman was armed with a sword running through the halls of the school. She told police Price was threatening to cut her.
Officers who arrived on the scene retrieved a black walking cane in which a long sharp blade is concealed.
"When I got up there I took the cane," said Price's mother, Bennie. "I had it, police drew guns on me, and I didn't know what was going on."
Price's mother believes she probably had the weapon to ward off pit bulls in the neighborhood and had no idea where she may have gotten such a weapon.
"I don't know," she said.
She said she does know her daughter would have never actually hurt anyone inside the school.
Price told police she drank a 40 ounce bottle of Colt 45 before going to the school. She's charged with aggravated assault and for having a weapon on school property. Her bond is set at $4500.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Woman used young girl in purse-snatching at eatery, police say
Metropolitan police were searching for a woman and a young girl they said acted together to steal a woman's purse at a Northeastside Chuck E. Cheese restaurant on Valentine's Day.
Police say a woman distracted Amanda J. Harrington, 38, while a girl about 5 years old grabbed Harrington's purse from a chair and ran to the exit door about 3:45 p.m. Sunday at the Chuck E. Cheese, 5501 E. 82nd St.
The woman, about 21 years old, then walked out of the restaurant, according to a police report. Security cameras captured the incident, police say.
The two got away with the purse, a digital camera, a cell phone, a Nintendo DS game system and Harrington's wallet with about $52, identification and credit cards.
Police were attempting to gather more surveillance video to try to find a picture of the vehicle the woman and child used, according to the report.
Prison officials mistakenly release attempted murder convict
N.Y. man serving triple life sentence freed from downtown Baltimore facility
Raymond Taylor (Handout photo / February 25, 2010)
Neighbors describe suspect as friendly
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Sadie Gurman and Moriah Balingit
The last time Lois Watson spoke with Errol Parker Sr. she was headed for a cruise and asked him to look after her house.
"He said, 'Sure, I'd be glad to,' " Ms. Watson said Wednesday, stunned that the man who had been so neighborly was charged in a gunfight with police, just outside her door. Police said he punched a neighbor who asked him to move his car, then swapped gunfire with police officers who responded to the call.
They said Mr. Parker, 61, hid in his house on Ewart Drive in the Hill District, shot at officers who demanded he surrender and was finally subdued with a jolt from a Taser in a struggle that drew neighbors to their porches Tuesday night.
Mr. Parker, an automotive mechanic for Port Authority working in Manchester, was charged with assault on a police officer, attempted homicide and assault. He was placed on leave from his job with pay pending further investigation.
It was not the kind of behavior Ms. Watson said she would expect from Mr. Parker, whom she didn't know well but who never caused her trouble.
"I was shocked," she said. "It's ridiculous. I'm surprised this happened over a parking space."
Police said they had not been called to Mr. Parker's home before, and Allegheny County court records shows he does not have a criminal past.
There is parking on just one side of the 3100 block of Ewart Drive, and it was lined with cars Tuesday night. About 7:30 p.m., Mr. Parker's upstairs neighbor, Lee Allen Smith, asked him to move his vehicle. Mr. Smith told police he had dug snow out of the space so his girlfriend could park there, and Mr. Parker had moved his car when he asked the night before.
"On this particular evening, he became enraged," police Assistant Chief Maurita Bryant said.
The two argued before Mr. Parker punched him in the jaw, police wrote in a criminal complaint. Mr. Parker then pulled a pistol from behind his back and told Mr. Smith, "I will lay you out," according to the complaint.
Officers Bill Kelsch and Thomas Gorecki arrived about 7:45, and knocked on Mr. Parker's door, announcing themselves as police when he wouldn't respond. Officer Gorecki said he could hear walking in the house, and the officers began calling for him to come out over a loudspeaker, the complaint said.
Officer Kelsch discovered the door was unlocked and opened it, to find Mr. Parker walking toward them from a hallway with a drawn gun. The officers yelled at him to drop the gun, but Officer Kelsch could see him standing in the hallway, pointing the gun at him, the complaint said.
"In fear of being shot, I immediately fired one round from my pistol," the officer wrote. Mr. Parker ducked out of sight but did not drop the gun.
Instead, the complaint said, he "charged forward in the hallway" and fired a shot at Officer Kelsch, who returned two shots at Mr. Parker. Mr. Parker's bullet missed the officer, striking the wall he was using to take cover.
Mr. Parker then retreated to a back room, "yelling unintelligible" statements at the officers, police said, then announced that he had put the gun down and wanted to surrender. Officers ordered him out of the room and onto the ground. They stunned him with a Taser when he did not comply, and he struggled against them as they tried to put him in handcuffs.
Officers recovered two pistols and shell casings in a dining room doorway, the complaint said. Police said Mr. Parker fired at the officers with one of the guns and that it may have jammed, preventing him from firing more shots.
Officer Kelsch will not be placed on administrative leave because no one was injured, Chief Bryant said. Mr. Parker remained in the Allegheny County Jail Wednesday night.
LINK TO PHOTO:
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10056/1038476-53.stm?cmpid=localstate.xml#ixzz0gXlplOjm
PETA plans Tiger Woods billboard in Windermere
Ad promotes spay-and-neuter for pets
| PETA announces billboard featuring Tiger Woods (PETA)
Eloísa Ruano González
6:15 p.m. EST, February 24, 2010
Animal-rights group PETA plans to unveil within the next few weeks a "cheeky spay-and-neuter" billboard featuring Tiger Woods — without the golfer's blessing.
The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals is searching for a local advertiser to put up a billboard in Windermere, which will include an image of Woods and text: "Too Much Sex Can Be a Bad Thing....For Little Tigers Too. Help Keep Your Cats (and Dogs) Out of Trouble: Always Spay or Neuter!"
It will be a challenge to find an advertiser to put up the sign, acknowledged Virginia Fort, a campaigner with PETA who is working on the project.
"It's a fun, tongue-in-cheek approach. We hope these billboard companies will understand," Fort said.
She said the billboard isn't meant to offend the golfer, his family or fans, but to prevent millions of cats and dogs from being euthanized at shelters each year.
"The world has been transfixed on Tiger's life after Thanksgiving. We're putting the focus where it needs to be," Fort said.
It's uncertain when the billboard would go up in Windermere but "the soonest would be in two weeks," she said.
Woods is not affiliated with PETA and has not endorsed the ad, Fort said.
"We're sure Tiger will appreciate our attempt — from a story that's distracted the world and followed Tiger — to turn it into something positive for little tigers," she said.
Woods' attorney, Mark NeJame, declined to comment. The golfer's agent, Mark Steinberg, and spokesman, Glenn Greenspan, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Watch this movie and win $10,000?
Tue Feb 23, 2010
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A Bollywood filmmaker has issued a lucrative challenge to horror movie fans: a $10,000 reward for anyone who can watch his latest supernatural thriller, alone, in a cinema until the closing credits.
Ram Gopal Varma's "Phoonk 2," a sequel to his 2008 film of the same name, is about an evil spirit that traumatizes a family. "Anyone who says the movie cannot scare him is going to be put in a theater by himself," Varma told reporters in Mumbai at an event to promote the movie.
Varma said the film fan who steps up to the challenge will be wired up to a heart monitoring machine as well as a camera that ensures they keep their eyes open during the whole movie.
Readings from the machines will be shown live on a screen outside the cinema, Varma said, and if the contestant succeeds, they will win 500,000 rupees (approximately $10,850).
Varma issued a similar challenge ahead of the release of the original "Phoonk" but the promotional contest was withdrawn after allegations the selection process was rigged.
Varma said the contest winner ran out 30 minutes after the film started, but newspaper reports said a film fan in the southern Indian city of Bangalore booked an entire cinema to prove the director wrong and watched the film alone with a doctor on call and security personnel stationed outside(Writing by Tony Tharakan, editing by Miral Fahmy)
Donna Louise Greenwell Charged With Selling 2 Children For $175 & An Exotic Bird
MARY FOSTER | 02/23/10 03:51 PM |
NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana woman has pleaded guilty to selling two children for a <snip>atoo and $175 in what her attorney called an attempt to do a good thing that went wrong.
"It was a really clumsy attempt at an adoption proceeding," said Steve Sikich, attorney for Donna Louise Greenwell of Pitkin. "She was trying to help the children and get them situated."
Greenwell, 53, was sentenced Monday to 15 months of hard labor on each of two criminal counts: sale of a minor. The sentences are to run concurrently.
The case centered on a 5-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl in Greenwell's custody.
Investigators said she called Paul J. Romero, 46, and Brandy Lynn Romero, 27, of Evangeline Parish early last year after seeing a flyer they posted offering a <snip>atoo for sale, and offered to deliver the children for about $2,000. When the Romeros said they could not afford that, a deal was stuck for the bird, valued at $1,500, plus cash.
Greenwell had custody of the children for more than a year before meeting the Romeros, Sikich said. Her lawyers have maintained she was just trying to find a better home for them.
"They were undernourished and not well taken care of," Sikich said. "It's my understanding that the mother had requested that she take care of the kids."
Another lawyer for Greenwell had said previously that the children were "abandoned to her care."
Neither the children's mother or father could be located, Sikich said.
The $175 was to cover the cost of an attorney to transfer custody of the children to the Romeros, Sikich said. The <snip>atoo was a gift to Greenwell's granddaughter, he said.
Greenwell's sentences were part of a plea deal worked out with the Evangeline Parish District Attorney's office.
Sikich said Greenwell could have faced up to 10 years on each count and another 20 years as a habitual offender. The district attorney agreed not to file charges against Greenwell as a habitual offender as part of the plea bargain, Sikich said.
"She did not have a good attorney for two previous counts, which left her with a record she didn't really deserve," he said. He said the charges were for issuing worthless checks and second-degree battery.
The Romeros, of Eunice, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sale of a minor child, the district attorney said in an earlier statement. Their five-year prison sentences were suspended in exchange for their testimony against Greenwell, the statement said.
The district attorney's office did not return repeated calls Tuesday for comment.
Greenwell will begin serving her sentence on March 25.
Teenage burglary suspects call 911 on themselves
4:01 p.m. EST, February 23, 2010
If you accidently hit a button on a cell phone, you're likely to dial a number.
It could be the last number you called on that phone or maybe the first number in your address book.
Or, as two Palm Coast teenagers found out the hard way, it could be 911.
An inadvertent call to the 911 dispatch center was received about 1:45 a.m. Sunday. Dispatchers listened as two females talked about breaking into vehicles in the area of the Lollipops night club.
They sent Daytona Beach officers to the 600 block of Glenview Avenue. They arrived in an unmarked vehicle and spotted a 13-year-old girl inside a vehicle. She ran, but was caught when she reached her friend's vehicle which was parked in the same lot.
Both were taken into custody.
The 13-year-old, whose name is not being used because of her age, faces a charge of burglary to a conveyance. Stefanie Vargas, 19, is accused of being a principal to burglary to a conveyance.
A job with a 1,000-mile commute
You grab an opening where you can
Updated: Monday, 22 Feb 2010, 6:35 AM CST
Published : Monday, 22 Feb 2010, 6:35 AM CST
AP National Writer
In this Jan. 17, 2010 photo, Michael Hanley speaks about his weekly work commute at his home in Janesville, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) - In the early dawn, after another week building cars, Michael Hanley leaves his job in Kansas. He quickly zips into Missouri, then heads up a ribbon of highway past grain silos and grazing deer, across the frozen fields of Iowa, over the Mississippi River and into the rolling hills of Wisconsin. Finally, he pulls into his driveway — 530 miles later.
It's one heck of a haul: more than 1,000 miles roundtrip, 16-plus hours of driving, every week.
"I like to say I gave up an eight-minute commute for an eight-hour commute," he says wearily, running a hand though salt-and-pepper hair as he watches his two sons play basketball for the first time this season.
After the aging General Motors plant where he worked for 23 years was idled about a year ago, Hanley faced a Hobson's choice: Stay with his family and search for an autoworker's salary ($28 an hour) in a county where more than 40 percent of its manufacturing jobs disappeared from 2006 to 2009. Or hang on to his GM paycheck and health insurance and follow the job, no matter where it leads.
In his case, it led to Fairfax, Kan., the same place his brother and two brothers-in-law — also GM workers, and now his roommates — landed. For others, it has been Indiana or Texas.
The long commute is not just a story of hard times, tough choices and a shrinking American auto industry. It's also a case study of what happens when an aging industrial town loses an anchor, when workers too old to start over and too young to retire are caught in a squeeze and when economic survival means one family, but two far-flung ZIP codes.
Hanley is not one to complain.
"GM has been good for us," he says. "This whole town knows that."
For 90 years, the sprawling plant — it started out building tractors — became a different kind of family business. Through the decades, sons followed fathers onto the line, sometimes rubbing shoulders as they built Chevy Cavaliers, Caprices, Tahoes, Suburbans and more.
Hanley's father and brother worked there. So did his father-in-law, two brothers-in-law and an assortment of uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.
But as GM's financial troubles mounted, car and SUV sales fell and gas prices climbed, the automaker closed several plants, eliminating thousands of jobs.
Janesville — then the oldest of GM assembly plants — ended production of SUVs in December 2008, months before the automaker received billions of dollars in government loans and filed for bankruptcy. (The factory is on standby status; some hold out hope it will reopen one day.)
Some of about 1,200 remaining workers took buyouts or retired; some began new careers. Hundreds more stayed with GM, relocating, commuting or just waiting for an opening. The automaker has about 6,500 laid-off workers nationwide.
Even before the doors closed, Hanley began preparing for life after GM. He returned to college to complete two credits he needed for an accounting degree, but an offer in Kansas came first.
He didn't hesitate. Auto work these days is like playing musical chairs. You grab an opening where you can.
Hanley didn't want to lose his health insurance while his wife, Laura, was receiving costly chemotherapy treatments for a blood disease that will likely lead to cancer. The medical bills last year, she says, were in the tens of thousands of dollars.
"There's no way I could possibly go through one treatment without him having insurance," she says.
Like many other divided GM families, the Hanleys decided even though the job was important, there were reasons not to uproot everyone: Laura works at their sons' Catholic school, the boys are immersed in band, Scouts, basketball and church, and the sale of a house was an iffy and perhaps money-losing proposition.
Hanley knew it would be a trade-off — financial security for a lonely existence.
His eyes mist as he talks about what he misses: dinner with his family, coaching basketball, going to the YMCA with his boys, wrestling with them at night, attending their concerts and games, watching them grow up.
"It's an adjustment, not being home," he says. "I probably sounded cruel because I said I wouldn't miss my wife as much because she's going to be there when I come back, when I retire. But those years with the kids aren't going to be there. That's the hard part, not being able to be around them. ... I don't know if I really appreciated it before."
Hanley plans to commute another 18 months, until he turns 50, hoping for a retirement package then — something, he says, he "prays about every night."
Laura, meanwhile, does double duty as a single parent. It's all overwhelming — working, shuttling her sons around, keeping an eye on her elderly mother and worrying about her husband's long commutes.
"The kids are tired of seeing mom cry because she's stressed and seeing dad cry when he needs to go back to work," she says. "We're really close — the four of us. You can't talk to a lot of people, either. They have no sympathy. They say at least he's working."
And that's nothing to take for granted in this southern Wisconsin county where unemployment has been in the double-digits for more than a year.
For every one of about 4,500 GM and auto supplier jobs that disappeared, another was lost outside the industry, says Bob Borremans, head of the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board. The ripple effect was enormous: About 9,000 of the county's 75,000 jobs vanished.
The plant, itself, had long been a polarizing presence in the community, he says.
"Because of the benefits, the working conditions, the pay ... it was THE coveted job in the area," he explains. "In many cases, people, because of who they knew, were able to walk in and get a job there. That created animosity."
"There are those people who worked there who have lost something they thought would be around forever and provided them with a real good lifestyle," he adds. "But there are others, I would say, who were jealous of folks who had that opportunity. And they don't have a lot of sympathy for the stress the (GM) people are feeling these days."
After seven months of commuting, Brad Morrison measures his world in numbers.
—169,000 miles: The odometer reading on his 2002 Silverado.
—$180: The cost of gas for weekly trips between Fairfax (just outside Kansas City) and Wisconsin.
—Six years, two months. That's when Morrison will have 30 years at GM and can retire with a full pension. He'll be 49 then.
Morrison started at GM as a teen, married his high school sweetheart, Sarah, and they had three children. With "two in college and one in braces," he says, he didn't consider changing careers.
"I'm kind of trapped now," he says.
With his shock of white-blond hair, Morrison looks a decade younger than 43 but says 24 years of stooping, lifting car parts and standing have taken a toll — three surgeries on his knees, one on his left shoulder, another on his left wrist.
Now, he says, there's a grueling Monday to Friday work schedule, heading home at 2:40, arriving around 10 p.m., often too wired to sleep. On Saturdays, it's reconnect-with-the-family time. And that can mean more driving: His 15-year-old son's recent choral competition put him on the road five more hours one Saturday.
On Sundays, he heads back at about 1 p.m. — 39 hours after arriving.
"I'm worn down," Morrison says. "You never get any rest. You're always on the move. ... It's hard to have a family life or marriage. Try to be a husband or father at 500 miles away."
He never considers skipping a weekend. "I don't know how a wife or kids can be too much of a hassle," he says. "The hassle is just not having them with me."
Morrison and his wife, a school aide, talk several times a day. In between, they text each other with endearing "I miss you" and "I love you" messages. "We're hopeless romantics," he says. She concurs: "He's my best friend."
But living apart is more than an emotional strain. It's expensive, too.
Morrison refinanced his house to free up more money for monthly expenses that include gas — $720 when he drives alone — and $425 in rent and utilities for an apartment he shares with another Janesville transplant. (GM, in many cases, provides some compensation for workers who relocate.)
But this is just temporary.
The Morrisons decided they don't want to live this way; they plan to sell their Wisconsin house and Sarah and their youngest son, Austin, will move when the school year ends.
Though they'll be together, Morrison doesn't feel secure.
"This plant is no safer (from downsizing) than any other," he says. "I don't take my job for granted anymore. ... Do I regret working for them? No. It's good money. It was a good company back then. It still is."
"The auto industry is a lot like a roller coaster," he adds. "When the going is good and you're at the top, everything is boom. When it's times like this, you're at the bottom. But I still feel fortunate even to be there. I can still hold on. And I count my blessings for that."
John Dohner can be forgiven if he has that feeling of deja vu when he pulls into the parking lot of the GM plant outside Fort Wayne, Ind.
He has been there before. Decades ago.
Then a fresh-faced 20 year old, Dohner moved from Janesville to Indiana, following his job building pickup trucks. He returned to Janesville when a spot opened seven years later.
Now he's reversing course as a 44-year-old family man with a wife, three kids (21, 17 and 15), a house, a 13-acre farm and a good life almost 300 miles and one time zone away — a life he's not about to abandon.
Ditto for his job.
"I'm not going to walk away," he says. "I'm not giving them the satisfaction of giving them 25 years of my life and not get anything in return."
Like others, he has his eye on the prize: the 30-year finish line.
Dohner is among dozens of Janesville commuters who form a caravan every Saturday morning to make the 275-mile trek home. (He turned down a GM job in Kansas. The drive was too long, he said.)
Soon, one of his laid-off brothers will join him in Indiana; another still is waiting. Their father, John Sr., heads United Auto Workers Local 95.
With Dohner gone, his wife, Jane, has become skilled at everything from repairing water tanks to installing furnace filters. Her day starts at 4:45 a.m., when she and the kids feed the dogs, rabbits, cows, chickens and horses. The two boys take care of their dad's snow plow business. Dohner still keeps up his duties as chair of the tiny township (population 800), using vacation days to attend monthly meetings.
On Sundays, Jane gives her husband spaghetti casseroles, brownies and other dishes for the week, and waves goodbye.
It's much easier than last summer. She sat on the front porch and cried the first time he left. "You can't think of five years," she says. "I think I can't do it for so long. ... I just texted him Thursday night and said, 'This stinks.'"
But there seems no good solution.
"We built this place and worked so hard to get it to where it is, so do you want to leave?" she says, glancing outside at the tranquil snow-covered countryside where the dogs frolic and horses graze. "But some days," she says, "I think we should have all gone as a family."
Steve Kerl now knows about the rodeo, the Texas Rangers and traffic jams — all part of his new surroundings.
He works at the GM plant in Arlington, Texas. His home remains in Janesville, about 1,000 miles away, making it impossible to return more than a handful of times in the past year, though his wife, Kristy, and two children have visited.
When Kerl first drove down last March with his wife, they talked several times about turning around. He forged on, but his wife didn't like what she saw, so she returned home.
If it's any comfort, Kerl can look around the factory floor and see others who've picked up stakes, coming from Michigan, Tennessee, Missouri — and, of course, Wisconsin.
Kerl says he transferred to Texas because it was the only option then and auto jobs were fast disappearing. "I figured it would be better being on the inside looking out rather than the outside looking in," he says.
He wishes he could see his daughter's cheerleader activities and would have liked to have taken his son to college. "He's only going to be a freshman once," he says.
And yet, he's reluctant to gripe about his life.
"You can't put a negative spin on it and say you hate it. I'm working long hours, making good money," he says. "My kids' educations are being paid for. ... I can tell you right now that a lot of the people who took the buyouts are struggling now. They can't find a job anywhere."
It may get worse, too, this summer when health care and unemployment benefits expire for some former GM workers.
"I don't think the community has felt the entire blow yet," says the elder Dohner, the UAW local president. When the benefits are gone "and it's time to build roads and keep the schools open, everyone is going to realize there's a big, big hole."
Now 43, Kerl has seven more years to reach the 30-year milestone.
He doesn't expect he'll spend all that time in Texas. But that's fine.
"If they announced this plant was closing, I'd pack up my stuff and go to the next one," he says. "We'll get through it. I'm going to ride this to the end."
Man arrested after disturbance at Casey church services
BEN KLEPPINGER and EMILY TOADVINE
February 22, 2010
ELLISBURG — A Casey County man was arrested for public intoxication Sunday shortly after creating a tense scene at Ellisburg Baptist Church by walking into the morning service with a holstered gun.
Donald Howard Goode, 43, of 3295 Ky. 78, was not arrested at the church, but was arrested at a residential home at 12:30 p.m., about an hour after the first call.
Pastor Jerry Adams’ wife, Cathy, said the preaching had already begun Sunday morning when Goode, who had a “grievance” with a member of the congregation, entered the church with a holstered gun on his side. Goode had traveled to the church on his horse.
“The way he was talking (about his grievance) didn’t make any sense,” she said. “It was real frightening for us as a church.”
Cathy Adams said several men who knew Goode very well went outside with him and convinced him to give up the holstered gun and a rifle he had brought on his horse.
Jerry Adams then talked with Goode, and told him he could stay for the service if he wouldn’t cause a disruption or bring his guns inside.
“We were trying to help the guy — (we) didn’t want him arrested or anything,” Cathy Adams said.
When Casey Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Weddle arrived, Goode was inside and gunless, and church members told Weddle they did not want him arrested.
“Some men in the church said they already got the gun from him. He was having some family issues. He was inside, crying, weeping,” Weddle said.
Goode lives close to the church and works for the father of one of the members, Weddle said.
State police also came to church
State Trooper William Gregory said state police from the Columbia Post also responded to the call of a man with a gun at Ellisburg Baptist.
“Any time we hear that, obviously that gives us cause for concern,” he said.
State police left after they were told by the pastor that everything was under control and the congregation would be able to handle the situation. Even if Goode had still been carrying a gun, there was nothing police could have done.
“He was at church with a gun in a holster on his side, which is not illegal,” Gregory said.
After the service, Jerry Adams attempted to talk with Goode and help resolve the situation, Cathy Adams said. But Goode wasn’t in a state of mind where you could reason with him, she said.
Details of what happened next are blurry, but Goode left the church and went to a residential property, where police were again called after he created a disturbance.
Weddle was in the middle of finding a meth lab on Dry Fork Creek in southern Casey County when he received the second call about Goode.
“They called back and said (Goode) went to a neighbor’s house,” Weddle said.
Kentucky State Police Trooper Bryan Shepard arrested Goode at the new location and he was lodged in the Casey County Jail on one charge of alcohol intoxication.
Goode was released Sunday evening on his own recognizance.
Rush Limbaugh (r.) was named the top talk radio host in the country by a respected trade magazine, with Sean Hannity (l.) and Glenn Beck.
Rush Limbaugh remains the top dog in talk radio, says the influential trade magazine Talkers.
The magazine has just released its annual "Heavy Hundred" list – a reference to influence, not weight, and it praises Limbaugh as "the most-listened-to talk host and more relevant culturally than ever."
The top rungs of the list also confirm something that No. 2 talker, Sean Hannity, said on the eve of the 2008 Presidential election. "I don't think it would be good for the country if Barack Obama is elected President," Hannity said. "But I have to say it would be great for talk radio."
Sixteen months later, the debate continues over Hannity's first point. There's no question he was right about the second one, because having a "bad guy" in the White House has sent a surge of electricity through the talk radio world.
The top four talkers - Limbaugh, Hannity, Glenn Beck and Michael Savage – have all been non-stop, full-time critics of pretty much everything about Obama except his shoelaces and his toothpaste.
The top 10 also includes non-Obama fans Laura Ingraham, No. 6, and Mark Levin, No. 8.
In fact, advice guru Dr. Laura Schlessinger (No. 5), and finance guys Dave Ramsey (No. 7) and Lou Dobbs (No. 9) don't much care for Obama, either.
Only Thom Hartmann, at No. 10, has had any encouraging words for the prez.
Talkers publisher Michael Harrison, a former morning host at WNEW-FM in New York, says the list is compiled on "courage, effort, impact, longevity, potential, ratings, recognition, revenue, service, talent and uniqueness."
He has repeatedly stressed that the list is subjective, "as much art as science."
While conservative talkers dominate the top of the list, this year's does have a growing presence of non-conservatives just below the top rung. Besides Hartmann, the top 25 includes Ed Schultz, Joe Madison, Alan Colmes and Stephanie Miller.
None have ratings approaching those of the top conservatives, but Talkers is clearly considering satellite radio, online listening and other non-traditional means of delivering the message.
Speaking of satellite, Howard Stern of Sirius XM comes in at No. 32, a big drop from his top-10 status when he was on terrestrial radio. Opie and Anthony of Sirius XM are No. 65.
WABC morning man Imus is No. 21, one notch below overnight "Coast to Coast" host George Noory, whose show recently was dropped by WABC.
Two hosts heard in New York on WNYM (970 AM) are in the top 25: Mike Gallagher at No. 19 and Michael Medvev at No. 23.
Curtis Sliwa, the new morning host at WNYM, is No. 87.
New York's two largest talk stations both are well represented in the top 100.
WABC (770 AM) has four of its five daytime hosts in the top 25: Imus, Rush, Sean and Levin.
Its other weekday hosts – John Batchelor, Doug McIntyre and Joe Scarborough/Mika Brezinzki – are all in the top 250. After ranking the top 100, Talkers lists another 150 hosts it considers important.
WOR (710 AM) has three top-10 hosts, with Beck, Savage and Dobbs. Dr. Joy Browne is No. 27, Steve Malzberg No. 56 and Joey Reynolds No. 76. Morning man John Gambling is in the top 250.
WWRL (1600 AM) has Hartmann, Schultz (No. 11), Colmes (No. 16), Miller (No. 24) and morning host Errol Louis at No. 90.
WFAN (660 AM) has morning team Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton at No. 35 and Mike Francesa at No. 48.
WEPN (1050 AM) has the Mike and Mike morning show at No. 43.
The Sunday "Open Line" team of Bob Slade, Bob Pickett and James Mtume of WRKS (98.7 FM) is in the top 250.
The top 25:
1. Rush Limbaugh
2. Sean Hannity
3. Glenn Beck
4. Michael Savage
5. Dr. Laura Schlessinger
6. Laura Ingraham
7. Dave Ramsey
8. Mark Levin
9. Lou Dobbs
10. Thom Hartmann
11. Ed Schultz
12. Joe Madison
13. Neal Boortz
15. Doug Stephan
16. Alan Colmes
17. Jerry Doyle
18. Bill Handel
19. Mike Gallagher
20. George Noory
21. Don Imus
22. Jim Bohannan
23. Michael Medved
24. Stephanie Miller
Mon Feb 22, 6:06 PM ET
POSTED: 8:18 am CST February 19, 2010
UPDATED: 9:23 am CST February 19, 2010
Hoskins said he's been struggling with a bank over his Clermont County home for nearly a decade, a struggle that was coming to an end as the bank recently began foreclosure proceedings on his $350,000 home.
"When I see I owe $160,000 on a home valued at $350,000, and someone decides they want to take it – no, I wasn't going to stand for that, so I took it down," Hoskins said.
The Moscow man used a bulldozer two weeks ago to level the home he built. The sprawling country estate is now rubble, buried under a coating of snow.
"As far as what the bank is going to get, I plan on giving them back what was on this hill exactly (as) it was," Hoskins said. "I brought it out of the ground and I plan on putting it back in the ground."
Hoskins said the Internal Revenue Service placed liens on his carpet store and commercial property on state Route 125 after his brother, a one-time business partner, sued him.
The bank claimed his home as collateral, Hoskins said, and went after both his residential and commercial properties.
Hoskins said he'd gotten a $170,000 offer from someone to pay off the house, but the bank refused, saying they could get more from selling it in foreclosure.
It was then that Hoskins said he issued the bank an ultimatum.
"I'll tear it down before I let you take it," he told them.
So that's exactly what Hoskins did.
Hoskins' business is scheduled to be auctioned off March 2, and he said he's considering leveling that building, too.
RiverHills Bank declined to comment on the situation, but Hoskins said his actions were intended to send a message.
"Well, to probably make banks think twice before they try to take someone's home, and if they are going to take it wrongly, the end result will be them tearing their house down like I did mine," he said.
Holder Forcefully Defends Criminal Justice System After Terrorist Guilty Plea
02-22-10 06:55 PM
Attorney General Eric Holder forcefully defended the criminal justice system as a venue to try terrorists on Monday, following the guilty plea his department secured from a terrorist suspect who had plotted to blow up the New York City subway system.
Speaking shortly after Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty to counts of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, commit murder in a foreign country, and provide material support to al-Qaeda, Holder touted the ability of the criminal justice system to pry intelligence - and secure strong verdicts - in cases like this and others.
"As I have stated on other occasions, the criminal justice system also contains powerful incentives to induce pleas that yield long sentences and gain intelligence that can be used in the fight against Al Qaeda," he said. "We will use all available tools whenever possible against suspected terrorists."
Under siege over the past month for his decision to try 9/11-plotter Kahlid Sheik Mohammad in a criminal court in Manhattan, the Zazi plea was undoubtedly a refreshing bit of news for the Holder Department of Justice.
An American citizen who was recruited by al Qaeda while fighting for Taliban troops in Pakistan, Zazi had plotted to set off a bomb in the New York City subway system this past fall. Authorities were able to intervene in time and, in the process, uncovered what they described as useful intelligence from his correspondence with al Qaeda.
Coming at roughly the same time as the decision to hold the KSM trials in New York, Zazi's case has not, similarly, been treated as a proxy battle over the efficacy of placing suspected terrorists in the criminal justice system. On Monday, however, Holder made the case that the guilty plea provided as solid example as any that the civilian system was equipped to handle terrorist threats.
"This demonstrates that our federal civilian criminal justice system... is a powerful tool in our fight against terrorism," he said. "It doesn't mean it is the only tool we should use. We have to couple it with what we do on the military side, what we do on the intelligence gathering side. But to take this tool out of our hands, to denigrate the use of this tool, flies in the face of the facts, flies in the face of the history of the use of this tool. It is more politics than about facts. "
Taking a noticeable swipe at his predominantly Republican detractors, he added:
"What happened today is consistent with what the Department of Justice, the FBI, the intelligence departments have done over the previous years... The one thing that should not be absent from that debate is the facts. This is a demonstration of the facts. This is not some kind of partisan, political act to shape something for the purposes of an election. I'm only dealing with the facts."
Captured in mid-September by authorities, Zazi was initially held in a Colorado facility pursuant to criminal complaint. Unlike KSM, he is a legal permanent resident of the United States. Zazi was transferred to New York after being indicted there and was subject to trial in the Eastern District of New York.
Credit Card Reform May Shock Some
New Law Shields Card Users From Sudden Interest Rate Hikes And Excessive Fees
Eileen AJ Connelly
AP Personal Finance Writer
POSTED: 2:49 pm EST February 22, 2010
UPDATED: 3:04 pm EST February 22, 2010
NEW YORK -- Your next credit card statement is going to contain an ugly truth: how much that card really costs to use.
Now, thanks to a long-awaited law that goes into effect Monday, you'll know that if you pay the minimum on a $3,000 balance with a 14 percent interest rate, it could take you 10 years to pay off.
"Jaws will drop," said David Robertson, publisher of The Nilson Report, a newsletter that tracks the industry. "I don't doubt for a nanosecond that it's going to give a lot of people a sinking feeling in their stomachs."
That's not all that will make them queasy.
During the past nine months, credit card companies jacked up interest rates, created new fees and cut credit lines. They also closed down millions of accounts. So a law hailed as the most sweeping piece of consumer legislation in decades has helped make it more difficult for millions of Americans to get credit, and made that credit more expensive.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. The law that President Barack Obama signed last May shields card users from sudden interest rate hikes, excessive fees and other gimmicks that card companies have used to drive up profits. Consumers will save at least $10 billion a year from curbs on interest rate increases alone, according to the Pew Charitable Trust, which tracks credit card issues.
But there was a catch. Card companies had nine months to prepare while certain rules were clarified by the Federal Reserve. They used that time to take actions that ended up hurting the same customers who were supposed to be helped.
Consumer advocates say the law still offers important protections for the users of some 1.4 billion credit cards.
"We expected some rate increases; we expected some annual fees," said Ed Mierzwinski of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, an advocacy organization that lobbied for the law.
To be sure, the law takes effect while credit card companies are still reeling from the recession.
In 2007, the top 12 card issuers earned a combined $19 billion from credit cards, according to The Nilson Report. A year later, amid the financial meltdown, profits for those companies fell more than 65 percent to $6.32 billion. The plunge was largely because defaults ballooned as unemployment soared.
Profit figures for 2009 aren't yet available. But banks wrote off about $35 billion in credit card debt last year, as the unemployment rate topped 10 percent. Analysts predict the default rate will remain at least twice as high as normal through this year, and longer if unemployment stays high.
At the same time, the law is expected to cut into future profits. FICO Inc., the company best known for its credit scores, projects the average card will generate less than $100 a month in revenue within three years, down from $200 a month before the law.
That helps explain why the industry reacted so aggressively to the legislation. Among the moves it made:
-- Resurrected annual fees.
Annual fees, common until about 10 years ago, have made a comeback. During the final three months of last year, 43 percent of new offers for credit cards contained annual fees, versus 25 percent in the same period a year earlier, according to Mintel International, which tracks marketing data. Several banks also added these fees to existing accounts. One example: Many Citigroup customers will start paying a $60 annual fee on April 1.
-- Created new fees and raised old ones.
These include a $1 processing fee for paper statements for cards issued by stores such as Victoria's Secret and Ann Taylor. Another example is a $19 inactivity fee Fifth Third Bank now charges customers who haven't used their card for twelve months.
Other banks increased existing fees. JPMorgan Chase, for instance raised the cost of balance transfers from one card to another to 5 percent of the transfer from 3 percent.
-- Raised interest rates.
The average rate offered for a new card climbed to 13.6 percent last week, from 10.7 percent during the same week a year ago -- meaning cardholders had to pay almost 30 percent more in interest, according to Bankrate.com.
For millions of other accounts, variable interest rates that can rise with the market replaced fixed rates. The Fed is expected to start raising its benchmark interest rates later this year, which would likely trigger an increase on those cards.
Besides making credit more expensive, banks also made it harder to get and keep credit cards. One big reason: Since the financial meltdown, many credit card issuers have been trying to reduce risk.
The number of Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards in circulation dropped 15 percent in 2009, for example. Rarely used cards were among the first cut off. Some cards linked to rewards programs for purchases like gasoline were likewise shut down.
Card companies also slashed credit limits for millions of accounts that remain open. About 40 percent of banks cut credit lines on existing accounts, according to the consultant TowerGroup, which estimated that such moves eliminated about $1 trillion in available credit. Much of that was unused.
Credit lines were frequently cut in regions most affected by the housing crisis and high unemployment, such as Florida and California, said Curt Beaudouin, a senior analyst at Moody's Investors Service. "They're not doing it willy nilly, they're doing it systematically," he said.
Companies are also making fewer solicitations. Mailed offers for new cards increased in the final three months of 2009 for the first time in two years, but there were only about 575 million. That's about a third of the average number of quarterly offers from 2000 through 2008, according to Mintel.
Because the law makes credit cards less profitable, some subprime borrowers may not be able to get cards at all, at least for the next few years. There's no fixed definition, but subprime borrowers generally have a FICO score below 660. For a good portion of this group, options may be limited to alternatives like PayPal and other electronic payment services, prepaid cards and payday lenders.
"Not everyone either deserves or should have an open-ended credit card," said Roger C. Hochschild, chief operating officer of Discover Financial Services.
Joining those who won't easily get cards: college students and others under age 21. The law strictly limits card marketing on campuses, ending giveaways like T-shirts and pizza Cards can only be granted to applicants who show they have the means to repay, or those who have a co-signer who can pay.
"Some of the more vulnerable parts of the population are a little bit more protected," said Georgetown University finance professor James Angel. But he predicts card companies will find ways around most of the new restrictions. And once the economy recovers, he expects the lending spigot to open again.
In the meantime, there is one group of consumers that banks will chase after -- those who carry a balance from month to month for at least part of the year, and pay their bills on time. They're the most profitable and least risky group for banks.
Also a target customer: anyone willing to do more business with the bank that issues their card, say opening a checking or savings account or taking out a mortgage.
"What we want is a deeper relationship with our customers," said Andy Rowe, an executive vice president with Bank of America's card business. Customers willing to stick with a single bank may even be able to get annual fees waived or get a better interest rate, he said. "That's where the competition will be."
Former Vice President Dick Cheney hospitalized with chest pains, said 'resting comfortably'
FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009, former Vice President Dick Cheney speaks at the Center For Security Policy dinner at Union Station in Washington. Cheney is in a Washington hospital Monday night, Feb. 22, 2010, after experiencing chest pains. Peter Long, Cheney's assistant, said in a statement that former vice president is resting comfortably and his doctors are evaluating the situation. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg) (Harry Hamburg, AP / October 21, 2009)
Chicago has openings for two good men or women
Thu Feb 18, 2010
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Help wanted: registered voter with a conscience for position on the Chicago City Council. Salary $110,556 a year. Ex-felons need not apply.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley decided to take a different approach to fill two vacancies on the city's 50-member city council, posting a notice on the city's website listing qualifications for the job.
Candidates should be registered voters, have lived in the ward for a least a year and provide three letters of recommendation attesting to their community involvement. No current politicians, tax delinquents or anyone convicted of any "infamous crime, bribery, perjury or other felony" need apply.
One vacancy was created when the previous office-holder pleaded guilty to illegally accepting favors from a developer.
The aldermanic appointments will be the mayor's 34th and 35th, and he has indicated he is fed up with the high rate of malfeasance in the council.
"You've got to start somewhere," Daley spokesman Lance Lewis said. "We want to encourage residents who are interested to apply."
That's a lot of pizza. The city plans to dish out $2 million on dinner for city workers who stay late. Cross Bronx Pizza, 2170 Cross Bronx Expressway, offers ginormous pies and slices.
That's a lot of pizza.
The city plans to dish out $2 million on dinner for city workers who stay late during the next two years, budget documents show.
The so-called "supper money" kicks in after two hours of overtime for all unionized civilian workers, except teachers, under a little-known agreement that left many veterans scratching their head.
"I've heard of it but not in city government," said one longtime city employee.
Half of the funds are set aside for Emergency Service Unit technicians who are entitled to one meal allowance - $8.25 - a shift because they aren't allowed to stop for lunch.
"You don't want to take them out of service and say, 'We aren't going to take that heart attack run because we are going to have a hamburger,'" said city Labor Commissioner Jim Hanley.
Nearly $140,000 is expected to be spent by the Administration for Children's Services this year, and the Civilian Compliant Review Board is budgeted for $35,000. ACS child protective workers are often required to stay late, officials said.
The dining dollars are set by each agency and generally based on previous spending for meals.
Workers - who see the cash in their paycheck, not actual food - are supposed to put in for meal money only if they agree to take comp time instead of paid overtime, Hanley said.
But the rules are fuzzy, even to agency bosses.
One agency confirmed they give employees meal money in addition to paid overtime but asked to not to be named when told of the rules. Agencies must return meal money that isn't used.
The meal money dates back to 1968, when labor leaders drafted the citywide agreement, a contract creating rules for 150,000 unionized civilians, Hanley said.
The current allowance - from $8.25 for two consecutive hours of overtime to $12.75 for 15 consecutive hours of overtime - hasn't been raised since 1999, the agreement shows.
Although Bloomberg is asking agencies to do more with less and pushing unions to give up benefits to plug a $4 billion budget gap, the meal money isn't something officials are fighting to remove.
"It's not one of the front-burner issues," Hanley said.
Nonunion workers - mainly managers and political appointees - were surprised their counterparts are getting a free lunch.
"Usually if we are here late, I just wait until I get home and have a sandwich," said one worker.
Uniformed services, including police and fire departments, and teachers don't follow the rules of the citywide agreement and can't cash in on the meal perk.
Asked why those unions aren't entitled to food pay, Hanley said, "We bargain well for the city on behalf of our taxpayers."
Millions of unemployed face years without jobs
Economists fear recovery will leave more behind than in past recessions
Fast-food breakfast sales decline as fewer head to work
Ylan Q. Mui
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 21, 2010
The nation's high unemployment rate has thrown millions of people out of work, scared shoppers away from stores and threatened the economic recovery. Now it's taking a bite out of breakfast.
Breakfast sales had grown at a ravenous pace during the boom years as busy workers scarfed down sausage biscuits on the way to the office, fueling a $57 billion business and accounting for as much as a quarter of sales at some fast-food chains. Chains opened earlier and expanded their morning menus to accommodate the traffic as lunch and dinner sales flatlined.
But as the jobless rate hit 26-year highs fewer people headed to work, and even those who did worried about their spending. So they poured bowls of cereal at home or simply slept in, putting breakfast on the back burner.
"Typically, if you're unemployed, you're not getting up at six and not going through the drive-thru," said Jeffrey Bernstein, an analyst at Barclays Capital. "There is a direct correlation between unemployment and breakfast sales."
In the five years before the recession hit, breakfast sales jumped 64 percent, according to NPD Group, a consumer behavior research firm, making it one of the fastest-growing sectors in the industry. But traffic slowed as the economy tanked and the ranks of the jobless soared. By the time unemployment hit 10 percent in the fall, breakfast traffic was down 4 percent.
This month, executives at Burger King reported that traffic rose during every meal except breakfast in the most recent quarter. They blamed unemployment for the falloff. McDonald's chief executive Jim Skinner has said that breakfast sales at its 14,000 U.S. restaurants were rocky in areas with high unemployment despite overall growth. Wendy's jumped into the breakfast bandwagon three years ago, only to end up scuttling its menu amid poor sales. It hopes to relaunch the menu next year.
"When people start feeling economic stress, they tend to trade down," said Dennis Lombardi, executive vice president at WD Partners, a food consulting firm. "When they lose their job, they trade out."
The decline is also part of the broader trend of Americans eating more meals at home because of tough economic times. Food consulting firm Technomic last month lowered its annual forecast for restaurant sales to a drop of 1.6 percent, driven in part by weaker fast-food sales.
But breakfast stands out because of its explosive growth before the recession. In addition, it is extremely profitable: Coffee is mostly water, and eggs are cheaper than beef. Bernstein estimated that breakfast sales at McDonald's accounted for about a quarter of its revenue but 35 percent of its profit.
Kathy Hasty, senior director of hot foods at 7-Eleven, said breakfast at her chain traditionally held up well during recessions even as other meals suffered -- but other downturns didn't come with double-digit unemployment. By late last year, sales of breakfast sandwiches were down 8 percent and she could fathom only one reason why.
"We have never seen it as significant as it is now," Hasty said.
Lonnell Buford, 38, of Montgomery County used to stop by the McDonald's near his Beltsville office every morning to order a steak, egg and cheese bagel, orange juice and coffee. But after his firm lost a contract in September, Buford lost his job as a forklift operator and had to move in with his mother. He cut back his McDonald's breakfast outings to twice a week and now orders from the dollar menu.
"I'm on a budget," he said on a recent morning as he finished a $2 meal of coffee and a sausage biscuit at a McDonald's on New York Avenue NW. "I need to hold on to the little bit that I have."
Cultural historian Barry Glassner said Americans have an unusually complex relationship with food, influenced by convenience and status. We want our food quick and easy, and at the same time we use it to show our rank in the pecking order. Fast-food breakfasts, he said, can fulfill both purposes.
"In America, it's considered a mark of our industriousness that we're very efficient in our meals," said Glassner, a professor at the University of Southern California. "In other times and places, you would be seen as a little crazy."
Restaurants are trying to reinvigorate breakfast sales with new menus, lower prices and even giveaways. 7-Eleven launched a sunny ad campaign to combat the morning meal moratorium with a new product: a sausage, egg and cheese burrito rolled last month at two for $2 or $1.19 each. That's a deal compared with its cheapest breakfast sandwich, which cost $2.49. Hot food sales jumped 6 percent after the launch, the company said.
McDonald's introduced a breakfast version of its popular dollar menu last month featuring five items: a sausage burrito, sausage McMuffin, sausage biscuit, hash browns and coffee. The $1 breakfast menu was designed to give the chain "a strong national voice" on the meal at a time when customers are concerned about value.
Restaurant chain Denny's gave away about 2 million free Grand Slam breakfasts recently in a nod to the tough economy, particularly for the 44 percent of its customers who make less than $45,000. The company said breakfast sales held steady while dinner and late-night dining drove down sales at established locations by 7 percent in the third quarter.
"People are so thankful for having an opportunity to have a free meal," Denny's chief executive Nelson Marchioli said.
For some newly unemployed, the bitter irony is that they have never had more time to savor their morning meal.
Christopher Kent, 39, of Capitol Hill said he was laid off from his consulting firm in August, the first time he has ever been unemployed. When he was working, Kent was up before 7 a.m. and ate a quick breakfast in front of his computer as he sent e-mails and organized his day.
But now he sleeps in an hour later. He has been known to lounge in his pajamas with his newborn baby until 2 p.m. He sips his coffee, reads the entire newspaper and cooks breakfast. After all, he has plenty of time.
"I make a pretty mean waffle," Kent said.
NRA gun instructor shoots student by accident
Instructor’s gun goes off, striking student in foot
Eloísa Ruano González
12:24 a.m. EST
February 21, 2010
Feb. 20, 2010
Buried under snow, Washington, D.C., and other mid-Atlantic regions have become showpieces for the folks who want to dispute the possibility of global warming. Not so much here, though, where southeast Michigan has tromped through a winter that has been extraordinarily ... average.
At 30 inches as of Friday, measured snowfall is 2.3 inches below normal; temperatures are running a bit above normal, including this month, which is 0.6 degrees warmer than average to date. And then there's the other side of the continent, where Canadians struggle to keep enough snow on the slopes in the Vancouver area to host Olympic events.
All of which reinforces how daily weather is irrelevant to discussions of climate change. Even on a warming globe, new low temperatures may occur and snow records may be set. Inexorably, though, carbon dioxide is building up in the atmosphere in finite and measurable quantities.
Scientists can only model so much about the global climate, and their predictions may prove wrong about what happens as greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere. Moreover, as recently disclosed e-mails and other reports have indicated, there have been several slip-ups in how well the research has been reviewed and in the characterization of some data.
So it's important for continued and rigorous review of various climate studies, as it is in any scientific field. But it's also important to acknowledge that the long-term global trends are not suddenly reversing to suit the arguments of those who would prefer not to invest anything in countering potential climate change.
The stakes for future generations remain high, despite the D.C. area snowdrifts. And the effort to move beyond a carbon-based economy -- in which humans dig up fossil fuels that formed over millennia and burn them within a few centuries -- must continue for other reasons as well.
While oil and natural gas fields continue to be discovered, they exist in places that are increasingly difficult to reach. The era of cheap oil, in particular, is basically over. Coal becomes a "clean" fuel only at increasing expense.
So let it snow. But let's also unleash far more investment in new energy sources. Washingtonians getting stuck in snowbanks shouldn't have to mean everyone else has to get stuck in the status quo
Fort Pierce man’s bubble gum in sock turns out to be cocaine, deputies say
12:01 p.m. EST
February 19, 2010
A 38-year-old Fort Pierce man who said he was carrying bubble gum in his sock was arrested after St. Lucie County Sheriff's investigators turned up baggies of cocaine there, according to a police report.
Derrick C. Anderson faces a felony possession of cocaine charge following the Wednesday afternoon incident.
Investigators said they stopped a white Ford in the area of Avenue O and North 12th Street after the front passenger was spotted not wearing a seatbelt.
Anderson appeared to be putting something under a seat and looked "very nervous," the report states.
A deputy patted him down and noted a bulge in his sock. Asked what was in his sock, Anderson said "bubble gum," according to the report.
A sock search turned up three small baggies of cocaine, authorities said.
Former Rikers Island inmate sues city for $5M after being beaten for taking 3 crackersBrendan Brosh
Saturday, February 20th 2010, 4:00 AM
Three crackers can cost you 11 stitches at Rikers Island.
Former inmate Michael Carey is suing the city for $5 million, claiming a correction officer pummeled him for taking three crackers from the mess hall, according to a lawsuit filed in Bronx Supreme Court Friday.
Carey says an officer with the last name Mack punched him in the face, head and ear until he fell to the ground bleeding, requiring 11 stitches.
Mack, whose first name is not given in the suit, is also being sued for $1 million by Carey, who was serving 90 days for petty larceny, an official said.
A spokeswoman for the city's Law Department said the office hadn't been served legal papers yet.
"He alleges that he did nothing wrong," said Andrew Plasse, Carey's lawyer
Czech Doctors Leave Surgical Instrument in Patient
Mail Foreign Service
A Czech woman is planning to sue a hospital where she was treated after X-rays revealed doctors had left a foot-long surgical spatula in her abdomen.
Blunder: A foot-long spatula type medical instrument was left inside Zdenka Kopeckova's abdomen after a gynaecological operation
Zdenka Kopeckova, 66, had been complaining of severe abdominal pain for five months after a gynecological operation at a hospital in the Southeastern Czech town of Ivancice.
A 66-year-old Czech woman is suing a hospital after a foot-long medical tool was left inside her abdoment after a gynecological operation. Zdenka Kopeckova complained repeatedly of severe pain following the surgery, but she says she received no help from hospital staff.
Kopeckova claims that staff at the hospital tried to cover up the mistake by dismissing her complaints and recommending pain killers. She told London’s Daily Mail, "'I said that nobody helps me and I cannot live like this till the end of my life.
"I'll get pills, have a glass of alcohol and hang myself."
Clinic head Jaromir Hrubes blamed "a series of individual failures" for the forgotten spatula and said four employees had been punished.
The spatula was removed from Kopeckova’s stomach last week.
Old check for $17,500 found in Lauderhill woman’s nightstand drawer
Insurance settlement was for 1976 accident under Brooklyn Bridge
Rafael A. Olmeda
7:58 p.m. EST
February 18, 2010
LINK TO VIDEO:
Noelia Serna, 'Dead' Colombian Woman, Moves Arm At Funeral Home
| 02/17/10 01:42 PM |
BOGOTA, Colombia — A Colombian woman declared dead of a heart attack moved one of her arms just as an undertaker was about to embalm her, doctors said Wednesday.
Noelia Serna, 45, was rushed to a hospital in the city of Cali, where she was in critical condition in an intensive care unit Wednesday, said hospital director Luis Fernando Rendon.
"Her chances of survival are slim," Rendon said.
Serna, who has multiple sclerosis, was admitted to the same Cali University Hospital on Monday after a heart attack, Rendon said. She survived for about 10 hours on life support, but then seemingly didn't respond to resuscitation efforts following a second attack. She was declared dead early Tuesday.
About two hours later, funeral home employee Jaime Aullon was just about to inject embalming fluid into Serna's left leg when he saw her move.
"She was moving her right arm," he said. "I stopped the procedure and brought her back to the hospital to be treated."
On rare occasions, a person's heart rate and breathing can drop to undetectable levels, leading doctors to erroneously declare a patient dead, said neurosurgeon Juan Mendoza Vega, a member of the Colombian National Medical Ethics Board.
"It can happen," he said. "But it's not a matter of coming back to life because the person was never dead."
Octo-boy pleaCroatian Times.
To some in his remote Indian village he is a living version of India's multi-limbed God Lakshmi and worshipped every day as holy.
To others eight-year-old Kumar Paswan is a monster, is stoned on sight and forced to hide away his astonishing medical condition.
But all the tragic youngster wants is to be normal and has launched an appeal for the thousands of pounds needed for an operation to remove his parasitic twin.
The twin stopped developing in the womb before it separated fully from Kumar and has left him with seven limbs.
"When he was born the doctors said he wouldn't live long but here he is and apart from how he looks he is very healthy," said his dad Veeresh Paswan, of Bihar, eastern India.
"I am tired of being different. I just want to live normally," added the youngster.
Wife of prosperity gospel televangelist Benny Hinn files for divorce in California
FILE - This Jan. 11, 2002 picture shows evangelist Benny Hinn during a service at the Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu, Hawaii. His wife, Suzanne Hinn, filed divorce papers in Orange County Superior Court on Feb. 1, 2010 citing irreconcilable differences. The couple has been married for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Ronen Zilberman) (Ronen Zilberman, AP / January 11, 2002)
Associated Press Writer
February 18, 2010 | 5:43 p.m.
Wanted: Could You Be Obama's Facebook Guru?
5:04pm UK, Tuesday February 16, 2010
Hannah Thomas-Pa social media expert to take charge of his MySpace and Facebooketer
Sky News Online
President Obama is looking for a social media expert to take charge of his MySpace and Facebook pages and keep his Twitter account up to date.
Can we tweet it? Yes we can! Well, somebody will be employed to do so...
But this is not a role for slackers who have honed their expertise spending time on Facebook in the office.
The job application warns the successful candidate must be "ready to work hard; this isn't a 9-5 sort of job".
The job description says the right person needs to have "strong organising and campaigning instincts; you can craft messages that move people to act, and you know what actions will achieve the right impact at the right time".
It is understood Mr Obama's current ghost tweeter is stepping down, so the Democratic National Committee (DNC) wants someone to take on the broader job title of "social networks manager".
They will be responsible for managing pages for both the DNC and the Organising for America group, an organisation that drives Mr Obama's agenda at a local level.
Many politicians use Twitter to engage with voters.
Gordon Brown tweets through the Number10 Downing Street page, and John Prescott and Ed Balls are also avid users.
Conservative party leader David Cameron does not have a personal Twitter account, although other members like party chairman Eric Pickles use the site frequently.
February 17, 2010 3:07 PM
On Stimulus, Perception Doesn't Match Reality
According to the multiple highly-regarded, non-partisan economic research firms, President Obama's economic stimulus package, which will likely ultimately cost around $862 billion, has in its first year saved or created at least 1.6 million jobs.
Yet just about the only people who seem to realize that fact seem to be the number-crunchers who put together the data: According to a CBS News/New York Times poll last week, just six percent -- six percent -- of Americans believe the stimulus package has created any jobs at all.
That gulf between perception and reality explains why the White House is still selling the Recovery Act a year after the program was signed into law. President Obama and Vice President Biden went before the cameras Wednesday to laud the impact of the bill while also acknowledging that the economic recovery it has helped spur "doesn't yet feel like much of a recovery," as the president put it.
It's easy to see why. Upon signing the bill just a month into his time in office, Mr. Obama lauded the stimulus as "the beginning of the end" to the economic crisis -- and promised that it would be responsible for 3.5 million jobs over two years. But while the economy has clearly turned around, with job losses slowing significantly and the overall economy shifting from contraction to expansion, the jobs numbers have lagged. The unemployment rate spent most of last year at or around 10 percent, and there are fewer people overall working today than there were when Mr. Obama signed the bill.
Most knowledgeable economists believe the stimulus bill significantly lessened the impact of the recession, but it did not obliterate it -- which helps explain why Americans don't see the bill as having been particularly effective. A larger stimulus bill, which some both in and outside the White House pushed for last February, might have had a more noticeable impact, though it also may not have made it through Congress.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated last year that through three quarters the bill had lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.3 and 0.9 percent and grown the economy between 1.2 percent and 3.2 percent. (The CBO also said -- again, through three quarters, not the whole year -- that the stimulus had generated between 600,000 and 1.6 million jobs.)
Much of the aid, meanwhile, has come in the form of direct payments to states and unemployment and health insurance benefits, non-infrastructure projects which most people do not trace back to the stimulus bill. (Here's a breakdown of the stimulus spending one year out.) Only about $31 billion of the stimulus money -- more than 40 percent of which remains unspent or undistributed -- has gone to more visible infrastructure projects, as CNN notes.
Some of the fault for the perception/reality divide also lies with the White House. The tax cut portion of the bill, for example, didn't come in the form of a government check -- it simply left more money in Americans' paychecks. That meant many Americans simply didn't notice they had gotten a tax cut. Only 12 percent said they had received one in the CBS News/New York Times poll.
"One-third of the money in this bill -- one-third -- was made up of tax cuts," Mr. Obama said Wednesday in acknowledging the divide. "I talked about this at the State of the Union. Tax cuts for 95 percent of working Americans. I just want to say to the American people, because we see some polling where about twice as many people think we've raised taxes as lowered taxes -- 95 percent of you got a tax cut."
And then there were the high-profile missteps like the government's mistaken reporting of stimulus money being spent in zip codes that don't exist. While these mistakes were insignificant considering the scope of the program, they generated headlines and gave Republicans fodder for their claims that the program was wasteful and ineffective.
The White House and Congressional Democrats will be looking to avoid such missteps as they seek to pass a second stimulus -- which the White House prefers to call a jobs bill, since "stimulus" has become a dirty word. But with Congress more polarized than ever, it has been a struggle to get even a modest bill through the House and Senate despite calls from members of both parties for action to spark hiring.
Tiger Woods PUBLIC STATEMENT: Golfer To Speak On Friday
First Posted: 02-17-10 02:42 PM | Updated: 02-17-10 04:15 PM
Tiger Woods will appear in public on Friday to issue a statement. There will be no question and answer session, according to Darren Rovell of CNBC.
An alert at PGATour.com indicates that the news conference will be held at the headquarters of the PGA Tour.
Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, issued the following statement:
Tiger Woods will be speaking to a small group of friends, colleagues and close associates at 11 a.m. ET Friday at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Tiger plans to discuss his past and his future and he plans to apologize for his behavior.
Steinberg told Rovell that "Tiger will make a public statement to begin to make amends."
The AP has more:
"This is all about the next step," Mark Steinberg, his agent, told The Associated Press. "He's looking forward to it."
Steinberg said he would speak to a "small group of friends, colleagues and close associates" about his past and what he plans next, along with apologizing for his behavior.
He said three wire services would be invited, and he was asking the Golf Writers Association of America to pick a small group of reporters to serve as a pool. Steinberg said there would be one pool camera, but it would be available live via satellite.
The news conference will be held during the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona, and is sure to steal attention away from the first big event of the year. Accenture was the first sponsor to drop Woods when he became embroiled in a sex scandal.
"It was a matter of timing," Steinberg said.
When asked if the news conference could have waited until after Accenture's tournament, he replied, "No."
A statement on Tiger Woods' web site reads:
Tiger Woods will be speaking to a small group of friends, colleagues and close associates at 11:00 a.m. EST on Friday at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Tiger plans to discuss his past and his future, and he plans to apologize for his behavior.
While Tiger feels that what happened is fundamentally a matter between him and his wife, he also recognizes that he has hurt and let down a lot of other people who were close to him. He also let down his fans. He wants to begin the process of making amends, and that's what he's going to discuss.
His remarks will be open to a press pool for live coverage. It is NOT a news conference.
Earlier, Charlie Gasparino of Fox Business Network weighed in:
"I have been speaking with sponsors who say they have been alerted by his reps that a public apology from Tiger Woods is imminent. It could occur as early as tomorrow sometime around 11am, and there's going to be an announcement of the public apology that will be done at a press conference some time tonight. Like I said, we don't have this yet from Tiger's representatives. I logged in lots of calls over the last two hours, but I'm getting this from reliable sources among his--the sort of sponsors of his charities of some of the companies he represents who are saying they're being alerted that something is coming down the pike, and it's coming down the pike really soon."
Feb 17, 2010 12:00 am US/Eastern
Trust In Government Nears All-Time Low
NEW YORK (CBS News)
The latest CBS News/New York Times Poll finds Americans cynical about and dissatisfied with government.
At 75 percent, the percentage that disapproves of Congress now matches the highest level recorded in this poll; only in October 2008 and March 1992 was disapproval so high. The two parties themselves have also fallen in public estimation -- more than half the public views the Democratic Party and the Republican Party unfavorably.
And while President Obama fares better than Congress in the poll, his job approval rating is now 46 percent, matching his lowest approval rating ever.
The public's dissatisfaction extends to government in general as well. The poll found seven in ten Americans feel they don't have much say in what the government does (a record high), and nearly four in five think government is run by a few big interests, while just 18 percent think it is run for the benefit of all Americans.
Trust in government has fallen as well. Pollsters have long measured Americans' level of trust in government, tracking changes in attitudes toward government as important national events occurred.
A 1958 measure of trust in government conducted by the National Election Survey found 73 percent trusted the government to do what is right all or most of the time; by 1970 that had dropped to 53 percent, and in the aftermath of Watergate was as low as 36 percent. The percentage rose during Ronald Reagan's presidency, but by the mid 1990s the percentage that trusted government all or most of the time had fallen once again.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 led to a widespread sense of national unity; President George W. Bush's approval rating rose to 90 percent and trust in government rose as well, to 55 percent. But by October 2008, just before Barack Obama's election to the presidency, trust in government had reached an all-time low of 17 percent.
Reaction to initiatives led by both the Bush and Obama administrations suggest reasons for the public's low estimation of government. CBS News Polls have shown consistent public frustration over government bailouts. Many Americans have disapproved of the government assistance provided to large banks and financial institutions, and think the Obama administration has done too much for that industry.
In addition, the government bailout of U.S. automakers in 2009 never received support from a majority of Americans.
And few Americans have expected much personal benefit from the health care reform that has been debated in Congress for much of the past year: CBS News Polls have shown that only a minority of Americans expected health care reform to lower their costs or improve the quality of the health care they receive.
The lack of bipartisanship in Congress has probably also contributed to the public's negative views of government. CBS News Polls have shown that Americans like bipartisanship and compromise, but few think the Republicans in Congress are trying to work with President Obama. And four in five Americans think Congress is more interested in serving the needs of special interests rather than the people they represent.
Given the lack of public enthusiasm for these initiatives, and falling approval ratings for political leaders, it isn't surprising that the percentage of Americans that prefers a smaller government providing fewer services has risen recently to 56 percent, up from 48 percent last April and now the highest level recorded in CBS News Polls since 1996.
Read more of this article click link below.
(CNN) -- It won't make up for almost a decade of imprisonment, but a $4.1 million settlement is a "good start," one of Tim Masters' attorneys said Tuesday.
The Larimer County, Colorado, Board of Commissioners voted earlier Tuesday to settle a lawsuit that Masters filed after a judge exonerated him on a murder charge that put him behind bars in 1999.
"There's no dollar figure that's going to give him back his 10 years," said David Wymore, one of the attorneys who represented Masters in the case. "Tim just wishes this never happened to him, but it did."
Masters was 15 when Fort Collins, Colorado, police began investigating him in the murder of 37-year-old Peggy Hettrick, who was found murdered and sexually mutilated in a field near Masters' family home.
He was convicted largely on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of an expert witness who said he fit the profile of a sexual predator. A judge freed Masters in 2008 after new evidence was presented in the case. The crime remains unsolved.
Masters' co-counsel David Lane emphasized there is still a lawsuit pending against the city and that Tuesday's settlement represented only a "good start" to compensating a man who was "framed for a crime he did not commit."
Wymore, who also represented Masters in the criminal proceedings that saw the charges against him dismissed, said he is pleased with the settlement, but feels "someone should apologize to Tim one day because it's not just an accident."
In 1987, a bicyclist found the maimed body of Peggy Hettrick, 37, near the home of Tim Masters.
Masters, then 15, quickly became the top suspect in the slaying, but it was not until 1999 that police and prosecutors saw Masters convicted. He was sentenced to life in prison.
In hearings that began in September 2007, Masters' new defense team alleged police and prosecutorial misconduct in the investigation and trial.
In January 2008, a judge threw out the conviction and freed Masters after DNA evidence pointed to someone else.
Later that year, Masters' attorneys filed a lawsuit against several Fort Collins police officers and former prosecutors, alleging malicious prosecution, attorney Maria Liu says.
Masters, 38, was unable to comment because of the case pending against Fort Collins and some of its police officers. In a statement from his attorney, Masters said he was pleased with the county settlement and eager to conclude the proceedings.
"I would gladly have paid $10 million, or whatever it took, if I could get those years of my life back. Unfortunately, that can never happen," Masters said in the statement.
Kelly DiMartino, a spokeswoman for the city, said Fort Collins is presently negotiating with Masters, but she was unable to share details because it involves pending litigation.
Tuesday's settlement -- $3 million of which will be paid by the county's insurer -- closes the case against the county and two of its judges, Terry Gilmore and Jolene Blair, who were prosecutors in the case that jailed Masters.
A news release said the county had already paid more than $400,000 defending the case and officials believe Gilmore and Blair "handled the Masters prosecution with the utmost professionalism and confidence."
It also said Gilmore, Blair and District Attorney Larry Abrahamson objected to the settlement.
"They would rather have had their day in court," county attorney George Hass said.
The settlement indicates no wrongdoing, explained Hass. Rather, he said, the county was concerned by the prospect of a jury assigning more exorbitant damages. The county decided it would settle for $4.1 million "even though we felt we had a good case to defend," the attorney said.
Hass said he has seen juries dole out damages in excess of $10 million in similar cases, and "that would be a number the county would have to struggle with."
The money should be paid to Masters by February 25, Hass said.
It was 12 years after Hettrick's slaying before prosecutors convicted him and he was sentenced to life in prison.
Police procured no physical evidence in their investigation, and prosecutors relied largely on a collection of knives and gruesome doodles and sketches, as well as the testimony of a forensic psychologist who implicated Masters without ever interviewing him.
He wants to be a normal guy. He wants to get a house, a dog, a car.
--David Wymore, attorney for Tim Masters
Citing DNA evidence that did not implicate Masters, a visiting judge threw out the case in 2008, and Masters walked free.
A year after his release, Masters told CNN he maintained hard feelings for police and prosecutors in the case and said he felt he would have a wife and job if not for the bogus conviction. He was selling items on eBay at the time to earn money.
"They locked me up for a decade for something I didn't do," he told CNN.
Wymore said Tuesday that Masters' eBay income has dried up since he spoke to CNN last year. He is presently living in his aunt's basement and attending school to be recertified as an aircraft mechanic, a job he enjoyed during his eight years in the Navy.
"The settlement allows Tim to re-establish himself as a human being," Wymore said. "He wants to be a normal guy. He wants to get a house, a dog, a car."
LINK TO PHOTOS:
|Man whose real name is Robin Hood charged with ID theft
Updated: 02/12/2010 04:08:05 PM MST
Robin Hood (Denver District Attorney | )
Robin Hood — Robin Joshua Hood, 34, not the famed Sherwood Forest bandit — was charged today in Denver with identity theft and criminal impersonation.
Officials say Hood found a wallet in downtown Denver and assumed the identity of the owner.
As Hood told investigators after his arrest, he was wanted out of Denver for drug violations and didn't want to be arrested on a Denver arrest warrant.
Hood used the name he had stolen, which was blacked out in court documents, when issued a summons in Denver for shoplifting.
According to the documents, on Jan. 6, Hood was leaving the Independent Records store at 937 E. Colfax Ave., when security grabbed him for shoplifting three baseball caps valued at $44.97.
When police arrived they found four used "injection devices" in Hood's left front pants pocket.
Officer says Hood told them, "I use them for heroin."
The man whose identity Hood allegedly assumed told investigators he lost his wallet Dec. 14. The wallet, he said, contained both his Colorado driver's license and ID. He said he did not know Hood and hadn't given Hood permission to use his ID.
Hood, who spoke freely to investigators after being advised of his Miranda rights, may have been trying to be as forthright as his English namesake.
President Obama pledges $8 billion in loan guarantees to build the first nuclear power plant in the United States in nearly 30 years.
WASHINGTON - President Obama announced more than $8 billion in loan guarantees Tuesday to build the first nuclear power plant in the U.S. in nearly three decades.
"It's a plant that will create thousands of construction jobs in the next few years, and some 800 permanent jobs, well-paying permanent jobs, in the years to come," Obama said.
"And this is only the beginning. My budget proposes tripling the loan guarantees we provide to help finance safe, clean nuclear facilities - and we'll continue to provide financing for clean energy projects here in Maryland and across America," Obama added while visiting IBEW Local 26 headquarters in suburban Lanham, Md.
The Department of Energy will oversee $8.3 billion in loan guarantees to build the first new nuclear plant in Burke County, Ga., by Southern Co.
Obama's decision places him in rare agreement with former Vice President Dick Cheney and many Republicans who have accused Democrats of playing environmental politics with nuclear policy while railing against America's dependence on foreign oil.
Anticipating vigorous debate on the issue, Obama said he expects support and criticism for the project, but insisted nuclear energy is a clean, green source of dependable energy.
"Even when we have differences, we cannot allow those differences to prevent us from making progress. On an issue which affects our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, we cannot continue to be mired in the same old debates between left and right; between environmentalists and entrepreneurs," Obama said.
The President warned that if the U.S. doesn't begin reinvesting in nuclear power, as well as other energy sources, it will be overtaken by other nations that are already acting.
"Our competitors are racing to create jobs and command growing energy industries. Nuclear energy is no exception. Japan and France have long invested heavily in this industry. Meanwhile, there are 56 nuclear reactors under construction around the world: 21 in China; 6 in South Korea; 5 in India," Obama said.
"And the commitment of these other countries isn't just generating jobs; it's generating demand for expertise and new technologies. Make no mistake: whether it is nuclear energy, or solar or wind energy, if we fail to invest in these technologies today, we'll be importing them tomorrow," he added.
James B. Shimsky, a priest in the Diocese of Scranton, was arrested Jan. 30 in North Philadelphia for allegedly possessing a small amount of cocaine. (Police handout photo)
Posted on Fri, Feb. 12, 2010
Last updated, Mon, Feb. 16, 2010
Priest arrested in N. Phila. on drug charges
By Sam Wood
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Philadelphia police today announced that a Roman Catholic priest has been charged for allegedly possessing a "small quantity" of cocaine.
James B. Shimsky, a priest in the Diocese of Scranton, was arrested Jan. 30 in North Philadelphia. Narcotics officers saw a man in a silver Jeep Liberty engage in a drug transaction at 10:40 a.m. on the 3300 block of N. 5th Street, police said.
When officers stopped the SUV, police found a small amount of cocaine in the vehicle and charged him with possession of narcotics.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Scranton said Shimsky was ordained in 2001 and most recently served as pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Scott Township, Lackawanna County.
Since his arrest, Shimsky has been on a leave of absence, said spokesman William Genello.
Police: Drunk Woman Sought Conjugal Visit With Inmate
Woman Jailed For DUI At Flagler County Inmate Facility
POSTED: 2:34 pm EST February 14, 2010
UPDATED: 2:34 pm EST February 14, 2010
Authorities said Denise Rutledge, 45, parked her vehicle in the parking lot of the inmate facility Friday at about 2:41 p.m.
"She went inside for visitation, but was turned away because she was late for the visitation appointment," said Debra Johnson, public information officer for the Flagler County Sheriff's Office. "The inmate facility does not allow conjugal visits."
Johnson said the woman drove away and then returned, after which deputies noticed the woman's impaired behavior.
"When deputies arrived, they found Rutledge sitting inside her vehicle," Johnson said. "The report stated her speech was slurred and she had difficulty standing without assistance."
Rutledge failed a field sobriety test and registered 0.256 on a breathalyzer exam.
Rutledge was booked into the facility on one count of driving under the influence.
She was released after being held for eight hours and posting $500 bond.
Sarah Palin as GOP nominee in 2012? Don't laugh it off
February 16, 2010
After weeks of working the book-promotion circuit, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin seems to be getting down to the serious business of selling herself as a viable presidential nominee for the Republican Party in 2012.
Now that she has shed the confining requirement of running a state government, Citizen Sarah has hit the political talk circuit full blast, first with her speech to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville and then with a long interview with Chris Wallace on the Fox network that is her new employer. She told Mr. Wallace on the Fox Sunday talk show that "it would be absurd" not to consider a presidential candidacy if the cards fall right for her and her family and that she will not "close the door that perhaps could be open for me in the future."
Sarah Palin may come off as a bit ditzy, but stupid she is not. She can read as well as anyone else that the political tea leaves already reveal a wide public curiosity about her, whether politically favorable or unfavorable so far. She has gotten the nation's attention and plenty of offers to exploit it.
But attention cannot always be translated into votes. The latest Washington Post/ABC News telephone poll of about a thousand randomly selected voters indicates most agree with her dissatisfaction with Washington under President Barack Obama. But the same poll also suggests most don't see her right now as the ideal messenger.
Two-thirds of those surveyed said they are "dissatisfied" or "angry" with the federal government, the highest disaffection in a decade, though two-thirds also profess to know little of the tea party movement whose ranks Ms. Palin has joined, ostensibly as a foot soldier.
As for Citizen Sarah, the poll shows 55 percent of those questioned about her saw her in an unfavorable light, to only 37 percent favorable, and 7 in 10 rated her unqualified to be president. Even among conservative Republicans, only 45 percent said she was qualified, down from 66 percent. Not surprisingly, a mere 6 percent of Democrats surveyed could see her as White House-ready, and only 29 percent of independents.
All this could change. Her set speech in Nashville was well delivered and overwhelmingly well received. And in her interview with Mr. Wallace, she conveyed a sense of self-confidence sorely lacking in her fumbling, extemporaneous 2008 campaign interviews with Charlie Gibson of ABC News and Katie Couric of CBS News.
In the Wallace interview, she deftly played the populist card, saying she was no "elitist" like, she implied, Ivy Leaguer Obama, "some charismatic guy with a Teleprompter." Rather, she cast herself as just one of the average folks from Main Street who better understands what other Main Streeters are going through. And at the National Tea Party Convention, she titillated the conservative crowd by needling Mr. Obama, asking the audience: "How's that hopey, changey stuff working out for you?"
As an entertainer, Citizen Sarah has already made her mark, but now she needs to make an effective segue into the stature of political leadership. The same rap of being only an entertainer didn't stop Ronald Reagan in his quests for the California governorship and then the presidency, so we know it can happen. But Mr. Reagan 30 years ago successfully rode a similar dissatisfaction with Washington by promising to "clean out the swamp" there. By the time he ran for president, he had demonstrated a firm enough grasp of the issues of the day to convince voters he could do a better job than the hapless Jimmy Carter.
One challenge for Ms. Palin is to shake off the public impression that she is still going to boot camp as a national candidate. Those crib notes on her palm captured by the television camera in Nashville served chiefly to remind voters that she has a lot of homework to do, while also subjecting her to ridicule she doesn't need right now.
But with the prospective 2012 Republican presidential field of other attractive and commanding figures so thin at this point, the old Henny Youngman answer to "How's your wife?" -- "Compared to what?" -- comes quickly to mind.
2 Men Steal $2,000 Worth Of Panties
POSTED: 9:34 am EST February 15, 2010
Boca Raton police said the manager reported the theft Saturday afternoon. The manager said two men entered the store and took about 130 pairs of women's panties.
Surveillance video in the store showed one man holding open a bag while the other scooped up the panties and placed them in the bag.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Rangers fan proposes on the big screen, rejected by 'bride'
NEW YORK POST STAFF
Last Updated: 11:19 AM, February 15, 2010
Posted: 11:15 PM, February 14, 2010
Talk about a blocked shot!
A hockey-rink Romeo used today's Rangers game to pop the big question -- only to see his would-be bride storm out in front of thousands booing fans.
"Melissa, will you be my Blueshirt bride? Love, Nick," read the message on the scoreboard, bordered by little hearts. With the stadium -- and Nick -- watching Melissa put her hand over her mouth in apparent horror, picked up her bag and walked out, shaking her head.
Melissa was showered with boos as she left and the Rangers went on to blow away the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-2.
Some wonder whether it was a Valentine's Day prank.
"I thought maybe it was staged because of Valentine's Day," Rangers center Erik Christensen said. "Was that real?"
The Bergen Record newspaper in New Jersey says two Garden sources claim it was all a stunt, although stadium officials thought the proposal was real when they put it on the big screen.
LINK TO VIDEO OF MARRIAGE PROPOSAL:
WASHINGTON (CBS News)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Valentine sting brings in 15 arrests in Arundel
Sheriff's office uses several tactics to clear unserved warrants
Andrea F. Siegel
February 15, 2010
The SUV bore the slogan of Keystone Candigrams: "Just One Bite & You're Hooked." The top of the candy box featured a romantic design, and the smiling delivery woman, a plaid cap covering her braided hair, needed the recipient's signature for the chocolates.
But this Sunday delivery, on Valentine's Day, was anything but sweet.
The deliverer was Anne Arundel County Sheriff's Lt. Jennifer Gilbert-Duran, who was serving a warrant. The recipient was Timothy Lawn, 23, handcuffed and led away from his Glen Burnie home for failing to appear in court on traffic charges.
The Arundel sheriff's office used the operation to whittle away at 8,622 unserved warrants. Fifty arrests were made Sunday, 15 of them through the delivery service.
For Sunday's sting, Sgt. Tanya Pfaltzgraff - or "Gretchen" to those on the phone - told suspects they had a gift and asked them to select a delivery time.
"They schedule their own arrests," said Anne Arundel Sheriff Ron Bateman. Even so, only about two-thirds of the recipients were home for their phony deliveries.
Deliveries could also be arranged through a Web site, keystonecandigrams.com, which also includes testimonials about terrific service. One, from "Harry," said his wife was so pleased that she "threw away my 'honey do' list and let me go to the gun range."
The scheme is not unique. A 2007 Valentine's Day sting by the Arundel sheriff featured fake deliveries from Flowers By Ron, a company boasting "an arresting bouquet." (One of the people arrested Sunday was also caught in that operation.) A 2008 hoax invited unsuspecting suspects to the state Comptroller's Office to collect tax refunds.
Lawn, the Glen Burnie man, didn't hear deputies knock for the noon delivery he'd requested. But deputies called to set up a new time. He did.
"When I saw them, I figured it out," Lawn said as deputies led him away.
The candy box contained clues about its origins. The design featured handcuffs and scales of justice, and a turn-of-the-century portrait of former Baltimore police officer William J. Bateman, the sheriff's great-grandfather, who joined the city force in 1907. Inside, for weight: an annotated tome of state motor vehicle law.
Deputies found some surprises. During a round of calls, one person asked if the delivery request was actually a sting. If it was, the person said, don't bother: Her son, she told the deputies, had already turned himself in.
John Brennan, Obama's top counterterrorism aide, said the President is committed to holding the 9/11 terror trial in the U.S., though he's not sure where.
President Obama remains committed to trying accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in an American court - although he remains unsure where, a top administration official said Saturday.
"As far as support from the community and funding requirement, the most important thing to keep in mind is we need to bring him to justice in an American court," said John Brennan, Obama's top counterterrorism aide.
"Whether it happens in New York, Pennsylvania or Virginia, where will funding come from?"
New York officials estimated the cost of holding a trial in Manhattan at $250 million. Mayor Bloomberg is among those opposed to a trial in lower Manhattan, just a few blocks from Ground Zero.
Brennan, appearing before a mostly Muslim audience at an NYU Islamic Center-sponsored event, avoided commenting on the controversy during his 45-minute speech, but addressed the issue after an audience member posed the question.
"Clearly, this is an issue people in the city feel strongly about," Brennan acknowledged.
"We are trying to push this forward as best we can, but we also need non-obstruction from certain forces in our government," he said later. "There are stiff winds delaying us from bringing this man to justice."
LINK TO WEEKLY MESSAGE:
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2010/02/14/2010-02-14_bam_seeks_home_funds_for_911_trial.html#ixzz0fZU6zbAj
Tyreik Bowers, 10, has been kept home from his school by his mother, Felicia Waldron, because she fears retaliation.
Noonan for NewsTyreik Bowers was treated for a head injury.
Mecea for NewsSchool aide Ayodele Sandiford
A Brooklyn school aide has been suspended after being accused of recruiting a bully to pummel a fourth-grader in the latest fight club in a city elementary school, the Daily News has learned.
A second school aide also was suspended and accused of videotaping the beatdown with her cell phone, Department of Education officials said.
The shocking attack happened on Feb. 5 - only eight days after a Queens teacher and aide refereed a wrestling match between fourth-graders in a locked classroom.
Tyreik Bowers, 10, has been kept home from The Parkway School in Crown Heights by his mother because she fears retaliation not only from students, but from school aides as well.
"I don't feel he's safe," the mother, Felicia Waldron, said. "The adults will be plotting against him the rest of the [school] year."
The beatdown started when Tyreik and a fourth-grade girl argued in the school auditorium during recess. The girl made a comment about Tyreik's mother, prompting Tyreik to warn her that he'd hit her if she said it again, according to Waldron.
That's when school aide Ayodele Sandiford stepped in and told the girl she could repeat the comment, which she did - leading Tyreik to slug her, Waldron said.
The mother claimed Sandiford asked another student to locate a fifth-grader who has a reputation as the school bully. The older child came over and began punching Tyreik in the face, head and back, while also swinging him around by his arm, Waldron said.
"Ms. Sandiford told a lunch room aide not to break it up, to let them fight," Waldron said.
If that wasn't bad enough, a DOE incident report notes that "it has been alleged by students, school aides and a teacher that Ms. Florence Brown was videotaping the fight with her cellular phone."
Brown, a school aide, called the allegation "a lie" in a telephone interview. "I was trying to call the principal downstairs to help," she said.
In a brief interview, Sandiford also denied the allegations. "It's something the child's mother made up," she said, adding later, "I am a good employee. People are making up things about me to make money. It's embarrassing."
An Education Department spokeswoman said Sandiford had asked the fifth-grader to break up the fight, which was "inappropriate." Both aides were docked two days' pay.
Lawyer Sanford Rubenstein filed a notice to sue the city for $2 million yesterday, and he blasted school officials for not notifying the NYPD about the incident.
"If any school personnel committed a crime, particularly endangering the welfare of a minor, they must be held accountable," Rubenstein said.
Tyreik was treated for a head injury at Interfaith Medical Center. This is his first year attending public school because Waldron could no longer afford the tuition at David Grayson Christian Academy.
Joe Biden Tears Into Dick Cheney On 'Meet The Press'
LINK TO VIDEO:
Obama Weekly Address: Now Congress Will 'Pay For What It Spends, Just Like Everybody Else"
02/13/10 02:09 PM |
Obama signed a bill Friday reinstating budget rules known as "paygo" – short for "pay as you go."
In place during the 1990s, the rules helped create balanced budgets and surpluses. Obama blames eliminating them for creating much of the $1.3 trillion deficit he faced upon taking office in January 2009 and for a total debt of $8 trillion projected over the next decade.
The president has been trying to show a public alarmed by higher government spending in the midst of an economic downturn that he is taking steps to tighten Washington's purse strings.
But the bill also lifted the cap on the amount of money the U.S. can borrow by $1.9 trillion – to a total of $14.3 trillion. The ceiling was lifted from $12.4 trillion to keep the U.S. from going into default.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said the "politics of the moment" often overwhelms the desire Democrats and Republicans have to produce balanced budgets – something the federal government legally is not required to do.
"Now, Congress will have to pay for what it spends, just like everybody else," he said.
Obama did not discuss raising the debt ceiling in his message.
The president also repeated a promise to create, by executive order, a panel of Democrats and Republicans to suggest ways for closing the gap between what the government spends and what it collects in revenue. His proposal is weaker than a similar plan recently defeated by the Senate because Congress would not be required to vote on the presidential panel's recommendations.
Obama was expected to sign the executive order as early as next week.
The administration is projecting a $1.56 trillion deficit for the budget year ending Sept. 30.
Republicans mocked Obama for signing the "paygo" bill behind closed doors.
"With a simple stroke of his pen, President Obama now has the ability to continue his binge spending agenda to the tune of an additional $1.9 trillion, the largest one-time increase in our history," Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele said Friday. "Taxpayers will continue to foot the bill for the Democrats' fiscal irresponsibility."
Obama address: http://www.whitehouse.gov
Is this the world's most romantic word?
Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:53pm EST
LONDON (Reuters) - "Amour," the French word for love, has been voted the most romantic word in the world in a pre-Valentine's Day survey of language experts.
It narrowly beat "amore," the Italian word for love, although Italian was named the world's most romantic language.
Italian words also dominated the top places in the list of most romantic words
"Bellissima," which is both Italian and Spanish for "very beautiful," was voted the third most romantic word, while "tesoro," which is both Italian and Spanish for "treasure" (as in "Mi tesoro" / "My treasure") came fourth.
The survey was conducted by London-based Today Translations which polled over 320 of its linguists.
After Italian, they found the second-most romantic language was French, which was way ahead of Spanish and English in joint third place.
In the same poll, the firm asked its linguists to pick the least romantic-sounding way to say, "I love you" in any language.
The winner was Japan's "watakushi-wa anata-wo ai shimasu," ahead of the Welsh "rydw i'n dy garu di" and "qaparha," which, the firm noted, is Klingon, as spoken in the Star Trek universe
Chatroulette is a brand new service for one-on-one text-, webcam- and microphone-based chat with people around the world.www.chatroulette.com
MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN
SITE SHOULD BE MONITORED BY RESPONSIBLE ADULTS
Wrong footed! Amputee sent home with two left feet after hospital fiasco
Last updated at 10:07 AM on 12th February 2010
Patrick Morrison walked around for five months with two left feet
When Patrick Morrison left hospital after having his right foot amputated, he thought the sense of imbalance he felt would vanish once he got used to his newly fitted artificial foot.
But it was not until five months later, when he took off the protective socks, that he realised he had been given two left feet.
A prosthetic limb specialist had fitted an artificial left foot to his right leg - and failed to spot his mistake during two further check-ups.
The foot was also too big - made to fit a size nine shoe rather than a size eight.
The specialist, Malcolm Griffiths, was struck off yesterday after admitting a string of blunders.
Mr Morrison, 76, said: 'The paramedics who brought me home saw that I was leaning too much to one side.
'My wife and daughter noticed that as well. I thought it was just part of the process of getting used to having a false foot. I wasn't concerned.'
It was only when Mr Morrison and his wife Alexia decided to change all three protective socks that they realised the mistake.
The retired joiner said: 'We both got a big surprise. Thankfully, the hospital got it sorted out as quickly as they could.'
A disciplinary hearing of the Health Professions Council was told Mr Griffiths admitted 16 charges relating to his treatment of 11 patients at Edinburgh's Astley Ainslie Hospital.
The prosthetist, who was absent from the hearing, was sacked by NHS Lothian in 2008.
Mr Morrison, from Bathgate, West Lothian, said he bore no ill-will towards Mr Griffiths and always got on well with him.
Mr Morrison is now the proud owner of a new right foot
His ordeal began when an ulcer on his big toe grew worse.
Eventually the toe was amputated, but the wound became infected with MRSA and surgeons had to remove the entire foot and part of his lower leg.
He was sent to Mr Griffiths to have a prosthetic limb and shoe fitted.
At the disciplinary hearing in Edinburgh, the panel was told that Mr Griffiths not only admitted the charges against him, but had also requested that he be removed from the professional register.
Its chairman Colin Allies said: 'The panel is satisfied that it is appropriate and proportionate to make the consent order as requested by the parties.'
As well as the charges relating to Mr Morrison, the prosthetist also admitted that he caused 'unnecessary delay and pain' to another patient by failing to complete work 'within a reasonable time-frame'.
He also admitted failing to maintain adequate patient notes.
A spokesman for NHS Lothian said its senior clinical staff had apologised to Mr Morrison.
He added: 'As soon as issues regarding this former member of staff's competence were raised, we set procedures in place to provide additional support and training.
'He was dismissed in September 2008 following a failure to engage in our competency supervision processes.'
LINK TO PHOTOS OF PATRICK MORRISON:
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250240/False-limbs-expert-faces-struck-giving-amputee-left-feet.html#ixzz0fQT38F0C
Woman keeps world’s largest rodent as a pet
The 100-pound capybara snuggles with owner, performs tricks for treats
updated 3:32 p.m. ET, Fri., Feb. 12, 2010
Caplin Rous relishes snuggling in bed, going to the pet store with his owner and doing tricks like sitting and shaking for treats.
He might sound like your typical dog, but guess again. He's actually a capybara, otherwise known as the largest rodent species on earth.
"People hear the word rodent and they think it's some kind of a dirty word," Caplin's owner, Melanie Typaldos, tells PEOPLE Pets. "But many of them are very smart, clean, loving animals."
Courtesy Melanie Typaldos"He's very needy but I love him to death," says his owner Melanie Typaldos. "He's very affectionate. He loves to lick my face and forehead and just follow me around everywhere."
Caplin Rous, (his second name is an acronym for "rodent of unusual size," a reference from the movie "The Princess Bride") is all those things — although Typaldos warns that she wouldn't recommend him as a pet for just anyone.
Although he's extremely loyal and a perfect gentleman in public, he can be territorial at home, sometimes trying to bite visitors he doesn't like. He also requires a very large grazing area because he munches on grass most of the day and the semi-aquatic animal requires daily dips in a pool or other body of water.
Fortunately, Typaldos and her husband provide the perfect living conditions for the 100-pound rodent. They live in rural Buda, Texas, with acres of open space filled with pesticide-free grass, as well as a pool outside and an oversized tub inside to satisfy his swimming needs. Typaldos says Caplin springs to life in the water, playfully dunking his toys or sticking his head through his favorite inner tube (specially stuffed with aqua noodles so he doesn't puncture it with his sharp teeth.)
When he's not swimming or eating, Caplin is typically following his master around and softly makes a sound akin to an "eep" whenever they are separated.
"He's very needy but I love him to death," says Typaldos. "He's very affectionate. He loves to lick my face and forehead and just follow me around everywhere."
Typaldos credits her adult daughter, Coral, with helping her appreciate these oversized creatures while on a trip to Venezuela several years back. When they returned home, Coral begged her mom to get a capybara on her behalf, since she lived in an apartment and traveled a lot and couldn't care for one herself. Typaldos found Caplin through a Texas breeder two and a half years ago when he was just 11 days old. Once at her home, she worked with him consistently for three months to get him accustomed to domesticated life. (And yes, Caplin is housebroken, and does his business in an oversized water bowl in the family bathroom.)
Today, with Typaldos' help, Caplin has become an ambassador for the species. She often takes him into local schools for wildlife talks, and loves taking him out in public to pet-friendly places, like outdoor eateries or even independent bookstores. Unsurprisingly, Caplin draws a crowd wherever he goes.
"Mostly people are just stunned and amazed," Typaldos reports. "People literally stop their cars in the street and want to take a picture with him ... When we're in public, he will tolerate anything. Sometimes kids will surround him to the point that he can hardly move and he's completely calm."
Typaldos is also dedicated to educating the world at large about capybaras since she discovered there was little online information about keeping one as a pet. Today, she manages Caplin's Facebook
As a full time software engineer, Typaldos admits it's a lot of work caring for Caplin and keeping up with all his online endeavors, but it is a true labor of love.
"He's so smart and I absolutely just love him," she says. "Being with him is just a lot of fun."
MOST AMAZING AMINALS
Man plants landmines in garden to keep out thieves
February 12, 2010 • 10:17 am
A Russian man has been convicted on weapons charges after he planted landmines in his garden to keep out intruders.
He must be a blast at parties
Alexander Skopintsev of the Primorye region built three explosive devices in his garage and then planted them around his garden to protect it from thieves, ABC news reports.
The traps were discovered after a trespasser set off one of the landmines and was injured in the blast. The intruder’s condition was not revealed.
Skopintsev was convicted of unlawful construction and storage of weapons. A Ussuriisk court gave him a 2 ½ year suspended sentenced.
WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats scrapped a bipartisan jobs bill in favor of one they say is leaner and focused solely on putting Americans back to work, and they're all but daring Republicans to vote against it.
The new, stripped-down proposal followed criticism that the bipartisan version wouldn't create many jobs.
The switch brought sharp accusations of reneging from Republicans who thought they had a deal, jeopardizing a brief attempt at bipartisan lawmaking.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's latest bill focuses on several popular provisions aimed at boosting job creation, including a new tax break negotiated with Republicans for companies that hire unemployed workers and for small businesses that purchase new equipment. It also would renew highway programs and help states and local governments finance large infrastructure projects.
Reid, D-Nev., put forward the pared-back plan after Senate Democrats balked at a broader bill stuffed with unrelated provisions sought by lobbyists for business groups and doctors. The surprise blew apart an agreement with key Republicans like Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who worked with Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., for weeks to produce a bill containing the extra provisions.
The original bill had won support from across the political spectrum, from President Barack Obama as well as conservative Republicans in the Senate, offering the promise of a rare bipartisan package in a Congress that has been gripped by partisan fights. To get that support, however, the package had morphed into a 361-page grab bag of provisions that included extending benefits to the unemployed and tax breaks for businesses.
Now, the bipartisan agreement is off.
"Our side isn't sure that the Republicans are real interested in developing good policy and to move forward together," said Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del. "Instead, they are more inclined to play rope-a-dope again. My own view is, let's test them."
Said Reid: "Republicans are going to have to make a choice. I don't know in logic what they could say to oppose this."
Reid officially put the measure before the Senate on Thursday evening, setting up a key test vote when the chamber returns the week of Feb. 22. He'll need at least one GOP vote to prevail in a filibuster challenge.
Republicans said they were blind-sided by Reid's about-face.
Grassley spokeswoman Jill Kozeny said in an e-mail that Reid "pulled the rug out from work to build broad-based support for tax relief and other efforts to help the private sector recover from the economic crisis."
The bigger bill got a decidedly mixed reception at a luncheon meeting of Democrats, many of whom were uncomfortable with supporting a bill containing so many provisions unrelated to creating jobs, including loans for chicken producers and aid to catfish farmers.
The provisions also included a $31 billion package of tax breaks for individuals and businesses, an extension of several parts of the USA Patriot Act and higher payments for doctors facing Medicare payment cuts.
The surprise move appears to insulate Democrats from criticism that greeted the earlier, lobbyist-backed legislation first leaked on Tuesday and officially unveiled by Baucus and Grassley - to praise from the White House - only hours before Reid's announcement.
The centerpiece of Reid's new bill is a $13 billion payroll tax credit for companies that hire unemployed workers. The idea, by Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, would exempt businesses hiring unemployed workers in 2010 from the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax for those hires.
It also would provide an additional $1,000 tax credit for workers retained for a full year and deposit an additional $20 billion into the federal highway trust fund - money that would have to be borrowed. There's also $2 billion to subsidize bond issues by state and local governments for large infrastructure projects.
But Republicans are irate at the tactics and said Reid had gone back on a deal reached with some of the Senate's heaviest hitters, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Cedar Rapids woman charged with offering daughter for prostitution
Feb 11, 2010
Gazette on Line
A 60-year-old Cedar Rapids woman is being held at the Johnson County Jail after police said she arranged for her daughter’s prostitution.
Mary J. Doolin was arrested Wednesday in connection with a Sept. 29 incident in Coralville, in which police say Doolin sent her daughter to meet with an undercover officer who had contacted her during a prostitution investigation.
Doolin’s daughter, Debra Voshell, 37, was later charged with pandering, according to police.
Voshell was charged with prostitution in October after meeting with the undercover officer in Coralville.
Police said Doolin admitted to running a prostitution ring for a number of years and has prior convictions for pimping and prostitution.
Doolin, of 1635 B Ave. NE No. 3, remained in the Johnson County Jail Thursday on a $10,000 bond.
Another prostitution investigation in Coralville on Tuesday led to the arrest of Heather A. Brown, 21, of Rock Island, Ill, after police said she placed an ad on the Internet and met with an officer who she told she would perform sexual acts in exchange for money.
She was charged with prostitution and was being held in the Johnson County Jail Thursday on a $5,000 bond.
Former President Bill Clinton expected to leave hospital day after heart procedure
John Edwards Engaged to Mistress
John Edwards and Rielle Hunter (Getty Images)
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. -- Former presidential candidate John Edwards is reportedly engaged to his mistress, Rielle Hunter.
A little over two weeks ago, Edwards announced that he was the father of Hunter's two-year-old daughter.
Since then, Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, have legally separated.
But according to the National Enquirer, who broke the previous Edwards' scandal, the former North Carolina Senator proposed to his mistress on the same day he revealed his child born out of wedlock.
Edwards is also reportedly buying a $3.5 million dollar beach house for his new family.
The National Enquirer says Edwards expects his divorce from his cancer-stricken wife to be completed within a year, paving the way for his marriage to Hunter.
A spokeswoman for John Edwards is denying the Enquirer's article, much like his people did before the previous scandal.
For the Enquirer's full article on the Edwards' engagement, click LINK BELOW:
Man Arrested for Tattooing 1-Year-Old
8:26 AM EST, February 10, 2010
LOUISVILLE, Ohio - A Stark County man is facing a felony child endangering charge for allegedly tattooing a 1-year-old girl, Fox 8 News reports.
Lee Deitrick, 20, is accused of putting the non-removable tattoo on the child's backside while she was visiting his house with a female relative in November. Deitrick is not the girl's father.
Louisville Police Chief Andy Turowski tells Fox 8 News that Deitrick was taken to the Stark County Jail under a probation hold. If he's convicted for the third-degree felony, he could get up to five years behind bars.
Deitrick was arraigned Wednesday in Canton Municipal Court.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Lee Deitrick Booking Photo
Stark County Sheriff's Office / February 10, 2010
Newport News church deacon accused of pulling knife out, threatening fellow deacon
Newport News, Va. - NewsChannel 3 has uncovered an arrest warrant accusing a church deacon of raising a knife against a fellow church member.
Deacon Hurley Jones of Wesley Grove United Church of Christ is accused of pulling a knife out and threatening another deacon.
Deacon Isaiah Smith, Jr. says a disagreement over the church parking lot escalated into an attempted assault at a church meeting.
"Oh no, you don't mess with Hurley Jones and pulled his knife out and he raised it above the head."
It's behavior that seems to be out of line with the scripture on the church marquee which reads, 'on the pathway to pleasing God'.
"There's no justification for bringing a weapon into God's house," Smith added.
According to the December warrant, seven deacons and the pastor witnessed the incident.
Deacon Smith explained: "I stand up, and I back away from the table. Three deacons interceded, Deacon Outlaw interceded and grabbed the knife."
Deacon Julius Green, who is listed as a witness on the warrant, supported the complaint. He said, "Deacon Hurley Jones pulled a knife and attempted to come at Deacon Smith. He was held by three deacons and pulled into a hallway."
This Newport News neighborhood is no stranger to crime, but a house of worship is considered to be a sanctuary, a buffer against violence.
Smith is now fearful that the police cars that drive through the neighborhood will make a stop at his church because he feels the threat of violence is still high.
Deacon Hurley Jones sits directly behind him during Sunday services.
"I have a 16-year-old daughter that's afraid to attend church now because of this incident," he said.
According to Newport News court records there has been a pattern of violent incidents.
Deacon Jones has a mugshot on file because of another assault charge that is pending. He allegedly threatened his neighbor who swore out a warrant that he feared he was carrying a gun.
Deacon Smith said his pastor, Dr. Alexander Jamison, won't take action about what he feels is a clear and present danger.
"He doesn't see the seriousness of it," Smith said.
The two men will go before a judge later this month.
Deacon Jones could not be reached for comment. Pastor Jamison also could not be contacted.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Cleared: Father who chopped off intruder's ear with samurai sword after he threatened to rape and kill his family
9:03 PM on 10th February 2010
A father who defended his family from drug-crazed thugs by wounding one with a Samurai sword has been cleared by a jury.
David Fullard, 47, was prosecuted for attacking the two strangers who forced their way into his home and threatened to rape his partner and kill his two teenage children.
He insisted he was a desperate man acting legally in self-defence and struck out once with the ornamental sword, because it was the only weapon to hand.
The blow almost sliced off the ear of Michael Severs, one of the thugs.
LINK TO PHOTOS:
The prosecution refused to accept that his actions amounted to lawful self-defence and argued it was 'over the top' to attack a man armed with a knuckleduster by using a 'battlefield weapon'.
The two thugs were both high on a <snip>tail of drink and drugs at the time, the court heard.
But after a five-day trial at Hull Crown Court, Mr Fullard, a builder, broke down in tears as he was found not guilty of unlawful wounding.
It ended a nine-month ordeal for a man described by neighbours as 'honest and caring'. He had faced the threat of a long prison term.
The case represents another landmark in the debate over how far a householder should be allowed to go in defending his home from an intruder.
Yesterday jobless Severs, 22, and Michael Smith, 19, escaped with a suspended prison sentence and 100 hours of community work after admitting affray at the court.
Judge Michael Mettyear then lifted a reporting restriction on the case.
Outside court Mr Fullard criticised the judge for allowing the men to get away with a 'slap on the wrists'.
He added: 'You cannot stand around and do nothing when someone-comes to your house and starts threatening your family.'
Mr Fullard has been supported throughout by partner Susan Neal, 53, and his sons Danny, 14, and Tom, 17, who were in the house during the incident in March last year.
He added: 'I only struck one blow with the sword. If there had been a walking stick or umbrella by the door I would have hit him with that.'
'You cannot stand around and do nothing when someone comes to your house and starts threatening your family'
The court heard Severs and Smith, who both have previous convictions for violence, vaguely knew Mr Fullard's elder son and knocked on the door of the family home in Brough, East Yorkshire, claiming he owed them £5 from earlier in the day.
It was a ruse to get cash but Smith barged into the living room while Mr Fullard was upstairs and threatened Miss Neal. She told the jury he picked up the ornamental sword and said: 'Do you want some of this?'
She said: 'They threatened to rape me, burn the house down, kill the kids and kill Dave.'
The house where the incident took place. The case represents another landmark in the debate over how far a householder should be allowed to go in defending his home from an intruder
Smith then ran out and Mr Fullard was confronted by Severs in the garden. The thug was armed with a spade and a knuckle-duster.
Mr Fullard told the jury he picked up the sword and 'hit him once' and intended for the 'flat of the sword' rather than the blade to connect. He then called police.
Mr Fullard was arrested and only later did police arrest Smith and Severs, who had his ear re-attached in hospital.
Teen dad of Palin grandson wears nothing but a sultry gaze on cover of Playgirl's print return
This undated photo provided by Playgirl magazine shows the cover featuring Levi Johnston, the teen father of Sarah Palin's grandson on an upcoming print version of Playgirl magazine. The 19-year-old former finance of Palin's daughter was a huge hit on the magazine's Web site, and the publisher expects the same results with the newly resurrected print version hitting newsstands Feb. 22. (AP Photo/Playgirl) (AP / February 9, 2010)
Associated Press Writer
7:16 a.m. EST, February 10, 2010
Drink Up! Beer Could Be Good For Your Bones
Top Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Covers
Bride, 12, Fights To Divorce Husband, 80
11:03am UK, Tuesday February 09, 2010
Sky News Online
A girl of 12 is fighting to divorce her 80-year-old husband in a landmark test case in Saudi Arabia.
Child marriages are common in poorer tribal areas of Saudi Arabia
The child was married to her father's cousin last year, against her wishes and those of her mother.
The girl, from Buraidah, a conservative town near the capital, Riyadh, was married for bridal money of 85,000 riyals ($14,500).
Activists hope the divorce proceedings could pave the way for introducing a minimum age for marriage in the kingdom where child marriages are common in poorer tribal areas.
We need to affect public opinion and I believe that Saudi Arabia will issue a law preventing child marriages soon.
Saudi rights activist Wajiha al Huweider
The child's mother had earlier filed for divorce on her daughter's behalf but withdrew, without giving a reason, after a second court hearing in early February, according to lawyer Sultan bin Zahim.
Saudi's Human Rights Commission is now filing for divorce on behalf of the child.
Zahim said: "(HRC) became involved in this case as a public rights issue that concerns the Saudi community... this case is still valid even after the mother withdrew."
This is the first time the commission has intervened in a case of child marriage, an issue that was previously seen as a "family affair" and outside the commission's remit.
Saudi rights activist Wajiha al Huweider said: "This case is an investment in order to push for a law.
"We need to affect public opinion and I believe that Saudi Arabia will issue a law preventing child marriages soon."
Zuhair al Harthi, a member of the advisory Shura Council, said a draft law on banning child marriages was being studied by a government committee.
Pot smoker accused of trying to bribe urine tester
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - A pot-smoking parolee in Colorado faces criminal charges for allegedly offering a cash bribe to try to pass a drug test. Police said a 34-year-old man tried Jan. 3 to bribe a state worker to allow him to use a device called a "Whizzinator" to pass a drug test he had to take while on parole. The man allegedly said he had a medical marijuana card, though officials couldn't confirm whether that was true.
Colorado's medical marijuana law allows convicted criminals to get cards, but those on parole still must pass drug tests. State lawmakers are currently weighing new marijuana rules that would prevent people on parole from having the cards.
Prosecutors said the man offered a state worker $300 after the worker found him with the "Whizzinator," a device of tubing and heater packs attached to a prosthetic penis sold to cheat drug tests.
An arrest warrant affidavit reported by The (Grand Junction) Daily Sentinel Thursday said a caseworker became suspicious about his urine sample after he tried to block the worker's view while he was providing his sample.
When asked to raise his shirt and lower his pants, the man was seen wearing the "Whizzinator." The man allegedly offered the state worker $300, then $500, to throw away the device. The worker refused.
The caseworker took the device, and the man left.
That same day, the man called state parole officials and said he had panicked after smoking marijuana on New Year's Day, the anniversary of his father's death, saying he was "having a very hard time dealing with it."
The man now faces felony bribery charges and is being held in the Mesa County Jail. He was on parole for a 2007 menacing conviction.
LINK TO PHOTO AND ORIGINAL STORY
Latinos say their votes could tip 40 congressional races
WASHINGTON — Failing to overhaul the nation's immigration system, currently a backburner issue for Congress and President Barack Obama , could play a pivotal role in key mid-term election races in November, according to a new study on Latino voting patterns.
The report by America's Voice, which supports comprehensive new immigration policies, says that revising the laws is the defining issue for Latino voters. The report says that progress — or the lack thereof — in revamping immigration laws and regulations could affect as many as 40 congressional races in areas with sizeable Latino populations, including the re-election bids of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , D- Nev. , and Sen. John McCain , R- Ariz. , just two years ago his party's presidential candidate.
"Immigration reform is a litmus test in the Latino community," Eliseo Medina , the president of the Service Employees International Union , said during a conference call about the study. "To us, this is a policy issue, but it is also an issue about respect."
The study says that Obama and Democrats who campaigned in 2008 on the promise of revamping immigration laws benefitted from a 54 percent growth in registered Latino voters between 2000 and 2008.
Some 10 million Latinos voted in the 2008 presidential election. Obama received 75 percent of the Latino vote while McCain received 25 percent.
Since the election, several Latino organizations and leaders have expressed frustration with Obama and congressional Democrats for not aggressively pushing a comprehensive immigration bill. The complaints grew louder after Obama barely mentioned immigration in his State of the Union address last month.
Latino leaders and groups are similarly frustrated with Republicans. They feel that the GOP is promoting and campaigning on an anti-immigration agenda in hopes of attracting so-called "tea party" voters who prefer stricter policing of the U.S. border to a comprehensive policy, which they consider to be amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the country.
"The president did make a promise to the Latino community, and it has not been forgotten," said Janet Murguia , president and chief executive officer of the National Council of La Raza , a leading Hispanic lobby. "We're also looking to Congress — Democrats and Republicans — particularly Republicans, who can't just continue to say 'no' . . . we'll hold all these elected officials accountable."
Increases in Latino population and voter registration in several key states could make Latinos players in this year's mid-term elections, according to the study. The report points to 12 states where registered Latino voters account for between 3.2 and 32 percent of the electorate.
The competitive races include Arizona , where McCain is facing his first serious primary challenge from former Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth and two other anti-illegal immigration candidates: Chris Simcox , a founder of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps , and Jim Deakin , a businessman and Navy veteran.
Obama captured the Latino vote in Arizona by 56 to 41 percent. Latinos make up 14.8 percent of the state's voting population.
The study also singles out Nevada , where a politically vulnerable Reid has a crowded field of Republicans lining up to run against him. Latinos, who make up 12.8 percent of Nevada's registered voters "will play an important role in the Senate campaign and could be a decisive factor in whether the Senate majority leader returns for his fifth term," the study said.
However, comprehensive immigration advocates warn that the Latino community's vote isn't automatic and must be earned.
"If anybody thinks that somehow not acting is going to work to the advantage of depressing turnout . . . . I think anybody who believes they have a lock on this community because they don't have anywhere to go is also mistaken," Medina said. "This is a constituency that's highly motivated and will participate."
Child 'Waterboarded' By Dad Over Her ABCs
12:03pm UK, Monday February 08, 2010
Sky News Online
A US soldier has been accused of "waterboarding" his four-year-old daughter because she would not recite the alphabet.
Joshua Tabor, 27, allegedly pushed the child's head under water face-up in the kitchen sink at his house.
Tabor told a police officer he and his girlfriend "held her down on the counter and submerged her head into the water three or four times until the water came around her forehead and jawline", according to court documents.
The suspect said that he handed out this punishment to the youngster for "refusing to say her letters".
Tabor, a soldier at the Lewis-McChord base in Tacoma, Washington, has been charged with second-degree assault of a child and is due to appear in court on February 16.
The suspect told police his daughter was afraid of water "and was squirming around trying to get away from the water". The reports said: "Joshua did not act as though he felt there was anything wrong with this form of punishment."
He was irate, intoxicated, and walking around the neighbourhood with his Kevlar helmet threatening to break windows. Joshua Tabor's girlfriend talks to police
The controversial practice of waterboarding was used by the CIA to break al Qaeda suspects at Guantanamo Bay.
Detainees had water poured over their face until they feared they would drown - but President Barack Obama has since banned the practice.
Police went to Tabor's house in the Tacoma suburb of Yelm after his girlfriend reported he "was irate, intoxicated, and walking around the neighbourhood with his Kevlar helmet threatening to break windows".
She told officers that Tabor beat the child. The youngster's back was reportedly covered in bruises.
The girlfriend also claimed the child had locked herself in a cupboard because she was afraid of her father.
Police Sergeant Rob Carlson confirmed the alleged abuse happened because the little girl would not recite her "ABCs", according to police reports.
Tabor has now been released from jail after posting $10,000 (about £6,400) bail.
He is restricted to the base at Lewis-McChord as a condition of his release and cannot have any contact with his girlfriend or children.
The youngster has been taken into custody by Child Protective Services, a police report said.
Man reports armed robbery after attempting to buy crack with credit card
February 08, 2010, 7:52AM
FLINT, Michigan — A man was arrested after reported to police he was robbed at gunpoint when he allegedly attempted to buy crack with a credit card before midnight Thursday at Wolcott Street and University Avenue.
The victim reported a 2003 Chevy Malibu had been stolen, and the vehicle was listed as stolen out of Lapeer, according to police reports.
The victim was listed as the alleged suspect in the stolen vehicle complaint in Lapeer, and he was lodged in the Genesee County Jail.
Southern California -- this just in
Michael Jackson's doctor charged with involuntary manslaughter in pop star's deathFebruary 8, 2010 | 11:37 am
Prosecutors on Monday charged Michael Jackson’s personal physician with involuntary manslaughter in connection with administering a combination of surgical anesthetic and sedatives blamed in the music legend’s death last summer.
The complaint filed in Superior Court accused Dr. Conrad Murray, a cardiologist caring for the 50-year-old pop icon during an ambitious comeback attempt, of causing Jackson's June 25 death by acting “without due caution and circumspection.”
The criminal case comes after a seven-month investigation that stretched from the master bedroom of Jackson’s Holmby Hills mansion to the heart clinic Murray ran in a poor neighborhood of Houston. The focus, however, rarely left Murray.
Within weeks of Jackson’s death, detectives described the doctor as a manslaughter suspect in court papers that said he admitted leaving the singer alone and under the influence of propofol – a powerful anesthetic used to render surgical patients unconscious – in a bedroom of the sprawling home.
The coroner’s office ruled Jackson’s death a homicide and said the cause was “acute propofol intoxication” in conjunction with the effect of other sedatives Murray acknowledged providing.
Despite the almost immediate focus on Murray – authorities first questioned him in the hospital where doctors were working in vain to revive Jackson – the multi-agency probe that included federal and local investigators progressed slowly, and the doctor was not formally accused of wrongdoing until the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office filed its complaint.
Involuntary manslaughter is the least serious homicide charge available to prosecutors, its maximum punishment of four years in prison far less than the life sentence for murder or the 11 years for voluntary manslaughter. The charge, which applies to an unlawful killing committed without malice or intent to kill, turns on Murray’s possible negligence in allegedly giving Jackson propofol for an unapproved purpose – the treatment of insomnia – and outside of the normal operating room setting.
The drug, one of the most widely used general anesthetics in the nation, is so dangerous that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says only those trained in anesthesia should administer it.
Murray told police that he had been giving Jackson nightly intravenous doses of propofol for six weeks, about the time he began working for the performer, according to police affidavits filed in court. Murray, who was in debt and behind on child-support payments, earned $150,000 a month treating Jackson and closed practices he operated in Las Vegas, where he lived, and Houston to join the performer in Los Angeles for rehearsals.
According to the affidavits, Jackson told the physician that for years other doctors had treated his chronic insomnia with doses of propofol, a white liquid the singer called “milk.”
Murray eventually became concerned that the singer was addicted and tried to wean him off the anesthetic, according to the affidavits. On the day Jackson died, Murray tried to get the performer to sleep using Valium and, later, two other sedatives, according to the affidavits. But Jackson remained awake for 10 hours, demanding propofol.
According to the affidavits, Murray said he relented and sat next to Jackson’s bed as the propofol took effect. He told police he left for two minutes to use the restroom, and cellphone records indicate he also talked on the phone for 45 minutes, according to the affidavits. When he returned, Jackson was not breathing.
Through his attorney, Murray has maintained his innocence and said he did nothing that should have caused Jackson’s death. In his only public comment – a one-minute video released in August through his lawyer – a somber-looking Murray expressed confidence that he would be exonerated. “I told the truth, and I have faith the truth will prevail,” he said.
LINK TO LIVE COVERAGE OF DR. MURRAY ENTERING PLEA
-- Harriet Ryan and Victoria Kim in Los Angeles, Jack Leonard and Richard Winton at the LAX courthouse.
LINK TO COMPLETE COVERAGE OF LIFE AND DEATH OF JACKSON
Explorers struggled to find a way to get to the whiskey without upsetting the historic explorer's hut above the ice. They said it was less than enjoyable.
"We were lying on our stomachs on the permafrost completely under the hut removing the ice enclosing the boxes; to say it was a pleasant job would be untrue," said Al Fastier, of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust.
For three days, they chipped their way through the ice toward the crates. Their efforts were more than rewarded.
"We got the two boxes out and were very excited and pleased with ourselves and then we looked through the layer of ice behind the second box and could see through the opaque ice the words 'whiskey' again," says Fastier.
Fastier said they found not only the extra crate of whiskey, but two crates of brandy.
The liquor cache is believed to be what's left of 25 cases donated to Shackleton on his first expedition to the icy, unforgiving continent.
The biggest proponents of the expedition were from faraway Scotland. The makers of the original whiskey said they want a sample so they can attempt to recreate the old recipe.
LINK TO VIDEO
Saints 31, Colts 17
Easy does it: Saints stun Colts
New Orleans defense stymies Manning, rallies to win Super Bowl XLIV
The Associated Press 9:55 p.m. EST, February 7, 2010
Feb 6, 2010 1:57 pm US/Eastern
N.J. Teacher Admits Cash-For-Grades Scheme
TRENTON (CBS) ?A former social studies teacher in New Jersey has admitted pocketing "charitable donations" from students looking to improve their grades.
Megan Laboy of Howell pleaded guilty Friday to theft by deception, admitting she received between $200 and $500 in donations from her Colts Neck High School students during the 2008-2009 school year.
The youths were told they would receive extra credit for the donations and that the cash would go to charities. But the 30-year-old Laboy instead kept the money for herself.
The school is located at 59 5 Points Road, Colts Neck, NJ 07722-1781.
Under a plea deal with Monmouth County prosecutors, Laboy will likely get probation when she's sentenced May 14. She'll also be barred from holding public employment or office in New Jersey.
Laboy had worked for the Freehold Regional High School District since 2001, but has since resigned.
The flight of angels: saving lives in Afghanistan's airborne A&E
Sarah Palin assails Obama at 'tea party' gathering
AP National Political Writer
Sunday, February 7, 2010
(02-07) 04:17 PST Nashville, Tenn. (AP) --
Sarah Palin, in a speech that was short on ideas but big on enthusiasm, took aim at President Barack Obama and the Democrats, telling a gathering of "tea party" activists that America is ripe for another revolution.
Noting his party's dismal showing in elections since Obama moved into the White House a year ago with talk of hope and promises of change, Palin asked the gathering: "How's that hope-y, change-y stuff workin' out for you?"
Her audience waved flags and erupted in cheers during multiple standing ovations as the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee gave the keynote address Saturday at the first national convention of the "tea party" coalition. It's an antiestablishment, grass-roots network motivated by anger over the growth of government, budget-busting spending and Obama's policies.
Palin's 45-minute talk was filled with her trademark folksy jokes and amounted to a pep talk for the coalition and promotion of its principles.
The speech also was rife with criticism for Obama and the Democrats who control Congress, but delivered with a light touch. Aside from broad conservative principles like lower taxes and a strong national defense, the speech was short on Palin's own policy ideas that typically indicate someone is seriously laying the groundwork to run for the White House.
Indeed, Republican observers say she's seemingly done more lately to establish herself as a political celebrity focused on publicity rather than a political candidate focused on policy.
Catering to her crowd, Palin talked of limited government, strict adherence to the Constitution, and the "God-given right" of freedom. She said the "fresh, young and fragile" movement is the future of American politics because it's "a ground-up call to action" to both major political parties to change how they do business.
"America is ready for another revolution!" she told the gathering.
Palin suggested the movement should remain leaderless and cautioned against allowing it to be defined by any one person.
"Let us not get bogged down in the small squabbles. Let us get caught up in the big ideas," she said, though she offered few of her own.
The former Alaska governor, who resigned from office last summer before completing her first term, didn't indicate whether her political future would extend beyond cable news punditry and paid speeches to an actual presidential candidacy.
All she offered was a smile when a moderator asking her questions used the phrase "President Palin." That prompted most in the audience to stand up and chant "Run, Sarah, Run!"
But, given the plethora of attacks that Palin leveled at Obama, she seemed like she was already running against him. And, perhaps, as an independent.
She talked little about the Republican Party and encouraged "tea party"-aligned candidates to compete in GOP primaries.
Palin ri bbed Obama for Democratic losses in New Jersey and Virginia governor's races last fall and in a Massachusetts Senate race last month, saying: "When you're 0-3 you'd better stop lecturing and start listening."
On foreign policy and national security, Palin said he had "misguided thinking" and a pre-Sept. 11 mindset.
Her fee was $100,000 for the appearance at the for-profit event.
LINKS TO VARIOUS ACCOUNTS OF SARAH PALIN AT TEA PARTY
Mumbing, bumbling credit union bandit misses marks
Raleigh-area heists undone by failure to communicate
February 4, 2010 at midnight
Robbery investigators are looking for a mumbling would-be bandit who has a problem getting her message across.
The woman is believed to be responsible for trying to hold up two credit unions Tuesday in the Raleigh area, but she fled empty-handed, one time stumbling outside as her gun clattered to the sidewalk.
The bumbling bandit struck out the first time at the Southern Security Federal Credit Union, 3616 Austin Peay, just before 10 a.m.
In a twist worthy of the 1969 Woody Allen movie "Take the Money and Run," the teller couldn't understand the suspect's mumbling demands.
The suspect then produced a holdup note, which she flung at the teller before running from the building.
In "Take the Money and Run," Allen's character tries to rob a bank but is stymied by his indecipherable handwriting, as tellers ponder whether he has written "gun" or "gub" on his holdup note.
Later Tuesday, a woman arrived at the First South Credit Union, 3731 Austin Peay, at about 1:40 p.m. She fumbled with her purse, then approached the counter after a teller asked several times if she needed help.
The woman handed the teller a note, but the teller retreated when the woman pulled a gun.
The woman then ran from the bank, tumbling on the sidewalk and dropping her weapon before leaving southbound on Austin Peay in a gold, two-door vehicle.
The woman's failure rate belies the norm, said a local FBI spokesman.
"Most bank robbers are successful, in that they get money," said Joel Siskovic of the FBI.
But, he added, "Our solve rate is pretty high. If people paid attention, you'd think (robbing a bank) is the last thing they'd want to do. We tend to catch everybody."
The suspect was described as a black or Hispanic woman, about 5-3 to 5-4 with a thin build. She wore a black hat, a long black leather jacket, black gloves, a red scarf, black shoes and dark pants.
Feb. 6, 2010
Police officer suspended on charges of overtime fraud
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Another Detroit police officer has been suspended on accusations that he bilked the city of $15,000 in overtime pay, the Free Press has learned.
Police spokesman John Roach confirmed that a 23-year veteran of the department's 10th precinct is suspended with pay after an internal investigation determined the officer regularly signed in at courthouses on his off days when he had no court business, then put in for overtime pay.
"Of 73 cases he had signed in for in 2009, we found that 55 were fraud and he had no business being there," said Roach, who cited personnel issues in declining to release the officer's name for a story first reported Friday on freep.com.
The department is investigating whether the officer had been signing in fraudulently for court business before last year as well, Roach said. The department began the investigation after a commander within the precinct noticed the officer was going to court too often, given his job assignment.
The officer marks the fourth suspension in recent weeks. Last month, an Eastern District officer was suspended without pay on accusations that he regularly left his police job early to moonlight as a security guard at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit. His reported ruse also is believed to have cost the city about $15,000.
Another Eastern District officer was accused of submitting fraudulent activity logs while on vacation out of the country, meaning she got paid her normal salary for what should have been vacation days. A sergeant with the Eastern District also has been suspended for approving both of his subordinates' fraudulent logs, Roach said.
Next week, the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners is to weigh Chief Warren Evans' recommendation that the two officers and sergeant currently suspended with pay also be stripped of their pay.
Oops! Wrong way
Originally published February 4, 2010, 06:03 p.m. EST.
Updated February 5, 2010, 09:13 a.m. EST
RIVERTON, Wyo. – OK. If you’re going to steal a bottle of schnapps from a grocery store, it’s probably a good idea to have an escape plan.
A Riverton man apparently forgot that detail when he grabbed the bottle of booze from the Riverton Safeway shelf Wednesday afternoon, along with a package of cough drops. He ran out of the store in a panic and into a nearby building to hide. But his chosen place of refuge just happened to be the police station.
Upon realizing his mistake, he turned tail and ran back outside, but the dispatcher had already spied him on the station’s surveillance camera and alerted officers. One of those officers caught him, not far away, and identified the thief as 26-year-old Jason Antelope.
So, along with shoplifting, Antelope was charged with resisting arrest for running. His flight could be attributed to the fact that he already had a warrant out for his arrest. Or maybe, it was just because he was drunk. He blew a BAC of .298.
Restaurant promotes sex in its bathrooms
February 03, 2010
A hostess shows off a washroom at Mildred's, where sex is encouraged.
Mildred's Temple Kitchen is inviting customers to have sex in its bathrooms.
The Valentine's weekend promotion takes uncomfortable but electrifying sex from the close confines of an airplane and transfers it to the unisex stalls of the Hanna Ave. restaurant.
The Liberty Village restaurant proposes its modern bathrooms become one of the "101 places to have sex before you die."
Mildred's has always elicited a certain response. One customer, who didn't want to be named, remembers going to a wedding at the eatery's old location and seeing a copy of the Kama Sutra in the bathroom.
"They invite it," said the customer.
This time, the invitation is explicit. On its website, Mildred's asks: "Have you given any thought to moving beyond the bedroom?
"Check out Mildred's Sexy Bathrooms throughout the weekend of Big Love. You get the picture."
Actually, the picture is clouded by practicalities. Is the restaurant supplying condoms? What about the health risks of body fluids? And who's cleaning up?
"We've always had little trysts in our bathrooms," says chef/co-owner Donna Dooher, pointing to lingering weekday lunches as a popular time. "We're taking it to the next level on Valentine's weekend."
The restaurant's four bathrooms light up outside when occupied. Staff have learned to watch the light flicker twice when two customers enter the same bathroom, usually a few minutes apart.
Toronto Public Health says as long as there's no sex in the kitchen and the restaurant keeps its washrooms clean and sanitized, it's not fussed. "As far as bodily fluids, it's pretty much similar to the other human functions going on in there," says Jim Chan, manager of the food safety program.
Dooher says customers must bring their own condoms but she's hiring a maid to tidy the washrooms that weekend. "She'll be there with her feather duster and cleaning supplies."
At least diners aren't encouraged to use furry handcuffs, part of a $55 "naughty love hamper," while at Mildred's. "Best to savour and enjoy (those) long after you leave the restaurant," the restaurant says.
Restaurant that promoted sex in bathroom would rather forget all about it
February 05, 2010
No, they’re not taking reservations for the bathroom.
In fact, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, the Liberty Village restaurant that invited diners to have Valentine’s Day sex in its unisex washrooms, would rather we forget all about the offer.
“We were just having a bit of fun and being playful,” says Mildred co-owner Donna Dooher.
“The world is a pretty stressed place.”
The offer was part of Mildred's Weekend of Big Love, a Valentine's promotion that includes an optional set of furry handcuffs and such aphrodisiac menu items such as chef Tyler Cunningham's fresh oysters with tapioca pearls and Lady-And-The-Tramp spaghetti and meatballs, served from one plate.
Whether a joke taken too far or a move of public relations genius, Mildred's cheeky invitation has generated worldwide attention. It's been blogged on the right-wing Drudge Report and the left-leaning Huffington Post, proving that sex appeals to readers of every inclination. Celebrity bloggers Perez Hilton and Alyssa Milano have weighed in. Dooher has been interviewed on Australian radio and fielded telephone calls from France.
“They all think we're urging customers to have sex in our bathrooms,” she says. “All we were trying to do was spark a little spontaneity.”
The media blitz hasn't translated into a boost in reservations. According to the Web site Open Table, spots are available at 10 and 10:30 p.m. over the Valentine's weekend. There is also space during Winterlicious - the city-wide restaurant promotion that ends Feb. 11 - for both the $20 lunch and $35 early dinners.
Neither have there been cancellations, despite numerous angry voicemails.
“People were just outraged that we're tarnishing the reputation of the Toronto restaurant industry. We've been called a classless bunch running a bawdy house, who the police should take to jail,” Dooher says.
(One local television station contacted Toronto Police Services to find out if public washroom sex is allowed. It is, between consenting adults.)
The suggestion of washroom sex, Dooher laughs, has certainly divided her customers. “I've heard ‘How can my children and I ever step in your restaurant again?’ and ‘Aww. You ruined it. Now no one will ever have sex in there again’.”
Dooher, a 30-year industry veteran, says she's considered adding security for the Valentine's weekend but hasn't decided.
Her advice for nervous diners who just have to go?
“Just use the bathroom,” Dooher says.
Man files false crash report to avoid jury duty
Rockford Register STAR
Feb 05, 2010
ROCKFORD — A man who went to elaborate lengths to avoid jury duty succeeded.
Instead, he will serve 30 days of home confinement, 90 days of probation, 100 hours of community service and pay a $5,000 fine.
Gerald Lee Mance, 60, of Morrison was found in contempt of federal court Thursday for failure to appear for jury duty.
Mance was summoned and appeared for jury duty in a criminal prosecution in federal court on Nov. 30.
At the end of the day, jury selection was not completed, and prospective jurors were asked to return the next day. Mance failed to return.
U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Kapala issued an order requesting that the U.S. attorney file a motion for a rule to show cause why Mance should not be held in contempt for failure to appear for jury service.
On Dec. 2, such a motion was filed.
On Dec. 21, Mance appeared in court. He admitted that after the first day of jury duty, he stopped at the residence of a friend who was a law enforcement officer and secretly stole a blank Illinois traffic accident report form from the officer’s home.
Call to court clerk
The next day, Mance called the district court clerk’s office and falsely stated he had been involved in a traffic accident with a deer and was unable to come to Rockford for jury duty.
Mance offered to fax a copy of the accident report to the clerk.
That afternoon, a deputy U.S. marshal went to Mance’s office and asked where the deer accident occurred. Mance falsely stated the accident occurred in Morrison.
The following morning, Mance faxed the bogus accident report to the clerk’s office.
Mance later acknowledged he had not been in an accident and the accident report was false.
At sentencing, Kapala described Mance’s conduct as “brazen” and “almost unfathomable.”
Kapala stated that jury duty may not be convenient, but it is important to our criminal justice system.
He also noted another prospective juror on the same panel had a child with a serious medical condition but was willing to reschedule treatment in order to serve on the jury.
Kapala said: “I think your conduct was profane when compared to the sacrifice that she made.”
The contempt proceedings were prosecuted in federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorney John G. McKenzie.
A court upheld the NYPD's decision to fire a cop after he failed a drug test. The cop claimed the wife had spiked his meatballs (not pictured).
It's hasta la pasta for the marijuana meatballs cop.
A state appeals court has upheld the NYPD's firing of a veteran detective who blamed a failed drug test on his wife spiking his meatballs with pot.
Anthony Chiofalo, a 22-year-veteran, challenged his 2006 termination by Commissioner Raymond Kelly, but the Appellate Division shot it down.
The panel of judges agreed with Kelly that the high levels of marijuana found in Chiofalo's hair samples could not have come from accidentally ingesting the drug in food or from second-hand smoke.
Chiofalo argued that the hair-sample test was not authorized by the NYPD's collective-bargaining agreement with his union.
"The Court of Appeals has held that the Commissioner was empowered to choose the method of drug testing, and that choice was not subject to collective bargaining," the judges wrote in a decision made public Thursday.
Chiofalo's wife, Catherine, smokes marijuana for back pain and admitted to investigators that she laced her husband's meatballs in hopes that he would be fired before getting killed on the job.
LINK TO ORIGINAL STORY:
Pedicab driver Chen Chuanliu chains his 2-year-old boy to a lamppost outside Beijing mall.
Child care for one struggling Chinese family means a padlock and chain.
Pedicab driver Chen Chuanliu chained his 2-year-old boy to a lamppost outside a Beijing mall while he chased after customers on a nearby street. The adorable toddler's mother was also working nearby, collecting rubbish from the roadside, while the boy was tethered to the pole around his ankle.
After passersby became upset, the dad claimed the move was to prevent kidnappers from taking the boy. A few weeks back, Chuanliu said, his 4-year-old daughter was abducted.
Alexa Gonzalez, a student Junior High School 190 in Forest Hills, Queens, was handcuffed and detained at police precinct for doodling on her desk with erasable marker.
A 12-year-old Queens girl was hauled out of school in handcuffs for an artless offense - doodling her name on her desk in erasable marker, the Daily News has learned.
Alexa Gonzalez was scribbling a few words on her desk Monday while waiting for her Spanish teacher to pass out homework at Junior High School 190 in Forest Hills, she said.
"I love my friends Abby and Faith," the girl wrote, adding the phrases "Lex was here. 2/1/10" and a smiley face.
But instead of simply cleaning off the doodles after class, Alexa landed in some adult-sized trouble for using her lime-green magic marker.
She was led out of school in cuffs and walked to the precinct across the street, where she was detained for several hours, she and her mother said.
"I started crying, like, a lot," said Alexa. "I made two little doodles. ... It could be easily erased. To put handcuffs on me is unnecessary." Alexa, who had a stellar attendance record, hasn't been back to school since, adding, "I just thought I'd get a detention. I thought maybe I would have to clean [the desk]."
"She's been throwing up," said her mom, Moraima Camacho, 49, an accountant, who lives with her daughter in Kew Gardens. "The whole situation has been a nightmare."
City officials acknowledged Alexa's arrest was a mistake.
"We're looking at the facts," said City Education Department spokesman David Cantor. "Based on what we've seen so far, this shouldn't have happened."
"Even when we're asked to make an arrest, common sense should prevail, and discretion used in deciding whether an arrest or handcuffs are really necessary," said police spokesman Paul Browne.
Alexa is the latest in a string of city students who have been cuffed for minor infractions. In 2007, 13-year-old Chelsea Fraser was placed under arrest for writing "okay" on her desk at Intermediate School 201. And in 2008, 5-year-old Dennis Rivera was cuffed and sent to a psych ward after throwing a fit in his kindergarten.
A class action lawsuit was filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union last month against the city for using "excessive force" in middle school and high schools. A 12-year-old sixth-grader, identified in the lawsuit as M.M., was arrested in March 2009 for doodling on her desk at the Hunts Point School.
Alexa is still suspended from her school, her mother said. She and her mom went to family court on Tuesday, where Alexa was assigned eight hours of community service, a book report and an essay on what she learned from the experience.
"I definitely learned not to ever draw on a desk," said Alexa. "They told me with a pencil this could still happen."
Students at all-girl Cambridge college sent email asking them to be quieter when having sex
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 8:24 AM on 05th February 2010
It's the type of institution where burning the midnight oil is normally associated with academic endeavour.
But it is late-night activities of a different kind which are currently worrying student leaders at a historic Cambridge women's college.
All 400 undergraduates at Newnham College have been sent an email asking them to be 'discreet in your activities' and reminding them that the corridors 'funnelled sound' and that some college walls are 'very thin'.
All 400 undergraduates at Newnham College were sent a polite email on Tuesday after the student union received 30 complaints about noise in the student halls
Lizzy Cole, president of the college's junior common room, sent the email after receiving 30 complaints about noise in student halls.
Undergraduates were horrified to think that their neighbours have heard them in the throes of passion. A second-year classicist, who asked to remain anonymous, said: 'When I read the email I cringed. I thought it must refer to me!'
Another Newnham undergraduate said: 'It's just so embarrassing to think that people have been listening in. I was blushing when I got the email.
You try to keep it down, but it's easy to forget the walls are so thin if you get a bit carried away.
Newnham, whose former students include Sylvia Plath, Iris Murdoch, Germaine Greer and Joan Bakewell, was established as the second female college at Cambridge in 1871. Along with Murray Edwards College, it is one of the two remaining women's colleges.
It hit the headlines last February after several students from the Newnham Nuns drinking society were pictured in sexual poses during a boozy initiation ceremony. Yesterday Miss Cole said some students had misinterpreted the email.
'The complaints I received from people over the last month or so were mainly about general noise coming from the college,' she said
'It was things like shouting in the corridors and music being played late at night and in the early hours.'
However, Miss Cole added: 'Newnham does have a feminist reputation and also it's known as the slutty college of Cambridge, which I think is a bit unfair.
'But it's always going to be that way with an all-female college. We're not all extreme feminists or sluts - we're just normal women trying to enjoy Cambridge life.'
LINK TO PHOTO OF SCHOOL
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1248487/Students-girl-Cambridge-college-sent-email-asking-quieter-having-sex.html#ixzz0efAPCoL2
Memo to Rush Limbaugh: Sarah Palin's distaste for jerks who use "retard" as an insult goes for right-wing pals like you, too.
The ex-Alaska governor took the talkmeister to task yesterday after he waded into the firestorm over White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's use of the word "retarded" - and promptly committed the same offense.
"Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult's taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards," Limbaugh said on his Wednesday show. "I mean these people, these liberal activists are kooks."
Referring to Emanuel's later meeting with advocates for the disabled, Limbaugh said there's going to be "a retard summit at the White House."
Palin on Monday called for Emanuel to be canned, saying his slamming of liberals in his party as "f------ retarded" was a slur on a par with using the N-word.
She went a little easier on Limbaugh yesterday but still issued a rare rebuke to the conservative radio host, who claimed yesterday he had just been quoting Emanuel.
Said her spokeswoman: "Governor Palin believes crude and demeaning name calling at the expense of others is disrespectful."
JOSEPH FARAH'S G2 BULLETIN
Bosom bombers: Women have explosive breast implants
Authorities alarmed by possibility of surgically placed explosives
February 01, 2010
10:16 pm Eastern
World Net Daily
LONDON – Agents for Britain's MI5 intelligence service have discovered that Muslim doctors trained at some of Britain's leading teaching hospitals have returned to their own countries to fit surgical implants filled with explosives, according to a report from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.
Women suicide bombers recruited by al-Qaida are known to have had the explosives inserted in their breasts under techniques similar to breast enhancing surgery. The lethal explosives – usually PETN (pentaerythritol Tetrabitrate) – are inserted during the operation inside the plastic shapes. The breast is then sewn up.
Similar surgery has been performed on male suicide bombers. In their cases, the explosives are inserted in the appendix area or in a buttock. Both are parts of the body that diabetics use to inject themselves with their prescribed drugs.
The discovery of these methods was made after the London-educated Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab came close to blowing up an airliner on Christmas Day with explosives he had stuffed inside his underpants. .
Hours after he had failed, GCHQ – Britain's worldwide eavesdropping "spy in the sky" agency – began to pick up "chatter" emanating from Pakistan and Yemen that alerted MI5 to the creation of the lethal implants.
A hand-picked team was appointed by Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, to investigate the threat. He described it as "one that can circumvent our defense."
Top surgeons who work in the National Health Service confirmed the feasibility of the explosive implants.
In a report to Evans, one said:
"Properly inserted the implant would be virtually impossible to detect by the usual airport scanning machines. You would need to subject a suspect to a sophisticated X-ray. Given that the explosive would be inserted in a sealed plastic sachet, and would be a small amount, would make it all the more impossible to spot it with the usual body scanner."
Explosive experts at Britain's Porton Down biological and chemical warfare research center told MI5 that a sachet containing as little as five ounces of PETN when activated would blow "a considerable hole" in an airline's skin which would guarantee it would crash.
Suspected culprit in Mineral Wells woman's debilitating disorder: denture cream
It began with a tingling sensation, as if her foot was going to sleep.
Then numbness set in. It crept up to Elizabeth Gilley's calf and onto her thigh.
Over the next six months, the Mineral Wells woman grew weaker, her skin turned pale, and she could barely walk across the room without gasping for breath.
When she collapsed in 2007, Gilley was taken to a hospital.
"The doctor didn't know how I was still conscious," Gilley said.
At first, doctors told her that she had leukemia, but tests didn't confirm cancer. CT scans, MRIs and blood tests followed. Still Gilley was no closer to a diagnosis.
After a year of seeing doctor after doctor, she finally found out what was causing the symptoms, but she could hardly believe what the physician was telling her.
"Within five minutes of seeing him, he asked me if I wore denture cream," said Gilley, 26, who was forced to get dentures as a teenager after a genetic condition ruined her teeth. "I handed him the tube; he told me to stop using it."
By then the damage was done. Gilley could no longer walk, drive a car or get around without a wheelchair. Once an active young woman who had recently gotten married, she was rarely able to leave her home.
Gilley joined a growing number of people nationwide who have filed lawsuits alleging that the makers of some denture creams knew about the health risks associated with high levels of zinc in their products and did nothing about it. Fixodent and Super Poligrip are named in class-action lawsuits filed in Tennessee last year.
Gilley's suit against GlaxoSmithKline was recently filed in Philadelphia, where the manufacturer is located. About 20 other claimants have also filed suits in mass tort court in Pennsylvania.
GlaxoSmithKline declined to comment on the litigation. But on the Web site for Super Poligrip, the manufacturer addresses issues surrounding zinc.
Both GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Poligrip and Super Poligrip, and Procter & Gamble, the maker of Fixodent, have said that their products contain zinc at levels recognized as safe. GlaxoSmithKline's label now states that there have been reports of serious health effects from increased zinc intake over a long period. But the company notes that small amounts swallowed during normal use are not harmful and that consumers should not apply the product more than once a day.
In addition, the Food and Drug Administration classifies the creams as medical devices and does not require zinc to be listed as an ingredient.
But dozens of people have been permanently disabled after using the cream for years, and at least one person has died, said Ed Blizzard of Houston, Gilley's attorney.
"I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg," he said. "I think a lot of people out there have neuropathy and don't know it could be connected to their dentures."
A debilitating disease
An estimated 35 million Americans use adhesives to secure their dentures, and most have no health problems associated with the creams. But some have developed severe neurological problems, they say, caused by ingesting dangerously high levels of zinc. Gilley developed neuropathy, which causes numbness, tingling and pain.
Stalled getaway car snares thieves
February 04, 2010 12:00AM
TWO shoplifting suspects, who allegedly tried to steal hair care products from a Fort Worth beauty salon, were caught when their getaway car wouldn't start, MyFox National reported.
The pair, who had a five-year-old girl with them when arrested by police, were accused of robbing the beauty salon on Saturday, MyFox Dallas/Fort Worth reported.
Ebbony Trammell, 20, was being held in lieu of $5,000 bail, while her 15-year-old accomplice was turned over to juvenile officers, authorities said Tuesday.
No details were released about what happened to the child.
According to a police report, the pair were spotted stealing products by the store's owner. When he tried to block them from leaving the store, Trammell pushed him to the ground and punched him in the face, breaking his glasses.
The two suspects ran outside to a waiting Hyundai with other people inside it, but couldn't get the car's engine to turn over.
Before police arrived, the 15-year-old girl jumped out of the car along with the five-year-old girl and a pink backpack, and went inside a nearby grocery store.
Arriving officers allegedly found the stolen items hidden in the grocery store
Cheerleader claims school discriminating against him
Posted: 6:25 pm PST February 2, 2010
Updated: 7:18 pm PST February 2, 2010
Benjamin Grundy's mom Suzanne says school administrators are discriminating against him by not allowing him to do everything the girls do.
"At the beginning of the current season I was told I'd be able to participate in everything other cheerleaders would do, including the dance routine," Benjamin Grundy said.
However later according to the Grundys Gar-Pal's athletic director pressured him to be the mascot instead of a cheerleader. Later he was forbidden from moving his legs and feet, dancing or even shaking his hips when he cheered.
"I was reduced to standing there and moving my arms," Benjamin said. "I didn't lift my legs or move from the place I was at, I just stood there."
"I think the combination of a bi-racial, mentally challenged gay male may be too much for them," Suzanne said, adding that she feels the school is embarrassed by her son and are discriminating against him.
Gar-Pal's principal and district superintendent Beverly Fox says she can't comment on the specific case and can't comment on Benjamin Grundy but she did say that "our policy is that every student has the right that everybody has and there is not discrimination."
“We really honor the rights of students and I really can't talk about specifics,” Fox said.
Suzanne Grundy insists her son is being discriminated against and has written everyone from the ACLU to Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers about the situation. Since Benjamin and his mom were interviewed by KXLY and Suzanne wrote those letters he has received an official cheer uniform and pom-poms.
The school has offered to have a third party conduct an investigation into the case but the Grundys aren’t satisfied with the offer. They say Ben has endured severe emotional trauma and want discrimination seminars at the school, formal reprimands for the coach, athletic director and for the superintendent and principal.
They are also pushing to get Congress involved.
“I hope if the school ever does get another male cheerleader this won't happen to them and that they'll be able to be a full par of the squad,” Benjamin said.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Despite his roots, Obama struggles to show he's connected to middle class
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
NASHUA, N.H. -- President Obama's 165th flight on Air Force One required all the customary protocols of a presidential trip. He took a helicopter from the White House lawn to Andrews Air Force Base, where seven military officers waited at full attention. He entered his plane through a door decorated by the presidential seal and settled into a suite that includes an office and a conference room. After a short flight, he exited to cheers from a greeting party before disappearing into a limousine that cruised down the barricaded streets of this New Hampshire city.
When Obama arrived here Tuesday afternoon, he stopped at a suburban industrial park to visit a machinery company. Snipers surveyed from the roof. Secret Service agents monitored the warehouse. A 19-car motorcade idled outside. Obama, meanwhile, stood on the gray concrete floor with the company's employees, studying their manufacturing materials and trying to convey his new favorite message: He understands the problems of what he calls "everyday Americans."
It is a tough sell for any president who lives inside what Obama refers to as "the bubble," but tougher still for Obama. His first year in office was defined in part by a paradox. He is a rare president who comes from the middle class, yet people still perceive him as disconnected from it. As he arrived in Nashua, nearly two-thirds of Americans believed that his economic policies had hurt the country or made no difference at all; almost half thought he did not understand their problems.
Obama has made it his goal in the past 10 days to convince them otherwise. In Nashua, he hoped to connect with the unemployed despite holding the country's most prestigious job; to disparage Washington politics despite being a product of them; to have a self-described "direct conversation with the folks of New Hampshire" even as bomb squads, Secret Service officers, political dignitaries and television cameras occupied every corner of the room.
His visit to Nashua was his fourth domestic trip in less than two weeks, and it included a stop at a small business and a question-and-answer session in a high school gymnasium. He took off his jacket during his speech, rolled up his sleeves and put one hand in his pocket. He dropped his g's and departed from scripted remarks to make jokes about "leakin' " roofs and "buyin' new curtains."
"I've had beers here at the Peddler's Daughter," Obama said, recalling his travels in the state during the campaign. "I've manned the scoop at ice cream socials from Dover to Hudson."
He had come to Nashua to propose spending $30 billion to facilitate lending between community banks and small businesses, but his rhetoric and body language made an announcement all their own. Gone was the president whose first-year speeches tended to be practical and dispassionate. This was the same fiery Obama who last week delivered the State of the Union and took on House Republicans in Baltimore. He was at his most engaging, telling jokes, spinning anecdotes and concluding his remarks with a fist jab and a simple proclamation: "I don't quit!"
Obama's two sides
During his recent tour of blue-collar towns, factories and burger joints, Obama has tried to reconcile two pieces of his reputation. He turned down high-paying jobs after graduating from Harvard Law School and became a community organizer, compelled by the experience of growing up with a single mother who sometimes lived on food stamps. He married a woman from a working-class family on the South Side of Chicago, and they rented a walk-up condominium in Hyde Park.
But during his campaign for the presidency, Obama bungled some of his early attempts to connect with blue-collar workers, complaining about the price of arugula at Whole Foods and visiting a bowling alley only to roll an embarrassing score of 37. Some political rivals continue to disparage him as an elitist. Even his aides have sometimes worried that his intellect can be mistaken for condescension and that his composure can seem like detachment.
Those shortcomings were evident last month when Obama invited the previous two presidents to join him at the White House for a news conference about the U.S. relief effort in Haiti. George W. Bush was simple and frank: "Just send us your cash," he said. Bill Clinton spoke without notes and verged on tears as he recalled his personal connection to the devastated country: "I have no words to say what I feel," he said. "I had meals with people who are dead." Obama, meanwhile, spoke from prepared notes, looking all business, glancing to his left and to his right to establish eye contact while standing with perfect posture behind the lectern.
In the two weeks since, Obama appears to have learned from his predecessors' trademark strengths. He has traveled to Ohio, Baltimore, Florida and New Hampshire, each time emphasizing how much he enjoys leaving the strictures of the White House and the divisiveness of Washington. Like Clinton, he has told stories about his own struggles, recalling the 15 years he spent paying off student loans and the "family emergency" that forced him to cash out his 401(k). Like Bush, he has favored simple language and relatable analogies.
On life in Washington: "It can drive you crazy."
On one of the good things about the White House: "You live above the store."
On his relationship with the mayor of Elyria, Ohio: "He and I shared a burger at Smitty's."
On the media: "People with the pens and pencils."
On his reason for visiting a machine company in Baltimore: "I just like gettin' out of the White House, and then I like tooling around companies that are actually making stuff."
Meetin' with folks
So it was little surprise in New Hampshire that, after Obama visited one manufacturing business, he was introduced at his town hall by the owner of another manufacturing business. Obama answered six questions from the crowd at a packed high school gym, referring to "folks" 13 times before aides indicated he had run out of time.
He lingered afterward for five minutes, shaking hands, slapping backs and exchanging hugs while his assistant, Reggie Love, followed to collect business cards and phone numbers. At 3:30 p.m., less than three hours after he landed in New Hampshire, Obama peeled away from the crowd, pointing apologetically at a cadre of aides and Secret Service agents who were suggesting it was time to go. The moment for direct connection had passed. Now it was back to the motorcade, onto his 166th flight aboard Air Force One and off to the White House -- back to a life apart.
Jilted hubby exacts mousy revenge
1 Feb 10 13:02 CET
The Local Sweden's Newspaper in English
Peter Vinthagen Simpson
A 59-year-old man has been arrested for using his ex-wife's musophobia to wreak cruel revenge for their break up after he pushed 19 mice through her letter box on Sunday morning
Parents Find Joke Letter from Litchfield Elementary School Principal Offensive; Principal Placed on Leave
Niki D'Andrea Tue., Feb. 2 2010 @ 12:10PM
Wikimedia Commons Famous satirist Jonathan Swift proposed eating poor children. Apparently, that's funnier than joking that students are stupid.?
Sometimes, jokes go too far -- especially when they're sarcastic letters distributed by a school principal about the ineptitude of students that land in the hands of pissed-off parents.
Ron Sterr, principal of Litchfield Elementary School, was trying to be funny when he sent a parody "field-trip-permission" letter to teachers last week berating students who didn't finish their homework and making sarcastic comments about the drastic measures the school must take to deal with peanut allergies. But one of the teachers apparently mistook the letter for a serious missive and sent it to students' parents.
Which brings up the question: who's the stupid one(s) at Litchfield?
Litchfield Elementary School District Superintendent Julianne Lein said the school district's been barraged with calls from angry parents. In a press release, Lein writes, "The Litchfield School District renders its most sincere apology to our students, parents, community and staff for this incident. We are taking specific steps to remedy this situation."
It is unclear who actually wrote the letter that Sterr sent, but he's the one placed on administrative leave.
So what's everybody so ticked off about? Check out the controversial letter, in its entirety, after the jump:
3 Arrested After Kidnapping Teen In Annapolis
Anne Arundel County police have arrested three people in connection to a kidnapping scheme.
Detectives say around 9:45 p.m. Saturday the suspects convinced an 18-year-old girl to get into the car with them at the Old Country Buffet in Annapolis.
Police say they allegedly called the victim's boyfriend and demanded he bring ransom money to the 7-Eleven on Forest Drive.
Police responded to the drop-off location and rescued the victim safely.
Officers also recovered a handgun from inside of the vehicle.
Police arrested Garrett Sullivan, Ryan Atienza and Sarah Price in connection with the crime.
All three suspects face charges of kidnapping and assault. Police say the kidnapping was drug-related.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A California judicial commission has admonished a retired judge for ordering that an attorney who settled a class-action lawsuit be paid in $10 coupons for women's apparel.
The lawsuit accused Windsor Fashions Inc. of invading customers' privacy by requesting personal information during credit card transactions.
As part of the January 2009 settlement, the company issued coupons to the plaintiffs, and Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Brett Klein ordered that the attorney fee of $125,000 be paid similarly.
The Commission on Judicial Performance, which disciplines state judges, said Tuesday that Klein was biased and abusive. It also said he improperly communicated with the press by e-mailing his decision to a small newspaper.
Klein later rescinded his order to pay the attorney with coupons. He retired in November.
Man Quits Smoking After Cigarette Explodes in His Mouth
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
An Indonesian tobacco company has agreed to pay the medical expenses of a man who lost six teeth when a cigarette mysteriously exploded in his mouth, AFP reported Tuesday.
Security guard Andi Susanto, 31, told Metro TV in an interview from his hospital bed that cigarette producer PT Nojorono Tobacco Indonesia had offered to pay for his treatment.
"The company's officials have talked to my family and we agreed to settle it amicably, as an out-of-court settlement. They will pay all the medical expenses," he said through bandaged lips.
The cause of the explosion remains unknown. Susanto said he wasn't chewing anything when he lit the Clas Mild cigarette and didn't notice anything strange about its odor, color or taste.
He said he would quit smoking after the incident.
Indonesia is one of the most profitable tobacco markets in the world, and more than 60 per cent of Indonesian men smoke.
Plea for help with terminal cancer was a scam, friends say
Woman out on bail after she was given support, money
Nick Madigan |
January 27, 2010
Last Updated February 1, 2010
Leone sent out pictures of herself with a bald head, saying she had lost her hair to chemotherapy. Some of the women said she collected thousands of dollars from them, and that she was even treated to a trip to California for a "final" visit to Disneyland.
It was all a scam, according to a Baltimore County grand jury, which indicted her in November for theft and conspiracy. Leone appeared last week in circuit court, where a judge set bail at $25,000, enabling her to leave the county detention center.
"There was no physical evidence of her being treated for cancer, and no medical evidence," said Assistant State's Attorney Adam Lippe, referring to the findings of a police search in September of the home she shares with her husband, Patrick Leone, on Glen Arbor Drive in Rosedale.
The prosecutor said Leone claimed to have been treated at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, but "that was not accurate." Checks with other hospitals in the area were similarly fruitless, he said.
Neither Leone nor her husband could be reached for comment. The attorney who represented her at last week's hearing, Gary Maslan, did not return a call.
The charges against Leone involve just two of the women who gave her money - more than $12,000. One of those two victims is Jennifer Lasek, a former classmate in Dundalk and wife of the nationally ranked skateboarder Bucky Lasek. Moved by her plight, the Laseks, who live near San Diego, flew Leone to the West Coast last summer and treated her to a visit to Disneyland, one of her "dying wishes," Lippe said.
In an e-mail message, Jennifer Lasek said that because she is a witness in the case unfolding against Leone she would decline to comment for now, but conceded that there were "many people throughout the communities in Baltimore" who have been affected by Leone's actions.
Leone's friends and others said they began to suspect her story when, among other things, she suddenly turned up bald at the end of May, instead of losing her hair over time, or when she could not respond to basic medical questions. In addition, Lippe said, she had a so-called port-a-cath - a small appliance that ostensibly transferred medications from a catheter to a vein in her upper body - that seemed to switch locations on her chest, indicating that it was not hooked up to a vein at all.
"Several times I'd ask her what chemo drugs she was taking, and she would blow off the question," said Vicky Squires, a 38-year-old Abingdon resident who is in remission for breast cancer and whom Leone found through Facebook. Squires now suspects Leone contacted her so that she could gain some knowledge about a true cancer survivor's experience.
When pressed about her medications, Leone mentioned taking Tamoxifen - a drug Squires knew all too well, since it is used to treat breast cancer, not the stomach cancer Leone claimed to have.
Squires recalled thinking it odd that Leone claimed to be receiving chemo treatments at home, and that she'd had breast cancer a decade ago but that it "went away."
"She said she was in a lot of pain," said Squires, who ultimately confronted Leone over the discrepancies. "I never could imagine in my worse nightmare that someone would lie about such a horrible disease. I was very upset because I felt like I'd been helping a fellow cancer survivor in need. I went through hell because of cancer."
Leone has a criminal history, mostly involving passing bad checks and in one case running a mortgage scam. In 2004, she faced 24 charges of theft in Carroll County; she was found guilty of a single theft-scheme count and sentenced to 18 months, suspended. Three years later, she was again found guilty of theft in Carroll County and served two months in jail.
LINK TO VIDEO
LINK TO PHOTOS BEFORE AND AFTER
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1247631/Mother-uses-Facebook-tens-thousands-pounds-school-friends-pretending-dying-cancer.html#ixzz0ePscXPzo
February 2, 2010 - 10:39am
The Obama administration's plan to cut more than $1 trillion from the deficit over the next decade relies heavily on so-called backdoor tax increases that will result in a bigger tax bill for middle-class families.
In the 2010 budget tabled by President Barack Obama on Monday, the White House wants to let billions of dollars in tax breaks expire by the end of the year — effectively a tax hike by stealth.
While the administration is focusing its proposal on eliminating tax breaks for individuals who earn $250,000 a year or more, middle-class families will face a slew of these backdoor increases.
The targeted tax provisions were enacted under the Bush administration's Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. Among other things, the law lowered individual tax rates, slashed taxes on capital gains and dividends, and steadily scaled back the estate tax to zero in 2010.
If the provisions are allowed to expire on December 31, the top-tier personal income tax rate will rise to 39.6 percent from 35 percent. But lower-income families will pay more as well: the 25 percent tax bracket will revert back to 28 percent; the 28 percent bracket will increase to 31 percent; and the 33 percent bracket will increase to 36 percent. The special 10 percent bracket is eliminated.
Investors will pay more on their earnings next year as well, with the tax on dividends jumping to 39.6 percent from 15 percent and the capital-gains tax increasing to 20 percent from 15 percent. The estate tax is eliminated this year, but it will return in 2011 — though there has been talk about reinstating the death tax sooner.
Millions of middle-class households already may be facing higher taxes in 2010 because Congress has failed to extend tax breaks that expired on January 1, most notably a "patch" that limited the impact of the alternative minimum tax. The AMT, initially designed to prevent the very rich from avoiding income taxes, was never indexed for inflation. Now the tax is affecting millions of middle-income households, but lawmakers have been reluctant to repeal it because it has become a key source of revenue.
Without annual legislation to renew the patch this year, the AMT could affect an estimated 25 million taxpayers with incomes as low as $33,750 (or $45,000 for joint filers). Even if the patch is extended to last year's levels, the tax will hit American families that can hardly be considered wealthy — the AMT exemption for 2009 was $46,700 for singles and $70,950 for married couples filing jointly.
Middle-class families also will find fewer tax breaks available to them in 2010 if other popular tax provisions are allowed to expire. Among them:
* Taxpayers who itemize will lose the option to deduct state sales-tax payments instead of state and local income taxes;
* The $250 teacher tax credit for classroom supplies;
* The tax deduction for up to $4,000 of college tuition and expenses;
* Individuals who don't itemize will no longer be able to increase their standard deduction by up to $1,000 for property taxes paid;
* The first $2,400 of unemployment benefits are taxable, in 2009 that amount was tax-free.
According to the arrest affidavit, Jose Armando Rodrigues, 32, of Miami, first called 911 just after 6:15 a.m. and said someone was trying to kill him. Officers went to the area where Rodrigues claimed to be, on Interstate 95, but found no one.
Just before 7 a.m., police said, Rodrigues called 911 again from the same location. Police who were still in the area eventually found Rodrigues leaning against a concrete divider wall on the interstate.
When an officer asked Rodrigues if he had called 911, Rodrigues said he needed to go home, according to the affidavit. Then, police said, Rodrigues claimed two men put a hood over his head in West Palm Beach, tied rope to his hands, put him into a car and took him to the location on I-95.
Officers then noticed a broken-down car in a northbound lane on I-95. The driver told police that his car had broken down and his passenger, Armando, got tired of waiting and walked away, according to the affidavit.
Eventually, police said, Rodriggues admitted that he called 911 twice because he just wanted a ride to Miami.
Rodrigues was arrested and charged with abuse of the 911 system and giving false information about a crime to a law enforcement officer.
A 9 year old girl gives birth to a 6 pound baby boyJanuary 29th, 2010 by Key
City Evening News reports on January 25, Changchun hospital gynaecology department took in a special patient, a 9-year-old girl who was 8 and half months pregnant. On January 27, at noon, this girl gave birth by cesarean section to a 2.75 kilogram (about 6 lbs) baby boy.
On January 25, reporter went to the gynaecology department of the hospital, most of the patients and family members were asleep; the hospital hallway was very quiet. Reporter approached the hospital staff asking for information on this girl and the staff member said please do not disturb because the girl and the family were already asleep. Reporter than asked about this girl’s personal circumstances and situation, but the staff member did not disclose anything. The reporter learned the 9-year-old girl’s name from the registration form and the registration condition was “pregnant…”
On January 26, the reporter once again went to the hospital to ask about the situation, but the hospital workers avoided the subject like it was a taboo. The reporter learned from the nurse in the ward, the pregnant girl’s family is from Songyuan and she looks very mature, but was unclear about how she got pregnant, her family never talked about the matter.
On January 27 at noon, the girl in the hospital gave birth to a baby boy after a caesarean section, the baby weighted 2.75 kilograms. Currently both mother and child are in good health.
Who impregnated a 9-year-old girl? It is still unknown at this time. But it was said that the girl’s family already reported the incident to the police. lawyer Liu from Liu Gongcheng Law Firm in Jilin said, in view of women under the age of 14 do not have sexual rights, so any argument of “being consensual” (not going against women’s will) in defense is completely untenable. Anyone who had sexual relation with a girl under 14 constitutes rape, and is to be punished severely.
It is understood that women have 5 development periods in their lives; they are infancy, adolescence, maturity, menopause and post-menopause. When women in maturity, due to ovary being fully mature and ovulate on a regular bases, also periodically produce hormones, therefore they have the reproductive capability. Usually girls hit their puberty after age 11. Normally speaking, a woman can give birth only after menstruation. However in May of 1939, a 5-year-old girl in Peru was pageant and successfully gave birth to an infant.
A female doctor, long time gynecologist told the reporter, a 9-year-old girl getting pregnant and giving birth is very rare.
Alleged Naked Landlord Arrested, Charged
10:58 AM EST, February 1, 2010
Jets coach Rex Ryan apologizes for obscene gesture
The Associated Press
SUNRISE, Fla. -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan apologized Sunday for making an obscene gesture at a mixed martial arts event.
Ryan was booed Saturday night while doing a TV interview at the MMA event in the Bank Atlantic Center, the Florida Panthers' home arena. He was smiling when caught making the gesture by a cell phone camera.
"It was stupid and inappropriate," Ryan said. "I wouldn't accept that type of behavior from one of the coaches or players and it's unacceptable from me. I apologize to the Jets organization, the National Football League and NFL fans everywhere."
Ryan led the Jets to the AFC championship game after they went 9-7 during the season to earn a wild card in his first year as an NFL head coach. He made headlines with his confident statements, including saying the Jets should be the favorite to win the Super Bowl when the playoffs began.
He previously had a verbal feud with Miami linebacker Channing Crowder, and deep in Dolphins territory, he was a likely target for boos.
Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum added the organization will address the matter internally.
"Rex showed extremely poor judgment and his conduct was inappropriate. He knows he was wrong, has apologized and we have accepted his apology," Tannenbaum said in a statement.
Ryan could be subject to a league fine under the NFL's personal conduct policy.
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