Study: 10 minutes of exercise, hour-long effects
AP Medical Writer
May 31, 2010
WASHINGTON – Ten minutes of brisk exercise triggers metabolic changes that last at least an hour. The unfair news for panting newbies: The more fit you are, the more benefits you just might be getting.
We all know that exercise and a good diet are important for health, protecting against heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. But what exactly causes the health improvement from working up a sweat or from eating, say, more olive oil than saturated fat? And are some people biologically predisposed to get more benefit than others?
They're among questions that metabolic profiling, a new field called metabolomics, aims to answer in hopes of one day optimizing those benefits — or finding patterns that may signal risk for disease and new ways to treat it.
"We're only beginning to catalog the metabolic variability between people," says Dr. Robert Gerszten of Massachusetts General Hospital, whose team just took a step toward that goal.
The researchers measured biochemical changes in the blood of a variety of people: the healthy middle-aged, some who became short of breath with exertion, and marathon runners.
First, in 70 healthy people put on a treadmill, the team found more than 20 metabolites that change during exercise, naturally produced compounds involved in burning calories and fat and improving blood-sugar control. Some weren't known until now to be involved with exercise. Some revved up during exercise, like those involved in processing fat. Others involved with cellular stress decreased with exercise.
Those are pretty wonky findings, a first step in a complex field. But they back today's health advice that even brief bouts of activity are good.
"Ten minutes of exercise has at least an hour of effects on your body," says Gerszten, who found some of the metabolic changes that began after 10 minutes on the treadmill still were measurable 60 minutes after people cooled down.
Your heart rate rapidly drops back to normal when you quit moving, usually in 10 minutes or so. So finding lingering biochemical changes offers what Gerszten calls "tantalizing evidence" of how exercise may be building up longer-term benefits.
Back to the blood. Thinner people had greater increases in a metabolite named niacinamide, a nutrient byproduct that's involved in blood-sugar control, the team from Mass General and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard reported last week in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Checking a metabolite of fat breakdown, the team found people who were more fit — as measured by oxygen intake during exercise — appeared to be burning more fat than the less fit, or than people with shortness of breath, a possible symptom of heart disease.
The extremely fit — 25 Boston Marathon runners — had ten-fold increases in that metabolite after the race. Still other differences in metabolites allowed the researchers to tell which runners had finished in under four hours and which weren't as speedy.
"We have a chemical snapshot of what the more fit person looks like. Now we have to see if making someone's metabolism look like that snapshot, whether or not that's going to improve their performance," says Gerszten, whose ultimate goal is better cardiac care.
Don't expect a pill ever to substitute for a workout — the new work shows how complicated the body's response to exercise is, says metabolomics researcher Dr. Debbie Muoio of Duke University Medical Center.
But scientists are hunting nutritional compounds that might help tweak metabolic processes in specific ways. For example, Muoio discovered the muscles of diabetic animals lack enough of a metabolite named carnitine, and that feeding them more improved their control of blood sugar. Now, Muoio is beginning a pilot study in 25 older adults with pre-diabetes to see if carnitine supplements might work similarly in people who lack enough.
Next up: With University of Vermont researchers, she's testing how metabolic changes correlate with health measures in a study of people who alternate between a carefully controlled Mediterranean diet and higher-fat diets.
"The longterm hope is you could use this in making our way toward personalized medicine," Muoio says.
EDITOR's NOTE — Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.
Long Beach woman who lived frugal lifestyle leaves behind $4.5M
When Verna Oller died at age 98 in Long Beach earlier this month, no one had a clue the wealth she'd accumulated through her lifetime: $4.5 million.
Seattle Times staff reporter
May 29, 2010 at 8:28 PM
When Verna Oller was living at the Circle of Life retirement home in Long Beach, friends told her her coat was looking pretty ragged.
So she took a bus to a thrift shop and bought a new coat, for $2. It was so cheap because the lining had ripped out. Oller detached the zipper from the lining and used it to lace her shoes.
Why spend $2 for laces, she told her friends, when the zipper worked just fine.
She told Andrea Noonan, who heads Circle of Life, that she'd never been to a hairdresser in her life because it was cheaper to cut her own hair, or to buy a wig, as she did in her later years. She would clip coupons, and dig up flower bulbs from neighboring gardens and plant them at Circle of Life.
So when she died May 10, at age 98, no one had any idea of the legacy she would leave behind. Oller, through her careful investments and frugal lifestyle, left behind $4.5 million.
She donated $500,000 to a public-school endowment and another $500,000 to a foundation to be used for student scholarships and grants to teachers. The rest she left to the city of Long Beach to build an indoor swimming pool.
Oller made her money by saving and investing what she and her husband earned and from a sizable inheritance from her sister and a bequest from an uncle.
"She was a very interesting person. Her whole culture didn't involve spending money, it was more about being extremely cautious with her money," said Oller's attorney Guy Glenn, one of the few in Long Beach who knew of her wealth.
"Her story is really unique; I've been along for the ride for a long time. (Her money) was a deep, dark secret. She didn't want anyone coming looking for money."
Glenn said Oller was a student of finance. He would take her The Wall Street Journal after he'd finish reading it, and she'd pore over the financial information. "She did a lot of research," Glenn said, "and was a total equity investor."
Before she moved into Circle of Life, she lived alone in a house with a woodstove, where she would haul the wood in a wheelbarrow into her 90s. She didn't want to pay to heat her house, Glenn said.
When deciding where to leave her wealth, she first thought she'd pay for a new library in Long Beach. But then she decided she wanted something that would benefit everybody, from infants to the elderly, so she settled on a swimming pool. She took a bus to Astoria, Ore., and asked a lot of questions about how much its pool cost.
The question is whether the city of Long Beach will accept it. While Oller is paying to have a pool built, there's no money to maintain it, which could be tough on the financially strapped city.
City Manager Gene Miles figures the pool will be built — the closest public pool to Long Beach is the 45-minute drive to Astoria — but it has to go through a committee. It won't happen quickly.
"It came as a total shock," Miles said. "No one had a clue. This is not something she wore on her sleeve by a longshot. No one had any idea of the kind of money she'd leave to the school district or the city."
Bob Andrew, mayor of Long Beach, agreed it will take some study before the city accepts Oller's money. "It's a very generous offer, and we don't know in a small community what it takes to build the pool," he said. "We have to explore the process and talk to our citizenry. It's a wonderful surprise that someone felt that strongly about the community."
He said he had no idea Oller had accumulated so much money or that she was leaving it to the city and school district. And Andrew, who owns a bakery in town, said he didn't even know Oller.
"A bakery would be a luxury she wouldn't spend on herself," he said.
Carolyn Glenn, the lawyer's wife, was close to Oller, and the Glenns' children considered her a grandmother.
"This is an incredible story," she said. "You will never meet another Verna. She really was one of a kind, and the best thing about her is she was totally happy."
She said Oller, who was childless, was humble and never sought public recognition, shocking townspeople when they learned about her bequest.
"I call her the original dream lady. She grew her own vegetables and was organic before the word 'organic.' She recycled everything."
She would eat meals at a local senior center, where she would get her meals free because she volunteered there, then would bring extra food home and distribute it to others.
Sydney Stevens, a Long Beach writer who has chronicled Oller's life, said Oller's husband died in 1964. When they married in 1932, her husband had $2 cash, $46.75 in the bank and $20 worth of prepaid coal oil.
Oller worked picking cranberries, shucking oysters and filleting fish, working until she was 76. The day she quit she sold her car.
In 1979, said Stevens, 15 years after her husband's death, Oller began investing. At first she went to a stockbroker in Astoria, but soon discovered she could manage her investments on her own.
"The fact she got interested in investing and learned the process on her own, that was the amazing piece," Stevens said.
Stevens said Oller's investment began with $10,000 she and her husband had saved. She received a bequest from an uncle of $3,000 in 1964 and $600,000 from her sister. Oller told Stevens it wasn't her money, so she didn't feel right about spending it.
Guy Glenn said Oller told him that when she died she didn't want a funeral or even an obituary notice in the newspaper. He wrote a death notice anyway.
"She said that all cost money, and she didn't want anybody to feel like they had to do anything for her," Glenn said. "She was very independent.
Noonan, with Circle of Life, said that after Oller died, the staff was cleaning out her room and were surprised to see what she had left behind: an unopened bag of brand-new shoe laces.
LINK TO PHOTO OF VERNA OLLER:
Maserati owner arrested in welfare fraud sweep
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 28, 2010 | 12:20 p.m.
BP's new plan risks worsening oil spill
A maneuver that includes severing a leaking pipe from the well may increase the flow as much as 20%. Officials also say there is no immediate remedy to plug the well until August.
Amy Bohlke, right, expresses her frustration over BP's cleanup efforts with about 200 protesters in New Orleans. (Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times / May 31, 2010)
Margot Roosevelt and Tina Susman
Los Angeles Times
May 31, 2010
BP's plan to sever a leaking pipe as part of an effort to cap its runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico could increase flow by as much as 20%, and the oil giant has no remedy to stop up the well until August, Obama administration and company officials said Sunday.
The risky maneuver, part of an attempt to contain the gusher and divert the oil through a pipe to the surface, could begin Monday or Tuesday.
Administration and BP officials on Sunday sought to shift attention from last week's failed attempt to choke the well by focusing on expectations that a new cap could divert much of the leaking oil from the fragile ecosystem of the gulf.
But behind those assurances was the frank admission that the disaster response has fallen back to containment and surface cleanup, not closure, until a relief well reaches the gushing well bore in August and enables engineers to install cement plugs.
"We're now going to move into a situation where they're going to attempt to control the oil that's coming out, move it to a vessel, take it onshore," White House energy advisor Carol Browner told NBC's "Meet the Press." "Obviously that's not the preferred scenario. We always knew that the relief well was the permanent way to close this.… Now we move to the third option, which is to contain it."
Browner and BP Managing Director Bob Dudley said a tighter fit and use of warm fluids could prevent a repeat of the first containment effort, which was clogged when methane hydrates congealed inside a containment dome, blocking the flow to the surface and making the dome buoyant.
"If it's a snug fit, then there could be very, very little oil. If they're not able to get as snug a fit, then there could be more," Browner said of the new cap. "We're going to hope for the best and prepare for the worst."
Dudley, in his round of appearances on Sunday's talk shows, expressed greater confidence in the new cap.
"We feel like the percentages are better that we'll be able to contain the oil," he told Fox News. "The question is how much of the oil will we be able to contain and the objective is to try to collect the majority through this vessel."
At the administration's insistence, Browner said, BP is drilling a second relief well in case the first fails to reach the well. The drilling could have the same challenges that the blown-out well faced — loose formations that caused a loss of drilling fluid, and at least one case of a pipe segment getting stuck, along with expensive instruments inside it, that had to be abandoned, according to BP documents.
In BP's new effort, robots would use a diamond saw to cut the leaking and crumbled riser pipe cleanly from atop the failed blowout preventer and then install a cap to allow much of the oil to be pumped up to a ship on the surface.
Dudley told Candy Crowley on CNN's "State of the Union" that the pipe was not restricting much flow, so severing it should not greatly increase the volume of oil spouting from the well.
"There may be a small increase," he said. "But we should not expect to see a large increase, if any, by cutting this off and making a clean surface for us to be able to put this containment vessel over it."
Dudley said on ABC's "This Week" that BP "learned a lot" from the earlier containment failure, and this time it plans to pump warm seawater and methanol down the pipe to prevent the gases from freezing.
Browner said on CBS that Energy Secretary Steven Chu and a team of scientists on Saturday essentially put a halt to BP's attempt to cap the spewing well with a process known as "top kill," which injected drilling mud and other materials to try to counter the upward pressure of the oil. The administration team worried the increasing pressure from injecting heavy drilling mud could worsen the leak.
Drilling experts have warned that high-pressure injections could cause a catastrophic collapse of well pipes and leave an open crater that would be impossible to cap.
Asked whether U.S. officials told BP to stop the three-day-long top kill attempt, Browner said, "We told them of our very, very grave concerns" that it was dangerous to continue building up pressure in the well.
Meanwhile, BP chief Tony Hayward, on a tour of a company staging area in Venice, La., sought to refute multiple reports from scientists that vast plumes of oil from the spill are spreading underwater.
Hayward said BP's sampling showed "no evidence" that oil was massing and spreading across the gulf water column. "The oil is on the surface," he said. "Oil has a specific gravity that's about half that of water. It wants to get to the surface because of the difference in specific gravity."
Scientists from the University of South Florida, University of Georgia, University of Southern Mississippi and other institutions have detected what they believe are vast swaths of underwater hydrocarbons, including an area about 50 miles from the spill site and as deep as 400 feet.
Samples they collected are being analyzed to see whether the hydrocarbons they detected come from BP's well.
Hayward said the company was focusing its cleanup efforts on skimming and burning the surface oil, dispersing it and setting up booms along the coast to absorb and block the scum. He said the company was narrowing its response to the oil spill to the Louisiana coast and bulking up cleanup forces there for a fight that could last months.
Despite fears, little oil has washed up on the shores of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, although scientists have indicated plumes could approach Mobile Bay, Ala.
With more than half a million gallons of crude oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico daily, Sunday's messages were hardly reassuring to Louisianans who are bearing the brunt of the spill.
In New Orleans, some 200 protesters, summoned by Internet social-networking, gathered across the street from St. Louis Cathedral to express frustration over BP's cleanup efforts.
In the rain, clutching homemade signs that read "BP oil pigs" and "Kill the well now," they applauded speakers demanding the ouster of BP and other oil giants from the gulf region and more vigorous efforts to save turtles, dolphins, birds and other wildlife.
Patrick Brower, 32, wearing a beige shirt that read "Make Wetlands, not oil," voiced the concern of many Hurricane Katrina veterans, saying he feared the advent of a new tropical storm season, which starts June 1. "We could have oil in the city," he said.
Librarian Danielle Brutsche, 37, whose shirt read "Our addiction to oil is killing us," also raised the Katrina parallel. "It's like a nightmare you can't wake up from," she said.
Actor Tim Robbins, who has been filming a movie in New Orleans, did not speak to the crowd, but he said on the sidelines that a flight he had taken over the spill area about 10 days ago had convinced him that the problem was far worse than most people imagined. "We got down below 3,000 feet and saw huge, huge globs of oil about to hit Raccoon Island," he said.
But this being New Orleans, and Memorial Day weekend, the crowd was smaller than the one up the street crammed into Cafe du Monde to eat beignets.
Metro Atlanta / State News
11:41 p.m. Saturday, May 29, 2010
Man tells police he was ‘too drunk' to report crime
An Athens man told police someone punched him and took his belongings as he walked home early Friday morning. But he waited several hours to tell police.
Nicholas Ludley said he was hit on the side of the face and had a tooth knocked out at 2 a.m., according to Sgt. Jay Butt with Athens-Clarke County police.
He didn't report the crime for several hours because "he was probably too drunk at the time to tell what happened," he told police.
Ludley, 22, told police his cell phone, credit cards and keys were stolen, Butt said. The incident happened near Parkview homes, according to police.
Students at New Design High School in Manhattan earn gym credits by serving concessions - like popcorn and hot dogs - at the Rooftop Films festival.
Exercise-starved students from a lower Manhattan school are getting gym credits for working concessions at the Rooftop Films festival, the Daily News has learned.
"Selling drinks and popcorn at a movie is not physical education. It's just not right," said Palmer Taylor, a gym teacher at New Design High School. "The kids aren't getting enough phys-ed."
Every Friday and Saturday starting in May, students can earn seven hours toward their gym requirements by staffing the screenings at the school, one of 10 venues for the popular film series, students and Taylor said.
Roughly 20 students, a handful of them packing a few extra pounds, were performing tasks that required little more exertion than flipping burgers, lifting coolers and setting tables.
Ironically, the film fest is held on the school's rooftop basketball court that doubles as a skate park.
"It's not so much a workout as it is work," said Ryan Pacheco, a 17-year-old senior looking to earn 125 hours toward his gym requirements.
"Every senior knows this is a shortcut to graduation. This is how you get around the problem" of required gym classes they've avoided, said Ryan.
The practice of allowing students to sell snacks for credit flies in the face of the Department of Education's efforts to make schools healthier for city kids, one in five of whom is obese.
The city's tactics for tackling obesity have included restricting bake sales at schools, reasoning the homemade goodies are too unhealthy.
Several students, though, defended the credits they were receiving.
"We're actually learning something here," said Ryan's classmate Olukemi Wallace, 18, who grilled burgers and hot dogs for most of Friday's movie screening. "A lot of kids go to the gym but aren't dedicated to what they're doing. We're dedicated to this."
Another senior, who didn't want to be named, said the school wants the kids to focus on their studies.
"We have to study. We have projects. We can't get all these hours of phys-ed in during the school day," said the senior.
"The school knows that so this is how they deal with it. We stay in shape in other ways."
Department of Education spokesman Danny Kanner slammed the practice Saturday.
"Obviously, students should not get physical education credits for volunteering at a film festival, but we'll wait until the conclusion of any investigation to pass judgment," he said.
Principal Scott Conti declined to comment.
Having kids miss gym is troubling, Taylor said, because "in our school there are a good number of students who are out of shape and some are overweight."
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2010/05/30/2010-05-30_no_sweat_in_this_gym_class_students_sell_treats_dont_do_exercises.html#ixzz0pSleozAx
Parents fight college that won't admit their daughter — she's 13
Martin E. Comas
May 30, 2010
In some ways, Anastasia Megan is a typical 13-year-old girl. She enjoys riding her horse on her family's rural Sumter County spread. She loves to scuba dive, kayak and listen to rock music, including Pink Floyd.
But she is not a typical teenager. The home-schooled student has nearly completed her high-school education, and her parents, both retired engineers, say they have reached their limit in continuing to challenge her academically. They recently applied for their daughter to take dual-enrollment courses at nearby Lake-Sumter Community College in Leesburg.
But the college gave a firm thumbs down, saying Anastasia — who also goes by Annie — is not ready to sit side by side with older students, most of them adults. Undeterred, her parents have filed an age-discrimination complaint against the college with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
"If she meets all the qualifications but for her age, then why not let her in?" asked her mother, Louise Racine. "What's the worst that can happen, honestly? If a child does pass these tests, don't you think they should be allowed to continue their education to the next level and continue to let their minds grow?"
College President Charles Mojock would not comment specifically on Annie's situation. However, he said Lake-Sumter is an open campus, unlike a gated high school or home-school environment and that could present safety issues for especially young students.
"Anyone basically can walk onto our campus," Mojock said. "So we've got a very different environment [than a high school]. … And we have many adult students having adult conversations on adult topics and that may or may not be suitable for some young students."
Annie's parents point out their daughter has traveled the world with them and her siblings — she is one of triplets — and is comfortable in adult settings. Her father, John Megan, offered to accompany Annie to classes. When college officials again said no, her father said he would even enroll in his daughter's classes. College officials still would not bend.
"We were told that parents could not be allowed to do that because it could be disruptive," Megan said.
Richard Scott, vice president of business affairs, said having a parent tag along with a young student presents problems, including faculty members who could hesitate giving a bad grade or discipline to a student, fearing pressure from the parent.
Annie's parents, however, argue that their daughter is well-suited for the college environment. The teenager recently finished online college courses in Spanish, macroeconomics and U.S. government, scoring A's in the final exams in April. She also scored far above average in three necessary college-placement tests in November in reading comprehension, sentence skills and algebra required for dual-enrollment high-school students. She was given the tests when she applied to attend Lake-Sumter.
Regardless, Scott said, the college looks at a broad array of qualifications besides high test scores before accepting students, including those applying for dual-enrollment.
In recent years, Scott said, Lake-Sumter college has seen an increasing number of young applicants, including some as young as 8 or 9 years old. That led the college's board of trustees in April to enact a minimum-age requirement of 15.
Annie's parents hope to trump the new age requirement and are awaiting a decision by a federal Department of Education investigator. An attempt at mediation in March ended in a stalemate.
Florida does not have a minimum-age requirement for students entering community colleges. However, each college's board of trustees can basically set its own rules regarding admission standards.
John Boshoven, a member of the board of directors for the National Association for College Admission Counseling in Arlington, Va., and a counselor for continuing education at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., said colleges will look at young applicants with a much more critical eye, usually because of liability.
"The primary issue most often is safety. Anything that happens to this kid, the parents can sue us for being negligent," Boshoven said. "There are also social problems. She's [Annie] very young, and what kind of friends will she make at the college? This is a kid with a 21-year-old's brain."
'Tons of possibilities'
Annie's parents say it's time their daughter enrolls in a public academic setting. They're not interested in online courses at Lake-Sumter.
"It's an unreal environment here," her father said, referring to the home-school setting at the family's home near Center Hill about 50 miles northwest of Orlando. "She needs this. She's going to have to get into a classroom."
Annie agreed, saying it would be an adjustment for the first month if she is allowed to enroll at the college. "I would like to think I would do fine," she said.
Eventually she plans to study business management, law or engineering at Georgetown or an Ivy League school.
"There's tons of possibilities for me," she said.
Annie's parents say the University of Florida is too far and any other university would mean moving out of the area. They'll decide what to do next if they are not able to enroll their daughter at Lake-Sumter. That could mean slowing down on the academics and traveling to remote spots around the world with their children, something they often do.
"It's a shame to see the [college] administration taking the go-slow approach to a bright student who wants to continue to learn," Megan said.
Teens in college
Other young students with superior academic skills have been able to attend college.
•Last year, Moshe Kai Cavalin, a 13-year-old student, graduated with honors from East Los Angeles Community College with an associate arts degree in liberal studies. Moshe started college when he was 8.
•Thirteen-year-old Colin Carlson is a sophomore at the University of Connecticut, where he has been taking classes since he was 9.
•Locally, a 13-year-old student attended Seminole State College in Sanford for three terms from fall 2008 through fall 2009 as a dual-enrollment student. The college did not provide the name of the student, citing privacy protection.
•Lake-Sumter itself recently trumpeted the success of a student who entered as a home-schooled student at 14. Jasmine Lykins of Groveland graduated at age 16 and was selected to give the commencement address May 7. During her first semester in spring of 2008 she took college algebra and fundamentals of speech with her father, Jerry Lykins.
BP's top kill effort fails to plug Gulf oil leak
Associated Press Writer
ROBERT, La. – BP admitted defeat Saturday in its attempt to plug the Gulf of Mexico oil leak by pumping mud into a busted well, but said it's readying yet another approach to fight the spill after a series of failures.
BP PLC Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said the company determined the "top kill" had failed after it spent three days pumping heavy drilling mud into the crippled well 5,000 feet underwater. More than 1.2 million gallons of mud was used, but most of it escaped out of the damaged riser.
In the six weeks since the spill began, the company has failed in each attempt to stop the gusher, as estimates of how much is leaking grow more dire. It's the worst spill in U.S. history — exceeding even the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989 off the Alaska coast — dumping between 18 million and 40 million gallons into the Gulf, according to government estimates.
"This scares everybody, the fact that we can't make this well stop flowing, the fact that we haven't succeeded so far," Suttles said. "Many of the things we're trying have been done on the surface before, but have never been tried at 5,000 feet."
The company failed in the days after the spill to use robot submarines to close valves on the massive blowout preventer atop the damaged well, then two weeks later ice-like crystals clogged a 100-ton box the company tried placing over the leak. Earlier this week, engineers removed a mile-long siphon tube after it sucked up a disappointing 900,000 gallons of oil from the gusher.
Suttles said BP is already preparing for the next attempt to stop the leak that began after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in April, killing 11 people.
The company plans to use robot submarines to cut off the damaged riser from which the oil is leaking, and then try to cap it with a containment valve. The effort is expected to take between four and seven days.
"We're confident the job will work but obviously we can't guarantee success," Suttles said of the new plan, declining to handicap the likelihood it will work.
He said that cutting off the damaged riser isn't expected to cause the flow rate of leaking oil to increase significantly.
The permanent solution to the leak, a relief well currently being drilled, won't be ready until August, BP says.
Experts have said that a bend in the damaged riser likely was restricting the flow of oil somewhat, so slicing it off and installing a new containment valve is risky.
"If they can't get that valve on, things will get much worse," said Philip W. Johnson, an engineering professor at the University of Alabama.
Johnson said he thinks BP can succeed with the valve, but added: "It's a scary proposition."
Word that the top-kill had failed hit hard in the fishing community of Venice, La., near where oil first made landfall in large quanities almost two weeks ago.
"Everybody's starting to realize this summer's lost. And our whole lifestyle might be lost," said Michael Ballay, the 59-year-old manager of the Cypress Cove Marina.
Sat May 29, 1:54 PM ET
Police: Man dealt cocaine at Starbucks
Fri, 28 May 2010 17:55:22 EDT
CHICAGO, May 28, 2010
Suburban Chicago police said they arrested a man who was allegedly selling cocaine from a Starbucks parking lot.
Police said they searched Jorge Saucedo-Beiza, 21, of Arlington Heights, after conducting surveillance on the Northbrook parking lot and determining he was selling Starbucks customers something stronger than caffeine.
Saucedo-Beiza, who police said was in possession of $4,000 cash and four plastic bags containing cocaine, was charged with possession of a controlled substance and unlawful delivery of more than 100 grams of cocaine.
Robbers use tea instead of guns to rob Iraqi bank
The Wire Staff
May 29, 2010
Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- Robbers stole $5.5 million from a southern Iraqi state bank after giving guards tea laced with a sleeping drug, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday.
No shots were fired during the incident Friday at a bank near Najaf, the Interior Ministry said. The money is the equivalent of 6.5 billion Iraqi dinars.
In recent months, there has been a spike of similar incidents and authorities believe that insurgents were behind them to fund their military operations
Earlier this week, 15 people died in southwestern Baghdad after a brazen series of jewelry store heists on Tuesday in which bandits made off with gold and money.
In this latest incident, robbers had an associate among the bank's guard force give drugged tea to the guards, officials said.
After the guards passed out, the robbers entered the bank and made off with the money.
Two people were arrested, but police were not able to recover any of the money. The Interior Ministry said it appears the two are poor people trying to make money and are not part of a terrorist organization.
Members of the bank's guard force are being investigated, the Interior Ministry said
denver and the west
Pinball makes a comeback in Colorado, U.S.
The Denver Post
Posted: 05/29/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT
LYONS — "Banzai!"
Steve Novak doesn't flinch as the voice screams again. Dozens of lights flicker, yet his eyes never leave the ball hanging on his flipper in the vertical backglass of the Banzai Run pinball machine.
Soon, there are several balls in play. Novak struggles to keep up. The 58-year-old nudges the machine, mut tering a sort of plea as one, two, three balls tumble down the drain.
"That's called begging," he says as he pulls the plunger on his second ball. "The good guys, they never beg."
Novak is part of a growing tribe of pinballers — known as pinheads — who are fueling a revival of the game that was ubiquitous in the pre-video-game era of the 1970s and '80s.
The game nearly plummeted into obscurity a decade ago as arcade owners were lured to zero-maintenance video games. But today — thanks, ironically, to the Internet uniting diverse islands of pinheads — the flipper fellowship is growing. Tournaments are thriving. Local leagues draw players of all ages.
The Mile High Pinball League has doubled in size in the past five years, with about 28 players competing every Thursday in 11-week summer and winter seasons. The 20-year-old Professional Amateur Pinball Association's annual world championship draws 400 players, up from 150 in the early 1990s, and currently ranks almost 3,000 players in a database of 112,000 contests.
The International Flipper Pinball Association started in 2006 with 430 players and now ranks more than 7,500 players from 27 countries, including 3,400 U.S. players. The association grows by about 2,000 players a year, says IFPA president Joshua Sharpe.
At the once-a-month tournament night at Lyons Classic Pinball, a narrow, noisy arcade packed with 40 flashing machines, some of the ball-flippers kick up their heels or slightly twist their hips as they slap shots toward tumbling castles, Balrogs, or the dragon-flamed
Adam Lefkoff of Longmont is one of Colorado's top 10 pinball players. He has 20 pinball machines at his house and embraces the philosophical sense that "pinball is like life." (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)musicians of Kiss. Others stand stoic when points climb to tens of millions and even billions.
It's a return to the roots of old-school, three-dimensional games anchored in split-second reflexes.
"When it dawned on me that this was a real skill, that's when it got addictive," says Kevin Carroll, who seven years ago ditched his plumbing gig and, with his wife, Carole, opened Lyons Classic Pinball. "It's not just random luck."
The Carrolls began their courtship with pinball as collectors, gathering as many as 20 machines in the basement of their Lyons home. In 2003, the hobby turned business as the couple opened one of Colorado's only pinball arcades.
The hunt for the perfect shot and the ever-elusive "wizard mode" — the score-soaring, multiball scenario achieved only after completing several levels of seemingly impossible tasks — can fuel a lifetime of pinballing. It's a fine line, designing games that keep both experts and beginners on the flippers and pumping quarters.
"We are always trying to achieve that balance," says Marc Schoenberg, spokesman for Chicago's Stern Pinball, which for the past 11 years has been the world's sole manufacturer of pinball machines.
Challenging that search for balance is the fact that most of the games Stern now sells are heading for rec rooms in homeowner basements. It's a new direction for the company, which for most of its 24 years designed and sold games destined for arcades.
"The more we sell to homeowners, the more we want to attract a player who will enjoy at a more layman's level," Schoenberg says.
Pinball biz on the rise
While the company doesn't expect to see a return to the early 1990s, when Stern was one of several pinball manufacturers and was moving 20,000 machines a year, business, says Schoenberg, is "strong and rising" for the 35-worker company.
Mike Strauss' career as a pinball machine repairman has thrived with the boom in home pinball machines.
"Pinball is very expensive for operators to place on location and turn a profit because of maintenance. Pinball machines break," says Strauss, who has repaired the complicated machines for 30 years yet "can't stand to play" pinball. "I do enjoy working on them, though. And Colorado has a lot of pinball machines."
Kevin Carroll handles most repairs himself, even soldering switches in the middle of busy tournament night.
On this night, he fires shot after shot at a wobbling Frankenstein. A frenzy of balls floods the table. The voice in the machine endlessly hollers "Jackpot" and "Double super jackpot."
Carole grins watching her sweetheart in the zone. A crowd gathers as Kevin leans closer to the machine.
"You get in this mode where you are just connected to the ball and you just can't lose," Novak says. "It's pretty cool to watch."
Watching pinball wizards marks an evangelical angle of pinball. Once a fledgling player sees an expert in action — like Colorado's own Donavan Stepp, ranked 22nd in the world — the limitless potential is revealed. That was the case for Longmont's Adam Lefkoff, one of Colorado's top 10 players.
"You can play a game 10,000 times and on the 10,001st time you play, something new happens. Pinball is never boring," Lefkoff says. "You progress through the game and find new features and you know the ball will eventually drain. In that way pinball is like life. You are going to die, so what are you going to do when the ball is in play?"
Anchorage Daily News
May 27th, 2010 09:39 PM
A robber walked into the Wells Fargo at 630 E. Fifth Ave. about 1:15 p.m. wearing a camouflage bandanna over his face and demanded cash but didn't show a weapon, police said. The teller stuffed money into the robber's backpack and the man left the bank heading west.
While responding to the scene, officer Aaron Roberts saw a bicyclist with a camouflaged bandanna around his neck at Ninth Avenue and Karluk Street, police said. The biker refused to stop, prompting Roberts to block the bike with his cruiser, police said.
Mayer didn't stop but instead hit the cruiser with the bike and slid over the hood, then fell to the ground, police said. In the process, he dropped his backpack. Money spilled out onto the ground, according to police. Mayer ran but was arrested a half-block away, police said.
The FBI said this was the third bank robbery in Alaska this year.
Read more: http://www.adn.com/2010/05/27/1297402/man-on-bike-arrested-after-downtown.html#ixzz0pH6oN2J8
A Fairfax County woman says she suffers from Foreign Accent Syndrome because of a fall she took at a 4-H youth conference, reports Ryan Abbott of Courthouse News Service.
Abbott reports that Foreign Accent Syndrome is a rare condition occurring in stroke victims that affects speech by altering "rhythm and melody, suggesting a foreign accent," according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Robin Vanderlip seeks $1 million in damages from the National 4-H Council, in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
She claims that a "heal scuff"coupled with a "dysfunctional handrail" in a stairwell at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center caused her to fall and strike her head. She says she was rushed to a hospital for treatment, and two days later, after she was discharged, she woke up unable to speak.
Vanderlip says the blow to her head caused a stroke, which caused her Foreign Accent Syndrome, from which she still suffers, along with memory problems and fatigue. Vanderlip's complaint does not indicate what sort of accent she developed.
Vanderlip is represented by Christopher Nace with Paulson Nace of Washington, D.C.
May 24, 2010; 1:20 PM ET
Internet addicts guilty of starving baby to death
Associated Press Writer
SEOUL, South Korea -- A South Korean couple were convicted Friday of abandoning their newborn daughter, who starved to death while they addictively played an online game raising a virtual child.
The husband, a 41-year-old taxi driver, and his 25-year-old wife were sentenced to two years in prison, but the woman's term was suspended because she is pregnant.
The couple played at Internet cafes on average 10 hours every day and bottle-fed their baby only once a day, prosecutors said in an affidavit.
The girl, who was born prematurely and weighed 5 pounds (2.25 kilograms), was often fed rotten formula and was beaten when she cried out of hunger, the affidavit said.
They found her dead when they returned to their home in Suwon, just south of Seoul, after an all-night gaming session last September, the ruling said. They hid at a relative's home after a autopsy found the baby died of malnutrition.
"This constitutes an inhumane crime where the defendants abandoned even the most basic responsibilities as parents, and is unforgivable beyond any excuse or reason," the Suwon District Court said in the ruling.
The mother will avoid jail time if she stays out of trouble for three years. The couple, who have only been identified by their surnames, Kim, have seven days to appeal.
The case shocked South Korea and raised concern over the severity of online gaming and Internet addiction in the nation of 49 million. The government says there are 2 million "Internet addicts" in the nation considered one of the world's most technologically wired.
Sarah Palin's Small-Town Downfall Has Begun
May 27, 2010 09:01 PM
Sarah Palin has traded heavily on her Real America, small-town roots throughout her career. But this is also a great liability. The case of Sarah Palin's nosy next-door neighbor shows Palin's downfall at the hands of pissed-off provincials has begun.
Earlier this year, Palin used her clout with Alaska State Police to get 16 year-old Willow Palin off the hook after she and some high school buddies trashed a vacant home during a bender. The other kids were hung out to dry, and Alaska's Mat-Su Valley boiled at the injustice of Willow's preferential treatment. We warned that Palin should watch her back lest small-town high school drama explode in national scandal.
There's no scandal yet. But small-town drama has indeed bled into Palin's national profile. Crack Palin-debunking journalist Joe McGinniss moved right next door to Palin on Sarah Palin Lane in Wasilla, where he's planning to write his next book—on Sarah Palin. Now Glenn Beck is threatening to boycott McGinniss' publisher and Palin is putting up a huge fence and making fun of the guy on Facebook and everything.
So, another instance of the Lamestream Media trying to ruin Sarah Palin's life, right? Actually, it appears this whole situation was orchestrated by a vengeful neighbor. McGinniss' son said in an email reprinted by Politico that his dad was offered the spot by Palin's neighbor because the Palins owed her money:
"A woman was renting her house and sought out the author because the Palins had crossed her (owed her money for renovations she had done at their request and never paid her for). So she knew McGinniss was writing the book and found him and offered him the house."
The Palins apparently tried renting the place all winter to head off any Liberals. Not only did her neighbor refuse, she called up McGinniss and was like, "Hey, got this awesome house right across from Sarah Palin. Want?" There's no purer form of small-town drama than the stiffed contractor out for non-monetary revenge. Unlike those in New York or LA, where the elitists settle their labor disputes with fancy lawyers, small town builders have the means to hit back in way more satisfying ways. (Momof3wildkids points out that the email may actually be saying that Palin asked her neighbor to fix up her own house, promised to pay for it, then stiffed her in the end. Nervy!)
Palin's rise was based on a creation myth that had her springing from a fantasy Real America that loves guns and embryos and hates immigrants and socialists. But the Real America Palin really inhabits just wants her to stop acting like a diva and to cough up the 1500 bucks or whatever she owes them for building her deck. Do not cross your people Sarah Palin! Your speaking career and presidential prospects don't stand a chance against their hard-won sense of frontier justice. Installing a sworn enemy in your own backyard is just the beginning. They will destroy you.
Sarah Palin's brand new fence
Friday May 28, 2010
How Bad Is It Really for the Unemployed?
May 25, 2010 —
On some level, we all know that times are really tough for the millions of people the Great Recession threw out of work—and for the millions of others who are looking for their first job. Many of us have read that long-term unemployment (26 weeks or more) is at a record high. But sometimes it takes a new angle of vision to make you see just how difficult things are. My “aha” moment came over the weekend, when I read a recent survey that tracked the fate of a large sample of individuals who were unemployed as of last August. Here's a summary:
Of the 908-person sample, 67 percent remained unemployed but were still looking for work, and an additional 12 percent had given up and dropped out of the labor force. Only 21 percent had found jobs (only 13 percent full-time) and were currently employed. A stunning 28 percent of the newly reemployed had been looking for work for more than one year, and 6 percent for more than two years. Fifty-five percent accepted a pay cut in their new jobs; 13 percent took a cut larger than one-third of their previous salary.
Women (26 percent newly employed) did somewhat better than men (18 percent). Surprisingly, young adults (29 percent newly employed) did better than 30 to 49-year olds (21 percent). Not surprisingly, this is a terrible time to be over 50 and out of work: Only 12 percent of these older workers had managed to find jobs.
Blacks or Hispanics (22 percent newly employed) got jobs at a similar clip to whites (21 percent). Education and income mattered, but not as much as one might expect. Individuals with some college training were no more successful than those with a high school diploma or less, and only 28 percent of college graduates who were unemployed last August had found work in the interim. And while only 19 percent of those making less than $30,000 were newly employed, the numbers weren’t much better for those making $30-60,000 (22 percent) or $60,000 and over (26 percent).
In short, there has been no place to hide from the Great Recession, and the traditional formula—get a good education and be persistent—is not reliably producing the right outcomes. The American people know that something out of the ordinary is taking place: 63 percent believe that the economy is undergoing “fundamental and lasting changes,” versus only 37 percent who think it is experiencing a temporary downturn. This shift has consequences that go well beyond the economic. For many Americans, the old verities have been cast aside, with nothing to take their place. As far as they can see, they’ve done everything right, but their expectations have been upended and their life-plans disrupted. In these circumstances, people are bound to think that the country is on the wrong path, and they are bound to feel a combination of confusion and anger toward a political system that they see as having let them down.
President Obama has pledged to rebuild the U.S. economy on a new and more solid foundation. That’s vital. But so is restoring the belief that there is some relation between effort and reward. If the old rules are obsolete, we not only need new rules—a 21st century unemployment insurance system, say, or infrastructure investment and employment, or hours-reductions and job-sharing as an alternative to outright job loss—but also a political system that is prepared to back them up. It’s hard to see how we can make the hard choices needed to build our future unless ordinary Americans come once more to believe that there’s something in it for them.
"WARNING THIS MAY BE OFFENSIVE TO SOME"
The US Coast estimates that as much as 39 million gallons of oil has leaked into the Gulf of Mexico since an offshore oil rig exploded April 20.
The BP oil spill is now the worst in U.S. history.
The busted deep sea well is spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico at least four times faster than BP estimated; officials say 450,000 to 750,000 barrels have been spilled.
By comparison, the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled 257,000 barrels of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989.
The new estimate is that between 18 million gallons and a worst-case 39 million gallons of oil have fouled the gulf since the April 20 rig explosion.
"This is obviously a very significant disaster," said Marcia McNutt, director of the U.S. Geological Survey.
The news came as BP's last-ditch "top kill" attempt to choke the gushing well with heavy mud made some halting progress, and then stalled.
The mud stopped the oil flow for several hours, but it restarted as soon as the mud stopped pumping, BP honcho Doug Suttles said.
The company said things were going according to plan and that it would resume pumping mud overnight. The goal is to slow the oil flow enough to allow engineers to cap the well with cement.
"It's a work in progress. We need to let it play itself out," said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who is in charge of the scene and who said he was cautiously optimistic.
Officials said they hope to know today if the procedure, which has never been tried at such depths, was a success.
In Washington, another head rolled: Elizabeth Birnbaum, the head of the Minerals Management Service, which oversees oil drilling, was forced to step down.
The Interior Department agency has long been criticized by environmentalists as too cozy with Big Oil. In 2008, its regulators were caught in bed with energy lobbyists - literally - trading drugs and sexual favors.
BP had estimated the flow at 5,000 barrels a day. The USGS said it's really between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels - and possibly as much as 25,000 barrels per day.
Suttles said the 5,000-barrel estimate was always iffy and said the amount of the flow had no bearing on the firm's efforts to stop it.
"I don't believe that at any time we have misled anyone on this," he said.
A new Gallup poll showed the spill has dramatically changed American attitudes about the environment.
Americans have shifted starkly from giving a slightly higher priority to energy production over environmental concerns last month to strongly backing the environment over energy this month.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2010/05/27/2010-05-27_gulf_oil_spill_the_worst_in_us_history_coast_guard_reports_surpassing_exxon_vald.html#ixzz0pDHEIXYV
Child TV star Gary Coleman hospitalized in Utah
8:34 p.m. Thursday, May 27, 2010The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — Former child television star Gary Coleman is in critical condition near his Utah home with what his family calls a "serious medical problem."
Utah Valley Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Janet Frank said Coleman, 42, was admitted to the Provo facility on Wednesday but she couldn't release any other details.
Coleman lives in Santaquin, which is 55 miles south of Salt Lake City.
The actor is best known for his stint on TV's "Diff'rent Strokes," which aired from 1978 to 1986.
In February, Coleman suffered a seizure on the set of "The Insider."
Coleman's Utah attorney, Randy Kester, said he had communicated by text message with Coleman's wife, Shannon Price, and that the family did not want to release any additional details at this time.
"Anything they could say would be premature because they don't know the full extent of his condition right now," Kester told The Associated Press.
Price and her father released a statement Thursday to KUTV-TV saying Coleman was taken to the hospital with "a serious medical problem." The statement asks for prayers, adding "we hope those prayers are answered and that Gary will be able to recover and return home soon."
Coleman has lived in Utah since 2005, when he came here to star in the movie "Church Ball," a comedy based on basketball leagues formed by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He met Price on the movie set and married her in 2007.
Coleman has had a string of financial and legal problems, in addition to continuing ill health from the kidney disease he suffered as a child. Coleman has had at least two kidney transplants and has ongoing dialysis.
Last fall, Coleman had heart surgery that was complicated by pneumonia, Kester said.
In February, Coleman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge related to an April 2009 domestic violence incident at his home. Recent health issues have caused several follow-up hearings in Coleman's case to be delayed, Kester said.
AP – FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2008 file photo, actor Gary Coleman appears on the the NBC 'Today' program in
50 Cent Loses A LOT Of Weight
First Posted: 05-26-10 06:04 PM | Updated: 05-27-10 08:38 AM
50 Cent has lost a shocking amount of weight for his upcoming movie 'Things Fall Apart,' in which he plays a cancer-ridden football player.
According to ThisIs50.com, he dropped from 214 pounds to 160 over the course of just nine weeks with a liquid diet and working out three hours a day.
50 is co-producing the film with Randall Emmett, his partner in Cheetah Vision Films. Pictures of his dramatic transformation are below (scroll down for before photo).
Second-grader brings home porn DVD from school
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Bay News 9
Investigators say a teacher at Rock Crusher Elementary School accidentally handed out a disc with pornography on it.
CITRUS COUNTY (Bay News 9) -- A Citrus County family was shocked when a DVD that was handed out to a second-grade class contained pornography.
Dana Hill's 8-year-old daughter brought home a DVD that was passed out to her class at Rock Crusher Elementary School. When Hill's daughter and her 12-year-old son put it in the DVD player, a pornographic movie came on.
"I was in disbelief. I said, 'No, that can't be what you are telling me,' and I was very shocked and angry and embarrassed at the same time," Hill said.
Her daughter's teacher put together 19 discs at home with pictures from the school year on them. They were handed out, and according to the sheriff's office, somehow one of those discs got mixed up with a pornographic DVD.
"I'm still trying to deal with it," Hill said.
Hill says her kids watched a few minutes of it and realized something was wrong. Hill called the sheriff's office. Investigators say what happened was a mistake.
Citrus County sheriff's officials say as of now there will be no criminal charges.
But Hill says something needs to happen so a mistake like this doesn't happen again. She also says she and her kids are still waiting for an apology.
"I have had no approach from the teacher -- regardless if it's through the school board or through the school -- with an apology. She has made no approach at all," Hill said.
Sheriff's officials say the teacher has been out of the classroom on leave, and the teacher who handed out the DVDs was a substitute.
School district officials say an internal investigation has been done, but a decision on a possible punishment has not been made yet.
Officials expect a punishment to be decided in the next few days.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Gwinnett teacher quits after affair with student
AJC exclusive: 1 alleged tryst happened in classroom during school hours
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Teacher of the Year at Shiloh High School has resigned after admitting to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Keenon Aampay Hall, 29, left a promising career as an English teacher at the Gwinnett County school amid allegations that she seduced a senior who came to her for homework help. An investigative file on the case compiled by the school system’s human resources division contains the student’s accounts of sexual trysts at a hotel, a friend’s home and in the teacher’s classroom during school hours. The report also says that pornography was found on Hall’s Gwinnett County schools laptop.
The student, a player on Shiloh’s football team who is to graduate Friday, claimed that Hall gave him gifts and pressured him to commit to their six-month relationship by giving her a baby, according to the file. When he declined, the student’s family said, Hall gave him a failing grade, prompting him to report the relationship to school officials.
“The allegation of the inappropriate behavior came to light because the teacher decreased the student’s grade,” Gwinnett schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach said.
Gwinnett County Public Schools police are investigating the incident. The governor recently signed a new law making it illegal for teachers to have sex with students, even if the sex is consensual. In addition, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, which has the authority to revoke Hall’s teaching certificate, is scheduled to review the complaint next week.
Hall, elected by her colleagues as Shiloh’s Teacher of the Year, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
“I am very disturbed by this situation, I think she should have been terminated,” said Ericka Pender, the teen’s mother, from her North Carolina home. “She wanted the relationship to go further and was threatening my son. She said she was going to make him fail.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is not publishing the name of the student because it does not generally identify victims of sexual crimes.
Sid Camp, executive director of Gwinnett’s Division of Human Resources, told the state that Hall “admitted to having a sexual relationship with the student.” Hall wrote a brief statement to the school district saying that it was a “consenual relationship,” misspelling the word. She said at least one other teacher knew about the romance.
Connie Hall said her daughter is a stellar teacher admired by peers who went out of her way to help students learn. Keenon Hall went to Shiloh in 2004 as a substitute and worked her way from a teacher’s assistant to a respected certified teacher and cheerleading coach, her mother said. She said her daughter eventually became overwrought with stress caused by mouthy teens, pushy parents and administrators who failed to support hard-working teachers. She began to lose sleep and shed hair over her $35,600-a-year job, her mother said.
“She loved teaching and thought she could change the world,” said Hall, who says she tried to push her daughter to seek a higher-paying profession. “My daughter didn’t have any inappropriate relationship with no under-aged student. She resigned for medical reasons, that’s what her paperwork shows.”
The student recently told Shiloh administrators in a written statement: “One day in October I came after school for some extra studying with my teacher Kennon Hall ... She began touching me on my leg and then asked me when I was going to let her molest me. ... We began to laugh, then she asked me again, this time handing me a phone number and asked me to call. ...”
According to the file, the student said that the teacher once paid for a cab to pick him up and take him to a hotel.
“We entered the room ... then she gave me some vodka and ask me do I enjoy drinking?” he wrote. “I told her lies about being a good drinker, but honeslty after one drink I was done. She began feeling my man parts and we had sex.”
The teen also told administrators that Hall gave him cash, a cell phone and had sex with him in a classroom, an encounter the teacher denies. The student said the teacher eventually turned on him because he didn’t want to get too serious. “What made Kennon Hall mad ... is the fact that I would not give her a baby.”
Hall’s peers had voted her Shiloh High Teacher of the Year in the fall. Her name was touted in school bulletins; she gave inspirational speeches; and was recognized at a Gwinnett County awards dinner with other top district teachers. Her parents, who attended the banquet, said they were proud but wondered why she never got her Teacher of the Year ring.
“She earned it,” her father, Dennis Hall, said. “I believe this is the action of Principal [Gwen] Tatum. It definitely opens the county up for a defamation lawsuit. ... How can seven years of teaching and a reputation be destroyed because of the word of one knucklehead? I think that’s wrong.”
Hall has a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University and has completed her master’s work, her parents said. On an application for her Gwinnett job she wrote that she was “uniquely qualified” because she has “a passion for education and working with children.”
The student, now 18, relocated to Georgia from North Carolina to live with his uncle, Jason Pender, a football coach at Shiloh High. Ericka Pender allowed her son to leave home so he could focus on academics his senior year and graduate instead of getting distracted by old friends in Winston-Salem.
Coach Pender said his nephew had been dating a teenager at school and didn’t seem any more stressed than most seniors trying to get into college. “I wondered how he got the cell phone when he was not working,” Pender said. He grew concerned when the teen’s progress report in English “went from an A to a D or F.”
The student has accepted a full scholarship playing football at a North Carolina university. His excitement over graduation, however, is tempered with the buzz of students who giggle about the affair with Hall, his mother said.
“Everyone talking about it bothers him,” Pender said. “I’m ready for him to graduate, come back home and go to college so this can be behind him.”
How we got the story
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter D. Aileen Dodd received a tip from a source about reports of a teacher-student relationship at Shiloh High. Dodd sent a letter to Gwinnett County Public Schools requesting a copy of the teacher’s personnel file, the incident investigation and referral letter to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. She later interviewed the parents of the teacher under investigation, family members of the student, other students and the Gwinnett County District Attorney for the story.
LINK TO PHOTO OF TEACHER:
Tea party win embarrasses GOP establishment
PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer Philip Elliott, Associated Press Writer – Wed May 26, 6:53 pm ET
WASHINGTON – Chalk up another win for the tea party. And another embarrassment for the Republican establishment.
Tea party favorite and two-term state lawmaker Raul Labrador defeated Vaughn Ward, a Marine reservist heavily recruited by national Republicans, in Idaho's primary on Tuesday. Ward's loss comes on the heels of several other races in which GOP establishment candidates stumbled as the anti-Washington mood takes hold.
National Republicans had coached Ward and had made him one of their first named recruits, known as "Young Guns." He also had the backing of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
On Wednesday, the GOP wasn't talking about Ward.
"We look forward to continuing to work with Raul Labrador and are focused on the election in November," said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Republicans who hope to win 40 or more House seats to seize back control of the House have set their sights on districts like Idaho's 1st, where Republican presidential candidate John McCain won 62 percent of the vote in 2008. The seat is held by a conservative first-term Democrat, Rep. Walt Minnick.
Ward, a decorated Iraq veteran, was an early front-runner and built a 6-to-1 fundraising edge, but Labrador entered the race and capitalized on Ward's mistakes.
Allegations of plagiarism surfaced as Ward was caught using issue papers from other campaigns and then, during the final days before the primary, it was discovered he used President Barack Obama's 2004 speech to the Democratic National Committee to launch his GOP campaign.
"He was the front-runner, here we are, his empire starts crumbling. It's kind of embarrassing," said state Sen. Monte Pearce, one of his chamber's most conservative members.
"I saw people at the store, people in the polls, everybody just shaking their heads," Pearce said.
In several House races, establishment-backed Republicans have faltered.
Last week, another recruit, Jeff Reetz, lost his Kentucky primary to a tea party favorite. Mary Beth Buchanan lost her primary challenge in Pennsylvania. In February, Ethan Hastert, the son of the former Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert, lost his GOP primary.
Both parties' have seen preferred candidates fail to reach a head-to-head matchup in November. Sen. Arlen Specter lost his Democratic primary to Rep. Joe Sestak last week despite help from Obama and his vaunted campaign machine.
That same night, tea party favorite Rand Paul won his Kentucky Republican primary and vanquished the hand-picked candidate recruited by the Senate's most powerful Republican, Mitch McConnell, in his home state. A week later, libertarians said they would mount a campaign against Paul — the son of libertarian darling, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas — because he had become too cozy with Washington.
"People are feeling the implications of the decisions being made in Washington and they're feeling it at home," said Pete Seat, a spokesman for former Republican Sen. Dan Coats, who is running against incumbent Rep. Brad Ellsworth for Indiana's open Senate seat.
That was clear in Virginia on Wednesday. The Hampton Roads Tea Party endorsed businessman Ben Loyala over auto dealer Scott Rigell, establishment Republicans' favored candidate. The activists said they rejected Rigell because his auto dealership participated in the taxpayer-funded Cash for Clunkers program that was part of Obama's economic stimulus plan.
Associated Press writers Jessie L. Bonner in Boise, Idaho, and Roger Alford in Frankfort, Ky., contributed to this report.
Ex-city bus driver Oneshia Shade (in an earlier photo above) says she needed psychiatric help after being spat upon two years ago.
An ex-city bus driver who took five months sick leave after a rider spat on her insisted Tuesday she needed the recovery time after the harrowing - and gross - attack.
"I needed the help of psychiatrists in order for me to regain some sort of composure to be able to deal with people," Oneshia Shade said. "I felt extremely vulnerable."
Shade defended the practice after the MTA revealed that dozens of bus drivers took an average 64 paid days off last year after getting hit with spit.
One even took 191 days, officials said.
Stung by criticism from MTA board members, NYC Transit said yesterday it plans to give some cases extra scrutiny.
"The cases that seem to be extreme, we're going to go back and look at them and see if there are incidents of abuse," said Joe Smith, NYC Transit vice president of buses.
The drivers are paid through the state workers' compensation program, with NYC Transit picking up some of the tab, officials said.
"We realize not all of the [cases] are unwarranted, but some may be," an agency spokesman said.
Shade was spat on nearly two years ago in the Bronx by a rider angry about delays.
She said she was struck on the cheek and in the eye - and she immediately started worrying that she would catch a disease.
Shade said she still gets tested regularly.
Reports of spitting at bus drivers are on the rise. There were 88 incidents last year, up from 67 the prior year, according to revised numbers released by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority yesterday.
Last year, 49 victims took time off, while 25 took time off the prior year. The number of days off more than doubled to 3,024 from 1,443, according to officials.
It's unclear if more people are spitting or jumpier drivers are reporting more incidents after the December 2008 stabbing death of a driver, officials said.
Shade said the spitting attack was the second time she was assaulted on duty and it brought up memories of a bloodier attack.
In 2001, two teenage girls stabbed Shade - then six months pregnant - in what cops suspected was part of a gang initiation, she said.
"The fact that I was assaulted a second time on a bus made me feel extremely vulnerable," she said. "I felt unsafe. It's nerve-racking. Just talking about it brings back that fear. You relive the event."
Shade's unborn daughter wasn't injured in the stabbing, but was born premature and required physical therapy, Shade said. The culprits were never captured, raising the possibility that Shade again could encounter them at a bus stop in the future, she said.
"Most victims don't return to the scene of the crime," she said. "But for bus operators, it's different."
Two years after the stabbing, Shade was fired in a dispute with the MTA over her leave. A legal battle dragged on until June 2007, when NYC Transit settled the case and allowed Shade to return to work, she said. In December, she moved to a union position on the West Side of Manhattan.
A NYC Transit spokesman declined to comment.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/05/26/2010-05-26_feeling_extremely_vulnerable_she_took_five_months_to_recover_i_needed_my_sick_le.html#ixzz0p46MpBBD
AP: Obama to Skip Wreath Laying Ceremony at Arlington on Monday
May 25, 2010 11:20 AM
President Obama went to Arlington Cemetery to lay the wreath last year, but this year Obama’s handing the wreath to Plugs and heading off to the more welcoming political climes of Chicago:
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama plans to spend a long holiday weekend in Chicago.
The White House says Obama and his family will travel to their hometown on Thursday and stay through the weekend. It will be their first trip back home since a visit for Valentine’s Day weekend in February 2009.
On Monday, Obama is scheduled to participate in a Memorial Day ceremony at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Ill.
In Obama’s absence, Vice President Joe Biden will participate in the customary wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington.
Obama will however make it back to Washington in time next week to honor Paul McCartney, who has sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy.
Update: Obama will alter vacation plans slightly and travel to the Gulf on Friday.
Mexico arrest Cancun mayor on drug charges
CANCUN, Mexico — Mexican federal police have arrested the mayor of the resort city of Cancun on drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime charges, the latest blow to 2010 state and local elections already marred by violence and allegations of drug cartel involvement.
Gregorio Sanchez, who took a leave of absence from the Cancun mayoral post to run for governor of the Caribbean coastal state of Quintana Roo, was taken into custody Tuesday at Cancun's international airport after arriving on a flight from Mexico City.
The federal Attorney General's Office said Sanchez is suspected of offering information and protection to the Zetas drug gang and the Beltran Leyva cartel, which are active in Quintana Roo.
Officials said they could not immediately recall another case in which a gubernatorial candidate had been arrested on drug charges.
"This takes us all by surprise, it is unprecedented," said current Quintana Roo Gov. Felix Gonzalez Cantu.
Ricardo Najera, a spokesman for the federal Attorney General's Office, said the charges allege Sanchez played a role in fomenting or aiding drug trafficking, engaging in organized crime and making transactions with illicitly obtained funds.
Sanchez's website carried an article in which the candidate for the leftist Democratic Revolution Party and two smaller parties said he was being persecuted for political reasons.
The site quoted Sanchez as saying he had been threatened. "Resign from the race, or we are going to put you in jail or kill you," Sanchez said in describing one of the threats.
A Twitter account linked to the site vowed to continue Sanchez's campaign and asked people to protest his arrest and vote for him.
Observers have voiced fears that Mexico's drug cartels could seek to infiltrate politics and control the July 4 local elections in 10 states by supporting candidates who cooperate with organized crime and killing or intimidating those who don't
On May 13, gunmen killed Jose Guajardo Varela, a candidate for mayor of Valle Hermosa, a town in the border state of Tamaulipas which has been ravaged by drug gang violence. The leader of Guajardo Varela's conservative National Action Party said the candidate had received threats telling him to quit the race.
And in December, the newspaper Reforma published a photograph of Jesus Vizcarra, a candidate for governor of the northern state of Sinaloa, attending a party many years ago with a man identified as Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, the No. 2 leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel.
However, until now, no candidate has been firmly linked to drug cartels.
Sanchez, a populist who pledged to bring services to the impoverished majority of residents who live on the outskirts of the glittering resort, took on the established and entrenched political machine of the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party.
The political fight in the state has been bitter — soldiers discovered two apartments fitted out with equipment for telephone eavesdropping that local media said may be linked to political espionage.
But drug cartels have long been active in the state, as well.
In 2009, prosecutors arrested Cancun's police chief, Francisco Velasco, to investigate whether he protected the Zetas drug gang.
Velasco already was detained for questioning in the killing of retired Brig. Gen. Mauro Enrique Tello, whose bullet-riddled body was found in a car in early 2009, shortly after the Cancun city government hired him as a security consultant to combat local corruption and asked him to set up the elite force.
Quintana Roo state, where Cancun is located, has seen its share of officials detained for allegedly aiding drug cartels, including a former governor who was arrested in May 2001 just after he left office and was later sentenced to 36 years for money laundering and helping a drug cartel smuggle narcotics.
Former Quintana Roo governor Mario Villanueva was extradited to the United States this month to face an indictment accusing him of conspiring to import hundreds of tons of cocaine and launder millions of dollars in bribe payments through Lehman Brothers in New York and other financial institutions.
Bundles of cocaine sometimes wash ashore in the region because smugglers drop drugs from boats or small planes for gangs to retrieve and move into the United States.
But authorities have also carried out highly publicized arrests of mayors in the past, only to have charges against them evaporate.
Twelve mayors from President Felipe Calderon's home state of Michoacan were arrested on charges of protecting the La Familia cartel in 2009, but all except two have since been released for lack of evidence.
Here’s a nugget of wisdom — don’t ever try to steal chicken from a fast-food restaurant.
Marquis Marsh faces robbery charges after allegedly stealing six chicken nuggets from a Wendy’s in Dallas.
According to police reports obtained by the Dallas Morning News, Marsh, a 22-year-old homeless man, walked into the Wendy’s on Greenville Avenue near East Lover’s Lane at around 9:30 pm Sunday, hopped over the counter, grabbed six chicken nuggets, jumped back over the counter, and made a run for it.
The store manager tried to stop Marsh at the door, but Marsh allegedly punched him several times in the head before running out the door, the paper reported.
The manager called 911, and two nearby police officers engaged in a short foot chase before finally arresting Marsh, who was reportedly shouting, “I paid for those nuggets!”
Marsh is currently being held in the Dallas County Jail on $3,500 bail—a bit more than the estimated $1.20 that six nuggets would normally cost.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2010/05/25/2010-05-25_marquis_marsh_homeless_person_charged_for_robbery_after_allegedly_stealing_wendy.html#ixzz0p0KywQZ1
May 24, 2010
Police say man set house on fire because of late dinner
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. -- A Sissonville area man was in jail today after allegedly setting fire to his house because his wife didn't have dinner ready.
Guy Edward Jones, 60, of Derrick's Creek Road near Sissonville, allegedly came home after a night of drinking late Sunday and got mad because his wife, Beverly Jones, didn't have dinner on the table, said Lt. Sean Crosier of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department.
Crosier said the couple got into a fight and Mrs. Jones ran to a neighbor's house. Crosier said she turned around to see flames coming out of the basement and her husband coming out of the basement door.
Guy Jones was arrested and charged with first-degree arson. He was in the South Central Regional Jail this morning in lieu of $50,000 bond.
Bruce Shore, Unemployed Philadelphia Man, Indicted For 'Harassing Email' To Jim Bunning
First Posted: 05-25-10 02:40 PM | Updated: 05-25-10 04:57 PM
When Sen. Jim Bunning complained on the Senate floor in February that he'd missed the Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game because of a debate on unemployment benefits -- a debate the Kentucky Republican himself prevented from proceeding to a vote-- Bruce Shore got angry.
"I was livid. I was just livid," said Shore, 51, who watched the floor proceedings on C-SPAN from his home in Philadelphia. "I'm on unemployment, so it affects me. I'm in shock."
Instead of just being angry, Shore took action: He sent several emails to Bunning staffers, blasting the senator for blocking the benefits.
"ARE you'all insane," said part of one letter Shore sent on Feb. 26 (which he shared with HuffPost). "NO checks equal no food for me. DO YOU GET IT??"
In that letter he signed off as "Brad Shore" from Louisville. He said he did the same thing in several other messages sent via the contact form on Bunning's website. "My assumption was that if he gets an email from Philadelphia, who cares?" he said. "Why would he even care if a guy from Philadelphia gets upset?"
Bunning might not have cared, but the FBI did. Sometime in March, said Shore, agents came calling to ask about the emails. They read from printouts of the messages sent via the contact form and asked if Shore was the author, which he readily admitted. They asked a few questions, and then, according to Shore, they said, "All right, we just wanted to make sure it wasn't anything to worry about."
But on May 13, U.S. Marshals showed up at Shore's house with a grand jury indictment. Now he's got to appear in federal court in Covington, Ky. on May 28 to answer for felony email harassment. Specifically, the indictment says that on Feb. 26, Shore "did utilize a telecommunications device, that is a computer, whether or not communication ensued, without disclosing his identity and with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, and harass any person who received the communication."
The language of Shore's indictment is taken directly from the statute -- there's no description of the actual crime. The Kentucky U.S. Attorney's Office said it's a typical indictment but that the Department of Justice prohibited further comment beyond what's in the charging document. The crime carries a penalty of up to two years in prison and a $250,000 maximum fine.
Shore swears he didn't intend to make a threat. He's not sure what he said that crossed the line; he said he doesn't have copies of the messages sent via Bunning's site. He said he thought sending angry letters to Congress was a First Amendment thing. "If I send 50 letters to Congress, is that illegal or is it just me wasting paper?"
Harvey Silverglate, a prominent civil liberties lawyer and the author of "Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent," has long argued that vague laws allow the federal government to prosecute citizens for things most people wouldn't consider crimes. (The message of his book's title is that the average person unintentionally commits three felonies a day. "Half of the anonymous Internet comments would" be illegal according to the statute used against Shore, said Silverglate.)
"If nothing else the U.S. Attorney has managed to harass a defendant. Now we have to find out if the defendant managed to harass anybody," said Silverglate, who looked at Shore's indictment. "When finally the government is forced by a judge's order to specify what the criminal harassment consisted of, if in fact the words used are quite innocuous and don't by any standard rise to the level of a real threat, it's going to be an example of exactly what my complaint is about."
Bunning's office is not involved in the prosecution. A staffer said the office received lots of email over the unemployment issue and turned some over to the Capitol Police. It's up to the Capitol Police whether to involve federal or local law enforcement, and up to those agencies to pursue a case.
Shore said he's been unemployed for the past two years since losing his job as an office manager. He recently received his final unemployment check, joining the ranks of 35,200 Pennsylvanians and hundreds of thousands of Americans who've exhausted all their benefits. He said he used a credit card to book a hotel room in Covington for Friday.
He's particularly alarmed because he's already got a criminal record: In 1995, he and his girlfriend pleaded guilty to 35 burglaries in Bucks County, Pa. The Philadelphia Daily News dubbed them "Bonnie & Clyde": "Their last embrace came in their Northeast Philadelphia apartment. Cops with a warrant did some breaking in of their own and caught the couple, well, coupling -- surrounded by half the booty they'd burgled."
Shore said he got out of prison in 1999 and his lived since then with his mother, who is 81. He's afraid his email indiscretion will wipe out his progress, which includes community college and classes at Temple University, where in 2004 he was on a team that won a $2,000 prize in an IT excellence competition.
"I'm walking around in my head: jail for email, jail for email," he said. "At this point I'm just looking at my government and going, anything is possible. When do the adults wake up and say, 'This gentleman is just angry and frustrated?' I'm just speechless. Shocked. I probably dropped 10 pounds in a week. To think you turn your life around, you don't do anything wrong after you make a mistake when you were younger..."
Long-Term Unemployment: No Help For The 99ers
First Posted: 05-24-10 03:22 PM | Updated: 05-24-10 06:53 PM
This week Congress will consider legislation to reauthorize extended unemployment benefits for the rest of the year. It's going to be an epic fight: Republicans in the Senate will likely do everything they can to stand in the way of a bill projected to add $123 billion to the deficit, forcing Dem leadership to round up a supermajority for a last-minute Friday vote before Congress adjourns for its Memorial Day recess.
Too bad the jobs crisis, in a big way, has already left this bill in the dust. Hundreds of thousands of people have exhausted their extended unemployment benefits. In some states, laid-off workers can receive checks for 99 weeks -- and that's all they're going to get. This bill isn't for the "99ers" and there's no proposal on deck to give them additional weeks of benefits.
"What's frustrating is that our government doesn't seem to think this is an important issue," said Christy Blake, a 35-year-old mother of two in Fruitland, Md. "We didn't put ourselves here. It wasn't our choice. I have been diligently looking for work."
Blake told HuffPost she received her last biweekly $618 unemployment check in February. She said she lost her job as an accounting associate with the city of Fruitland in September 2008 (jobless Marylanders can get 73 weeks of benefits). She said she's three months behind on rent and has no idea how she'll pay the $205.63 electric bill that came with a May 28 cutoff warning. She said she's applied for jobs at Walmart, Target and McDonald's without any luck. She has no idea what to do.
Meanwhile, members of Congress are losing their appetite even for renewing existing benefits. Several members of the House and Senate have flirted with the idea that unemployment checks make people too lazy to look for work. Most recently, Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.) told the Washington Post that businesses in her district wanted to start hiring but were getting few applicants because Congress had given the unemployed so many weeks of benefits.
"Now, whether that's true or not, I'm still trying to decipher," said Dahlkemper. "But I think it's something we really need to look at."
Blake is concerned about the situation: "I think it really stinks," she said. "It's beyond stinking."
More than a million people will probably be in Blake's boat by the end of the year. She's one of 19,000 in Maryland to have exhausted all available benefits, according to the state's labor department. As of last week, 65,400 people had exhausted benefits in New York -- up from 57,000 at the end of April. In Michigan, it's 34,900. In Illinois, 22,000. In Pennsylvania, 35,200. In California, 110,609. In Florida, the number had climbed to 130,000 before May and currently stands at 193,000.
People who've been out of work for longer than six months constitute 45.9 percent of the total unemployed. Those out of work at least a year make up 23 percent.
Only two-thirds of the country's 15.3 million unemployed receive benefits when they lose their jobs in the first place. Dean Baker, co-director of the progressive Center for Economic and Policy Research, said that while he supported extending benefits in principle, "It's a bit hard to push an argument that the benefits should be extended when so many people are getting nothing."
Some families ineligible for unemployment benefits can get on welfare, formally known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The total number of TANF caseloads has risen to 4.6 million as of December after a steady monthly increase from 4.1 million the previous year. Policy experts say the program serves far fewer families than it should.
Pamela Robinette of Philadelphia told HuffPost she lost her job as an administrative assistant in April 2008 and received her final unemployment check in March. She can't turn to TANF -- her children are grown. "If I'm kicked out of my apartment, I can always live in my car," she said.
Robinette said she thought she could move in with her mother in Texas -- but her sister and daughter are already there. "I'm 53 years old -- to move back in with mommy after all this time, it's degrading," she said. "I think the American government is screwing its citizens."
After a Tuesday vote, the House will send the measure to the Senate, where Democrats will need to file a time-consuming cloture motion to proceed to a final vote at the end of the week. Aside from unemployment benefits, the bill includes tax breaks for individuals and businesses and $2.5 billion to extend a jobs subsidy program through 2010 that will have funded 185,000 jobs through September (Republicans are targeting the program; Democrats didn't stand up for it when they had a chance to extend its funding in March).
An enterprising layoff victim in California garnered more than 20,000 signatures for a petition demanding Congress give the long-term jobless additional weeks of benefits, but few members of the House or Senate have indicated that they support the idea.
UPDATE 6:50 PM: A Dem aide advises that the House vote will now happen on Wednesday instead of Tuesday.
Laura Bassett contributed to this article.
WARNING SOME ARE RISQUE AND REVEALING!!!
T-shirt girl asks judge to vacate contempt ruling
T-shirt girl is going to court Monday as a defendant, at which time she will get to prove that she can appear before a judge in more than sweat pants and a T-shirt that the judge considered offensive.
Lake County Circuit Court Associate Judge Helen Rozenberg found Round Lake Park resident Jennifer LaPenta, 20, in contempt of court May 3 for wearing a T-shirt that read": "I have the (female body part), so I make the rules."
LaPenta was sentenced to 48 hours in jail and was released after about a day. After she was released, she told The News-Sun that she would never wear that outfit if she was appearing in court for herself.
She has the opportunity to prove it when she appears before Rozenberg for a hearing.
"I'm going to be dressed up -- I'm not going to wear anything offensive," LaPenta said Friday.
She said she planned to wear business clothes to her premiere court appearance on her own behalf.
Her attorney, Peter Kalagis of Park Ridge, said the hearing is to ask that the judge remove the criminal contempt charge from LaPenta's previously unblemished permanent record.
Kalagis has contended since this occurred that his client's First Amendment rights were violated.
"We as a people are free to express ourselves in words and writing as long it doesn't cause harm," Kalagis said.
He said that most people in theirs 20s, 30s and 40s would not find the T-shirt LaPenta wore offensive.
LaPenta was wearing that shirt to work out when a friend requested a ride to the courthouse about 20 minutes before the start of the afternoon court session, Kalagis said. LaPenta had said that after she was released from jail.
"She never thought anything of it (the T-shirt). She didn't give it a second thought. What's interesting, too, is that she passed deputies, clerks and court personnel. Nobody told her it was inappropriate and they're on the lookout for stuff like that," Kalagis said.
LaPenta offered to remove the shirt and exit the courtroom. Instead, she was remanded into custody right away, according to Kalagis and LaPenta.
Rozenberg wrote that LaPenta was in the front row of the gallery "wearing a shirt displaying obscene wording" in the order she filed. Rozenberg also wrote that LaPenta gave "no excuse" for her attire.
Kalagis contests this in the paperwork he filed requesting the judge vacate the criminal contempt order.
Rozenberg can decide to change the order, he said.
Kalagis had previously spoken of his intention to file a civil suit. He said Friday that LaPenta was not seeking monetary damages.
"I'm just looking to get it off my record. I'm not filing a lawsuit," LaPenta said.
She is scheduled to appear before the judge at 9 a.m. Monday.
LINK TO PHOTO OF LaPenta:
Obama: If LeBron is looking, Bulls have good core
May 23, 2010 3:34 PM
Tribune News Services
If LeBron James isn't sure he can win in Cleveland, President Barack Obama thinks there's an opportunity with his hometown Bulls.
"You know, like I said, I don't want to meddle," Obama told TNT. "I will say this: (Derrick) Rose, Joakim Noah it's a pretty good core. You know, you could see LeBron fitting in pretty well there."
Obama was interviewed about a number of basketball subjects by broadcaster Marv Albert on the White House basketball court. The interview will be shown Tuesday night at 7 p.m. CT.
James can become a free agent this summer, and his decision whether to leave the Cavaliers is one of the hottest topics in sports. Though he's never said he wants out of his native Ohio, there's speculation he'd consider it after the Cavaliers were knocked out of the playoffs in the second round by the Boston Celtics.
"I think that the most important thing for LeBron right now is actually to find a structure where he's got a coach that he respects and is working hard with teammates who care about him and if that's in Cleveland, then he should stay in Cleveland," Obama said. "If he doesn't feel like he can get it there, then someplace else."
Obama compared James' situation to the Bulls not winning until Michael Jordan had confidence in Phil Jackson, Scottie Pippen and the rest of his teammates. Once that happened, Chicago won six NBA championships in the 1990s.
"It wasn't until you got that framework around you that you could be a champion," Obama said. "Same thing happened with Kobe (Bryant). You know, I think that, first with Shaq (O'Neal) then later with (Pau) Gasol, you know, he's gotten that sense of a team around him and I think LeBron hasn't quite been able to get that yet. That's what he needs to find."
LINK TO PHOTO OF OBAMA WITH BULLS:
Published: May 21, 2010
Updated: May 22, 2010 10:11 a.m.
Man sentenced for crashing into a tree at a jail
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
NEWPORT BEACH – A Los Alamitos man was sentenced to nine years in prison Friday for crashing a car into a tree inside the James Musick Correctional Facility and getting into a fight with a guard.
Matthew Van McDaniel, 25, pleaded guilty to felony aggravated assault on an officer, one felony count of an ex-convict entering grounds of a correctional facility, misdemeanor reckless driving, misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol and misdemeanor driving with a blood level of .08 percent or more.
Matthew Van McDaniel
McDaniel was drunk when he drove a Mercedes Benz S550 into the Musick Jail in Irvine at 2 a.m. Jan. 10 and crashed into a tree, according to a news release from the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
When a correctional officer contacted McDaniel, he was punched in the face, prosecutors said. After he was finally restrained, McDaniel showed signs of intoxication, including slurred speech and a distinct odor of alcohol from his breath.
During the booking process, McDaniel tested at a blood alcohol level of .14 percent, according to prosecutors.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal
May 21, 2010 12:05 AM
William F. Biggers
He may have intended it as a joke, but threatening to blow up a woman with a fake hand grenade was no laughing matter, according to Edgewater police.
William F. Biggers, 62, a transient from Oak Hill, was arrested Wednesday morning after an employee at the Dunkin' Donuts on South Ridgewood Avenue told officers he tried to rob her while she was cleaning the store's windows.
Cherish Michelle Williams, 41, said Biggers came up behind her and demanded her money "or he was going to blow up this place." When she turned she saw what she thought was a hand grenade in his hand, police said.
Biggers then told her he was joking and the device was not live.
The responding officer spotted Biggers sitting on a bench a short distance away with the grenade next to him. An investigation showed its explosive components had been removed.
Biggers was taken into custody and charged with aggravated assault before being taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail. He remained there Thursday on $2,000 bail.
Update: ‘The ugly one’ monster mystery
Fri May 21 2010
Mythical creature or water-logged bear cub? A dead animal pulled from a creek in northern Ontario has spawned a range of speculation.
Lesley Ciarula Taylor
A snaggle-toothed, furry creature with a bald face and a rat’s tale has mystified natives in northern Ontario, but they have a name and a history for it.
“The elders used to see it a long time ago,” the manager of Sam’s Store in Big Trout Lake told the Star on Friday.
“No one has seen one for 40 years or so. The elders have a word for it: omajinaakoos. In English, it means ‘the ugly one’.”
Two Health Canada nurses training at the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Band reserve south of Hudson’s Bay said their dog Sam hauled out the 30-centimetre creature it found in early May floating face down near the causeway on the reserve, band spokesman Darryl Sainnawap told the Star.
“It looks like a mixed breed of an otter and a beaver,” he said. “We’re just as curious as everyone to find out what it is.”
One band member, 65-year-old John McKay, said he remembered his grandfather talking about such a creature that “feeds on beavers and otters.” Sainnawap’s 80-year-old grandfather had never seen anything like it, though.
Other elders “think it could be a messenger for bad news,” he said. “We’ll see.”
The discoverers threw it back in the water, thinking it was a commonly found northern Ontario beast, Sainnawap said.
The nurses themselves have been posted elsewhere, and staff at the nursing station won’t talk. “We work for the federal government,” said one. “We’re under a gag order.”
Sainnawap rejected speculation that it could be a man-made hybrid created for pictures.
“We don’t play God here.”
Nor would the nurses, he said. “It’s got to have a mother and father out there, so one day we will find out what it is.”
Cryptomundo.com, a site devoted to “elusive and rare animals,” has done an analysis of various small animals’ skulls, with the muskrat seeming a close match—although the nasty teeth were judged un-muskrat-like.
Others speculate it may be the mythical Ogopogo, the Chupacabra or some other marine monster, like the Loch Ness Monster.
“But more realistic considerations have talked about it being a known species, such as a bear cub (Ursus americanus) or other animals. Even the mundane looks strange without hair,” Loren Coleman at Cryptomundo said.
“The other top candidate is that of the North American river otter (Lontra canadensis).”
A New Zealand zoologist examined the teeth, whiskers and paws and decided
“I think this is just another variation of an ordinary creature sculpted by the action of decomposition by water, as I demonstrated last year with the Gisbourne New Zealand Monster that was actually a drowned Opossum.”
LINK TO MORE PHOTOS:
Bennett compares Tea Party movement to President Carter
Ousted GOP Sen. Bob Bennett fired back at the Tea Party, warning it risked following the path of Jimmy Carter.
In an op-ed to be published Sunday in The Washington Post, Bennet said the Tea Party is repeating the "gloom talk" of President Carter, and will not have a lasting impact on the country unless it changes its tack.
"I urge all of the Tea Partyers to follow Reagan, not Carter," wrote Bennett, who lost his bid for another term in Congress earlier this month after Utah Republican delegates spurned him in favor of candidates backed by the populist conservative movement.
"If they want their movement to be more than a wave that crashes on the beach and then recedes back into the ocean, leaving nothing behind but empty sand, they should stop the 'gloom talk,'" Bennett continued. "These are not the worst times we have ever faced, nor is the Constitution under serious threat."
The comparison of the Tea Party to Carter, an unpopular former president who is ridiculed by the right, is unlikely to go over well with those who identify with the Tea Party.
But Bennett wrote that the tea partiers remind him of those who were fed up with the government in the 1970s after the Nixon presidency and the Watergate scandal.
He said the Tea Party is made up of people who are "fed up with Washington profligacy," just like those who voted for Carter because they were fed up with Nixon.
Bennett also wrote that the Tea Party movement and dissatisfaction with Washington in the grassroots is a more powerful force than most inside the Beltway realize.
The senator said that the Tea Party should avoid being overly negative, like Carter was during his widely-noted "malaise speech" during which Bennett said the Georgian "warned us that America's best days were behind us and suggested that we are a country in irreversible decline. Too many Tea Party speeches sound the same note, even as they invoke Ronald Reagan's name.
Bennett's column is a strong warning to the conservative movement that helped oust him and demonstrates the rift between the Tea Partyers and the GOP political establishment.
Tea Party-backed candidate Rand Paul (R) won the Kentucky Senate primary over Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R) this week, showing the political power of the movement.
But since then, Paul questioned the legality of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and canceled an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" as a result of the fallout. Observers have said Paul's recent problems underscore his political inexperience.
After coming out of the closet this, his senior year at Flanagan High, Omar Bonilla decided to take it a step further: run for prom queen.
He almost won -- Bonilla was among the top three vote-getters -- but in the past few days, it all unraveled.
Fearful that other students would try to beat up a prom-goer in drag, the school administration asked him to wear a tuxedo to Friday night's dance. And after two meetings with the school principal to plead for the right to wear a dress, Bonilla was slapped with a two-day suspension, the timing of which meant he couldn't go to the prom at all.
As students were racing off to prom, Bonilla was putting on his blue sequin dress -- but only to pose for a Miami Herald photographer.
``This week was kind of, like, intense,'' said Bonilla, 19.
It all started last month when the senior at the Pembroke Pines school decided he wanted to run for prom king, but with the intention of wearing a dress. School administrators ran the idea through the higher-ups and told Bonilla that prom queen might be more appropriate -- an option he liked even better.
In soliciting votes from students, Bonilla -- like all other candidates -- posted posters around campus. His read ``vote Omar for prom queen -- time for a change.''
Along the way, Bonilla made the concession that, if he won, the prom king wouldn't have to dance with him, as some kings might not be comfortable doing that.
BEHAVIOR CITEDFlanagan's principal, Sharon Shaulis, referred questions to a Broward schools spokeswoman. That spokeswoman, Nadine Drew, said Flanagan banned Bonilla from prom because of his unruly behavior -- not his unconventional wardrobe plans.
On Thursday, Bonilla had a meeting set up with the school principal -- his second sit-down in two days. He was running late and inappropriately parked in a visitor parking space at the school. When schools police told him to move his car, he didn't heed their warning.
Bonilla said the principal -- citing rumors that other students might try to beat up a prom-goer in drag -- asked for him to come in a tuxedo instead of a dress. A schools police officer sat in on the second meeting.
SAFETY AN ISSUEDrew confirmed that administrators were worried about safety.
``More than ever before, those are real concerns these days,'' she said. ``Those are all taken very, very seriously.''
Bonilla refused to back down. A few hours after he left that second meeting, Bonilla was informed he'd been suspended.
DID NOT WINThat was also the day the school announced Bonilla had come close, but failed to win, the title of prom queen.
``They were looking for an excuse for me not to go, so they said I got suspended for a `minor disturbance,' '' Bonilla said.
The suspension, said Drew, the spokeswoman, was solely because Bonilla had ignored security personnel after parking in the wrong place. Bonilla said he was in a daze that morning and he didn't hear the security guards.
Drew insisted otherwise.
``He did hear them, he turned around, he acknowledged them,'' Drew said. ``But he did not heed or stop. . . He ignored all authority along the way, and that's just not acceptable.''
`UNFORTUNATE'California's Friends of Project 10, a nonprofit which provides educational support services to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students, called the last-minute nature of Bonilla's suspension ``very unfortunate.'' Education Director Gail Rolf said Bonilla likely could have received help from advocacy groups if there were still time to appeal the decision.
``The question is, would they have suspended another student for the exact same behavior?'' Rolf said. ``Because if not, that's a lawsuit right there.''
Bonilla certainly wasn't the typical prom queen candidate, but openly gay male students have run for the post at other schools before. Last year, at Southern California's Fairfax High, student Sergio Garcia actually won the title of queen, though he nevertheless showed up in a tux.
`PROVE A POINT'Bonilla said Flanagan is generally an accepting place when it comes to gay students, but his desire to wear a dress and become prom queen was aimed at those students who were still scared to reveal their true selves.
``I wanted to just make a stand and prove a point,'' he said. ``Everybody is your friend, and you don't have to care what people say.
``Be fierce about it,'' he said. ``Show that you work it.''
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/05/22/1642177/prom-queen-in-a-dress-not-this.html#ixzz0ogVB4gbt
Month After Oil Spill, Why Is BP Still In Charge?
05/21/10 09:59 PM
WASHINGTON — Days after the Gulf Coast oil spill, the Obama administration pledged to keep its "boot on the throat" of BP to make sure the company did all it could to cap the gushing leak and clean up the spill.
But a month after the April 20 explosion, anger is growing about why BP PLC is still in charge of the response.
"I'm tired of being nice. I'm tired of working as a team," said Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana.
"The government should have stepped in and not just taken BP's word," declared Wayne Stone of Marathon, Fla., an avid diver who worries about the spill's effect on the ecosystem.
That sense of frustration is shared by an increasing number of Gulf Coast residents, elected officials and environmental groups who have called for the government to simply take over.
In fact, the government is overseeing things. But the official responsible for that says he still understands the discontent.
"If anybody is frustrated with this response, I would tell them their symptoms are normal, because I'm frustrated, too," said Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen.
"Nobody likes to have a feeling that you can't do something about a very big problem," Allen told The Associated Press Friday.
Still, as simple as it may seem for the government to just take over, the law prevents it, Allen said.
Story continues below
After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, Congress dictated that oil companies be responsible for dealing with major accidents – including paying for all cleanup – with oversight by federal agencies. Spills on land are overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency, offshore spills by the Coast Guard.
"The basic notion is you hold the responsible party accountable, with regime oversight" from the government, Allen said. "BP has not been relieved of that responsibility, nor have they been relieved for penalties or for oversight."
He and Coast Guard Adm. Mary Landry, the federal onsite coordinator, direct virtually everything BP does in response to the spill – and with a few exceptions have received full cooperation, Allen said.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was even more emphatic.
"There's nothing that we think can and should be done that isn't being done. Nothing," Gibbs said Friday during a lengthy, often testy exchange with reporters about the response to the oil disaster.
There are no powers of intervention that the federal government has available but has opted not to use, Gibbs said.
Asked if President Barack Obama had confidence in BP, Gibbs said only: "We are continuing to push BP to do everything that they can."
The White House is expected to announce Saturday that former Florida Sen. Bob Graham and ex-EPA Administrator William K. Reilly will lead a presidential commission investigating the oil spill. Graham is a Democrat. Reilly served as EPA administrator under President George H.W. Bush. The commission's inquiry will range from the causes of the spill to the safety of offshore oil drilling.
BP spokesman Neil Chapman said the federal government has been "an integral part of the response" to the oil spill since shortly after the April 20 explosion.
"There are many federal agencies here in the Unified Command, and they've been part of that within days of the incident," said Chapman, who works out of a joint response site in Louisiana, near the site of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.
Criticism of the cleanup response has spread beyond BP. On Friday, the Texas lab contracted to test samples of water contaminated by the spill defended itself against complaints that it has a conflict of interest because it does other work for BP.
TDI-Brooks International Inc., which points to its staffers' experience handling samples from the Exxon Valdez disaster, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helped audit the lab and approved its methods.
"A typical state laboratory does not have this experience or capacity," TDI president James M. Brooks said.
The company's client list includes federal and state agencies along with dozens of oil companies, among them BP, a connection first reported by The New York Times. TDI-Brooks said about half of the lab's revenue comes from government work.
Test results on Deepwater Horizon samples will figure prominently in lawsuits and other judgments seeking to put a dollar value on the damage caused by the spill.
Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes, who traveled to the Gulf the day after the explosion and has coordinated Interior's response to the spill, rejected the notion that BP is telling the federal government what to do.
"They are lashed in," Hayes said of BP. "They need approval for everything they do."
If BP is lashed to the government, the tether goes both ways. A large part of what the government knows about the oil spill comes from BP.
The oil company helps staff the command center in Robert, La., which publishes daily reports on efforts to contain, disperse and skim oil.
Some of the information flowing into the command center comes from undersea robots run by BP or ships ultimately being paid by BP. When the center reported Friday that nearly 9 million gallons of an oil-water mixture had been skimmed from the ocean surface, those statistics came from barges and other vessels funded by BP.
Allen, the incident commander, said the main problem for federal responders is the unique nature of the spill – 5,000 feet below the surface with no human access.
"This is really closer to Apollo 13 than Exxon Valdez," he said, referring to a near-disastrous Moon mission 40 years ago.
"Access to this well-site is through technology that is owned in the private sector," Allen said, referring to remotely operated vehicles and sensors owned by BP.
Even so, the company has largely done what officials have asked, Allen said. Most recently, it responded to an EPA directive to find a less toxic chemical dispersant to break up the oil underwater.
In two instances – finding samples from the bottom of the ocean to test dispersants and distributing booms to block the oil – BP did not respond as quickly as officials had hoped, Allen said. In both cases they ultimately complied.
"Personally, whenever I have problem I call (BP CEO) Tony Hayward" on his cell phone, Allen said.
1794 Silver Dollar Sells for Record $7.85 million
May 22, 2010
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- What may be America's oldest silver dollar has become the world's most expensive coin, with its owner saying it changed hands in a private transaction between coin collectors for nearly $8 million.
Steven L. Contursi, who has owned the mint-condition 1794 Liberty dollar for the past seven years, confirmed Thursday that he sold it to the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation of Sunnyvale for $7.85 million.
The previous record price paid for a coin was $7.59 million for a U.S.-minted 1933 $20 gold piece, according to the American Numismatic Association.
The U.S. began producing silver dollars in 1794, and this particular one remains in near-perfect condition 216 years later.
That being the case, the price it fetched was not surprising, said professional coin grader David Hall.
"Even if it looks like it's been run over by a truck it would still be worth a hundred grand," he said.
Part of the so-called flowing-hair silver dollars, the coin has a portrait of Lady Liberty with long, straight hair on the front and a noticeably skinny American eagle on the back.
"That's the type of piece that is available maybe once in a lifetime," said Martin Logies, curator of the Cardinal Collection, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving rare coins and educating the public about them. He said the foundation plans to put the coin on display, just as Contursi did much of the time he owned it.
Numismatic experts say it was among the first U.S. silver dollars ever made.
"From the research I've done, it is unquestionably the earliest struck of all the pieces known to remain in existence," said Logies, author of "The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794."
Of the approximately 1,750 such dollars produced that year, only about 150 are known to exist.
The quality of the imprint on this one shows it was struck on a hand-cranked press from a special piece of polished, high-quality silver. That indicates it was intended for either a dignitary or the mint's own private collection, said Larry Shepherd, executive director of the American Numismatic Association.
It likely remained in the mint's collection until the 1800s, Shepherd said, when it was probably traded to a private collector, something he said the mint sometimes did in those days.
Contursi, who runs Irvine-based Rare Coin Wholesalers, acquired it for an undisclosed sum in 2003. He said he wasn't looking to sell it until Logies approached him.
The Cardinal Collection curator had been one of a handful of experts Contursi had allowed to examine the coin after he bought it. He joked that Logies had had his eye on it ever since.
Teenage driver prefers jail to writing sentence 2,500 times
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A 19-year-old Clayton County woman says she would rather go to jail than write 2,500 times “I will not dishonor myself by passing a school bus,” her punishment for a March traffic offense.
Nancy Nguyen told WSB-TV it would be a lie to write that sentence because she didn’t intentionally pass the stopped bus; two tractor-trailer trucks blocked her view, she said.
So she doesn’t feel she is dishonored.
"I'm not going to demean myself and be demeaned by other people," Nguyen told WSB.
According to the news account, Forest Park’s solicitor said it is common to require drivers younger than 21 to write those sentences if they passed a stopped school bus. The idea is to impress upon them that it is a serious and dangerous traffic offense, the solicitor told WSB.
"Writing something that many times ... it wouldn't teach me anything," Nguyen said.
A school crossing guard told WSB passing a stopped school bus can be deadly. "Kids will run, they [are] always running. So if you see the stop sign just stop," Pat Harris said.
By May 26, Nguyen is to have the sentences written and have completed 24 hours' community service and a defensive driving course. She also must have paid a $350 f ine by then, her next court date.
Her license will be suspended for six months.
Nguyen could be sent to jail if she has not completed all her sentence.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Who's behind I-95 billboard featuring George Bush?
A billboard featuring former President George W. Bush has popped up along Interstate 95. In this election year, who's behind it? It's a mystery.
The billboard with a singular image along southbound Interstate 95 towers high above all others.
It features a smiling face of former President George Bush asking drivers a simple question:
``Miss Me Yet?''
No one knows whether this is part of a nationwide movement, but similar billboards have popped up in other spots around the country, some offering witty responses.
Locally, the indigo blue billboard between 151st and 135th streets in North Miami-Dade is getting its own set of smirks.
``It sounds hilarious,'' said Aida Zayas, of the Republican Party of Miami-Dade County, who said she had not yet spotted it. ``I look forward to seeing it.''
Other drivers clearly have, and are more than happy to share their thoughts. A phone number is listed on the billboard, which leads callers to a voice mail message: ``Please leave any comments about the billboard after the tone.'' Wednesday, the voice mail box was full.
The person behind the billboard remains a mystery. The name attached to the phone number belongs to Robert Nuñez. There are several people with that name in Miami-Dade County.
New York-based CBS Outdoor owns the 14-by-48-foot billboard, which costs between $3,000 and $5,000 a month to rent, said spokeswoman Jodi Senese. She refused to give up any information about who rented it.
This is not the first billboard to feature the beaming mug of the former president and the ``Miss Me Yet?'' message.
In December, a billboard expressing the same message beneath a waving George Bush popped up along Interstate 35 in the town of Wyoming, Minn., about 15 miles north of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
``It caused quite a stir,'' said Mary Teske, general manager of Schubert and Hoey Outdoor Advertising, the company that leased the Minnesota billboard.
After the media caught wind of the billboard in early February, Teske said she was ``bombarded with calls.''
After ``constant media contact,'' Teske eventually informed the public that ``a group of small-business owners'' who wished to remain anonymous had rented the billboard.
The Minnesota billboard may have been the first of its kind to appear in the country. Teske said she has heard of others in different states.
An Internet search shows media reports about billboards outside Dallas and in Clearwater, Fla., near St. Petersburg.
The Minnesota billboard, still up five months later, continues to garner attention. Sometimes, Teske picks up the phone only to hear hysterical laughter.
``It started a wave of people wanting to do their own,'' she said.
Teske said whether folks agree with the message or not, ``It's neat to see freedom of speech alive and well.''
Sarah Palin like the Arizona law designed to clamp down on illegal immigration, she thinks all states along the border should adopt it.
Sarah Palin not only thinks Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law is a great idea, she thinks everyone should do it.
The ex-Alaskan governor wants to see other states along the Mexican border adopt similar laws.
"Every other state on the border should emulate what Arizona has done," Palin said during an interview on Fox News Business.
"Jan Brewer, the governor of Arizona, has taken it upon herself and the state government to do what the feds should have been doing all along," she said. "Yes, other states should do what Arizona is doing."
Several states, including Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Maryland and Colorado, are already considering tougher illegal immigration laws in the wake of Arizona's efforts. However, fellow Mexico border states New Mexico, California and Texas have been less willing to adopt similar policies.
Each of those states fear alienating their Hispanic communities, which are deeply ingrained in the state cultures, and in the case of New Mexico, is much larger than in Arizona.
Although it doesn't take effect until July 29, the controversial immigration law passed recently by Arizona has deeply divided the nation, with politicians and activists speaking out in droves to either slam, or support, the effort.
Several cities and states have formally boycotted Arizona, arguing that the law - which strictly states race cannot be used as a factor for questioning a suspected illegal immigrant - would still lead to racial profiling.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2010/05/20/2010-05-20_sarah_palin_every_state_should_have_immigration_law_like_arizona.html#ixzz0oWkbpHQH
Carjacking suspect leaves evidence in victim's car
SALT LAKE CITY -- A carjacking suspect provided a trail for police to follow when he left identification in his victim's car.
Salt Lake City police say the carjacker approached a man at a gas station near 900 South and State Street around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, showed a gun and demanded a ride.
The man drove the carjacker around until he spotted a police officer and pulled over. That's when the carjacker took off.
"The suspect, when he jumped out, he actually left his wallet in the victim's car," said Lt. James Tracy with the Salt Lake City Police Department.
Hours later, a Midvale police officer stopped a pickup truck after spotting a man in the back seat who wasn't wearing a seat belt. That man's name matched the ID in the wallet -- John Rhodes.
Police say Rhodes also was wanted on a $150,000 warrant for aggravated burglary. Officers booked him in to the Salt Lake County Jail.
LINK TO VIDEO AND PHOTO:
Woman thought to be dead found alive in Croatia
A month ago, a mother and father identified a body in a morgue as their daughter's. A funeral was held and the family mourned its loss. But it turned out that 39-year-old Tea Buric was still alive.
May 20, 2010 at 9:40 AM PDT
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) - A month ago, a mother and father identified a body in a morgue as their daughter's. A funeral was held and the family mourned its loss.
But it turned out that 39-year-old Tea Buric was still alive. This week police found her when they showed up at an apartment in the southern city of Split to investigate a report of domestic violence.
Buric was disoriented and lacked identification, so police checked her fingerprints and discovered she had been identified by her family as dead.
The body found floating in the Split harbor on April 15 turned out to be that of a 44-year-old woman who had disappeared earlier that month, Split police said.
Police spokeswoman Marina Kraljevic-Gudelj said in an interview on Thursday that police didn't use DNA to identify the well-preserved corpse because four relatives, including the parents, had identified it.
Local experts also said the DNA procedure, considered expensive in Croatia, is generally only used if a corpse cannot be identified or appears to have been the victim of a crime.
The parents of Buric and the 44-year-old deceased woman declined to discuss the case.
Neighbors upset downstate school has been converted to strip club
Topless dancers perform in former cafeteria; old teachers lounge now a VIP room
This former school cafeteria in Neoga Township, Ill. is now known as The School House Gentleman's Club, a venue which features topless dancers. (Photo for the Tribune by Steve Warmowski / May 15, 2010)
May 20, 201
School FINES Students For Cursing
First Posted: 05-19-10 08:54 AM | Updated: 05-19-10 08:55 AM
A Mississippi community college is cracking down on cursing -- by charging students money when they utter an off-color word.
Inside Higher Ed reports:
At Hinds Community College, swearing can get you in trouble. "Public profanity, cursing and vulgarity" are all punishable with a $25 fine for a first offense, and a $50 fine for a second offense. Further, the offense of "flagrant disrespect" (which may be demonstrated by swearing, as became clear Tuesday when a controversy over the code went public) can earn a student demerits that could lead to suspension.
Hinds appears to be relatively rare among public colleges in regulating speech in this way. And the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has taken up the case of a student who faced charges following an incident in which -- after class, but in the presence of an instructor -- he said that a grade he had just received was "going to up my entire G.P.A." The instructor first threatened to place the student in detention and when the student pointed out (correctly) that the college doesn't have detention, the "flagrant disrespect" charges were made.
Many say the policy is a flagrant abuse of the First Amendment, but some academics agree that curbing sometimes out-of-control profanity on campus can be difficult, especially as more students feel entitled to be rude.
Associate General Counsel of St. Mary's College and Association for Student Conduct Administration President W. Scott Lewis recommends schools take a more holistic approach to campus civility. "You need to talk about rights and responsibilities," he told Inside Higher Ed.
What do you think?
Sacramento Area Local News
May 18, 2010 4:37 pm US/Pacific
First-Grader Suspended Over Yearbook Comment
YUBA CITY (CBS13)
A first-grader from Yuba City has been suspended from school for a day after scratching out a picture and writing a comment in her own yearbook, and school officials said they are sticking by their decision.
Natalie Day, 7, spent Tuesday home from school after she was suspended for "disruption" -- scratching the picture of a classmate out of her yearbook at writing "because she is rude" next to the classmate's name, according to the suspension form given to her mother.
"She's been a bully to me all year," Natalie said. "I can't do anything for it."
Crystal Ledger, Natalie's mother, said her daughter has been bullied by the classmate all year, but admits that Natalie had once told the girl she would beat her up. Crystal said she even asked for her daughter to be moved to another class.
"To me this whole thing is a little silly," Crystal said. "I told her she did nothing wrong. This is her yearbook. I bought it for her, if she chooses to cut out, like, stick people, that's fine. This is her property."
Yuba City Unified School District superintendent Nancy Aaberg said there are other elements to the situation she cannot release due to privacy rules.
Aaberg said other "relevant information" may not have been on the suspension form but may have been verbally told to Natalie's parents, something Crystal denied.
"I don't want to make too much drama out of it but we have to agree that there's more to the story that I'm not able to share," Aaberg said.
There is no reason not to stand by the principal's decision, Aaberg added. The principal who suspended Natalie declined a request for interview from CBS13.
The classmate in question has also been suspended from school.
Crystal said Natalie will return to school Wednesday.
2 women booked in smuggling try
LIVINGSTON PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE
From left: Harvey LeBlanc, Melissa A. Lennox and Nikki C. Rushing.
May 19, 2010
LIVINGSTON — Two women were arrested for allegedly attempting to smuggle crystal methamphetamine inside a Bible to a Walker man jailed in the Livingston Parish Detention Center, deputies said.
Using a false name, Melissa A. Lennox, 28, 420 Carrie Drive, Apt. 103, Walker, allegedly delivered a Bible containing methamphetamine to the detention center on May 12, according to a Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office news release.
Nikki C. Rushing, 35, 30055 Corby Circle, Denham Springs, allegedly gave the drug-containing Bible to Lennox, deputies said.
The intended recipient, Harvey LeBlanc Jr., 30, 36720 N. Corbin Road, Walker, has been in jail since October on a variety of drug-related arrests, including the creation of a meth lab, deputies said.
One of those cases dates back to April 2009, when deputies arrested LeBlanc on a count of possessing meth and marijuana while at the jailhouse attempting to post bond to get his girlfriend out, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
Following the May 12 arrests, Lennox was booked with entering contraband into a penal institution, and Rushing was booked with being a principal to entering contraband into a penal institution, deputies said.
LeBlanc was booked on counts of attempting to enter contraband into a penal institution and possession of methamphetamine, deputies said.
Lennox, Rushing and LeBlanc remained in custody Tuesday at the detention center, deputies said.
Jefferson County geometry teacher uses wrong example to teach angles --- assassination of President Barack Obama
May 18, 2010, 6:30AM
Cops: Man tries to trade baby for beer
Matthew Brace, 24, charged with child endangerment
Updated: Tuesday, 18 May 2010, 1:46 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 18 May 2010, 7:54 AM EDT
Jennifer Colby and Laura Hutchinson
CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) - A father was allegedly caught trying to trade his infant baby for beer at a Chicopee gas station on Monday.
The incident occurred at the Pride Station on Burnett Road in Chicopee around 1 p.m. Monday.
Chicopee Police Sgt. Christopher Lareau told 22News that 24-year-old Matthew Brace of Northampton allegedly offered his 3-month-old daughter to a maintenance man working outside in exchange for two 40-ounce beers.
The infant's mother, 31-year-old Wendy Arsenault, was inside the Pride store at the time.
Brace allegedly put the baby and a stroller in the worker's truck and said: "For two 40s, you can have her." The worker then called police.
Officers later found the couple at the nearby Econo Lodge, where the had been living on public assistance.
Chicopee Police Chief John Ferraro Jr. told 22News he is unsure if Brace was trying to exchange the baby for beers or for crack cocaine.
Brace was not arrested, but he was summoned to court on charges of reckless endangerment of a child. Sgt. Lareau said Arsenault was not involved in the crime.
22News spoke with Arsenault over the phone Tuesday morning. She said she had no idea what was going on because she was inside the store and that she would never put her baby in harm's way.
The infant girl is now in the state's custody.
Brace was scheduled to be arraigned in Chicopee District Court on Tuesday, but his court appearance has been postponed because he is in the hospital. Police refused to comment on why Brace was hospitalized.
LINK TO PHOTO:
Gwinnett County News
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
County dipping into employees' pockets for 16-year-old debt
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
It's time to settle up.
About 180 Gwinnett County employees are being notified they were overpaid 16 years ago and it's time to make good on the advance. As part of its rejuvenated effort to go after every penny it's owed, the county is seeking to collect $39,690.46 from employees who received the bonus in their paychecks in 1994.
"Yes, the county has initiated a project to clean-up receivables and to eliminate outstanding obligations wherever possible," said Aaron Bovos, Gwinnett County chief financial officer.
The initiative is part of an on-going effort to better manage assets and resources, Bovos said. One of those projects includes collecting outstanding advances made to employees.
The payroll anomaly dates back to Sept. 30, 1994, when the county adjusted employee pay cycles. The adjustment resulted in shortening one pay period from a 14 days to 12 days. Under normal circumstances, employees who worked the shortened pay cycle would have received less pay, but to avoid financial hardship, paychecks were increased to counteract any shortfall.
In all, Gwinnett County overpaid 509 people a total of $114,876.55 that week.
Since then, the county has collected the overpayment from employee paychecks at retirement. So far, it has recovered $75,186.09 from 329 employees.
Bovos said this measure will allow the county to clear an account it has been carrying for 16 years.
Current employees who received the overpayment have several options to pay back the advance. They can apply it toward vacation leave or a floating holiday, or they can make a cash payment.
Gwinnett County is in the middle of other initiatives to clear its books. Staff is reviewing contracts with state and federal agencies for reimbursements relating to transportation projects or grants.
Timely submission of invoices and subsequent reimbursement to the county improves cash flows, Bovos said.
Anti-incumbent mood shown, but Dems say it could have been worse
Tuesday’s primaries in Arkansas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania confirmed what lawmakers feared: The incumbency advantage at the ballot box doesn’t necessarily apply this year.
But Democrats, who came away with a critical win in a special election, said they were heartened by the fact that voter disenchantment cuts both ways.
“People are upset, and it shows no party bounds,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), architect of the Democratic takeover of the Senate in 2006 and the 60-seat majority of 2009.
Rand Paul, the Tea Party-backed insurgent who won the Senate Republican primary in Kentucky, demonstrated that the GOP establishment is just as vulnerable to voter anger.
And Democrat Mark Critz’s special-election victory over Republican Tim Burns in Pennsylvania’s 12th district provided a valuable lesson, Democrats said.
“For Democrats, the lesson is very simple: I think it is that people want us to focus on their problems,” Schumer told The Hill. “I don’t believe they want no government; I think they want a government that is lean but focuses on what is bothering them and helps fix it.”
Republicans countered that voters were expressing displeasure with Democrats’ massive spending spree since taking control of the White House.
“We got a fired-up country, fired up about taxes, spending, debt and Washington takeovers,” said Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.). “It’s a message, above all other things, to get the debt under control.”
Democrats touted their relatively high turnout in all three states in an attempt to dispel the notion that the party base isn’t fired up. But in Pennsylvania, some say there’s a caveat: It is likely Critz benefited from the intense interest in the primary race between Sen. Arlen Specter (D) and Rep. Joe Sestak (D).
Critz stated his opposition to healthcare reform and cap-and-trade legislation and campaigned extensively on a jobs message. While Democrats enjoy a 2-to-1 registration advantage in the district, it was the only one in the country that voted for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) for president in 2004 and backed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for the White House in 2008.
House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) acknowledged the loss was a setback and said the party needs to raise more money and get organized before November.
“It’s pretty clear that we have to organize and we’ve got to continue working on our agenda project. ... We’ve got to continue to raise resources,” Boehner told reporters.
It was the seventh special election Republicans have lost since President Barack Obama took office.
Republicans had tried to make the race about Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who are unpopular in the district, but Critz, a former Murtha staffer, won with a comfortable margin, 53 percent to 45.
Boehner said his party has had a tough time winning these special elections given “the financial disadvantage we have now,” noting that “we’ve got to do better.”
Alexander called the special election in Pennsylvania a “disappointment.” “We’ll have to learn from that,” he said.
Still, Democrats could hardly celebrate outright.
The primary defeat of 30-year incumbent Specter and the failure of Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) to win more than 50 percent of the vote in the Arkansas primary — forcing her into a June 8 runoff — shows that voters won’t blindly pull the lever for incumbents.
“There is an anti-incumbent sense,” said Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), who campaigned with Critz. “That’s natural whenever the economy is stressed like it is — I think you’re going to see that.”
Republicans argue the anti-incumbent sentiment is more damaging to Democrats because they control more seats in Congress.
But Democrats say they have learned an important lesson that will guide them over the next five and a half months.
“I think what most people are telling us, whether we’re an incumbent or an incumbent who happens to be running, is that we have to focus intensively on job creation and job preservation,” said Casey.
Democrats pledged a laser-like focus on jobs and the economy after they lost control of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts.
But they have not passed much in the way of jobs legislation. Obama signed a modest $18 billion jobs bill into law in March.
But Democrats have redoubled their efforts to frame a landmark healthcare reform law as an economy-boosting accomplishment and have focused on the job-creating potential of energy and climate change legislation
Schumer said the Democratic jobs message is having “some” impact on voters and “we’ve got to do more of it.”
Molly K. Hooper contributed to this report.
Toronto woman sues Rogers for exposing her affair
Canwest News Service
May 17, 2010
TORONTO — A cheating wife, a snooping husband and a cellphone bill has led to a $600,000 lawsuit being launched against telecommunications giant Rogers Wireless Inc.
Gabriella Nagy, 35, of Toronto is suing Rogers for invasion of privacy and breach of contract after her husband discovered her extramarital affair through her cellphone bill in June 2007.
"My life is beyond repair," Nagy said Monday. "It was a mistake, I rectified it and learned from it, but I will carry it for the rest of my life.
According to a statement of claim, Nagy said she signed a cellphone contract with Rogers in June 2006 under her maiden name and asked for her bill to be sent to the home she shared with her husband and their two sons — now aged 6 and 7.
She said her husband left her and the children in August 2007 without giving any reason.
According to Nagy, she later discovered that her cellphone account had been terminated without her knowledge, then reactivated and bundled with the family's TV, Internet and home phone bill — listed in her husband's name.
When Nagy confronted her husband, he told her that he had seen an itemized list of calls on her cellphone bill and was suspicious of one number she was calling frequently. Some of the conversations lasted for hours at a time.
When he called that number, a man told him that he and Nagy had just ended a three-week affair.
Nagy claims that Rogers transferred her cellphone over to her husband without her knowledge, and subsequently is to blame for their breakup.
"The affair was over," she said. "The thing that really hurt me is that it all came out not through my own doing."
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Nagy also said the separation led to her being fired from a $100,000 a year job as a rental sales agent.
"To lose a job that I worked so hard for to provide for my children, for it to be like nothing now," she said. "I feel like a nobody."
She said she cried uncontrollably at work and continues to go to therapy and takes prescription medication.
Nagy hasn't worked since her separation, and has been diagnosed as having "dysfunctional depression," according to a statement of claim.
A trial date has yet to be set, but Nagy said she's going public now with the lawsuit in an effort to prevent this from happening to anyone else.
The lawsuit was filed in December 2008 in Ontario Superior Court.
"The bottom line is that Rogers terminated my contact without my permission, transferred my services to someone else's name and breached my privacy," she said. "I entrusted them with my personal information.
Her lawyer, Edward Tonello, said the issue is his client's privacy was allegedly breached without her knowledge, leading to dire consequences.
"What, if any, cell carrier improperly discloses to a non-customer that the customer has a fatal disease or a contagious disease?" he asked. "To my knowledge, there has been no lawsuit for breach of privacy in such a manner in Canada."
Rogers has denied all the allegations, saying it was notified by Nagy and her husband that they wanted a single bill for all their services.
"We did not terminate Ms. Nagy's contract or automatically consolidate these accounts," said Rogers spokeswoman Kathy Murphy in an e-mail. "While we empathize with Ms. Nagy's situation, we cannot be responsible for the personal decisions made by our customers."
The company's statement of defence goes further, stating that Rogers should not be blamed for the marriage breakup or the effects it had on Nagy.
"The marriage breakup and its effects happened, or alternatively, would in any event have happened, regardless of the form in. which the plaintiff and her husband received their invoices for Rogers services in July 2007," according to the court documents
Rogers said the cellphone bill was consolidated into one bill for "administrative efficiency" that would result in savings to the plaintiff and her husband.
Rogers also claimed that Nagy paid her husband's bill on a number of occasions, using both her maiden and married name.
This isn't the first time a Canadian cellphone carrier has been blamed for a breakup.
In February, a Winnipeg man said his 2 1/2 year relationship ended when his girlfriend found suggestive text messages on his Virgin Mobile cellphone. He denied writing the messages, which included texts like "Booty call," "Where u at" and "Be there soon.
It was later discovered that the messages had been pre-programmed into his phone by the cellphone carrier.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Kane County coroner indicted in TV theft
May 18, 2010 11:30 PM
Since his election as Kane County coroner in 2000, Chuck West has developed a reputation for being talkative and outspoken.
But on Tuesday night, a few hours after he was indicted on felony charges, accused of allowing a dead man's TV to end up in a house shared by two deputy coroners, West was uncharacteristically hard to find.
In announcing misconduct charges, for which West faces up to five years in prison, a special prosecutor alleged that he "intentionally and recklessly failed to perform his mandated duties in his official capacity in that he failed to dispose of valuable personal property of Preston Pomykal."
That personal property was Pomykal's 24-inch Magnavox TV/DVD/VCR, which was in Pomykal's home in May 2007 when Carpentersville police found him dead on his bathroom floor of what was later deemed natural causes. Special prosecutor Charles Colburn declined to identify the two deputy coroners who wound up with the television.
A handful of deputies work in the coroner's office, one of whom is West's son, Eric. Eric West declined comment Tuesday night, referring questions to Chuck West's attorney, Gary Johnson, a former Kane County State's Attorney.
After allegations against West first surfaced last summer, the coroner said publicly that he took possession of the television set when authorities were unable to locate next of kin for Pomykal, 64. Efforts to reach West on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
"He didn't do anything wrong," said Johnson, West's attorney. "The indictment itself is like opening Al Capone's vault. There's nothing inside."
The charges against West prompted Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughy to urge West to step down, at least temporarily, until the criminal case is resolved.
"This will be a huge distraction to the people who work for him," she said.
Johnson immediately shot down the suggestion. West, 67, has said he will not seek re-election when his third term ends in 2012.
"He's not going to resign," Johnson said, adding that the matter could have been resolved informally by "making a phone call."
"Once the public and a jury see the facts of this case, they're going to see that this is much ado about nothing. He is going to be acquitted."
West would be fired only if he is convicted of a felony, Kane County Board Attorney Ken Shepro said, or if a court rules that he is unable to carry out the duties of his office.
"He's an independently elected official," Shepro said. "The county board has no authority at all over his term of office."
But West's standing as an elected official presents the county with a sticky legal situation.
By law, the Kane County State's Attorney's office represents West. However, when allegations against West first came to light, Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti, seeking to avoid a conflict of interest, called the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor to investigate and advised West that he was unable to provide him legal counsel.
Johnson said that since the charges against West arise from his elected office, the public should pay his legal fees. The attorney added that he was drafting a letter to Barsanti making the request. Barsanti said a judge likely would decide whether West or the taxpayers should pick up the legal tab for his defense.
The Carpentersville police report on Pomykal's death states that "the only relative (the investigating officer) was able to identify was his father, who is also deceased. The coroner's office advised that they would continue to attempt to locate them."
In addition to the television set, authorities found several firearms in Pomykal's home, Carpentersville Police Commander Timothy Bosshart said. West asked the police to store the firearms, Bosshart said.
In August 2007 West sent a letter to the Carpentersville Police Department stating that the agency could destroy the weapons, Bosshart said.
Several months ago, the Kane County Sheriff's office received a complaint about the coroner's office's possible violation of the "whistleblower act," Sheriff's Lt. Pat Gengler said. Authorities forwarded the complaint to the special prosecutor, but Gengler declined to say whether it was related to Tuesday's charges.
"This (the TV complaint) is the only information that we have found that has resulted in criminal charges at this point," Colburn, the special prosecutor, said.
Authorities will serve West with a summons to attend a May 27 court hearing, Barsanti said.
-- Clifford Ward and Ted Gregory
Obama endorsements don't seem to help Democrats
Wed May 19, 3:11 am ET
WASHINGTON – The role of endorser in chief isn't working so well for President Barack Obama.
Sen. Arlen Specter became the fourth Democrat in seven months to lose a high-profile race despite the president's active involvement, raising doubts about Obama's ability to help fellow Democrats in this November's elections.
The first three candidates fell to Republicans. But Specter's loss Tuesday to Rep. Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania's Democratic senatorial primary cast doubts on Obama's influence and popularity even within his own party — and in a battleground state, no less.
Of course, it's possible that Democrats will fare better than expected this fall. And there's only so much that any president can do to help other candidates, especially in a non-presidential election year.
Still, Obama's poor record thus far could hurt his legislative agenda if Democratic lawmakers decide they need some distance from him as they seek re-election in what is shaping up as a pro-Republican year. Conversely, it might embolden Republican lawmakers and candidates who oppose him.
Obama's track record also raises the question of whether he may be hurting candidates he supports by motivating his foes — such as tea party supporters — to vote. Though this month's AP-GfK Poll shows Americans split about evenly over how he's handling his job, those strongly disapproving outnumber people who strongly back him by 33 percent to 22 percent — not an enviable position for the president's party.
Sestak's victory over Specter is especially embarrassing, because he won by portraying himself and his supporters as being more faithful to the Democratic Party than were Specter and his backers — who included the president, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and other high-ranking party officials.
Creating another bruise for Obama and the Democratic establishment Tuesday, Sen. Blanche Lincoln was forced into a runoff in Arkansas' Democratic senatorial primary. Obama supports her bid for a third term, but he is not as closely associated with her campaign as he was with Specter's.
In previous months, Obama's endorsements and campaign appearances weren't enough to save then-Gov. Jon Corzine's re-election bid in New Jersey, Creigh Deeds' run for governor in Virginia or Martha Coakley's campaign in Massachusetts to keep the late Edward M. Kennedy's Senate seat in Democratic hands.
In fairness, Deeds was an underdog from the start, and Corzine brought many problems on himself. But the Coakley loss to Republican Scott Brown was excruciating. She once was considered a shoo-in, and her defeat restored the Republicans' ability to block Democratic bills with Senate filibusters.
Unlike the Corzine, Deeds and Coakley races, Obama made no late-campaign appearances for Specter. But it will be hard for the president to distance himself from Specter's career-ending loss.
Obama campaigned for Specter last September in Philadelphia, where he said, "I love Arlen Specter." Specter used the clip in recent TV ads. Obama also e-mailed his supporters on Specter's behalf, and he was the first person Specter thanked in his concession speech.
Vice President Joe Biden, a Pennsylvania native, made several appearances for Specter. Last week he told a Pittsburgh radio station, "Arlen is the Democratic candidate."
Moreover, Obama was central to an all-important deal with Specter that struck some Democratic voters as opportunistic at best.
Specter had been a Republican senator for 28 years, opposing countless Democratic bills and appointees even if he showed more independence than most lawmakers. Thirteen months ago, however, he concluded he could not win the GOP nomination for a sixth term against conservative Pat Toomey. He and top Democrats struck a deal.
Specter would become a Democrat, giving the party the crucial 60th Senate vote it needed to overcome Republican filibusters, which were frustrating the administration. In exchange, Obama, Biden, Rendell and the entire Democratic hierarchy agreed to support Specter's 2010 re-election, including efforts to clear his way to the party's nomination.
The losers in the deal were any longtime Democrats who aspired to the U.S. Senate. They essentially were told to step aside for an 80-year-old longtime Republican. Pennsylvania's Democratic voters were asked to concur.
Sestak, a former Navy vice admiral first elected to the House in 2006, refused to go along. He plugged away without help from the state or national party. A few weeks ago he trailed Specter by about 20 percentage points in polls of likely Democratic voters.
But Sestak caught fire in the closing days, partly through a TV ad showing Specter campaigning enthusiastically with then-President George W. Bush, who remains deeply unpopular with many Democratic primary voters.
In the past few weeks, the White House has played down Obama's role in the Tuesday primaries, and he spent Election Day in Ohio talking about the economy.
"At some point, you feel like we've done what we can do," senior White House adviser David Axelrod told The Associated Press in an interview. "We do have other stuff going on," he said.
Matt Bennett, a Democratic strategist and vice president of the group Third Way, said he doubts that Democratic lawmakers will panic over Obama's inability to help Specter to a victory.
"Presidents have coattails when their names are on the ballot," Bennett said, and that can't happen for Obama until 2012.
Tea Party wins in Ky
Obama says GOP would have caused 'deeper world of hurt'
President Barack Obama on Tuesday said the country would be worse off if Republicans had thwarted his policies.
"If the just-say-no crowd had won out — if we had done things that way — we’d be in a deeper world of hurt," Obama said in comments in Youngstown, Ohio, according to his prepared remarks.
Obama, riding high after the economy added almost 300,000 jobs last month, warned of darker days ahead even as he castigated Republicans for trying to score political points off of some of the "unpopular" moves Obama said he had to make to spark an economic recovery.
The president, who toured manufacturing company V&M Star, boasted of the jobs being added to the economy because of his $787 billion stimulus package.
Obama, speaking in a critical swing state, said he would not "stand here and pretend things are back to normal or even close." But he added that the situation for Ohioans and the rest of the country would have been worse if Republicans had succeeded in stopping his economic policies.
The president called out the GOP for "predicting and even rooting for failure," and accused Republican lawmakers of hypocrisy for opposing the stimulus package but promoting projects it funds.
"Because even as they tried to score political points by attacking what we did, many of them went home and claimed credit for the very things they voted against," Obama said. "They show up and they cut the ribbons, and send the mailings home touting the very projects they opposed in Washington, and try to have it both ways. Imagine that, in politics?"
Obama took note of the 14 percent unemployment rate in Ohio, which is about four percentage points higher than the national number. He said there are "families having a tougher time than they'd ever imagined."
"Plenty of folks probably aren’t impressed by another president swooping in to talk to you about the economy, either — not when the only headline they want to see is 'You’re hired,' " Obama said.
In advance of the president's speech, the White House warned that Obama would "rebuke Republicans for making a politically calculated decision early on to sit on the sidelines and obstruct any measure aimed to help Americans during these difficult economic times."
Obama spoke on a huge primary day for both parties. Democrats are hoping an improving economy will bolster their changes of retaining control of Congress for the second half of Obama's first term in office.
Several Democrats joined Obama as he offered his remarks, including Ohio Reps. Tim Ryan, Charlie Wilson and John Boccieri and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D).
EXCLUSIVE: Bristol Palin's New Job: $30,000 A Speech
Radar on LineMay 17, 2010 @ 06:58PM
She’s probably the nation’s most famous unwed teenage mom and now, Bristol Palin is taking her experience straight to the bank.
A source close to Palin tells RadarOnline.com exclusively that Bristol has signed with a speakers bureau called Single Source Speakers, charging between $15,000 and $30,000 a speech.
Her first stop will be the Heartbeat International Conference in Orlando, Florida, on May 18
In an exclusive interview with RadarOnline.com, Bristol said she is “excited to go to Orlando and meet the hundreds of pregnancy support providers from around the world that will be attending.”
Palin says she is also writing her first book, which will detail her experiences on the 2008 presidential campaign trails, the notoriety she has faced as a result of her relationship with ex-boyfriend Levi Johnston, and how she is raising their son Tripp as a single mom.
LINK TO STORY
Rev. Jeremiah Wright claims President Obama 'threw me under the bus' in letter to African aid groupRich Schapiro
Tuesday, May 18th 2010, 9:22 AM
Trinity United Church of ChristThen Sen. Barack Obama poses with his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, in happier times.
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's controversial ex-pastor, threw a hissy fit in a letter to an African aid group, claiming that the president "threw me under the bus" and the White House views him as "toxic."
In a missive obtained by the Associated Press, Wright told Africa 6000 International that the Obama administration would likely ignore his efforts to release frozen funds for use in earthquake-stricken Haiti.
"No one in the Obama administration will respond to me, listen to me, talk to me or read anything that I write to them. I am 'toxic' in terms of the Obama administration," Wright wrote the president of the Pennsylvania-based group, Joseph Prischak, earlier this year.
"I am 'radioactive,' Sir. When Obama threw me under the bus, he threw me under the bus literally!" he wrote. "Any advice that I offer is going to be taken as something to be avoided. Please understand that!"
The White House didn't respond to requests for comment Monday about Wright's remarks.
Several phone messages left for Wright at his Trinity United Church of Christ were not returned. Wright's spokeswoman, his daughter Jeri Wright, did not immediately comment on the substance of the letter.
In the spring of 2008, a video of Wright denouncing American policies in a sermon at his Chicago church threw then-Sen. Obama's presidential campaign into turmoil.
Obama sharply denounced his former pastor's incendiary remarks.
But Wright continued to ignite controversy.
In a speech to the National Press Club in April 2008, he claimed the U.S. government could plant AIDS in the black community, praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and suggested Obama's shunning of his pastor was simply a PR move.
That rant prompted Obama to cut ties with Wright, whom he labeled "divisive and destructive," and leave his church.
Wright's letter was sent Feb. 18 to Prischak, the president of Africa 6000 International in Erie, Pa. Wright subsequently agreed to write a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the group's behalf to try to get access to millions of dollars.
LINK TO LETTER:
Incumbency loses its edge in three big primary battles
Mon May 17, 8:24 pm ET
One major theme to watch for as primary returns start rolling in for Tuesday's key Senate races: Is incumbency all it's cracked up to be?
In most election cycles, holding a seat in Congress is a huge tactical advantage, since sitting lawmakers are usually able to draw on the campaign war chests that national party organizations and congressional campaign groups build up — in addition, of course, to all the time that elected officials spend fundraising on their own.
That advantage shrivels, though, when the electorate seems to be in throw-the-rascals-out mode, as seems to be the case so far in 2010. Rather than coasting into a lavishly funded media push in the homestretch of their primary races, two veteran senators — Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas — are fighting for their political lives. In Kentucky, the battle for the seat opened by Republican Jim Bunning's retirement is between a candidate endorsed by the state's GOP hierarchy, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the self-described tea party candidate, Rand Paul. Tuesday's ballot may well signal the depth of popular anger at Washington — and might serve as a bellwether for which party ultimately gains control of Congress in November. Here's a quick primer on the big three Senate races:
When Arlen Specter switched parties a year ago, he made no secret of his main motive: political survival. Facing a nasty GOP primary against onetime opponent Pat Toomey, Specter wasn't sure he could win. In any other case, such candor might help a candidate, but not this year. Even though Specter often siphoned off some Democratic support in his previous Republican campaigns, the longtime senator has struggled to convince members of the Democratic base that's he really one of them. In recent weeks, Joe Sestak, a Democratic congressman from the Philadelphia suburbs, has closed the gap with Specter, earning endorsements from groups like the abortion-rights group NARAL and MoveOn.org. And Sestak has been savvy not merely in questioning Specter's party loyalty, but also in joining the chorus of other primary challengers denouncing incumbent politicians and campaigning for a "new generation" in Washington. To counter that argument, Specter has been highlighting his "experience" in his own campaign messages. That's not just a dig at Sestak's limited time in Congress, but also a reminder of Specter's long resume in the Senate. Unfortunately for Specter, that may not be much of a selling point for voters Tuesday.
Heading into the 2010 cycle, Blanche Lincoln was considered a safe bet for re-election. She was a centrist Democrat — a position that played well in Arkansas, a once-liberal state that has increasingly swung right in recent years. But Lincoln's noncommittal positions on big-ticket legislative issues like health care reform earned her the ire of liberal activists and labor unions, including the deep-pocketed AFL-CIO, which began spending money on attack ads calling for her ouster. On Tuesday, she faces Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who, in spite of getting endorsements from groups like MoveOn.org, says he's not challenging Lincoln from "the left" but more as an outsider — an argument that has traction in this anti-incumbent year. Though polling has been limited, a recent Daily-Kos/Research 2000 poll found Lincoln leading Halter by 9 points, 46 percent to 37 percent. And the race might not be over Tuesday: If neither candidate cracks 50 percent, a runoff would automatically be scheduled.
It's not just Democrats facing spoilers in their own party. When McConnell anointed Secretary of State Trey Grayson as the GOP establishment candidate to succeed Bunning, Republicans thought the race was over. Not so much. In recent weeks, Rand Paul — the son of libertarian Texas Rep. Ron Paul, an insurgent GOP candidate for president in 2008 — has taken a double-digit lead in most surveys. Rand Paul has made his insurgent primary bid a referendum on Washington, tapping the energy of the tea party base. He criticizes Republicans as much as Democrats and has notably refused to say whether he would even support McConnell for a role in Senate leadership should he win. While Grayson was endorsed by Dick Cheney and other key Washington Republicans, Paul picked up a major endorsement of his own: Sarah Palin. In recent days, McConnell, while not quite distancing himself from Grayson, has sought to make nice with Paul. In an interview on Sunday's "Meet the Press," McConnell insisted that the open primary was a good thing for the party — though he insisted a Paul victory had nothing to do with establishment politicians like himself.
— Holly Bailey is a senior political writer for Yahoo! News.
Palin joins Arizona gov. to defend immigration law
JONATHAN J. COOPER
May 15, 2010 11:00 PM EST |
PHOENIX — As calls spread for an economic boycott of Arizona, the state's governor enlisted the help of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Saturday to defend a new law cracking down on illegal immigration.
Jan Brewer and Palin blamed President Barack Obama for the state law, saying the measure is Arizona's attempt to enforce immigration laws because the federal government won't do it.
"It's time for Americans across this great country to stand up and say, 'We're all Arizonans now,'" Palin said. "And in clear unison we say, 'Mr. President: Do your job. Secure our border.'"
The former Alaska governor appeared with Brewer at a brief news conference on Saturday. The event launched a website that Brewer said was an effort to educate America about border security and discourage an economic boycott of the state.
The site, funded by Brewer's re-election campaign, shows pictures of Brewer and Palin and invites visitors to sign a petition opposing boycotts. It includes a list of politicians and organizations calling for the boycotts and asks visitors to call or e-mail to "let them know that you support Arizona."
"Our purpose today is to help the rest of the nation understand the crisis which confronts our state," Brewer said, citing the presence of human and drug smugglers.
The immigration law takes effect July 29 unless blocked by pending court challenges. It requires police enforcing another law to ask a person about his or her immigration status if there's "reasonable suspicion" that the person is in the country illegally. Being in the country illegally would become a state crime.
"I think for most American people the reaction to this would be, 'Why haven't the police already been doing that?'" Palin said.
Obama and some city, state and foreign governments have condemned the law, which critics say will lead to racial profiling of Hispanics. Brewer on Saturday reiterated her assertion that profiling is illegal and will not be tolerated.
"The president apparently considers it a wonderful opportunity to divide people along racial lines for his personal political convenience," Brewer said.
Arizona Democratic Party spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said Brewer's the one who has divided people, which she's done by signing controversial bills, and "puts her political survival first every single day."
"Every word she said today was crafted with her Republican primary in mind," Johnson said. "Arizona is just an afterthought."
Brewer automatically became governor last year after former Gov. Janet Napolitano was appointed U.S. Homeland Security secretary. She's found herself rapidly thrust into an international spotlight, the subject of ridicule on the left and praised by anti-illegal immigration activists on the right.
Arizona's law is considered the nation's toughest crackdown on illicit border crossers. It was pushed by illegal immigration hard-liners in the state Legislature, but Brewer has become the public face of the law since she signed it April 23.
Her decision to sign it, announced in a nationally televised press conference, has given Brewer traction in this year's crowded GOP primary for governor.
Some of Brewer's opponents say she's not a true conservative and have hit her hard for demanding a temporary increase in the state sales tax. Her campaign has seized on the immigration bill to bolster her conservative credentials.
Brewer and Palin refused to say whether they'd support a guest worker program that would allow unskilled workers to temporarily work legally in the United States.
Palin is in Phoenix for a previously scheduled speech to a hunters group. She has defended the law on national television and spoken out against boycotts.
This week she railed against a suburban Chicago high school for skipping a girls' basketball tournament in Arizona because of concerns over the new law.
Palin said Wednesday night that people should help the Highland Park team get to Arizona even if the girls have to "go rogue."
Celebrity Chef Accused of Soliciting Wife's Murder
Juan Carlos Cruz is set to be arraigned Monday. He is accused of trying to hire a homeless hitman to slit his wife's throat.
Juan Carlos Cruz (Santa Monica Police Department)
West Memphis Church Awarded $43.6 Million Judgement
Pastor says lawsuit proves you don't cheat God
1:17 PM CDT, May 16, 2010
Sunday, May 16th 2010, 4:00 AM
Take two Viagra and paw me in the morning.
A Long Island shelter is looking for donations of those little blue pills to save a pit bull with a life-threatening heart condition.
Six-year-old Ingrid is dependent on two daily 50-mg. doses of the libido-revving meds, but her supply of the drug is just 30 days from running out. Caregivers at the shelter are appealing to Viagra users to share their coveted pills to give the much-loved pooch the gift of life.
"She's the first, and the only, dog that I've ever known that needs Viagra," said Jodi Record, spokeswoman for the Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center in Huntington. "If she didn't have it, she'd most likely go back into heart failure."
The shelter launched its first ever Viagra drive two years ago when they first took charge of Ingrid and donations poured in from around the country. The well has nearly run dry.
Anonymous letters arrived by mail with a single pill enclosed. Doctors' donated whatever they could spare. And one woman gleefully handed over her husband's stash of Viagra, believing he was using the pills to fire up an extramarital affair.
"She was happy to be giving it to Ingrid," Record recalled. "As long as her husband wasn't getting it, she was happy."
Another donor walked in and gave Ingrid a month's supply.
"When I asked if he wanted to see Ingrid to see how it helped her he replied: 'Oh, you don't have to tell me. I know how it works.'"
Actually, there's no scientific evidence that man's favorite pill has the same impact on man's best friend.
Ingrid was rescued by the animal shelter after being neglected by her owners and tied to a fence for most of her life.
The dog was found to have heartworm diseaseand a veterinarian suggested Viagra. The drug was originally developed as a heart medication that promotes blood flow. It is not covered by animal insurance, and costs about $10 a piece.
Ingrid is up for adoption and the staff at the animal shelter say as long as she keeps popping the blue pills, she can lead a long and healthy life.
"She's such a sweet, loving dog," Record said. "Some people are afraid of pit bulls, but all she's going to do is kiss them."
Woman accused of heart monitor theft
Friday, May 14, 2010 6:45 am
WATERLOO -- A Waterloo woman was arrested after she allegedly checked herself out of a hospital with medical equipment still attached to her.
Police said 45-year-old Wendi Mae Mingus was a patient at Allen Hospital May 8 when she walked outside telling staff she was taking a cigarette break.
But Mingus had her street clothes underneath her hospital gown and was carrying a bag with her belongings.
And she was also attached to a wireless heart monitor valued at $1,000.
Staff told her she couldn't go outside to smoke unless she was discharged, but she continued to leave, according to court records.
The following day, police found Mingus when she allegedly tried to break through a wall in an apartment building at 801 W. Fourth St., court records state. Mingus told police she was trying to get to her purse.
Mingus was arrested for second-degree theft and fifth-degree criminal mischief.
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A South Tahoe High softball coach required any player who struck out in a May 1 game to drink soda out of a shoe, school officials have confirmed.
Eight varsity players who struck out against the Wooster Colts in that game at Todd Fields were required by coach Anneliese Neitling to drink soda pop out of a team member's softball cleat at a team slumber party that night.
The Tahoe Daily Tribune contacted Neitling on Wednesday and she refused to comment. She did not return additional phone calls before deadline Thursday.
James Tarwater, the superintendent of Lake Tahoe Unified School District, interpreted the action as a young coach's mistake.
“It was meant as a joke and obviously it went too far,” said Tarwater, whose office received one parental complaint about the incident.
Tarwater said the incident will be addressed during Neitling's postseason coaching evaluation.
“People learn from mistakes,” Tarwater said. “She does a good job pulling the team together, morale-wise and support-wise.”
However, the parent who complained about the event said it was a safety issue.
“I was not happy about this. She should have thought about this and acted with better judgment,” the parent said. “This is a safety issue. Each year there is a horrible story of someone killed because of hazing. I just didn't want this go any further and see someone get hurt.”
Many states, including California and Nevada, have laws against hazing, which is an initiation or act that subjects someone to possible bodily danger, physical harm, personal degradation or disgrace in order to be accepted in their group or organization.
Hazing incidents have been reported in the United States for more than a century and are routinely related to college fraternities and sororities, high school and college athletic teams and military outfits.
The parent was concerned that if the girls thought that being forced to drink out of a shoe was OK, that something worse might follow.
The parent's daughter who struck out and drank out of the shoe spoke to the Tribune about the experience.
“I thought she was joking about it at first,” the team member said. “I was a little shocked. I thought it wasn't a very smart thing to punish us with.”
Another player who didn't strike out in that game said no grade levels were excluded from the strikeout rule.
“If I had to do it, I would have been upset,” the player said. “It wasn't meant for harm. She was motivating us to do good, try hard and do our best.”
The reporting parent said that coach Neitling has apologized to the team and parents, satisfying his concerns. Tarwater also said that an apology has been made.
“I don't want her to be fired. That was never my intention,” the parent said. “She deserves a second chance. We've all made mistakes. We all deserve second chances; that's the American way.”
Neitling, an off-campus coach, just completed her second season in charge of the Vikings' softball program. She took over the team on the eve of the 2009 season as an emergency replacement when Joann Allister unexpectedly resigned.
“She stepped in, pulled them together and has done a good job,” Tarwater said. “Being a coach is one of the most difficult jobs that I see. Most of it comes from a passion from the heart. Sometimes that passion and enthusiasm get off the bubble a bit.”
South Tahoe Athletic Director Don Borges declined to comment on what he regards as a personnel matter.
Borges, however, did say that Vikings' coaches are required to attend a pre-season coaches' orientation meeting, and hazing is addressed during an online coaching fundamentals certification program required by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
“All coaches have to go through that,” Borges said.
Since South Tahoe is a member of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, the school adheres to the Nevada hazing law. The law states that hazing is a misdemeanor offense if there isn't substantial bodily harm, and a gross misdemeanor if significant bodily harm occurs. Consent of a victim is not a valid defense to prosecution, the law states.
In California, hazing incidents that don't result in serious bodily injury are still punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and/or serving up to a year in a county jail.
LINK TO PHOTO OF COACH
Friday, May 14, 2010
What started as a reported robbery in a Wawa turned out to be a failed drug deal, police said.
On Thursday morning at about 8:15 a.m., the Middle Township Police Department responded to a call from Lawrence Walsh, 24, who is living in the Offshore Motel in Rio Grande. Walsh said he was robbed at the Rio Grande Wawa on Route 9.
By the time police responded, they learned that the suspect had fled in a cab.
However, further investigation revealed that Walsh had made arrangements with Thomas Michael Sexton, 23, of the Erma section of Lower Township, to purchase cocaine from Sexton at the Wawa, police said.
Instead, Sexton sold imitation drugs, specifically sheetrock, to Walsh, police said, and it was after he found out he had been sold imitation drugs that Walsh called the police.
Both Sexton and Walsh were charged as a result of the incident. Sexton was charged with the distribution of imitation drugs, a third degree offense, and Walsh was charged with wandering in a public place to purchase drugs, a disorderly persons offense.
Both men were released on summonses.
Additional charges are pending, as the investigation is still ongoing.
A billboard in Buffalo had some straight talk for President Obama during his visit to the city.
A Buffalo billboard displayed a succinct message when President Obama visited the economically distressed city Thursday, according to reports. The billboard read "Dear Mr. President, I need a freakin job. Period."
The president was scheduled to stop in Buffalo - a city that had fallen on hard times long before the recent recession - as part of his "Main Street" economic tour."
The billboard was part of a media campaign known as the INAFJ Project, organized by a local businessman who saw his own small business go under 15 months ago.
"We employed 25 people and it was the most heartbreaking situation I've been through in my life" Jeff Baker told CBS News. The ad – and a video posted on YouTube - features college students.
Baker told the Buffalo News that the banks had refused to work with him and his brother Scott, according to the Washington Examiner. The men rented the billboard space for $5,500 a month ago, before they knew that the president would be visiting their town.
The INAFJ website says: "See here's the thing, Nothing matters if people and families aren't working. We need to make some noise."
In the Buffalo/Niagara area of the state, household income had dropped 4 percent between 2000 and 2008, before the economy collapsed, reports the Washington Examiner. Nationwide, while 297,000 jobs were created in April, the unemployment rate's still 9.9 percent, according to CBS News.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2010/05/14/2010-05-14_buffalo_billboard_to_president_obama_dear_mr_president_i_need_a_freakin_job_peri.html#ixzz0nzvVhzDH
Pat Buchanan: Too Many Jews On The Supreme Court
First Posted: 05-14-10 05:01 PM | Updated: 05-14-10 05:17 PM
Okay, so, filed under "Kagan, Elena; reasons she would be the Supreme Court's greatest monster," I have: secret lesbian, Ivy League, friend of Obama, played softball (cf. secret lesbian), no children (cf. secret lesbian, also see "Cohen, Richard, worst columnist in English language), wrote thesis on socialism in New York, hiring practices, treatment of military recruiters, no paper trail, no judicial experience, reminds everyone of that time President George W. Bush tried to nominate Harriet Miers on some sort of dare, and secret lesbian.
Am I leaving anything out? Oh, hey, MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan! You wanted to add something?
Indeed, of the last seven justices nominated by Democrats JFK, LBJ, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, one was black, Marshall; one was Puerto Rican, Sonia Sotomayor. The other five were Jews: Arthur Goldberg, Abe Fortas, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.
If Kagan is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats.
Is this the Democrats' idea of diversity?
But while leaders in the black community may be upset, the folks who look more like the real targets of liberal bias are white Protestants and Catholics, who still constitute well over half of the U.S. population.
Oh, well, there you go. Pat Buchanan has counted up the Jews on the Supreme Court (no doubt with the help of current Bob McDonnell crony/former Nixon White House "Jew-counter" Fred Malek) and has discovered that there is just not enough Protestantism on the Supreme Court, thus continuing America's rich tradition of only letting Protestants do just about everything else in American society.
Remember the last time we had a fresh-faced Supreme Court nominee to obsess over? Back then, Pat Buchanan was all worked up about Sonia Sotomayor successfully learning English and going to Princeton, and how awful she was for doing so -- or something! It did not make sense. Later, Buchanan got together with a bunch of fellow travelers and talked about Sotomayor's Hispanicity at some sort of conference. Oh, wait! I'm sorry. At a "CONFERENECE".
Anyway, this is a crushing blow to the American Jesus. The end.
UPDATE: Per Media Matters:
A commenter on the post looked a little deeper at the religious background of ALL Supreme Court Justices to show how ridiculous Buchanan's column was on its face:Overall, Jews represent 6.4% of ALL SCOTUS justices over the years (7 Jews have sat on the bench, total). By contrast, over 32% of justices have been Episcopalians, when only 1.7% of the country is within that religion.
The comment is accurate according to this breakdown of Justices by their faith.
New Kensington man, mom charged in drug deal gone awry
VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
A 20-year-old New Kensington man and his 41-year-old mother are facing drug and other charges after he allegedly forced a Jeannette man to strip to his boxers at gunpoint after a botched drug sale, police said.
Nathaniel Lindgren and Jean Pinko, both of the 300 block of Fourth Avenue, were each released on $25,000 unsecured bond by Westmoreland County Night Court Magistrate James Mahady pending a preliminary hearing.
New Kensington police said the incident started about 8:30 p.m. Friday when two Jeannette men arrived to buy drugs. One of the men went to the house to get heroin while the other man waited in a car in Cherry Alley, police said.
When the man arrived at the porch, Lindgren told him the cost was $90 for a "bundle" of 10 single-dose packets of heroin, or $10 a bag.
He was given a bundle, but was told to leave his cellular phone as collateral until he could get the money from the man waiting in the car.
The man on the porch, who is not being named because he hasn't been charged, agreed.
But as he was walking to the car, he saw New Kensington police arresting the man in the car, identified as Glenn Speece, 28, for not reporting to court on a receiving stolen property charge.
The unidentified Jeannette man also saw his ride home being towed away.
So, according to police, he threw the heroin into high weeds along Cherry Alley and went back to the Lindgren residence to get his phone.
He told Lindgren that he didn't have the heroin or the money, but he still wanted his cell phone back because it wasn't his fault, Detective Sgt. Dennis Marsili said.
The man allegedly told Lindgren where he threw the heroin, and he joined Lindgren and Pinko in a search for the drug. They couldn't find it.
"Lindgren thought he was lying to him," Marsili said.
That's when Lindgren pointed a .22-caliber pistol at the man, forced him inside the house and made him strip, police said.
Lindgren and his mother both searched the man's clothes to no avail, police allege.
The man eventually was allowed to leave.
Police said Lindgren previously was convicted of aggravated assault and wasn't allowed to own a pistol — even if he had been of legal age. He was charged with illegal gun possession and having a prohibited offensive weapon, as well as drug possession, having drug paraphernalia — including a digital scale, heroin and cooker spoons — conspiracy, unlawful restraint, simple assault and reckless endangerment.
Pinko is charged with drug and drug paraphernalia possession, conspiracy and unlawful restraint.
A preliminary hearing will be scheduled in New Kensington.
Celery Makes Men Sexier
5/14/2010 12:00 pm
Fellas, are you on the prowl? Will you be spending your Friday night looking for love out on the town? Well, after you work out, get a nice hot shower in, and get yourself groomed and dressed, why not eat a few sticks of celery? Celery makes a man more attractive to women, says Judy Gaman, Dr. Walter Gaman, and Dr. Mark Anderson. The trio, authors of the book Stay Young: Ten Proven Steps To Ultimate Health, say that celery contains androstenone, a hormone that promotes sexual health, increases the sex drive, and triggers pheromone production.
Pheromones, as we know, are key in attractiveness and the selection of mates in most animal species. Humans are no different. Just be careful you don’t overdo it, both on the celery and on the ladies. Androstenone, in an artificial form, was one of the magical ingredients to Mark McGwire’s steroids-fueled baseball career.
Also, if I can offer another tip? Brush your teeth after you munch your celery, because there’s nothing attractive about celery breath and green strings caught between your teeth.
LINK TO ADDITIONAL STORY
"THIS STORY IS EXTREMELY DISTURBING!!"
Wed May 12, 11:17 AM ET
ODESSA (AP/CBS 11 News)
A West Texas student who led his high school basketball team to the state playoffs last season was actually a 22-year-old man, police said Tuesday.
Police say the basketball star was really Guerdwich Montimere, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Haiti who school officials say was recognized last month by Florida coaches as having been a star high school player in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a few years ago.
Ector County school district officials said the man posed as 16-year-old Jerry Joseph and enrolled at Permian High School in Odessa for the 2009-2010 academic year. He also presented himself as homeless to the school's basketball coach, Danny Wright, who took the boy in last summer, the coach said.
Montimere was arrested at Permian High on Tuesday and booked into Ector County jail on a charge of presenting false identification to a peace officer. He was released from jail Wednesday after posting a $500 bond.
Officials said Jerry Joseph originally enrolled at the local junior high as a 15-year-old in February 2009, then moved on to high school.
Permian High officials say suspicions about the player's identity first arose when three Florida basketball coaches familiar with Montimere recognized him last month at an amateur tournament in Little Rock, Ark. The Odessa American reported that the coaches recognized him as Montimere, who graduated from Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale in 2007.
School district officials said they grew more suspicious after contacting U.S. immigration officials.
The smoking gun came from a fingerprint match from his original immigration papers - a direct contradiction to the false documents he gave to the school district, reports CBS affiliate KOSA in Odessa.
"The only information we had identified him as a 16 year old male identifying him as Jerry Joseph," said Police Lt. Mark Rowden.
The investigation shows that Montimere mingled with even younger students when he was enrolled at Nimitz Junior High at the age of 21, the station reports.
So how did it happen?
The school district says they're bound by state law to allow anyone an education as long as they have proof that they are of the proper age, KOSA reports.
"Anyone has to be attended for at least the first 30 days without any I'd, they have to be admitted so we really don't have that much of a choice, that would be a matter of changing the law," said Rowden.
Police said they arrested Montimere after confronting him about his identity.
"I feel like I was hit by a ton of bricks," district athletic director Leon Fuller said. "In my 50 years in education, I've never heard of anything like this."
Wright told The American that the player was like a family member.
"This affected a lot of people. The whole school of Permian embraced that kid. He deceived us and played on everyone's emotions," Wright said.
Montimere was being held on $500 bond Tuesday night, according to jail records. Jail officials said no attorney was listed for Montimere.
If convicted of the misdemeanor, Montimere could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
The revelation means Permian likely will have to forfeit the 2009 basketball season in which the 6-foot-5 player known as Jerry Joseph led the team to District 2-5A state playoffs and earned newcomer of the year accolades.
"I feel sick, but now that we've gotten the truth we can move on from here," said Permian principal Roy Garcia.
Permian High School's football program and the community support for it inspired the book "Friday Night Lights."
LINK TO PICTURES
Crack bust nets 87-year-old woman
Woman, 87, caught on tape selling drugs to undercover officer
May 14, 2010
Ola Mae Agee
(Special to the News Journal)
An 87-year-old woman was arrested Thursday after she was caught on tape selling crack cocaine to an undercover Escambia County deputy.
And it's not the first time the Pensacola woman has been busted for drugs.
Ola Mae Agee of the 900 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Pensacola was arrested after the undercover officer bought a $20 piece of crack from her, Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Ted Roy said. The incident occurred on April 30 at Agee's home at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Desoto Street, the Sheriff's Office said.
A surveillance video of the sale shows the undercover officer knock on the back door of Agee's home. Agee then answers the door and walks the officer to another room where she retrieves the crack after rummaging through the couch.
The undercover officer counts out $20, including pocket change, which he gives to Agee in exchange for the crack.
In addition to what was sold to the deputy, Agee can be seen in the video holding a small bag of crack cocaine. Roy did not know how much crack was in the bag, and he did not know if additional narcotics were recovered from Agee's home.
But Thursday's arrest wasn't the first time Agee has been picked up in connection with drug-related charges.
Agee pleaded no contest in December 1996 to possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver. She served a two-year probation, which ended in July of 1998 when she was 75 years old.
Agee was again arrested in February of 1999 for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, but the charges against her were later dropped.
On Thursday afternoon, three people — who refused to identify themselves — sat in the front yard of Agee's downtown home. They said they did not know where Agee was or when she would return.
Sheriff's investigators anticipate additional drug-related arrests in connection with the sale drugs from Agee's residence, Roy said. It is believed those additional suspects also sold crack at other houses in Escambia County, Roy said.
Family members took Agee to Escambia County Jail following her arrest. After Agee was processed, she was released on her own recognizance because of her age, Roy said.
LINK TO VIDEO
Woman Flirts With Obama: 'You're A Hottie With A Smokin' Little Body'
First Posted: 05-13-10 02:22 PM | Updated: 05-13-10 02:29 PM
The New York Times' Sheryl Stolberg provided one of the better White House pool reports in recent memory Thursday while covering President Obama's jobs-and-the-economy tour of upstate New York. Here's how Stolberg opens the recap of their lunch stop at Duff's Famous Wings in the Buffalo-adjacent town of Cheektowaga:
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "You're a hottie with a smokin' little body."
Yes indeed, some people will say just about anything to get a hug from Barack Obama. Those words were spoken by Luann Haley, 45, to the president, during his unannounced visit to this local landmark. He replied by giving her a big hug. ("He gave me a squeeze,"' she said afterward.) She swooned and he said Michelle would be watching on television. "That's all right,"' Ms. Haley said as the cameras rolled. "Hi Michelle, eat your heart out."
Ironically, given the nature of the tour, Haley was part of a large crowd of Department of Education contractors who work one door down from Duff's as collection agents on defaulted student loans. The collection agents saw Secret Service pull up at the wings joint and decided to take their lunch break, Stolberg reports.
The President ordered wings, declaring to Stolberg, "This is the wing capital." He initially requested medium, she reports, but upon conferring further with some of the other 100 or so patrons and employees asked for half regular, half extra-spicy. In a possible breaking scandal, Stolberg notes that Obama vocally insisted on paying the $10.82, but she did not witness him pay.
Officer Under Investigation For "Weed Spanking"
Reserve Ripley, TN officer in court after abuse allegations
6:32 PM CDT, May 13, 2010
Highland Park High officials say canceling Ariz. trip 'not political'
May 13, 2010 10:10 PM
From Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh to Whoopi Goldberg, national attention focused on the decision to keep the Highland Park High School girls basketball team out of an Arizona tournament because of that state's controversial crackdown on illegal immigrants.
Talk shows and bloggers across the country jumped on the story Thursday, with Limbaugh telling listeners, "You have a bunch of childish, immature, liberal little adults running this school who care more about what people think of them and what they think of each other than they do about any kid anywhere."
District 113 administrators hunkered down, refusing to address the firestorm of debate -- except through e-mail statements about why they canceled the trip.
"We cannot commit at this time to playing at a venue where some of our students' safety or liberty might be placed at risk because of state immigration law," Superintendent George Fornero said in a letter to parents.
Board members also did not return calls and e-mails seeking their input on the burgeoning controversy that put the school under the national spotlight.
"Since undocumented students may be participating on any of our extracurricular teams, we need to ensure that all of our students can travel safely, especially in the United States," Suzan Hebson, the assistant superintendent, said Thursday in an e-mail to the Tribune.
Earlier this week, Hebson said she did not know if anyone associated with this year's team is undocumented. The district does not yet know the make-up of its varsity team next fall.
Parents and players said they knew of no one currently on the team who was in the country illegally.
Coming off their best season in 26 years, players have been raising money to attend the tournament next season in Scottsdale, Ariz., which is scheduled for late December.
But last week an executive team made up of Fornero, Hebson and other administrators rejected the basketball team's request. Coach Jolie Bechtel broke the news to her players on Monday.
Fornero and Hebson on Thursday backed away from any suggestion that the decision was a political protest, despite Hebson's comment to the Tribune on Tuesday that the trip "would not be aligned with our beliefs and values."
"District 113's decisions regarding travel of its students in regard to extracurricular activities is never `political,'" Hebson said in her follow-up e-mail.
Meanwhile, former vice presidential candidate Palin was making the media rounds, following up on her criticism of school district officials during an appearance in Rosemont on Wednesday evening.
"An economic and political boycott of one of our sister states is not a way to secure our borders," Palin told the Rosemont audience, urging the players to, "go rogue, girls."
"They're using their own kids to advance a fraudulent, phony agenda," Limbaugh told his radio audience, according to a transcript on his Web site. "So here you have a bunch of liberals that run this school who are no different than your garden variety liberals anywhere else."
For Michael Evans, father of basketball player Lauren Evans, the political bickering now swirling around the canceled trip is exactly what parents did not want to happen.
"I've gotten calls from (Sean) Hannity and (Greta) Van Susteren," Evans said, referring to Fox News commentators. "I heard Whoopi Goldberg talking about it on The View this morning."
"Shouldn't they have had this conversation with the parents first before they just canceled it?" Goldberg said on the show. "It would behoove the folks, those parents who are upset, to get to their school and say you cannot make these decisions without talking to us and at least allowing us to talk to our children. Because they did all this work and you (school officials) made the decision."
But Evans says he isn't looking for support from celebrities or pundits.
"What I don't want to do is politicize one way or another this tournament," the parent said. "That's what I was upset about: It was politicized (by school district administrators). Just let them play basketball."
Administrators say they are seeking another out-of-state tournament for the team to play in next season.
But now it's gone beyond basketball in Highland Park, an upscale North Shore community that includes the heavily Hispanic town of Highwood in its educational district. If the national discourse is intense, the debate locally has been equally energetic.
As students flowed from the high school on Thursday afternoon, they were greeted by reporters, photographers and a TV satellite truck from the national Fox News as it prepared for a live broadcast.
"I feel bad for the girls," said Evan Deahl, 17, a junior. "They worked hard to get all the funds together to go on this trip. But on the other hand we need to show support for our community. Many people don't know that Highwood feeds into our community and that Highwood has a high proportion of Latino students."
Jessie Rooth, 17, a junior, said she's in the band, which went to China last year.
"I don't think the team should be stopped from going to Arizona seeing as how we were allowed to go to China," Rooth said. "There are issues in China with communism. Before we left we talked about certain things and how we couldn't act certain ways. Arizona has its issues, and there shouldn't be a correlation between the kids not being able to go just because of the laws in Arizona."
Marissa Medansky, 17, a junior, applauded the administrators' decision.
"We have a very diverse student population, and it's our responsibility to protect everyone who goes to this school regardless of their race, regardless of their documentation status," she said.
"I think the media attention is unfortunate," she added. "I think the district did a brave thing, and it's horrible how it's being misconstrued by all these media outlets. There are two sides to the story, and they're only choosing to tell one side of the story, that the team can't go."
Highland Park resident Neil Codell, whose daughter attends the high school, questioned the decision to cancel the trip and the superintendent's refusal to speak publicly about it.
Codell, former superintendent for Niles Township High School District 219, called the trip a "teachable moment" in which the basketball team could talk to Arizona residents about their new law and its ramifications.
"I don't see the imminent danger in Arizona except for the fact that it is a state that has embarrassed itself, not only by being the last to adopt the (Martin Luther) King holiday but ... this in-your-face attitude that further alienates people," Codell said.
Joe Peddle lives in Highland Park and graduated from the high school in 1979.
"They should not politicize the school," Peddle said. "This is not a place for it."
Brian Cox contributed to this report.
--Jeff Long and Lisa Black
Thieves steal hearse with body but leave note so corpse could be found
The Plain Dealer
May 12, 2010, 1:53PM
Updated: 6 p.m.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Thieves who stole a hearse with a corpse inside early Wednesday from a Cleveland crematory left a note behind when they abandoned the vehicle so police could find the body.
The 2009 Chrysler was taken from Greenfield Crematory on Lake Court. Police received a call Wednesday about 7 a.m. about an abandoned vehicle in a driveway on East 55th Street, north of St. Clair Avenue.
A dispatcher told a cop that a body should be inside the car. The crematory had reported the theft and the missing body.
The officer did not find the body but found a note saying where the corpse was left. Another officer found the gurney and female corpse about two miles away at Ashland Road and Tivoli Court, police said.
Detectives took pictures of the gurney and corpse before crematory workers retrieved the body.
The thieves also took computer equipment from the crematory. Police are exploring whether the thieves stole the van to haul away the computer equipment, Sgt. Sammy Morris said.
Funeral homes and crematories are sometimes targeted for embalming chemicals, which when mixed with other drugs produce a potent high. It was unclear if any chemicals were taken from Greenfield in the theft.
No one had been arrested in the theft as of late Wednesday.
The corpse was not harmed, said Jim Murphy, president of Schulte & Mahon-Murphy Funeral Home in Lyndhurst. The company owns the van and part of the crematory, officials said.
The corpse was left on the gurney in the vehicle inside a locked building and was scheduled to be cremated Wednesday, Murphy said. He refused to discuss the theft at length.
"Everything is fine," he said. "No harm done."
Traffic camera rakes in nearly $1 million in a month
A traffic camera has brought in almost $1 million in just a month after motorists were left confused by conflicting signs, it has been claimed.
Published: 9:00AM BST 13 May 2010
Around 7,000 fines were issued to motorists who drove down a road in Westminster, London, which had been closed for engineering works between March and April.
Those who were given the $120 penalty claim that the signs did not make it clear the road was only open to buses and taxis.
Mark Reed, who was caught out at the junction between Vauxhall Bridge Road and Wilton Road in Westminster, told the Daily Express: “I went through this area, turned right and the next thing I know, a week or so later, I got a $120 ticket.
“It’s very confusing signage. There’s probably going to be a lot more before we’re through.”
The tickets issued added up to around $840,000, although Transport for London said individual fines went down to $60 if paid within 14 days.
Motorists’ rights group Penalty Charge Notice told the Daily Express: “Sometimes it is almost impossible to comply with restrictions. Quite often there are too many signs and there are two restrictions operating at one location.”
Andrew Howard, from the AA, added: “If it isn’t clear whether or not you’re breaking the law, it becomes very difficult not to be sympathetic.”
TfL said the majority of drivers did understand the signs and warnings had been in place for a month before closure.
'Oh, no, it's on'—East Bremerton McDonald's employees take on would-be robber
May 10 2010, 10:57 AM
A masked man attempting to rob an East Bremerton McDonald's restaurant early Friday morning had trouble getting employees to take him seriously.
He was eventually wrestled to the ground by the workers, who held him until police arrived.
Bremerton Police were called to the McDonald's at 3580 Wheaton Way in Bremerton just after midnight when employees reported they had detained a man who had tried to rob the counter, according to police reports.
Employees initially thought the suspect, 29, of Bremerton, was a fellow employee playing a joke. He was wearing a mask and had a metal pipe under his clothes which he told employees he would use to shoot them.
After demanding money from the register 10 times, the suspect went behind the counter. An employee approached the man and was punched in the face. The employee then said, "Oh no, it's on," according to the man's written statement.
The suspect was wrestled to the ground and detained while the store's owner called 911. He was booked into the Kitsap County jail for investigation of first-degree robbery.
Lover's Lane Truck Stolen In 'Panty Heist'
Stop drinking your lotion, people!
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
5:30 PM PT
Here's a warning you probably thought you'd never need: The federal Food and Drug Administration is urging consumers not to swallow Benadryl Extra-Strength Itch-Stopping Gel after receiving reports of people chugging the lotion that’s meant to be used only on the skin.
At least 121 people have reported gulping the gel, which they confused with other over-the-counter Benadryl products that are actually intended to be swallowed, between 2001 and 2009. FDA officials said they had received reports of serious side effects from drinking the lotion. In large amounts, the active ingredient in the gel, diphenhydramine, can cause numb lips, unconsciousness, hallucinations and confusion.
One man reported that he simply grabbed the wrong medicine from the kitchen cabinet where he stored the cough medicine.
“One small swig and he knew he had made a mistake,” reported the patient safety site www.consumermedsafety.org. “He threw it up and his lips were numb for two hours.”
Some of the confusion is understandable. The anti-itch gel comes in bottles that are similar in shape and size to the oral medication, and the consistency of the products is similar.
Still, the product’s manufacturer, Johnson and Johnson, has taken steps to prevent serious injuries. They’ve changed the product label to add a new, bold statement that says “For Skin Use Only,” and added a sticker to the cap that says the same thing.
They’re also planning to research the problem further to understand why consumers may be mistakenly swallowing a lotion that’s only meant to be rubbed into the skin.
The FDA’s best advice? Store skin gels and oral medications separately. And, read the labels, folks.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP)
President Barack Obama
Nine people were indicted Wednesday on federal charges of accessing President Barack Obama's student loan records while they were employed for a Department of Education contractor in Iowa.
The U.S. attorney's office said a grand jury returned the indictments in U.S. District Court in Davenport.
All nine are charged with exceeding authorized computer access. They are accused of gaining access to a computer at a Coralville office where they worked between July 2007 and March 2009, and accessing Obama's student loan records while he was either a candidate for president, president-elect or president.
U.S. attorney spokesman Mike Bladel referred questions to online copies of the indictments.
Each of eight indictments posted by Wednesday night were brief, saying the charged individual "intentionally exceeded authorized access to a computer and thereby obtained information from a department and agency of the United States" and "intentionally accessed student loan records" of Obama without authorization.
Those charged are Andrew J. Lage, 54, Patrick E. Roan, 51, Sandra Teague, 54 and Mercedes Costoyas, 53, all of Iowa City; Gary N. Grenell, 58, and Lisa Torney, 49, of Coralville; Anna C. Rhodes, 32, of Ainsworth; Julie L. Kline, 38, of West Branch; and John P. Phommivong, 29, for whom no hometown was listed.
Lage told The Associated Press on Wednesday evening he did not know about the indictment and declined comment.
Messages were left for Teague, Torney and Costoyas. A telephone listing for Kline rang unanswered and a listing for Rhodes was disconnected. No telephone numbers were immediately found for Phommivong, Roan or Grenell.
Six of them are accused of accessing Obama's records when he was a candidate, according to the indictments online. One is accused of accessing the records when he was president-elect. An indictment for the ninth defendant was not immediately available online.
Court records did not name the contractor that employed the defendants.
Arraignments are scheduled for May 24. The charge is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
May 12, 2010
Minorities Frisked More but Arrested at Same Rate
Blacks and Latinos were nine times as likely as whites to be stopped by the police in New York City in 2009, but no more likely to actually be arrested.
The more than 575,000 stops of people in the city — a record number of what are known in police parlance as “stop and frisks” — yielded 762 guns.
Of the reasons listed by the police for conducting the stops, one of those least commonly cited was the claim that the person fit the description of a suspect. The most common reason listed by the police was a category known as “furtive movements.”
Under Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, the New York Police Department’s use of such street stops has more than quintupled, fueling both an intense debate about the effectiveness and propriety of the tactic and litigation aimed at forcing the department to reveal more information about the encounters.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which got the data on stop and frisk after it first sued the city over the issue after the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo, said its analysis of the 2009 data showed again what it argues is the racially driven use of the tactic against minorities and its relatively modest crime-fighting achievements.
The center, a nonprofit civil and human rights organization financed by donors and foundations, as well as other critics of the tactic, like to note that a gun buyback program conducted by the police at several Bronx churches one day in January yielded 1,186 guns.
Police officials, for their part, vigorously praise the stop-and-frisk policy as a cornerstone of their crime-suppression efforts. The stops led to 34,000 arrests, and the seizing of more than 6,000 weapons other than guns, according to the center’s analysis. The police officials argue that the widespread use of the tactic has forced criminals to keep their guns at home, and allowed the department to bank thousands of names in a database for detectives to mine in fighting future crimes.
Besides better reporting, the surge in the number of stops, they said, is also a byproduct of flooding high-crime areas with more officers, a strategy for a force with a shrinking headcount.
“These are not unconstitutional,” Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said of the stops. “We are saving lives, and we are preventing crime.”
According to the analysis of the 2009 raw data by the Center for Constitutional Rights, nearly 490,000 blacks and Latinos were stopped by the police on the streets last year, versus 53,000 whites.
But once stopped, the rates of arrest were virtually the same. Whites were arrested in slightly more than 6 percent of the stops, blacks in slightly fewer than 6 percent. Roughly 1.7 percent of whites who were stopped were found to have a weapon, while 1.1 percent of blacks were found with one.
Given that, some experts who have studied stop-and-frisk data over the last several years say that what prompts an officer’s suspicion for a stop, and the discretion used, are important.
In examining the stated reasons for the stops, as checked off by police officers on department forms, the center found that about 15 percent of the stops last year cited “fits a relevant description.” Officers can check off more than one reason, but in nearly half the stops, the category called “furtive movements” was cited. Nearly 30 percent of stops cited a category called “casing a victim or location”; nearly 19 percent cited a catchall category of “other.”
“These stats suggest that racial disparities in who gets stopped has more to do with officer bias and discretion than with crime rates, which is what the Police Department argues,” said Darius Charney, a lawyer with the Center for Center for Constitutional Rights.
Mr. Browne, the department spokesman, said stop-and-frisk data was “examined in great detail,” in 2007 by the Rand Corporation, “which found no racial profiling.” He said the stops mirrored crime — that while a large percentage of the stops involved blacks, an even larger percentage of violent crimes involved suspects described as black by their victims.
The work by the Center for Constitutional Rights is the latest in a series of examinations of the police tactic defined by a Supreme Court decision from decades ago, Terry v. Ohio, which permitted officers to briefly detain someone based on “reasonable suspicion,” a threshold lower than the probable cause necessary for a formal arrest.
The issue exploded in New York after Mr. Diallo’s killing, when those who protested the shooting contended there was a pattern of racial profiling in stop and frisks. A study in 1999 by Eliot Spitzer, then the state’s attorney general, found that blacks and Hispanics were stopped disproportionately in relation to their involvement in crime and their share of the city’s population.
In 2001, the city enacted a law requiring the police to provide quarterly reports about the raw data to the City Council and settled a lawsuit, also brought by the constitutional rights group, requiring that plaintiffs be given more valuable raw data.
Reporting by the police has become more regular recently. On Friday, Mr. Browne said that in 2010 there were 149,299 stops through March 31, about 13 percent fewer than in the first quarter of 2009. So far, he said, the stops yielded 186 guns.
As the numbers come out, analysts and academics pore over them to gauge effectiveness.
In March, researchers from the Center on Race, Crime and Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice said that more data and “increased public discussion of this controversial policing practice” were essential.
“If the public does not have access to the data, in a format that allows the experts to identify important trends, then it harms the public discourse,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which successfully sued to get the raw data. “And that is precisely the situation that we are in.”
Particularly vexing to Jeffrey A. Fagan, a professor of law at Columbia University who studied the issue for Mr. Spitzer, is that few can say what happens once the “11 or 12 percent” of street stops that lead to an arrest or summons get to court.
“Are these cases that stand up?” he said. “Do they result in convictions?”
Professor Fagan said it was impossible to tell what dent in crime the tactic had made. Christopher T. Dunn of the civil liberties group said there was no proof it had. Crime has gone down steadily since 1991, but “stop and frisk exploded in 2004,” he said.
But Heather Mac Donald, a research fellow at the Manhattan Institute who has spoken to police officials about the tactic, said there was no question it had an impact on crime. She said that great disparities exist in who commits crime in New York, and that the police fight crime where it is most high, in mostly minority neighborhoods.
“Where are they supposed to go?” she asked.
She echoed Mr. Browne, who said the police are confident the tactic is stopping crime before it occurs.
Mr. Browne took issue with the constitutional rights group’s conclusions about the numbers of arrests or gun seizures the street stops yield. He said, “762 guns can do a lot of damage.” He said taking guns from people in the street was different from accepting their surrender from “moms and grandmothers.”
And he laid out the logic of the stops: More police are sent to higher crime areas, where criminals and victims live; more suspicious activity is associated with that crime; so there are more opportunities for officers to observe suspicious behavior as a result.
John A. Eterno, a former city police captain who worked to computerize the department’s stop-and-frisk data before he retired in 2004, said the tactic could be effective in pushing down crime. But Dr. Eterno, who is now an associate dean of criminal justice at Molloy College, said retired commanders had spoken of the pressures to reflect their use of stop and frisk in CompStat, the department’s computerized crime tracking system.
“My take is that this has become more like a ‘throw a wide net and see what you can find’ kind of thing,” he said. “I don’t’ see it as targeted enforcement, especially when you see numbers that we are talking about.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights also studied post-stop outcomes.
There, it found that officers frisked more people in 2009 than a year earlier, but the rate of frisks for blacks and Latinos was much higher than it was for whites. It found that the police used force in 24 percent of stops — drawing a weapon, say, or throwing people to the ground. The police used force in 19 percent of the stops involving whites but in 27 percent of stops against Latinos and in 25 percent of those involving blacks.
The disparities in the use of force, compared with the numbers of arrests and summonses and of weapons and contraband seized, is something that “the police have not really explained to the public,” Mr. Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights said.
Sarah Palin 2012 Opposed By Alaskans
First Posted: 05-11-10 03:22 PM | Updated: 05-12-10 01:22 AM
The Huffington Post
More Alaskans would oppose Sarah Palin than support her if she were to run for the presidency in 2012, according to some intriguing if not surprising poll numbers released on Tuesday.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Alaska found 48 percent of respondents said they would not vote for their former governor in a 2012 presidential election. Just 41 percent said they would vote for Palin. Eleven percent said they were undecided.
Rasmussen posits that Alaskans generally are worried that a Palin presidential candidacy would be bad for the state's image -- pointing to 45 percent of respondents who said her candidacy would reflect negatively on the state. By and large, however, the numbers seem to be a reflection of the deep unease the state has with its once beloved governor, who has become a far more divisive and partisan figure since being tapped as John McCain's running mate. Fifty percent of Alaskans had an unfavorable view of Palin (including 37 percent who had a "Very Unfavorable" view).
On a separate front, public opinion does seem to be trending in the president's favor. A poll released by Public Policy Polling, found that, for the first time since October, a majority of Americans expressed approval with the job that Barack Obama is doing.
Fifty percent gave him good marks while 46 percent expressed disapproval. PPP suggests that the numbers may be due in part to the end of the heated health care debate (though the favorable/unfavorable numbers of the legislation passed by congress remain largely the same). Another factor, it seems like, has been generally good news on the labor front, with the economy adding 290,000 jobs in the month of April.
Mass. woman pleads to impersonating FBI supervisor
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A Massachusetts woman has pleaded guilty to impersonating an FBI agent after fooling her former neighbors in northern Virginia into taking jobs as her assistant.
Twenty-nine-year-old Brenna Reilly of Holyoke, Mass., was living in Arlington last year and told neighbors she was the FBI’s director of forensics. Two neighbors agreed to work as Reilly’s assistant. She gave them tasks that included writing condolence letters to family members of slain agents. But Reilly was never an FBI agent, the jobs were phony, and the assistants were never paid.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, said it remains unclear why Reilly conducted the hoax.
Following Tuesday’s guilty plea, Reilly faces up to three years in prison.
Left is mute on racial double standard in Kagan pick
Roland S. Martin
CNN Political Analyst
May 10, 2010 11:49 a.m. EDT
(CNN) -- If a white Republican president of the United States appointed a white male as his next Supreme Court justice, and upon the inspection of his record, it was discovered that of the 29 full-time tenured or tenured track faculty he hired as dean of Harvard Law, nearly all of them were white men, this would dominate the headlines.
It would be reasonable to conclude that the special interest groups that vigorously fight for diversity -- civil rights organizations, feminist groups and other liberal institutions -- would be up in arms, declaring that this person's records showed him unwilling to diversify academia, and unqualified to consider diverse views as one of nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court. There would be widespread condemnations of Republicans having no concern for the nonwhite males in America.
But what if the choice were made by a black Democratic president, and it was a woman? A white woman? A white Democratic woman?
Some of you may not like the fact that I am focusing on the race of the individual, but when diversity is raised, the person's skin color, gender and background are considered germane to the discussion. And if there is silence from black and female organizations, their race and gender matter as well.
We may very well witness this now that President Obama has selected Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
Guy-Uriel Charles, founding director of the Duke Law Center on Law, Race and Politics, has heavily scrutinized Kagan's hiring record as head of Harvard Law School. In a scathing blog post, he has said that of the 29 positions Kagan had a chance to fill, 28 were white and one was Asian-American. And of the group, only six were women -- five white and one Asian-American.
These numbers on the surface are appalling, and would be ripped to shreds by those who value diversity, but my gut tells me that even though Kagan has been tapped by Obama, the normally vocal and persistent voices in this area will be tight-lipped and quiet, unwilling to oppose or heavily criticize the nomination of a woman to the court, and especially one made by an African-American Democratic president.
If that does happen, Republicans will rightly cry foul, saying it represented a double standard -- that the silence was a signal of partisan hacks more concerned about not offending the Obama administration, rather than the ideals they hold near and dear.
They don't want to be seen as going against an ally, and they are more concerned about their access to the White House than the mission they have always valued.
Even before she was chosen, the White House was fighting back against the attacks on her record by Charles, which have been amplified by Salon.com.
According to the site, the White House has disseminated talking points stressing that the real issue is not those who took the jobs, but the offers Kagan made. In addition, they highlight the number of other African-Americans on the faculty, as well as the percentage of minority students during her tenure.
So basically, the White House wants everyone to believe that Kagan made offers, but nearly all of the minorities chose not to go to work for the most prestigious law school in America.
Folks, I wasn't born yesterday.
The real issue will be reaction from the left. It is shameful and disgusting when civil rights organizations, feminist groups and others lose their conviction and sense of purpose when a Democrat gets in the White House. They need to decide what matters: their principles or their politics; their mission or their liberal money; their convictions or chicken dinners in the White House.
Some have already spoken up. The Black Women's Roundtable of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation released a letter Sunday night questioning Kagan's commitment to civil rights, as well as criticizing the Obama administration for its failure to seriously consider African-American female judges.
"As we continue to promote the legacy of our late founding leader and Co-Convener, Dr. Dorothy I. Height, we will always seek to highlight the concerns of Black women, our families and our communities. Thus, as Dr. Height stated in our previous meeting with your Administration, we believe it is time for African American women to be represented in all sectors of government -- including the Supreme Court of the United States, which in its 221 year history has not had a Black woman nominated to serve on our highest court in the land," the letter stated.
"Our trepidation regarding General Kagan is premised on the lack of a clearly identifiable record on the protection of our nation's civil rights laws. As women leaders, we greatly respect General Kagan's intellectual capabilities and highly accomplished record in the Administration and academia. Nonetheless, there is a dearth of a specific emphasis on the civil rights laws utilized in the protection of racial and ethnic minorities and those traditionally disenfranchised in this nation."
Credibility and consistency are vital for any organization. And if the leaders of civil rights and feminist organizations do not demand strong and clear answers from the White House about Kagan and her diversity track record as dean of Harvard Law School, they are failing the people they say they represent.
Demanding accountability about diversity isn't a one-way street meant only for Republicans. Democrats should never get a pass either.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland Martin.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
ELIZABETHTON — A Johnson City woman has been charged with child abuse and other charges after Carter County deputies received complaints that she had forced her 5-year-old child to smoke a cigarette.
Jordon Paige Hensley, 24, 2468 Lakewood Drive, Johnson City, was charged with child abuse and neglect, disorderly conduct and possession of Schedule VI drug.
Deputy Cory Tidwell said he was dispatched to the Watauga Lake Overlook on Wilbur Lake at 8 p.m. when he spotted the car the woman was reported to be driving. He stopped her car at the Misty Waters Store and asked her if she had given her son a cigarette.
Tidwell said she admitted she had given the boy a cigarette and said she did it because “she was teaching him not to smoke.”
While he was talking with Hensley, a witness to the incident pulled into the parking lot and told Tidwell he had seen Hensley stick the cigarette in the boy’s mouth and also saw the child exhale smoke and begin coughing.
He said he also saw the child running around and his mother screaming at him to keep running. He said that when the child fell to the ground screaming that he could not run anymore, Hensley jerked him up by his arm and told him he had better keep running.
As he continued to talk to Hensley, Tidwell said, he noticed she appeared to be trying to hide something. He told her to show him her hands and she told him “no.” When he again asked, she again refused. Tidwell then removed her from the car and placed her in restraints. He then checked where she was sitting and found a small bag of marijuana, according to the report.
A passenger in the car, Chester Paul Kyle III, 36, 2468 Lakewood Drive, was also arrested on charges of violation of probation.
The two are scheduled to answer the charges in Sessions Court on May 21.
LINK TO PHOTO OF MOTHER:
OPEN UP THE VAULT
Measure To Audit The Federal Reserve Overcomes Intense Opposition, Passes 96-0
96-0: Fed Audit Passes Senate
First Posted: 05-11-10 12:04 PM | Updated: 05-11-10 12:48 PM
UPDATE - 12:10 p.m. - The amendment to open the Fed to a one-time audit of its lending between December 1, 2007 and the present passed 96-0.
* * * * *
Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), the Federal Reserve's most outspoken defender, came out in support of an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to force transparency on the Federal Reserve. Gregg's surprising support gives the amendment a major boost.
The Sanders amendment began as a reflection of language passed by the House and cosponsored by Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) that would authorize a broad audit of the Fed. In negotiations with Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and officials from the Fed, Sanders scaled back his audit and restricted it to a one-time look at lending activity from December 1, 2007 until the present -- information that the Fed has so far fought to keep from disclosing. It goes further in some respects than the Paul-Grayson measure, in that it mandates the disclosure of recipients of Fed largesse.
Even a year ago, it would have been unthinkable to have Judd Gregg and Ron Paul agree on anything having to do with the Fed other than its street address. The momentum behind a Fed audit is an indication of surging populist sentiment and a financial industry on the defensive.
The battle will continue in conference committee negotiations between the House and Senate and will go on after the bill is signed, as backers push for real transparency at the Fed. But prying open the lid just once would represent a remarkable victory of an ideologically diverse, bipartisan coalition against establishment power.
"Occasionally around here you get to make a historic contribution," said Dodd from the Senate well. A longtime opponent of the Paul-Grayson's audit, Dodd's support of the compromise initially convinced Fed opponents that the measure must have been gutted. A closer look, however, showed it to be a step forward. "This is a historic moment," said Dodd, asking to be added as a cosponsor.
The pressure on the Fed, Dodd said, was already having an impact. He had just met with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to be briefed on the European bailout, Dodd said, and the amendment is already having an impact.
"I want to tell my colleague from Vermont, not only are we going to achieve what he wants here with this amendment, but we had a meeting with the chairman of the Federal Reserve to brief us on the events in Europe over the weekend and the chairman of the Federal Reserve is going to put up on its web site as soon as possible the contracts between the Fed and any other central banks that occurred over the past weekend. He's also committed that the Fed would report weekly on the activity on each of the swap accounts by the federal bank, not simply the aggregate. The legislation is going to do a lot, but you already have an influence on the conduct of the Fed in terms of the transparency issues," Dodd said.
What could cause such a turnaround among Dodd and Gregg? The threat that the original Sanders amendment -- Paul-Grayson's version -- might actually pass. By backing a substitute, even one that's less than the Fed would like, Dodd and Gregg are able to stave off the stronger proposal. Whether the original amendment could have passed was unclear; on Friday, Sanders himself said he wasn't sure the votes would have been there in the face of intense lobbying from the White House and Fed.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) took up the Sanders standard and introduced the Paul-Grayson language separately. In backing the Sanders compromise, both Dodd and Gregg savagely attacked the broader amendment.
Paul first introduced a bill to audit the Fed in 1978.
On the Senate floor, Gregg acknowledged the role the Fed played in "aggressively" negotiating the compromise. "Chairman bernanke, I also wish to congratulate he and his staff for stepping forward and progressively -- aggressively pursuing this, which will be positive for both sides," said Gregg.
To get a sense of how far the debate has swung, consider that Gregg warmly reference populist leader William Jennings Bryan in announcing his support for the measure, recalling (accurately) that the Fed was originally founded as a result of populist pressure. "There was a huge debate in this country since the great depression of 1897 and 1907 about how you managed the currency of this country. And the central figure in that debate was William Jennings Bryan, a man of immense proportions in our history. He was a populist in the extreme. And he believed genuinely that turn control of the currency to elected officials, the currency becomes at risk because there is a natural tendency by elected bodies to want to produce money arbitrarily to take care of spending which they deem to be in the public interest. And thanks to the leadership at that time of a number of thoughtful people, including people like Woodrow Wilson, the decision was made to create a separate entity called the Federal Reserve which would manage the currency of the United States and decide how much money was printed," Gregg said.
UPDATE II - 12:39 p.m.: The Vitter amendment failed 37-62. Five senators, four of them Democrats, voted against Vitter's broader amendment, even though they had cosponsored virtually the same amendment when it was led by Sanders, confirming in practice what had already been announced, that a deal had been agreed to.
Sens. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Bob Bennett (R-Utah) all cosponsored the Sanders amendment but voted no on it with Vitter as lead sponsor on the floor.
Lawyer: Doctor accused of faking attack is good family man
May 11, 2010 1:52 PM
An Iowa physician charged with falsely reporting that he was stabbed along the Chicago Riverwalk is an upstanding member of the medical community and a family man, his lawyer said in bond court today.
Gary Hunninghake "is 64 years old. He's a professor of medicine at the University of Iowa," said attorney Robert Fisher.
He added that Hunninghake is the father of three children and has a "good character," Fisher said.
Hunninghake, who turned himself into Chicago police Monday, stood silently before the judge in a dark pinstripe suit. Hunninghake is accused of stabbing himself while he walked along the Chicago river and then falsely reporting to police that he was attacked and robbed.
Prosecutors said he told police he was "approached and menaced by three white males" while he jogged on the Chicago Riverwalk east of Michigan Avenue on April 24.
He said the men then stabbed him "about the chest and abdomen" and stole $350 in cash as well as his credit cards and cell phones, prosecutors said.
"Substantial resources were expended in trying to solve (this crime)," said Assistant State's Attorney Lorraine Scaduto.
But an investigation revealed a number of "inconsistencies and downright contradictions," and police contacted Hunninghake, who had returned to Iowa, Scaduto said.
Hunninghake admitted he had concocted the attack, said Scaduto.
Fisher said he still had to review the case and speak more with Hunninghake before he could discuss his client's alleged confession.
"We will certainly see with our subpoenas and the discovery process what in fact they allege he said," said Fisher, who argued that Hunninghake should be released without having to post any money.
Instead, the judge held Hunninghake on a $25,000 bond. He has to post $2,500 cash to be released from custody and is expected to do that this afternoon.
Hunninghake is also the subject of a separate criminal investigation by the University of Iowa police department and is currently on leave, according to a university spokesman.
Interim university spokesman Tom Moore would not comment on the nature of the investigation against Hunninghake, but said five search warrants have been issued in connection with the probe.
Hunninghake was put on administrative leave from the university on April 23, a day after the first search warrant had been executed, Moore said.
Fisher said Tuesday he was not aware of the investigation in Iowa.
Hunninghake is expected to appear back in court Monday on the charge of felony disorderly conduct.
-- Cynthia Dizikes
Paint-spattered burglars caught
The suspects are brothers
Updated: Monday, 10 May 2010, 12:23 PM CDT
Published : Monday, 10 May 2010, 12:23 PM CDT
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - Two brothers are behind bars after their alleged break-in scheme backfired.
The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety received a call around 3 a.m. Sunday about a burglary occurring in the 800 block of W. Walnut Street. The caller saw two people use a can of paint to break a window of a residence and go inside the home. The can broke on impact and sprayed the suspects.
A police sergeant arrived and noticed the spattered paint and computer equipment on the ground outside the window. He also saw two people walking away from the building. He yelled for them to stop but they ran away.
Other officers and a K-9 unit responded to the scene and locked down the area.
A female resident was in the home at the time. She did not know about the incident until the officers were searching the residence for other suspects. She was not injured.
One of the suspects who fled tried to walk by the officers' perimeter, according to a news release, but was immediately detained. Officers easily spotted him due to the paint from the crime scene on his clothes.
The other suspect left the area in a taxi, police said. He was arrested after a search warrant was executed at a house in the 400 block of Clinton Avenue. He was also identified with the help of that spattered paint on his clothes.
The suspects are brothers -- 17 and 19 -- and from Kalamazoo. They now face felony home invasion charges.
Authorities said the person who called 911 and "a rapid response by the officers and poor planning on the part of the suspects" wrapped up the case.
Authorities said in the news release, "a successful conclusion to this incident can be attributed to an alert citizen, a rapid response by the officers and poor planning on the part of the suspects."
CVS probes shoplifting suspect's death, puts worker on leave
May 10, 2010 11:40 AM
The conduct of the drug store manager involved in the death of a suspected shoplifter is under investigation by his employer and he will not be allowed to return to work until that probe is complete, the company said today.
"We are investigating this unfortunate incident and are fully cooperating with police," CVS spokesman Michael DeAngelis said in an e-mail in which he acknowledged the company investigation.
DeAngelis refused to discuss company policy regarding employee handling of suspected shoplifters and if the store manager violated those guidelines. The store manager, reached by the Tribune at his west suburban home, declined to comment.
Chicago police earlier said no charges would be filed against the employee who on Saturday put a chokehold on Anthony Kyser, 35, whose death was ruled a homicide by the Cook County medical examiner's office.
Meanwhile, the former wife of the shoplifting suspect questioned this morning why he had to die over a minor offense.
Ann Marie Balboa, who in September divorced Kyser, her husband of 5½ years, described him as good-hearted and credited him for helping raise her three boys.
Although Kyser had a criminal past, she said, two things surprised her about the chain of events that led to his death on Saturday morning: The fact that, Chicago police say, he stole toothpaste and crayons from a CVS pharmacy, and was killed by an employee from there when he did so.
She disagreed with the decision not to pursue charges against the store manager.
"How's it accidental?" Balboa said. "You're choking the [expletive] out of somebody. He [the employee] should be fired. He should be facing criminal charges. You don't take someone's life over toothpaste."
Authorities said Kyser was shoplifting from the CVS Pharmacy in the 2600 block of South Pulaski Road just before 11 a.m. Saturday. He was chased out of the store and ran into an alley next to the building. Kyser fell unconscious during a struggle with the employee of the pharmacy, officials said.
Kyser, whose last known address was in the 1400 block of South Hamlin Avenue, was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:38 a.m.
Balboa said she had also heard reports that more than one person may have been involved in Kyser's death. "When you're choking someone, you have to be really, really strong," she said, adding that when Kyser died, one of her sons said to her, "Mom, pops was strong. Mom, it had to be more than one person."
Balboa said she used to work in a retail store and said employees aren't supposed to chase shoplifters out of the store.
"You risk your life on the line," she said. "You don't go chasing the thief because you don't know what (weapons) they had."
Police this morning said there were no indications that anyone other than the store manager was involved in Kyser's death.
Balboa also stressed that there were unanswered questions about Kyser's death. "I want to know was the toothpaste on him? Did he drop it in the store?" Balboa said. "We need answers. I really need to know why he was strangled like that. Was it that serious? Over toothpaste? I'm not understanding that."
Kyser's criminal background includes a 2005 drug conviction in Cook County and a 1999 burglary conviction in Lake County, Ind. But despite his criminal record, Balboa said her former husband had a good heart.
She said friends tell her how well-mannered her three boys -- ages, 18, 14 and 13 -- are, and Balboa credited Kyser with helping them grow up that way. "Pops," as Kyser's stepchildren affectionately called him, would take them to their basketball games and even help coach them.
Balboa said she and Kyser were together for several years prior to their marriage, which she said had its share of "ups and downs."
"I wish our marriage could have been continued," Balboa said. "But if I could have one of his last hugs, it would be perfect. He would want [the three boys] to go to college."
"Here is the father of someone's son, an uncle, a friend who is no longer with us."
Jeremy Gorner and Jennifer Delgado
BlackBerry buff President Obama declared war on technology yesterday — singling out Apple’s super-popular iPods and iPads for criticism.
Obama — whose election was credited, in part, to his skillful use of modern media, from smart phones to Twitter to Flickr -- yesterday told college graduates that high-tech gizmos and apps are straining American democracy.
"With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," Obama said at Hampton University in Virginia.
Lobbing more grenades than the popular "Call of Duty" video game at targets like Apple, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony, Obama described the companies' most popular offerings as distractions that are putting unnecessary pressure on the country.
Obama also lamented the spread of social media and blogs through which "some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction."
"All of this is not only putting new pressures on you," Obama said. "It is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy."
"We can't stop these changes," Obama said, "but we can adapt to them. And education is what can allow us to do so. It can fortify you, as it did earlier generations, to meet the tests of your own time."
Obama, who at one time had rapper Ludacris on his iPod and still has a White House-provided profile on Facebook, warned that the world is at a moment of "breathtaking change."
Yet in a speech before members of a generation that never knew life without a computer, Obama came close to declaring technology -- and the information it spawns -- the enemy.
"With so many voices clamoring for attention on blogs, on cable, on talk radio, it can be difficult, at times, to sift through it all; to know what to believe; to figure out who's telling the truth and who's not," Obama said.
"Let's face it -- even some of the craziest claims can quickly gain traction. I've had some experience with that myself. Fortunately, you'll be well positioned to navigate this terrain."
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/ipad_is_ibad_for_democracy_obama_FrUMkdTNGHlfZ5JOKSgMVO#ixzz0nWRHlUTR
Obama chooses Kagan for Supreme Court
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, a person familiar with the president's thinking said Sunday night.
The move positions the court to have three female justices for the first time in history.
The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been made public. Obama will announce his choice at 10 a.m. Monday in the East Room of the White House.
Known as sharp and politically savvy, Kagan has led a blazing legal career: first female dean of Harvard Law School, first woman to serve as the top Supreme Court lawyer for any administration, and now first in Obama's mind to succeed legendary Justice John Paul Stevens.
At 50 years old, Kagan would be the youngest justice on the court, one of many factors working in her favor. She has the chance to extend Obama's legacy for a generation.
Kagan has clerked for Thurgood Marshall, worked for Bill Clinton and earned a stellar reputation as a student, teacher and manager of the elite academic world. Her standing has risen in Obama's eyes as his government's lawyer before the high court over the last year.
Yet Kagan would be the first justice without judicial experience in almost 40 years. All of the three other finalists she beat out for the job are federal appeals court judges, and all nine of the current justices served on the federal bench before being elevated.
Kagan's fate will be up to a Senate dominated by Democrats, who with 59 votes have more than enough to confirm her, even though they are one shy of being to halt any Republican stalling effort.
For the second straight summer, the nation can expected an intense Supreme Court confirmation debate even though, barring a surprise, Kagan is likely to emerge as a justice.
Supreme Court justices wield enormous power over the daily life of Americans. Any one of them can cast the deciding vote on matters of life and death, individual freedoms and government power. Presidents serve four-year terms; justices have tenure for life.
Republicans have shown no signs in advance that they would try to prevent a vote on Kagan, but they are certain to grill her in confirmation hearings over her experience, her thin record of legal writings and her objections to the military's policy about gays.
When she was confirmed as solicitor general in 2009, only seven Republicans backed her.
Democrats went 15 years without a Supreme Court appointment until Obama chose federal appellate judge Sonia Sotomayor last year to succeed retiring Justice David Souter. Just 16 months in office, Obama has a second opportunity with Kagan, under different circumstances.
Obama's decision last year centered much on the compelling narrative of Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, who grew up in a housing project and overcame hardship.
This year, Obama particularly wanted someone who could provide leadership and help sway fellow justices toward a majority opinion. The president has grown vocal in his concern that the conservative-tilting court is giving too little voice to average people.
Kagan is known for having won over liberal and conservative faculty at the fractious Harvard Law School, where she served as dean for nearly six years.
Police: Man makes up robbery to get ride home
May 9, 2010 11:13 AM
But as officers searched the area and noticed inconsistencies in his account, the man admitted fabricating the robbery story because he wanted a ride home.
He said his cell phone was out of minutes and 911 was the only number he could still call.
Officials say charges against the man are pending.
inconsistencies in his account, the man admitted fabricating the robbery story because he wanted a ride home.
He said his cell phone was out of minutes and 911 was the only number he could still call.
Officials say charges against the man are pending.
White flight? Suburbs lose young whites to cities
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, May 8, 2010
(05-08) 21:52 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --
White flight? In a reversal, America's suburbs are now more likely to be home to minorities, the poor and a rapidly growing older population as many younger, educated whites move to cities for jobs and shorter commutes.
An analysis of 2000-2008 census data by the Brookings Institution highlights the demographic "tipping points" seen in the past decade and the looming problems in the 100 largest metropolitan areas, which represent two-thirds of the U.S. population.
The findings could offer an important road map as political parties, including the tea party movement, seek to win support in suburban battlegrounds in the fall elections and beyond. In 2008, Barack Obama carried a substantial share of the suburbs, partly with the help of minorities and immigrants.
The analysis being released Sunday provides the freshest detail on the nation's growing race and age divide, which is now feeding tensions in Arizona over its new immigration law.
Ten states, led by Arizona, surpass the nation in a "cultural generation gap" in which the senior populations are disproportionately white and children are mostly minority.
This gap is pronounced in suburbs of fast-growing areas in the Southwest, including those in Florida, California, Nevada, and Texas.
"A new metro map is emerging in the U.S. that challenges conventional thinking about where we live and work," said Alan Berube, research director with the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, a nonpartisan think-tank based in Washington. "The old concepts of suburbia, Sun Belt and Rust Belt are outdated and at odds with effective governance."
Suburbs still tilt white. But, for the first time, a majority of all racial and ethnic groups in large metro areas live outside the city. Suburban Asians and Hispanics already had topped 50 percent in 2000, and blacks joined them by 2008, rising from 43 percent in those eight years.
The suburbs now have the largest poor population in the country. They are home to the vast majority of baby boomers age 55 to 64, a fast-growing group that will strain social services after the first wave of boomers turns 65 next year.
Analysts attribute the racial shift to suburbs in many cases to substantial shares of minorities leaving cities, such as blacks from New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Whites, too, are driving the trend by returning or staying put in larger cities.
Washington, D.C., and Atlanta posted the largest increases in white share since 2000, each up 5 percentage points to 44 percent and 36 percent, respectively. Other white gains were seen in New York, San Francisco, Boston and cities in another seven of the nation's 100 largest metro areas.
"A new image of urban America is in the making," said William H. Frey, a demographer at Brookings who co-wrote the report. "What used to be white flight to the suburbs is turning into 'bright flight' to cities that have become magnets for aspiring young adults who see access to knowledge-based jobs, public transportation and a new city ambiance as an attraction."
"This will not be the future for all cities, but this pattern in front runners like Atlanta, Portland, Ore., Raleigh, N.C., and Austin, Texas, shows that the old urban stereotypes no longer apply," he said.
The findings are part of Brookings' broad demographic portrait of America since 2000, when the country experienced the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a historic boom in housing prices and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Calling 2010 the "decade of reckoning," the report urges policymakers to shed outdated notions of America's cities and suburbs and work quickly to address the coming problems caused by the dramatic shifts in population.
Among its recommendations: affordable housing and social services for older people in the suburbs; better transit systems to link cities and suburbs; and a new federal Office of New Americans to serve the education and citizenship needs of the rapidly growing immigrant community.
_About 83 percent of the U.S. population growth since 2000 was minority, part of a trend that will see minorities become the majority by midcentury. Across all large metro areas, the majority of the child population is now nonwhite.
_The suburban poor grew by 25 percent between 1999 and 2008 — five times the growth rate of the poor in cities. City residents are more likely to live in "deep" poverty, while a higher share of suburban residents have incomes just below the poverty line.
_For the first time in several decades, the population is growing at a faster rate than households, due to delays in marriage, divorce and births as well as longer life spans. People living alone and nonmarried couple families are among the fastest-growing in suburbs.
The Congression of United Presbyterian Church located at 62-554 60th Place in Ridgewood.
Farriella for NewsGym Director Mark Ortiz and Pastor Henry Fury in the gym in the basement at the Congression of United Presbyterian Church.
It's not easy in this age of dwindling membership and growing costs for a church to tend to its flock and pay the bills.
But one Ridgewood congregation is taking some bold steps to keep services going in its stately 103-year-old church while reaching out to its changing community.
The United Presbyterian Church at 60th Place shares its building with the Rock Fitness Center, which draws fitness buffs and weightlifters from all over.
And it has hired a real estate broker to see if anyone is interested in developing the property.
Ideally, members would like to build senior citizen housing on the land surrounding the church as a way to serve the community and increase income.
But members said they can't rule out the sad possibility that the stunning sanctuary, with its impressive stained-glass windows, may one day be put up for sale and demolished.
"The church is beautiful but it's a beast to heat," said Mike Baldomir, 40, one of the church elders. "Electric and gas has gone up. We can barely make the bills."
Baldomir and the Rev. Henry Fury said the church would rather use its meager funds to run a soup kitchen, food pantry, support groups and other outreach projects.
"This is a magnificent church and no one wants to tear it down," said Fury, the church's pastor. "But are you a church to maintain buildings or to do the mission of the church?"
The church was started in the early 1900s by German immigrants and other Presbyterians who settled in Ridgewood and the surrounding neighborhoods.
But demographic shifts in the area have been tough on the church. German-Americans moved out as Eastern Europeans and Latinos - who tend to be Orthodox Christian and Catholic - moved in.
About 70 families are currently members of the church.
"The congregation is not disbanding," Fury said. "We are exploring our options."
The addition of the Rock Fitness Center has allowed the church to make some money for its programs while providing both an affordable gym for local residents and an outlet for teens.
Church member Mark Ortiz, who used to run a nearby gym, donated the equipment and runs the facility, which is open most days from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
"I'm always here," said Ortiz, 43, who is well-known in fitness circles. "The whole place is run by volunteers."
Fury is a developer who is currently crafting a potential design for senior housing that would leave the church intact.
"This would also be another way for us to serve the community," he said.
Some preservationists, however, are dismayed that the congregation would even consider selling its historic sanctuary.
"It is a wonderful piece of architecture and adds variety and beauty to the streetscape," said Christina Wilkinson of the Newtown Historical Society. "Even those who don't attend this church will miss it if it is lost."
Bob Singleton, a Queens historian whose family has deep roots in the Presbyterian church, said he is worried that too many cash-strapped congregations are quick to sell off their property.
"Religious bodies are built by time and treasure donated by their members for religious purposes," said Singleton, who is not affiliated with the church in Ridgewood.
"If they feel they can no longer fulfill that function, they should pass the property on to another religious body who could."
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/queens/2010/05/09/2010-05-09_united_presbyterian_church_pays_bills_with_rock_fitness_center_for_body_and_soul.html#ixzz0nQlSHfQ9
President Obama talks with Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Oct. 2009, the same month he got a historic 'presidential dressing down' according to 'The Promise: President Obama, Year One.'
President Obama may cultivate an image as the unflappable Mr. Cool, but he can get hot under the collar too, according to a new book.
In "The Promise: President Obama, Year One," by Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter, the author recounts a series of private blow-ups - including a particularly fiery one involving the nation's top military brass.
"A presidential dressing down unlike any in the United States in more than half a century," is how Alter describes the October 2009 eruption.
The background: Gen. Stanley McChrystal had just given a speech in London in which he publicly rejected proposals to turn the tide in Afghanistan with more drone missiles and special forces, a strategy backed mainly by Vice President Biden.
The President viewed McChrystal's comments as a bald attempt to back him into a Pentagon-backed plan more reliant on troop buildups - and he soon ripped into top commanders for what he considered insubordination.
In an Oval Office showdown, Obama told Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus that he was "exceedingly unhappy" with the Pentagon's conduct, Alter reported, adding that its leaks to the press were "disrespectful of the process."
"This was a cold and bracing meeting," an attendee said of the encounter, where Obama demanded to know "here and now" if the Pentagon would be onboard with any presidential strategy.
It apparently worked: Petraeus later described himself as "chagrined," and both he and Gates "swore loyalty" to the President. Obama eventually supported a troop buildup.
"The Promise," due out from Simon & Schuster on May 18, has other, steamier moments - including one starring French First Lady Carla Bruni a one-time supermodel.
Alter recounts how Bruni once bragged to First Lady Michelle Obama how she and French President Nicholas Sarkozy kept a head of state waiting while they had sex.
Bruni wanted to know if, like the Sarkozys, Michelle and the President had ever kept anyone waiting that way," Alter writes, offering no source. "Michelle laughed nervously and said no."
But it's often the flashes of anger, not amour, that shine through Alter's tome, including:
"No! No! You're making that up!" he shouted at aide David Axel, grabbing him by the shirt. "That can't be right."
Climate scientists decry 'political assaults'
Chronicle Science Editor
Saturday, May 8, 2010
(05-07) 19:53 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- In an unusually strong attack on politically powerful deniers of global warming, 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences, including 32 from Northern California, have charged that opponents are using "McCarthy-like tactics" against legitimate climate scientists.
The letter condemning "political assaults" on climate researchers was published Friday in the journal Science, and was sent earlier to the White House Office of Science and Technology, where John Holdren, its director, is President Obama's science adviser.
Members of the Academy of Sciences, who are frequently called upon to advise the federal government and its agencies on scientific questions, normally debate controversial issues sedately. But with the global warming debate becoming increasingly politically charged, the scientists struck back.
"We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular," they said in their letter. "We call for an end to McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action and the outright lies being spread about them."
The reference was directed at Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., who scoffs at most climate change data as a "hoax" and has threatened a criminal investigation of an international climate science team whose e-mail exchanges were hacked by opponents. Critics accused the team of manipulating and hiding data regarding climate change. The scientists were later cleared.
The Heartland Institute, a conservative public policy think tank, brands climate scientists as "global warming alarmists," and a former director of the National Hurricane Center, who is a strong skeptic, has declared "it is high time to question the true agenda of the (climate) scientists" - clearly suggesting that their "agenda" is political, not scientific, and far to the left.
The letter in Science insisted climate change is real.
"There is compelling, comprehensive and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystem on which we depend," the scientists' letter declared.
The lead signer of the letter was Peter Gleick, director of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland. Others from Northern California are at Stanford, UCSF, UC Berkeley and UC Davis.
An editorial in the same issue of the journal also warned that the debate over global warming has become dangerously polarized and noted that several politically inspired lawsuits against federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions have claimed that "climate change is a conspiracy."
"The debate has become polarized," warned the editorial, and as a result "the scientific enterprise and the whole of society are in danger of losing their crucial rational relationship."
Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., scoffs at most climate change data as a "hoax" and has threatened a criminal investigation of an international climate science team whose e-mail exchanges were hacked by opponents.
Woman runs down Lord Jesus Christ
Driver cited for failure to yield to pedestrian
Updated: Friday, 07 May 2010, 8:50 AM EDT
Published : Thursday, 06 May 2010, 9:36 PM EDT
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - Police say they checked the victim's ID. Northampton police issued a traffic citation this week to a driver whose car hit Lord Jesus Christ.
It happened Tuesday on Main Street in front of Fitzwilly's restaurant.
Northampton Police Lt. Michael Patenaude told 22News 50-year old Lord Jesus Christ of Belchertown was struck as he crossed Main Street around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Twenty-year old Brittany Cantarella of Pittsfield was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
Lord Jesus Christ was treated for facial injuries at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.
Lt. Patenaude said Lord Jesus Christ had a Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles identification card.
Long-Term Unemployment: The Bad News In The Jobs Report
First Posted: 05- 7-10 12:19 PM
Updated: 05- 7-10 12:56 PM
Even though the unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent, the government's jobs report for the month of April is the most positive one since the start of the recession: The economy added 290,000 jobs as the labor force swelled by 805,000, causing the rate to rise.
Here's the bad news: More and more people are out of work for longer and longer. The number of jobless folks out of work for more than six months rose by 169,000 to 6.7 million, constituting 45.9 percent of all the unemployed.
"We've never quite experienced this in America -- a recession that's gone on so long that even when job creation is strong, people have been out of work so long that it's difficult for them to climb out," said Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project. "It stretches beyond the kinds of supports that we are used to providing."
Even though Congress has extended unemployment benefits to the point where in many states the jobless can get 99 weeks of benefits, it's still not enough -- hundreds of thousands of people are exhausting their benefits every month.
The picture is especially ugly for older folks who've lost their jobs. Though the unemployment rate for workers older than 55 is lower than for the rest of the labor force, older workers are more likely to suffer long-term unemployment.
According to an analysis by the AARP Public Policy Institute, 56.8 percent of jobless Americans older than 55 are out of work for longer than six months as of April, up from 50.6 percent in March. The average duration of unemployment for older workers rose from 38.4 weeks in March to 42.9 weeks, compared with 33 weeks for the total unemployed population.
Dean Baker, an economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said there are two reasons older workers are unemployed for longer periods of time. "First, they are far more likely to have enough of a work history to be able to qualify for benefits," Baker wrote in an email. "Remember, less than half of the unemployed are getting benefits. The over 55 group are far more likely to be in that half."
The second reason, Baker said, is a mix of experienced workers passing over low-paying jobs for which they are overly qualified and employers refusing to hire experienced workers who won't stick around if better jobs become available when the economy improves.
Stettner said he worried that people will lose their focus on the unemployed now that the economy is adding jobs. He said Congress should be proactive in creating jobs and helping the long-term unemployed get back to work. He pointed to California Democrat Rep. George Miller's proposed Local Jobs for America Act in particular.
A Rutgers University survey released Tuesday found that 80 percent of people unemployed last August remained jobless in March, and most of the people who found jobs were working for less money.
"We don't have enough tools to keep people out of homelessness, out of hunger," Stettner said. "It's just really tragic what's happening."
Makeshift beauty salon in hospital's ward for high-risk newborns is probed
L.A. County also is investigating broader allegations that doctors, nurses and staff in the unit at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center put babies at risk through substandard care.
Los Angeles Times
May 6, 2010
Los Angeles Times Liz O. Baylen
Olive View-UCLA Medical Center is in Sylmar.
Republican Party and black advancement
Over the past several weeks we have received an unusual volume of mail requesting that research and writings be done regarding the Republican Party and its significance in advancing the plight of American blacks in this nation.
While pollsters and high priest of blackness continue to remind us that black support for the Republican Party has significantly dropped since the election of President Barack Obama, we don't hear much about the many serious black conservative candidates running for Congress today with an excellent shot at winning.
In reality, no political group has done more to help minorities than Republicans.
Originally formed out of the abolitionist movement, the Republican Party announced the total elimination of slavery as part of its official platform during the first Republican National Convention in 1856. For this, the Democrats derisively dubbed them “Black Republicans.”
During Lincoln’s third term, this Republican platform was finally realized. Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower were Republicans as well. It was Roosevelt who invited Booker T. Washington to the White House, and it was Eisenhower who sent federal troops to Little Rock, Ark., to enforce school integration.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Republicans helped push civil rights legislation into the mainstream. Eisenhower used federal troops to enforce the Supreme Court’s desegregation ruling. And despite the myth to the contrary, a far greater percentage of Republicans than Democrats supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (a sublime piece of legislation that had its roots in the Republican-backed Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1875). In fact, the high level of Republican support prevented the 1964 Civil Rights Act from being filibustered by Southern Democrats who relied upon race-baiting to stay in office.
When the GOP once again embraces its founding principles, storied history and uncompromising stance on the critical issues, Americans of all stripes will realize that she is the party of choice.
Niece sends notice of eviction to 100-year-old aunt
Monee woman, public officials have been battling foreclosure of her farm
Agnes Albinger sits in the kitchen of her 70-acre Monee farm, which she fears she will lose to foreclosure. (Michael Tercha, Chicago Tribune / April 21, 2010)
8:58 p.m. CDT
May 5, 2010
Lawrence Taylor rape arrest: Ex-Giant accused of raping, beating teen girl in NY hotelCorky Siemaszko
Originally Published:Thursday, May 6th 2010, 10:47 AM
Havner/APLawrence Taylor was reportedly arrested in an upstate NY rape
Messerschmidt/GettyTaylor, who won two Super Bowls with the Giants, is widely considered one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history. arrested Thursday in Rockland County in connection with the reported rape of a 15-year-old girl, sources said.
Taylor allegedly beat and sexually assaulted the girl and has been charged with third-degree rape, the Journal News was reporting.
He will be arraigned Thursday afternoon.
The alleged assault happened at a hotel in Montebello, N.Y., earlier Thursday.
Taylor was jailed a short time later, the Ramapo Police Department said in a brief statement.
Details were scarce, but the town's police chief said more information would be provided at a 3 p.m. press conference.
Taylor, 51, played for the Giants from 1981 to 1993 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.
He also competed last year in ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."
The former Giants linebacker had a minor run-in with the law last November when he was arrested for leaving the scene of a traffic accident outside Miami.
Taylor has also been arrested several times on drug charges since hanging up his cleats in 1993, but has reportedly been living clean and sober since 1998.
Solvay man goes from jackpot winner to fire victim within hours
May 04, 2010, 7:16AM
Dick Blume / The Post-StandardKenneth Lamoree, facing camera, talks to his fiancee, Sherianne Bryant, shortly after an early morning fire destroyed their upstairs apartment at 313 Charles Ave., Solvay. Earlier, Lamoree had won a $3,200 jackpot at Turning Stone casino.
Dick Blume / The Post-StandardFire investigators look at remains of 313 Charles Ave. in Solvay this morning. The home was destroyed in an early morning fire.
Solvay, NY -- It had almost been Kenneth Lamoree's lucky day.
The Charles Avenue, Solvay, resident said he returned to his home about 3:30 a.m. from the Turning Stone casino after having won a $3,200 jackpot.
Fortune turned to near disaster less than 75 minutes later.
A fire broke out at the two-family home at 313 Charles Ave. where he, his fiancee, Sherianne Bryant, and their three children are the upstairs tenants.
They and the family downstairs, Donna Tritten and her three children, escaped unharmed from the burning building. But the house is extensively damaged and its contents -- including Lamoree's wallet with his Turning Stone winnings -- are believed to be destroyed.
"That was bill money," Lamoree said shortly before 7 a.m. as he and his family watched firefighters work from a lawn across from their home.
The downstairs apartment entrance, the porch above it on the second floor and an attic gable were charred on the outside. Lamoree said the fire seems to have started in the first floor entry, as flames were shooting out its windows as the residents escaped.
It was Bryant who first smelled smoke and got the family up, Lamoree said. The couple roused the Tritten family and everyone got out before help arrived, he said.
The house has smoke detectors, but he doesn't remember them going off, Lamoree said.
Solvay police evacuated residents of the two neighboring houses as a precaution, Sgt. Rich Ghezzi said.
The corner with the downstairs entry porch was completely ablaze inside and out when firefighters arrived, Solvay Fire Chief Peter Woodworth said. That left them no choice but to fight the fire from the outside in, to safeguard the firefighters and neighboring properties, he said.
It took about 15 minutes to knock down the fire and another 45 minutes to completely extinguish it, he said. It did not spread past the building, but the heat from it was intense enough to melt plastic blinds in windows in the house next door.
We earlier reported:
Solvay, NY -- Nine people were driven out of their two-family home this morning by a fire that extensively damaged the structure, officials said.
No one was injured escaping or fighting the blaze that broke out sometime before 4:43 a.m. at 313 Charles Ave., Solvay, said Pete Alberti, Onondaga County Emergency Management commissioner.
The residents all got out before firefighters arrived, Alberti said. Their names were not immediately available.
It took about an hour for firefighters from five departments to get the fire under control, Alberti said. By the time it was out the structure had sustained extensive damage and most its contents likely had been destroyed, he said.
The fire's cause is under investigation, Alberti said.Officials also are looking for two pet cats that went missing during the fire, Alberti said.
Solvay, Fairmount, Taunton, Lakeside and Onondaga Hill firefighters were at the scene. Rural Metro ambulance also responded and the Red Cross was there to provide emergency aid to the victims, Red Cross spokesman Dick Blansett said the residents probably will require shelter and other services from his organization.
Mom checked out racy teen books from library — and she won't give them back
Tina Harden wants warning labels on books; she owes about $85 in fines
Tina Harden shows off one of the four books her daughter checked out from the public library in Lake Mary in 2008. Harden refuses to return the books to the library, because she does not want them to go back into circulation. She objects to the language and concent of the books. (Jacob Langston, Orlando Sentinel / May 5, 2010)
11:14 p.m. EDT
May 5, 2010
Longwood parent Tina Harden was so disturbed by references to sex and drugs and foul language in the world of fictional teenager Jenny Humphrey that she is ignoring overdue notices and phone calls from her neighborhood library and its bill collector.
Harden refuses to return several books connected to the Gossip Girl series that detail Humphrey's life, even though she's had them since 2008.
"If I turn them in, they will be put back into circulation and they'll be available for more young girls to read," said the mother of three, who keeps the four books hidden in a closet. "Some material is inappropriate for minors."
Harden said she doesn't want them banned, but she does want the library to put a warning label on the four titles — one in the Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar, and three in a spin-off series called It Girl — and make them unavailable to minors. The library refused but has agreed to re-shelve them in the adult-reading section.
"If we denied access to this particular title, it would be censoring," said Jane Peterson, the county's library services manager.
That's not good enough for Harden, who said that as a taxpayer she should have a say in which books land on the libraries' shelves. "They're supposed to be public servants," she said.
The libraries have multiple copies of the novels in the series. If her library privileges hadn't been revoked, Harden said she would try to check them all out.
She owes about $85 in fines.
Two years ago, Harden's daughter, then 13, handed the stack of books to her mother at the checkout at Seminole County's Northwest Branch library in Lake Mary.
Harden later flipped through one and saw numerous curse words and terms such as "stoned" and "marijuana," and a reference to sleeping with a teacher.
"The whole book was filled with everything I don't want my daughter to do or be," she said.
The library notes that the series is popular among young adults, and it has an obligation to stock books in demand. One title in the series, Notorious, was checked out 129 times from late November to late April.
Harden questions how the library can enforce an Internet policy that restricts access to certain content but not place limitations on books.
According to the county, its libraries have to abide by the Children's Internet Protection Act, which requires libraries to block or filter inappropriate material, such as nudity, on library computers in return for getting certain types of funding. As for the books, library policy says that parents are responsible for monitoring what their children read.
Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association, said it would be unconstitutional for the library, a public institution, to restrict access to books. Labeling alone would raise legal issues, she said. Movie theaters are different, she pointed out, because ratings are created and enforced by private entities.
"Somewhere in every library, there's something to offend everyone," she said. "You tolerate that because the library is trying to serve the needs of the community."
She said books such as those in the It Girl series can help "teenagers confront life situations in the safe environment of a book." She said those books could also appeal to teens who otherwise might not read.
Two Leesburg mothers have challenged the Gossip Girl series and other books intended for young adults. Dixie Fechtel and Diane Venetta have gotten Leesburg to label certain books "high school" and have taken their campaign countywide. They would like to see warning labels, but aren't pursuing age restrictions on borrowing.
Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel of Maitland, which is backing the pair, said libraries could likely find a legal way to label books and restrict access to children.
Harden's approach is unusual, but not unheard of.
Several years ago, a Maine woman refused to return It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health. She ended up in court, where a judge required her to produce the book and pay a $100 fine. She refused, but a local pastor paid her fine, and officials stopped pursuing the book.
Updated: 5/5/10 5:37 PM EDT
BP has also spent millions each year on lobbying — including $15.9 million last year alone — as it has tried to influence energy policy. Reuters
While the BP oil geyser pumps millions of gallons of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama and members of Congress may have to answer for the millions in campaign contributions they’ve taken from the oil and gas giant over the years.
BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations come from a mix of employees and the company’s political action committees — $2.89 million flowed to campaigns from BP-related PACs and about $638,000 came from individuals.
On top of that, the oil giant has spent millions each year on lobbying — including $15.9 million last year alone — as it has tried to influence energy policy.
During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records.
An Obama spokesman rejected the notion that the president took big oil money.
“President Obama didn’t accept a dime from corporate PACs or federal lobbyists during his presidential campaign,” spokesman Ben LaBolt said. “He raised $750 million from nearly four million Americans. And since he became president, he rolled back tax breaks and giveaways for the oil and gas industry, spearheaded a G20 agreement to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, and made the largest investment in American history in clean energy incentives.”
In Congress, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who last week cautioned that the incident should “not be used inappropriately” to halt Obama’s push for expansion of offshore drilling, has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of BP’s largesse. Her comments created some blowback, with critics complaining that she is too blasé about the impact of the disaster, even though she was among the first lawmakers to call for a federal investigation into the spill.
As the top congressional recipient in the last cycle and one of the top BP cash recipients of the past two decades, Landrieu banked almost $17,000 from the oil giant in 2008 alone and has lined her war chest with more than $28,000 in BP cash overall.
“Campaign contributions, from energy companies or from environmental groups, have absolutely no impact on Sen. Landrieu’s policy agenda or her response to this unprecedented disaster in the Gulf,” said Landrieu spokesman Aaron Saunders. “The senator is proud of the broad coalition she’s built since her first day in the Senate to address the energy and environmental challenges in Louisiana and in the nation. This disaster only makes the effort to promote and save Louisiana’s coast all that more important.”
Several BP executives have given directly to Landrieu’s campaign, including current and previous U.S. operation Presidents Lamar McKay and Robert Malone. Other donors include Margaret Hudson, BP’s America vice president, and Benjamin Cannon, federal affairs director for the U.S. branch. Donations ranged from $1,000 to $2,300 during the past campaign cycle.
Environmentalists complain that Landrieu has played down the impact of oil spills.
“I mean, just the gallons are so minuscule compared to the benefits of U.S. strength and security, the benefits of job creation and energy security,” Landrieu said at a hearing last month on offshore drilling. “So while there are risks associated with everything, I think you understand that they are quite, quite minimal.”
Phoenix 'Los Suns' Playoff Jerseys To Protest Arizona Immigration Law
PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns will wear "Los Suns" on their jerseys in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on Wednesday night, owner Robert Sarver said, "to honor our Latino community and the diversity of our league, the state of Arizona, and our nation."
The decision to wear the jerseys on the Cinco de Mayo holiday stems from a law passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer that has drawn widespread criticism from Latino organizations and civil rights groups that say it could lead to racial profiling of Hispanics. President Barack Obama has called the law "misguided."
Sarver, who was born and raised in Tucson, said frustration with the federal government's failure to deal with the illegal immigration issue led to the passage of what he called "a flawed state law."
"However intended, the result of passing the law is that our basic principles of equal rights and protection under the law are being called into question," he said, "and Arizona's already struggling economy will suffer even further setbacks at a time when the state can ill-afford them."
The measure makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally, and it directs local police to question people about their immigration status and demand to see their documents if there is reason to suspect they are illegal.
The controversy surrounding the law has led to picketing at some road games of baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks and a call from the Rev. Jesse Jackson for major league baseball to move next year's All-Star Game from Phoenix.
Sarver came up with the "Los Suns" jersey idea but left it up to the players for the final decision, Suns guard Steve Nash said, and all of them were for it.
"I think it's fantastic," Nash said after Tuesday's practice. "I think the law is very misguided. I think it's, unfortunately, to the detriment of our society and our civil liberties. I think it's very important for us to stand up for things we believe in. As a team and as an organization, we have a lot of love and support for all of our fans. The league is very multicultural. We have players from all over the world, and our Latino community here is very strong and important to us."
Nash was born in South Africa and moved with his parents to Victoria, British Columbia, when he was 1 1/2 years old. He was one of four Canadians to light the torch in the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympics this year.
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San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said his team was interested in taking part but couldn't get new "Los Spurs" road jerseys in time for the game.
"It's a wonderful idea," Popovich said. "because it kind of shows what we all should be about. Sure there needs to be a lot of work done, obviously. A lot of administrations have done nothing about the immigration deal and now everybody's paying the price, especially a lot of people in Arizona. That's a bad thing, but the reaction is important, too, and this reaction (the Arizona law), I believe with Mr. Sarver, is inappropriate."
Phoenix general manager Steve Kerr said he and Sarver talked about making the gesture as the team flew home from Portland last week.
"We just felt like it was important," Kerr said. "We're in the public eye and this is obviously a huge issue. We acknowledge there are two sides to the issue and there are a lot of dynamics. It's a difficult thing to sift through and there are going to be differing opinions. But what we're focusing on is we want to celebrate the diversity that exists in our state and the diversity that exists in the NBA, make sure that people understand that we know what's going on and we don't agree with the law itself."
The NBA Players Association released a statement criticizing Arizona's immigration law and praising the Suns for the gesture.
"We applaud the actions of Phoenix Suns players and management and join them in taking a stand against the misguided efforts of Arizona lawmakers," the NBAPA said. "We are consulting with our members and our player leadership to determine the most effective way for our union to continue to voice our opposition to this legislation."
But Kerr said "this isn't a huge political stand as much as it is just a celebration of diversity."
He said the Suns called the NBA for approval "and they were all for it."
Suns coach Alvin Gentry didn't want to comment on Arizona's immigration bill and said he was focused on showing appreciation for the Latino community and Arizona's diversity.
"I'm not trying to duck it," Gentry said. "I don't know enough about it to really comment on it. I would think that if it had anything to do with racial profiling, then obviously as an African-American I would not be for anything that had any hint of racial profiling."
The Suns wore the "Los Suns" jerseys twice in the regular season, and won both games.
"It's going to be great to wear Los Suns," Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire said, "to let the Latin community know that we're behind them 100 percent."
Miami clubgoer punched, killed for not having a cigarette
A punch to the head and fall to the ground killed a clubgoer in Miami early Monday -- all over a cigarette, police said.
The attack took place about 5:30 a.m. Monday in the area of Northeast Second Avenue and Ninth Street, police said Tuesday. Lisney Oliveira, 26, of Boca Raton, and a friend were walking to a club when a man came up and asked for a cigarette.
Oliveira's friend told police that he said they didn't have any, and walked on. In response, police said, the man punched Oliveira in the head. Oliveira tumbled to the ground, striking his head on the sidewalk. He died at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center.
The name of Oliveira's friend wasn't released.
Estranged wife, children suing Wade's girlfriend
AP Sports Writer
MIAMI – The estranged wife of Dwyane Wade has filed suit against his actress girlfriend Gabrielle Union, saying their relationship has caused the star Miami Heat guard's two sons emotional distress. Dwyane Wade called the lawsuit "baseless and meritless," and Union issued a statement insisting the allegations are false.
Siohvaughn Wade filed the suit in Chicago this week, adding yet another chapter to the lengthy divorce saga between the former high school sweethearts who separated more than two years ago. She and Dwyane Wade had two sons, ages 8 and 2, who are listed as plaintiffs.
An attorney for Siohvaughn Wade did not immediately respond to an interview request.
"Each and every allegation made is entirely false," said C. Anthony Mulrain, an attorney for Union.
The lawsuit against Union is the latest twist in a nasty back-and-forth divorce battle that has waged for years.
It alleges Union "engaged in sexual foreplay" in front of the boys, which "severely inflicted the Plaintiffs emotionally and mentally." It also claims that the boys received "medium size gifts" from Dwyane Wade for Christmas last year, while Union got "the biggest gift of all."
"Defendant has played sexually explicit roles, including roles as a seductress," the lawsuit reads. "Defendant has apparently decided to take her role beyond the films and into the home of a married man, Dwyane Wade, in the presence of his two minor children."
Damages in excess of $50,000 are being sought by Siohvaughn Wade.
Mulrain, Union's attorney, said the accusations were made about a month ago in court, although the actress was not named as a defendant at that time.
"The court ultimately rejected these claims as frivolous," Mulrain said. "Gabrielle apologizes to the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois for tying them up with erroneous claims when there are real victims who should be receiving the legal attention they need."
Trial in the divorce case has been scheduled for June, although a motion is pending to have that pushed back until September. Dwyane Wade's side remains hopeful that a settlement could be reached beforehand; many have been offered in recent years, all of them refused.
Several other matters involving the former couple are pending, including a request by Dwyane Wade for sole custody of his children and that his wife be psychologically evaluated. Siohvaughn Wade has alleged that Dwyane Wade abandoned his children and that he was "guilty of extreme and repeated mental cruelty" toward her.
"I can state with certainty that the claims Siohvaughn made about Gabrielle are untrue," Dwyane Wade said. "I am deeply saddened and disappointed that Siohvaughn has used our sons once again as pawns and is now lashing out at Gabrielle, who is an innocent party. It is clear that this is a desperate attempt to retaliate against me for seeking sole custody of our children."
A perennial All-Star and former NBA scoring champion, Dwyane Wade has a number of other lawsuits pending stemming from failed business deals. He will opt out of the final year of his contract with the Heat and become a free agent July 1, at which time he'll receive a six-year offer from Miami that could be worth about $127 million — far more than any other NBA club could pay him.
The custody battle and divorce case, he said last week, could "overshadow" his free-agent maneuvering.
"It's going to be a very busy summer, challenging summer and important summer for my life off the court and on the court," Wade said last week. "I have big decisions ahead of me. It's not easy."
Siohvaughn Wade also recently filed a libel-slander lawsuit against former friend Andrea Williams, who claimed in a deposition that Mrs. Wade bought a man she was romantically involved with from 2004 through 2007 a car and a motorcycle, threatened to find a gun and shoot Dwyane Wade, and voluntarily entered an Illinois hospital to deal with anger-related issues.
Plus, Nottage and Ward LLC, the Chicago law firm that was recently representing Siohvaughn Wade in the divorce, has been excused from that case after citing "an impasse" and "irreconcilable differences" between attorney and client.
City officers to be indicted in teens' kidnapping
Three officers accused of abandoning West Baltimore teen in Howard County park last May
The Baltimore Sun
3:22 p.m. EDT
May 4, 2010
Three Baltimore police officers were expected to be indicted Tuesday by a city grand jury on charges that they kidnapped two West Baltimore teens, leaving one in a Howard County state park without shoes, socks or his cell phone, according to multiple sources who had been briefed on the matter.
The indictment would come on the one-year anniversary of when Michael Brian Johnson Jr. said he was picked up by three officers and taken to Patapsco State Park. Last June, the city chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for criminal charges, and the teen and his family filed a multi-million lawsuit against the officers in March.
The officers, Tyrone S. Francis, Milton G. Smith III and a yet-to-be identified officer, were expected to be charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, second-degree assault and misconduct in office, sources said. At the time of the incident, they were assigned to the department's plainclothes Violent Crimes Impact Section.
In the lawsuit, filed March 2 in Baltimore Circuit Court, Johnson said he was in front of his cousin's house in the 1600 block of N. Gilmor St. at about 6:30 p.m. when a city police van pulled up and an officer instructed the group of teens to "keep it moving." The teens left the area and walked to a playground before returning to the cousin's home and sitting on the steps.
The police van pulled around the corner and one of the officers motioned for Johnson to come to the driver's side window. He said one of the officers instructed him not to look at him "the wrong way," or he would physically harm him.
Johnson said he responded, "Man, you ain't gonna do nothing," and turned to walk away.
That's when, he claims in the lawsuit, he was forced into an unmarked van by officers identified only by badges around their necks who hit him with a night stick and threw the battery of his cell phone out the window. The officers said he needed to "show them respect" as they drove him down Interstate 95.
"I will keep driving until you say stop," the driver said to the other. They finally stopped in the 8300 block of Baltimore National Pike, in Patapsco Valley State Park in Ellicott City.
There, he said, he was told to take off his shoes and socks and pushed out of the van. Johnson found a pay phone at a gas station and called 911, giving an account of the incident to Howard County police, according to a copy of a report obtained by The Baltimore Sun. Howard County officers returned him to his home.
Johnson said that his friend, Sean Quinn Woodland, had also been transported by the officers from one area of the city to another. Sources said Woodland was left in East Baltimore. Johnson's attorney, A. Dwight Pettit, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Civil rights leaders have been calling for charges in the case and had questioned the pace of the investigation. They also said such incidents, in which people are transported throughout the city against their will in an effort to intimidate them, is more commonplace than is reported.
"This case is not so complicated," said NAACP attorney Roland Patterson said last year. "There's either an arrest or a kidnapping. We don't think there's any in-between."
The lawsuit was the second filed against Francis in the past year. Last May, a woman and her daughter alleged Francis and three other officers beat her after she protested the arrest of her boyfriend. Latasha Calvert said she suffered head injuries, a fractured elbow and torn ligaments in her left knee as a result of the beating. The officers have denied the claims.
LINK TO PHOTO AND UPDATED STORY
Exotic Dancer Accused Of Filing False Injury ClaimHARRISBURG, Pa. CBS 3
A Pennsylvania woman has been charged with filing a false injury claim that prevented her from working her job as a waitress, yet during the time she was collecting benefits, she worked as an exotic dancer.
Faisal Shahzad ARRESTED In Connection With Times Square Car Bomb
First Posted: 05- 4-10 12:11 AM
Updated: 05- 4-10 02:17 AM
Faisal Shahzad has been arrested in connection with the Times Square car bomb. Get Breaking News Alerts
A man has been arrested in connection with Saturday's attempted car bombing in New York's Times Square.
The suspect is Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent. The Connecticut native was captured at JFK International Airport while attempting to board a flight to Dubai. According to a colleague, CNN's Deb Feyerick "reports the suspect was taken off the plane when he was arrested."
Statement from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder:
Earlier this evening, Faisal Shahzad was arrested in connection with the attempted car bombing in New York on Saturday. Mr. Shahzad, an American citizen, was taken into custody at JFK Airport in New York as he attempted to board a flight to Dubai.
Since this plot was first uncovered on Saturday night, the FBI, prosecutors and intelligence lawyers in the National Security Division of the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorneys Offices in Manhattan and Connecticut, along with the NYPD have worked night and day to find out who was responsible for what would have been a deadly attack had it been successful. Over the course of the day today, we have gathered significant additional evidence that led to tonight's arrest, which was made by agents from Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection.
This investigation is ongoing, as are our attempts to gather useful intelligence, and we continue to pursue a number of leads. But it's clear that the intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans.
FBI agents are working with their state and local counterparts in New York, Connecticut and other jurisdictions to gather evidence and intelligence related to this case. We are also coordinating with other members of the President's national security team to ensure we use every resource available to the United States to bring anyone responsible to justice.
We continue to gather leads in this investigation, and it's important that the American people remain vigilant. The vehicle in Times Square was first noticed on Saturday by a citizen who reported it to authorities, and, as always, any American who notices suspicious activity should report it to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
This investigation is ongoing, it is multi-faceted, and it is aggressive. As we move forward, we will focus on not just holding those responsible for it accountable, but also on obtaining any intelligence about terrorist organizations overseas.
Because of the fast-moving nature of this investigation, I am not able to make any further information public at this time. But the American people should know that we are deploying every resource available, and we will not rest until we have brought everyone responsible to justice.
ASSOCIATED PRESS UPDATE: 2:00 AM -- NEW YORK -- A Pakistani man believed to be the driver of an SUV used as a car bomb in a failed terror attack on Times Square was taken into custody early Tuesday by federal and local police officials while trying to leave the country, a law enforcement official said.
The suspect, Faisal Shahzad, was identified by customs agents at John F. Kennedy International Airport and was stopped before boarding an Emirates airlines flight to Dubai, according to officials who spoke to The Associated Press early Tuesday on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation. He had recently returned from a five-month trip to Pakistan, where he had a wife.
He was being held in New York and couldn't be contacted. He has a Shelton, Conn., address; a phone number listed there wasn't in service.
Law enforcement officials say Shahzad bought the SUV, a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder, from a Connecticut man about three weeks ago and paid cash. The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case.
Police said the bomb could have produced "a significant fireball" and sprayed shrapnel with enough force to kill pedestrians and knock out windows. The SUV was parked on a street lined with restaurants and Broadway theaters, including one showing "The Lion King," and full of people out on a Saturday night.
The vehicle identification number had been removed from the Pathfinder's dashboard, but it was stamped on the engine, and investigators used it to find the owner of record. The discovery was paramount to the investigation.
"The discovery of the VIN on the engine block was pivotal in that it led to the identifying the registered owner," said Paul Browne, chief New York Police Department spokesman. "It continues to pay dividends."
The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan will handle the case. An early morning call to the office was not immediately returned. It wasn't clear if additional suspects were being sought.
Officials say the SUV's registered owner, whose name has not been released, was not considered a suspect in the bomb scare.
Investigators tracked the license plate found on the rear of the SUV to a used auto parts shop in Stratford, Conn., where they discovered the plate was connected to a different vehicle. They also spoke to the owner of an auto sales shop in nearby Bridgeport because a sticker on the Pathfinder indicated the SUV had been sold by his dealership.
As the buyer came into focus, investigators backed off other leads. They had initially wanted to speak with a man apparently in his 40s who was videotaped shedding his shirt near the Pathfinder, but they backed away as the buyer became clear. The man had not been considered a suspect, and officials said it's possible he was just a bystander.
In Washington on Monday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Saturday's attempted bombing was a terrorist act.
The motive remained unclear. The Pakistani Taliban appeared to claim responsibility for the bomb in three videos that surfaced after the weekend scare, monitoring groups said. New York officials said police have no evidence to support the claims. It was unclear if the suspect in custody had any relationship to the group.
The SUV was parked near offices of Viacom Inc., which owns Comedy Central. The network recently aired an episode of the animated show "South Park" that the group Revolution Muslim had complained insulted the Prophet Muhammad by depicting him in a bear costume.
The SUV was captured on video crossing an intersection at 6:28 p.m. Saturday. A vendor pointed out the Pathfinder to an officer about two minutes later. Times Square, clogged with tourists on a warm evening, was shut down for 10 hours. A bomb squad dismantled the explosive device, and no one was hurt.
The explosive device had cheap-looking alarm clocks connected to a 16-ounce can filled with fireworks, which were apparently intended to detonate the gas cans and set the propane afire in a chain reaction, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
A metal rifle cabinet placed in the cargo area was packed with fertilizer, but NYPD bomb experts believe it was not a type volatile enough to explode like the ammonium nitrate grade fertilizer used in previous terrorist bombings.
The exact amount of fertilizer was unknown. Police estimated the cabinet weighed 200 to 250 pounds when they pulled it from the vehicle.
Free meals for teachers on Teacher Appreciation Day May 4, 2010
May 3, 11:49 AM
May 3, 2010 -- This is Teacher Appreciation Week and some places are showing their appreciation for teachers on Tuesday May 4, Teacher Appreciation Day, with free food. Expect to show school I.D. of a pay stub.
These restaurants go to the head of the class:
Melbourne and Stuart, Florida: Tropical Smoothie Cafes in Martin County and Brevard County are giving a free smoothie to teachers any day this week as Tropical Smoothie Cafes in the two counties show their appreciation during National Teachers Appreciation Week, May 2 through 8.
The same Cafes’ will also offer a free smoothie to any nurse on National Nurse’s Day, May 6.
Applebees in Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania:
Thomas & King Applebee’s franchises confirmed that they are offering free meals for teachers on Tuesday May 4. Thomas & King operates 90 Applebee’s in Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Check your local store before heading out for free eats.
The menu for free meals will be dine-in only and with limited but varied and chosen from popular favorites. Tip and beverage not included.
This examiner’s note: Do the right thing – don’t show up with a table of eight teachers during lunch rush and expect eight free meals. And leave a good tip.
Ithaca, NY: VisitIthaca.com offers discount cards so that teachers may receive free entrees, freebies and discounts for teachers at IthacaLovesTeachers.com.
Richmond, Virginia: According to their Facebook page, Qdobas in Richmond are offering a free entrée to teachers on Tuesday, May 4, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Offer details: All Richmond locations. You must have a valid school ID. Limit one per customer. No purchase necessary. Must be present to receive offer. No phone or fax orders.
Be Old Homestead's 10 millionth customer and eat free for life
May 3, 11:16 AM
The Old Homestead has held court in the same location in the Meatpacking District since 1868.Photo: Old Homestead
It's similar to guessing how many jelly beans there are in a 100-gallon jar, but with an important difference. You don't get to eat the jelly beans if you guess right (not that you'd necessarily want to), whereas if you become the 10 millionth customer at The Old Homestead (56 Ninth Avenue, bet 14th and 15th Sts, 212-242-9040) you will find youself showered with riches beyond your wildest imaginings. Well, not really. But the recipient of the restaurant's 10 millionth meal will win a Florida vacation, a year's supply of frozen dinners or a gym membership (you'll need the latter if you win) and—pièce de résistance—free dinner for life, for him or her and a guest.
When you consider that a steak without sides at the Old Homestead nowadays runs between $36 (for a petite filet migon) and $49 (for an on-the-bone ribeye), you realize that this prize is nothing to sneeze at.
According to the restaurant's calculations—they started keeping track of the number of customers two years ago, based on an estimate arrived at with the aid of accountants and statisticians—they have served over 9,993,920 meals to date. That means that the magic number is currently somewhere just shy of 6,080. How many meals does the Old Homestead serve on an average day? They're not telling, though the management has no aversion to customers making regular forays to the restaurant to compile their own data.
Ocala man arrested for DUI – but not before one more drink
Published: Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 3:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 3:54 p.m.
BELLEVIEW -- An Ocala man who was just minutes away from taking a roadside sobriety test decided he needed another drink before he got started.
Marion sheriff’s deputies say they pulled over Dana Allen Seaman, 61, of 2417 S.E. 17th St., along the 3000 block of County Road 484.
Deputy Eric Larson spotted Seaman swerve his car three times.
After stopping the vehicle, the deputy asked Seaman if he had been drinking. Seaman said yes and agreed to undergo a field sobriety test.
Before the test, the deputy watched Seaman take a drink from a cup and toss it under the passenger seat.
The deputy said he “retrieved the cup and could smell a strong odor of alcohol coming from the cup,” according to the report.
Larson reported that Seaman could not stand on one leg, weaved when attempting to put his finger to his nose and was unsteady on his feet during all the tests.
The deputy also said he couldn’t understand most of the alphabet due to Seaman’s slurred speech. Seaman refused to submit to a breath test. He was arrested and charged with DUI.
Phil Griffin MSNBC President: We Want To Be Like Fox News
First Posted: 05- 3-10 09:37 AM
Updated: 05- 3-10 11:39 AM
MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune's Phil Rosenthal that he hopes MSNBC can grow to be more like Fox News, but that he won't be putting any "hard-right shows" on his network.
Griffin praised Fox News chief Roger Ailes for the television phenomenon he's created.
"He's changed media," Griffin said of Ailes. "Everybody does news differently because Roger's changed the world. Roger early on figured it out and was brilliant."
To Griffin, developing a successful cable news network means creating a place for "like-minded" viewers to come for the network's hosts' takes on the news.
"We're talking about the actions and passions of today, which tend to be political," he said.
"I don't think we have quite the passionate support that Fox does," he said. "Some shows do, but as a network we don't. Our prime time is getting there. But that's what we want to get."
But despite the desire to emulate Fox, Griffin insists he would not put on a hardcore conservative news show.
"Could we put on a hard-right show? No. It wouldn't fit," he said. "I want flow."
It's illegal, but desperate Americans are buying drugs online from Canada
Orlando Sentinel May 2, 2010
How the Dems got their groove back
After spending an entire year on healthcare reform, it appears congressional Democrats, sinking in the polls, have now decided to push on regulatory reform, revisit oversight of regulations for the mining and oil drilling industries and pass energy reform and — yes — an immigration overhaul as well. This is the definition of bring it on. Senate Democrats, in response to the new Arizona immigration law that has sparked criticism from both parties, introduced an immigration bill yesterday designed to attract bipartisan support. It makes securing the border the first priority, to be followed by the registration of illegal immigrants, who would pay back taxes and be put on a path to citizenship if they lack criminal records. The bill also calls for Social Security identity cards, which proponents say would stem the tide of future illegal immigration by holding businesses accountable.
"We'll only succeed in dramatically reducing future illegal immigration by creating an employment verification system that holds employers accountable for knowingly hiring illegal workers," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). Schumer co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has now dropped out of the debate, claiming Democrats' political maneuvers on the issue have poisoned the well.
Some liberals are alarmed that Democrats have included an identification card, but Schumer and the leadership point out that many of their proposals are GOP ideas included in past bills such as the one sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
McCain is finding the sudden return of the immigration debate awfully uncomfortable as he struggles to fend off a primary challenge from former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.), a strong foe of comprehensive immigration reform. This debate will also be difficult for many conservative and centrist Democrats struggling in tough reelection campaigns, which is why I am quite surprised to see it front and center.
Video released showing Marion teacher ‘creeping’ though locker room
2:26 p.m. EDT
April 30, 2010
OCALA, Fla. — Authorities today released a fuzzy copy of a cell-phone video from a student showing a Marion County teacher accused of swiping cash from students' lockers.
A spokeswoman for the Marion County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that the video shows him "creeping" through the locker room and rifling through students' belongings.
Steven Simmons, 49, was arrested Thursday on a grand-theft charge.
North Marion High students had complained for years that someone was stealing out of their lockers.
To catch the culprit, a student put his phone in one of the lockers in an otherwise empty locker room.
Authorities couldn't make a copy of the video from the phone, so they videotaped the phone as it played the video and released that.
Simmons, the physical education teacher, was arrested 20 minutes after students showed the phone recording to a school-resource officer.
The sheriff's office says Simmons admitted to stealing for years, taking some $400 so far this year.
Simmons offered no comment to reporters after he was released on $2,000 bail Thursday night.
LINK TO VIDEO:
April 30, 2010 11:05 AM
With the black ties and dresses, shiny hair and sparkling diamonds, bad jokes and back-slapping, it would be hard to tell that more than 37 million Americans live in poverty every day and millions more at the razor's edge or that more than 508,000 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans have sought care from a Veterans Affairs facility because some of the people at that dinner sent them off to war. That contrast of clashing Americas has always seemed unseemly like the Pope wearing fancy red shoes.
A few years ago, Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro made the documentary, Body of War, about an Iraq War veteran, Tomas Young. Tomas enlisted right after the attacks on September 11th and five days after he arrived in Iraq, he was shot in the chest and paralyzed. Tomas came home to a country completely unprepared to care for its veterans. His frustration led to action and he was one of the first veterans to start speaking truth to power about the lies that led us to war.
During one scene in the movie, Tomas is in his wheel chair watching The White House Correspondents Dinner. In the glow of the television, he sees the sea of tuxedos and dresses, Republicans and Democrats and their laughter and clapter as jokes are made about missing weapons of mass destruction. It is a chilling, heart breaking, moment of disconnect between the decision makers and those who decided to serve.
We forget that we are -- like it or not, for it or not -- a nation at war and we rarely act like it. Most Americans don't serve. Most Americans don't know that 2 million men and women have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan; the suicide rate for active duty soldiers has more than doubled since these wars began; nearly 15 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are unemployed, and their families have to fight to get a wheel chair or surgery or help with a creeping traumatic brain injury.
At tomorrow night's high profile dinner, our national press corps could begin to change all of this for our veterans.
Since the wars began, the press has used incomplete numbers about the non-fatal casualties from the Iraq and Afghanistan combat zones. Most of the time on the news and in the papers, reporters use one set of numbers issued every week by the Department of Defense which are limited to those killed and wounded in action. As of April 29, 2010, the report states that in Iraq 31,790 have been wounded and 4,397 have been killed and in Afghanistan, 5,677 have been wounded and 1,043 killed.
What is interesting about that report is that it includes every death, as it should. Every service member killed because of a bullet, shrapnel, or by suicide is counted, honored, in that weekly report. But the wounded in action number is incomplete. It excludes everyone who was medically evacuated because of a serious injury or illness. Those numbers are released in another monthly report, the last one issued April 3, 2010.
For those who don't want to look and add, the total number of non-fatal casualties that includes those wounded in action and those medically evacuated for injuries and illness, that number in Iraq is 70,615 and in Afghanistan, it is 14,936. These complete numbers have been hiding in plain sight. Why won't the press use them? They show why so many of our veterans are struggling and when all are added up, the total number of battlefield casualties is 90,925. That number is arresting in its size and the American people need to know it.
These injuries and illnesses requiring evacuation aren't inconsequential either. The injuries often include lost limbs, serious cases of Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the signature medical conditions from the two wars.
The press has a chance to make these numbers known to the American people tomorrow night. Imagine a room with all that power? Why not put that audience to good use for those who defend our country?
There will be several opportunities for prominent journalists to issue this correction and call on their colleagues to use the complete numbers: when Ed Chen, president of The White House Correspondents' Association greets the guests, and when Ben Feller, Jake Tapper, Mark Knoller, Suzanne Bohan, and Sandy Kleffman receive their awards. Why not build on that journalistic spirit and fix a fact? Why not use that room and all the power in it to issue an important correction not on the back pages or during the credits, but right there in front of the president, vice president, cabinet members, leaders in Congress, editors, network anchors, leading artists, and the world. This could be a chance for the press to restore some of its good will with the American people by speaking truth to power and at the dinners to follow.
There are more than 1 million veterans from these wars and that means there is a great chance that another veteran like Tomas Young will be watching the dinner in a daze of disbelief from their home. Will our veterans see another night of disconnect and jokes or will they hear something different? Will the truth -- 90,925 battlefield casualties -- pierce through the bubble and let everyone know in the words of the mighty Marvin Gaye, "What's Going On" with our Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans.
Teen Charged with Theft of Foot from Corpse
Man said he wanted "Jew girl's" foot
Updated 2:10 PM CDT, Fri, Apr 30, 2010
An 18-year-old Dallas man was arrested early Friday morning with a detached human foot.
The man, later identified as Daniel Wayne Stanley, approached officers at about 3:30 a.m. along the 2100 block of South Buckner Boulevard and told them that he had some skin and a human foot in his bag. He then showed the officers the foot and took them to the grave where he had dug up and removed the body part.
The man told officers that the foot belonged to a "Jew girl" and that he had dug it up because he wanted the foot.
Officers also found a small hatchet and some fragments from the foot in his bag.
The man was arrested and charged with theft from a human corpse/grave. The foot was turned over to the Dallas County medical examiner's office.
First Published: Apr 30, 2010 12:33 PM CDT
Facebook Group 'Praying' For President Obama's Death Passes One Million Members
First Posted: 04-28-10 11:39 AM
Updated: 04-30-10 01:00 AM
A Facebook group accused of "praying" for the death of President Barack Obama has raised controversy online, with many calling for Facebook to remove the group as "offensive speech."
The group, which lists its location as "Marysville, OH, 43040," currently has over 1 million members--Facebook users who say they "like" the group. It includes an album of anti-Obama imagery uploaded by the group's members--what Facebook labels "fan photos--that show the president against a communist flag, juxtaposed with insulting and derisive captions, or even a cartoon "associating Obama to Hitler."
The group is called, "DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN."
Geekosystem notes that the title is "likely a riff on a letter circulating New Jersey teachers' unions earlier this month that employed similar language with respect to (Republican) governor Chris Christie. The president of the New Jersey Education Association went on to issue a formal apology for the email."
Another group, "Petition to remove Facebook group praying for President Obama's death," has been created to denounce the anti-Obama group and advocate for its removal. The group, which has just over 650,000 members, is asking users to "Please act to encourage facebook to remove the page praying for the death of President Obama," and lists three steps Facebook users can take.
Facebook has repeatedly come under fire for hosting Facebook pages many find inappropriate and offensive.
Facebook's procedure for dealing with potentially offensive groups is pretty murky. Facebook has stated in the past that it takes seriously the free speech of its groups, even potentially offensive ones: A number of Facebook groups praising Joe Stack, the man who crashed a small plane into a government building in February, are still alive and well.
Controversy erupted in September 2009 after users discovered a Facebook poll that asked whether President Obama should be killed.
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