Truesee's Daily Wonder

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

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Three convicted murderers escape from prison

Arizona Prison Break: MURDERERS Escape From Kingman Prison

AMANDA LEE MYERS | 07/31/10 07:51 PM | AP

Arizona Jailbreak

PHOENIX — Police were using helicopters and dogs Saturday to search for three convicted murderers who escaped from a northwest Arizona prison, kidnapped two semi-truck drivers at gunpoint and used the big rig to flee.

Department of Corrections spokesman Barrett Marson said the men escaped Friday evening by cutting a hole through a perimeter fence at the medium-security Arizona State Prison in Golden Valley, about 90 miles southeast of Las Vegas. They should be considered especially dangerous because of the nature of their convictions, he said.

Officials identified the escapees as Tracy Province, 42, who was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery; Daniel Renwick, 36, serving 22 years for second-degree murder; and John McCluskey, 45, serving 15 years for second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm.

Province is from Illinois, and Renwick and McCluskey are from Arizona.

Flagstaff police Sgt. James Jackson said a woman identified as Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, met the men and helped in their escape, and at about 5 a.m. Saturday, the group kidnapped two drivers of a semi-truck in Kingman and forced them at gunpoint to drive two hours east to Flagstaff.

The group left the drivers, unharmed, in the truck at a stop just off Interstate 40 and then fled in an unknown direction, Jackson said.

"The truck drivers were lucky to get away unscathed," he said. "I mean, they've been convicted of murder and they're escaping from prison."

Authorities urged anyone with information on the escaped prisoners to use caution and call police immediately.

The escapees were last seen wearing orange prison jumpsuits.

Management and Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, operates the prison. The company operates seventeen correctional facilities in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Idaho and Ohio, according to its website.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Another Democratic Rep To Face Ethics Charges

Maxine Waters ETHICS CHARGES: Democratic Rep May Face Public Trial


07/31/10 08:27 AM 


Maxine Waters Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)

WASHINGTON — A second House Democrat, Rep. Maxine Waters of California, could face an ethics trial this fall, further complicating the election outlook for the party as it battles to retain its majority.

People familiar with the investigation, who were not authorized to be quoted about charges before they are made public, say the allegations could be announced next week. The House ethics committee declined Friday to make any public statement on the matter.

Waters, 71, has been under investigation for a possible conflict of interest involving a bank that was seeking federal aid. Her husband owned stock in the bank and had served on its board.

New York Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel also faces an ethics trial this fall on charges that include failure to disclose assets and income, nonpayment of taxes and doing legislative favors for donors to a college center named after him.

Both Waters and Rangel are prominent members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the trials would be an embarrassment for the group. Dual ethics trials would also be a major political liability for Democrats, forcing them to defend their party's ethical conduct while trying to hold on to their House majority.

While Rangel is a former chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, Waters is a prominent member of the House Financial Services Committee.

Waters came under scrutiny after former Treasury Department officials said she helped arrange a meeting between regulators and executives at Boston-based OneUnited Bank without mentioning her husband's financial ties to the institution.

Her husband, Sidney Williams, held at least $250,000 in the bank's stock and previously had served on its board. Waters' spokesman has said Williams was no longer on the board when the meeting was arranged.

Waters has said the National Bankers Association, a trade group, requested the meeting. She defended her role in assisting minority-owned banks in the midst of the nation's financial meltdown and dismissed suggestions she used her influence to steer government aid to the bank.

Story continues below

"I am confident that as the investigation moves forward the panel will discover that there are no facts to support allegations that I have acted improperly," Waters said in a prior statement.

The committee unanimously voted to establish an investigative subcommittee to gather evidence and determine whether Waters violated standards of conduct.

Waters, like Rangel, could settle her case by arranging a plea bargain with the ethics committee. So far she has decided instead to fight.



House ethics committee:

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Police captain released from jail

Felicity police captain accused of tampering with evidence


Jennifer Baker

Cincinnati Enquirer

July 30, 2010


FELICITY - A veteran police captain facing up to five years in prison if he’s found guilty of a drug-related charge of tampering with evidence was released from the Clermont County jail on $100,000 professional bond Friday.

Delmas Gee Pack, 42, was effectively stripped of his police powers when he appeared earlier in Clermont County Municipal Court.

Judge James R. Shriver prohibited the 16-year law enforcement official from possessing any weapons while the criminal case is pending.

Pack is scheduled to return to Clermont Municipal Court for a preliminary hearing Aug. 5. At that time, more details of what he is accused of doing might be released. 

So far, authorities have been mum on why Pack was arrested at the Felicity police station Thursday and charged with misdemeanor tampering with evidence in a multi-agency investigation.

Clermont County Sheriff A. J. “Tim” Rodenberg and Cmdr. John Burke of the Warren County Drug Task Force referred questions Friday to the Clermont County Prosecutor’s Office. Prosecutor Don White and Assistant Prosecutor Woody Breyer did not return multiple calls.

Pack also did not respond to a message for comment left at his New Richmond home.

Several of his relatives attended his arraignment but declined to talk with reporters.
Pack appeared handcuffed and wearing an orange jail uniform as he faced the judge. He expressed surprise when his bond was set so high.

Felicity Police Chief Ray Hesler attended the brief hearing and spoke privately with Pack’s family afterward.

In an interview at the Felicity police station later, he noted that some accused murders in Clermont County aren’t given such high bonds.

“It just blows my mind,” he said.

The dismayed chief said he was shocked when several investigators arrived to take Pack into custody Thursday.

His arrest came after an investigation by the Clermont County Narcotics Unit, which is overseen by the sheriff, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, the county prosecutor’s office and the Warren County Drug Task Force.

The sheriff’s office has received several complaints in past years regarding the confiscation of contraband drugs that were not turned over to the property room, authorities have said.

Pack, Hesler said, is accused of taking evidence, but Hesler refused to elaborate on what kind.

“They set him up in a sting operation,” the chief said. “They are saying he took some evidence. There is a lot I think about it, but I just can’t say it. It will cause me a lot of trouble.”

It is likely that Pack, who works about 30 hours a week at the police department earning $12 an hour, will be placed on unpaid leave, Hesler said. The chief expects to discuss that with the Felicity City Council at its next meeting Thursday.

Felicity’s mayor did not return a call for comment Friday.

Hesler is the only full-time sworn officer on the department that patrols the tiny village of 932 people covering 0.3 square miles along Ohio 133. There are 11 part-time officers.

The chief said he thinks Pack is the victim of complaints because he comes down hard on offenders.

“I have known this guy since he was knee-high,” Hesler said of Pack. “He is an aggressive officer and a lot of people hate him because he is.”

Just last week, the chief said, Pack was responsible for capturing two armed men who barged into a Washington Township home and stole cash, cell phones and several bags of marijuana.

Pack stopped the suspects’ vehicle and found the drugs and clothing identical to what was worn during the home invasion.

“They would not have caught the guys otherwise, I can guarantee it,” Hesler said. “He saw them coming over the guardrail.”

Reaction to Pack’s arrest was mixed Friday among residents out and about in downtown Felicity during lunchtime.

“I bet there’s a lot of people surprised,” said Linda Tess, 38. “He didn’t seem to be a cop to me. You could talk to him. The only thing I didn’t like was he didn’t like anyone standing in the street talking. He’d run you off.”

Jamie Clark said he won’t believe the allegations against Pack until they are proven in court.

“I think he’s a pretty good guy. He’s one of the friendliest cops here,” said Clark, 41.


The Enquirer/Leigh Taylor Felicity police officer Delmas Pack appears for a bond hearing before Clermont County judge James Shriver at the Clermont County courthouse on Friday, June 30, 2010. Pack, who is charged with tampering with evidence, was given a $100,000.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Teenagers trying to buy pot robbed at gunpoint

Would-be pot buyers robbed at gunpoint, cops say


The Capital Times

Friday, July 30, 2010 11:10 am


Three young men looking to buy marijuana from a "friend of a friend" ended up getting robbed at gunpoint on the southwest side, Madison police reported.

Police said the robbery happened at about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday in the 2700 block of Cimarron Trail near Mesa Court.

According to the police report, the three young men -- an 18-year-old from Madison, a 17-year-old from Verona and a 19-year-old from Fitchburg -- were out celebrating the 17-year-old's birthday and planned to buy some pot.

"The trio drove to a park on Cimarron Trail where they met up with this friend of a friend," said police spokesman Joel DeSpain.

A stranger also showed up, toting a handgun.

"The would-be marijuana dealer and the stranger carried on as if they did not know each other," DeSpain said. "The gunman threatened to kill the victims, and then robbed them of money, a cell phone and a backpack."

The suspect was described as a black male, 20-25 years old, 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet 1 inches tall, 150 to 175 pounds, with short hair, and wearing a long black T-shirt.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Woman lets boyfriend a convicted child abuser care for their baby

Oklahoma City mom gets 20 years for enabling child abuse

Oklahoma City woman let boyfriend take care of their daughter even though he was a convicted child abuser.




July 30, 2010


A dead baby's mother hugged her boyfriend last year, called him a wonderful person and said she still loved him even though he had just admitted to her that he shook their girl to death.

Left: Willis Joe Lambert Jr. Right: Latrice S. Russell





"I love you, and I pray that you get better," Latrice S. Russell told her boyfriend as Oklahoma City police secretly recorded the parents' conversation. 

She did tell him she was mad. 

At her sentencing Wednesday, a judge watched a recording of the June 10, 2009, conversation made after detectives separately talked to the parents. "I'm appalled," Oklahoma County District Judge Don Deason told her. 

The judge ordered Russell to serve 20 years in prison and 10 more years on probation for enabling child abuse. She had sought only probation. 

Her boyfriend, Willis Joe Lambert Jr., 38, already is serving life without the possibility of parole. He pleaded guilty in March to first-degree murder. He told police he "just lost it" when the baby, Rachael M. Lambert, resisted getting dressed for bed in their Oklahoma City home. The girl was 6 months old. 

Prosecutors charged Russell, 34, because she knew her boyfriend was a convicted child abuser. Lambert had spent almost 10 years in prison for abusing their son, Issac Lambert, in 1998 when the boy was a month old. Russell let him move back in with her in 2008 after his release from prison. 

Russell told the judge Wednesday she thought Lambert was a changed man. 

"He wasn't talking the same talk. He wasn't walking the same walk," she said Wednesday. "He was just different. It wasn't the same at all. I was convinced he was changed. He was going to church and praising God for a second chance.... I believe that everybody deserves a second chance." 

Police reported Lambert went to prison for child abuse in 1999 after admitting he placed a rag over Issac's mouth in 1998 because the boy was crying. Police reported Issac suffered injuries from lack of oxygen and also was found to have had several broken bones. 

Russell pleaded guilty in May to enabling child abuse. The judge told her Wednesday, "For whatever reason, you took him in. I can't fathom that.... While you are not completely responsible for her death, you are in large part."

The father confessed to police he shook Rachael about 9 p.m. June 8, 2009, reports show. He told police he discovered she wasn't breathing about 4:30 a.m. June 9, 2009, when he awoke to use the bathroom.

Russell admitted Wednesday that the evening Rachael was hurt she was at a girls' party where sex toys were sold. She said she and Lambert smoked marijuana after she returned home.

Police detectives put the parents in the same room after the father had confessed. Minutes before, a detective told the mother Rachael had been abused, and the baby's death had been ruled a homicide.

In the police recording, Lambert wept as he described how he shook their daughter because the girl was resistant to getting on clothes after a bath. He said he grabbed the baby and told the baby to be still. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to do it. I swear I didn't," he said.

Russell scolded her boyfriend for confessing to police to Rachael's death. She said he should have asked for a lawyer. "I'm mad... because now they're in here on me like, 'You knew... you knew he was abusing,'" she said.

She told her boyfriend, "You got some things you need to deal with. You're such a wonderful person. You are. You are so wonderful. I can't believe... It's OK. It's OK. It's OK. You're gonna be all right, and I am, too. Just know, we still love you. But you gotta, you gotta, you gotta deal with some things. OK? Completely." 

At one point, he asked to hold her one last time. She resisted at first, then hugged him. She let him hug her twice more. 

They end their almost 18-minute talk with a kiss. Her last words to him were, "I'll pray for you.


Lambert & Russell conversation


Jul 29 

Excerpts of a conversation recorded by OKC police between Willis...


Oklahoma City mom gets 20 years for enabling child abuse


Police recording captures conversatio


Here is an excerpt from the police recording of two parents, Willis Joe Lambert Jr. and Latrice Russell, after the father admitted killing their baby girl 

Russell: "I never would have thought, Will. Never. Maybe I was just blind to the fact. I don't know.... You're so good with the kids...."

Lambert: "I messed up." 

Russell: "Yeah, babe, you did mess up.... from here you're going to jail." 

Lambert: "Yeah. I know. I know. I know." 

Russell: "I gotta go on with my life, Will. I'm just telling. I know, but... I love you to death but... " 

Lambert: "I know, Latrice, you got to. Will you come see me?"

Russell: "I don't know.... " 

Lambert: "Please come see me, please?"

Russell: "Right, now, I have no say.... I will come see you, eventually."

Read more:

Friday, July 30, 2010


Priest arrested with 530 pounds of cocaine

 Priest who blessed Morales found with cocaine 


Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:42pm EDT

LA PAZ (Reuters) - The Aymara priest who blessed Bolivian President Evo Morales at an inauguration ceremony four years ago has been arrested in possession of 530 pounds (240 kg) of cocaine, police said Thursday.  

Anti-drugs police in the Andean country found a cocaine laboratory in the home of priest Valentin Mejillones. His son and a Colombian couple were also detained. The stash of liquid cocaine seized in the raid was valued at $240,000.  

Mejillones told local media he had been tricked by the Colombians, and Vice President Alvaro Garcia said Morales had not chosen the priest to preside at the traditional swearing-in ceremony at the sacred Tiwanaku ruins.  

"He was a person who moved within the Andean religious structure," Garcia told reporters. "Whether he's a priest or not, if he's committed a crime, he won't get any kind of protection when he faces justice."  

Morales, an Aymara Indian and former coca farmer, was sworn in as Bolivia's first indigenous president in 2006.  

On the eve of his inauguration at the presidential palace, he donned a ceremonial red poncho as Mejillones presented him with a staff of command representing the 36 nationalities of Bolivia's indigenous majority.  

Bolivia is the world's third-biggest cocaine producer, but limited coca cultivation is legal and leaves of the plant are commonly chewed or brewed in a tea to ward off the effects of altitude. 

(Reporting by Carlos Alberto Quiroga; writing by Helen Popper; editing by Mohammad Zargham)


Friday, July 30, 2010


Inmates sues men who captured him

Friday, July 30, 2010


Mother and son drug dealing is a family enterprise

Schaumburg mother and son face drug charges

July 26, 2010 7:34 PM 

Chicago Tribune

 For one northwest suburban Schaumburg mother and son, drug dealing is a family enterprise, sheriff's officials said today.

nordlandthis.jpgJason Nordlander, 21, and his mother Cheryl Nordlander, 49, both of the 1800 block of Portsmouth Lane, were arrested and appeared in bond court in Rolling Meadows charged with dealing drugs out of their home, Cook County sheriff's officials said in a press release.

Jason Nordlander was charged with manufacturing and dealing cannabis, possession of cannabis, possession of drug paraphernalia, and two counts of possession of a controlled substance. Cheryl Nordlander was charged with possession of cannabis and possession of a controlled substance.

Officials said they began investigating the duo after police received complaints from neighbors about drug activity at the family's home.

The home was put under surveillance and investigators witnessed a "suspicious amount of foot traffic in and out of the house at all hours of the day and night," officials said.

After getting a search warrant police raided the home on Thursday and found large quantities of drugs and drug paraphernalia in plain view, officials said.

Inside the home police found 30 hydrocodone pills, 1.5 grams of hashish, 38.5 grams of cannabis, and nearly $2700 in cash, officials said.

Police also said there was evidence of a disassembled grow house in the basement, with hydroponic equipment used to grow cannabis.

Cheryl Nordlander is on probation for a previous drug arrest.

In January she was arrested by the Chicago Police Department and charged with possession and production of cannabis, and possession of Ecstasy, after a tip that drugs were being shipped to her home by a relative in California, officials said.
Bond for both Jason and Cheryl Nordlander was set for $10,000 in Rolling Meadows Court on Saturday. Cheryl Nordlander's next court date is July 29th at 26th & California.  Jason Nordlander appears in Rolling Meadows on August 19th.

Schamburg Police assisted Cook County Sheriff's Police, officials said.

-- Carlos Sadovi

Friday, July 30, 2010


Patient calls 911 left in acupunture clinic with needles ...

Jul, 28, 2010

Police: Patient left on table in Bellingham acupuncture clinic

Locked in with needles still in her back, woman calls 911




BELLINGHAM - An acupuncture patient, left on the treatment table with the needles still in her back, discovered workers had forgotten about her and locked her inside the office when they left Tuesday evening, July 27, according to Bellingham Police.

The 47-year-old told police she had been undergoing treatment at Discovering Health, 1513 E St. At some point, she realized the acupuncturist had left and closed the office, police spokesman Mark Young said.

The woman told police she pulled out the needles and tried to leave, but the doors were locked and required a key to unlock even from the inside.

She set off motion detector alarms while trying to leave the building and called 911 for assistance at about 7:30 p.m., Young said.

Police officers responded and were able to get her out of the office. The woman was not harmed, Young said.

A call to Discovering Health on Wednesday was returned by an attorney, who declined to comment for this article.

All three acupuncturists listed as working at the clinic have valid licenses with the state Department of Health as East Asian medicine practitioners. Two of them have held those licenses since the mid-1990s, the other got the license in 2000. One of them also is a licensed naturopathic physician, according to the Department of Health.

Young didn't say which acupuncturist was treating the woman.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said if the patient filed a complaint, it would be investigated. She would not speculate on what the penalty, if any, would be if the complaint were found to be true.

Police did not release the patient's name.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Guard hand delivered inmates drugs and cellphones

Friday, July 30, 2010


On duty police caught on tape stealing from cafe safe

Friday, July 30, 2010


How Sharron Angle Lost An 11-Point Lead In 7 Weeks

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Foreclosure rises in major metropolitan areas

Foreclosure activity rises in most major metropolitan areas


Dina ElBoghdady
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 30, 2010  

Foreclosure activity climbed in three-quarters of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas in the first half of 2010, compared with the same period a year ago, but declined in some of the nation's hardest-hit regions, according to data released Thursday.

This Story
  • In slow economy, Americans stay put
  • The new division of labor: Adding profits, subtracting workers
  • Foreclosure activity rises in most major metropolitan areas

The number of properties in some stage of foreclosure rose during the first six months of the year in 154 of the 206 metropolitan areas with a population of 200,000 or more, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac said in a report.

The 20 regions with the worst foreclosure rates were in the four states -- Florida, California, Nevada and Arizona -- where home prices climbed fastest during the boom years and crashed hardest during the crisis. Nine of the areas on the top 20 list were in Florida, eight in California, two in Nevada and one in Arizona.

Nationwide, more than 1.6 million properties were in some stage of foreclosure in the first half of the year, according to RealtyTrac, up about 8 percent from a year ago but down 5 percent from the final six months of 2009.

In the Washington region, foreclosure activity fell 5.4 percent from a year ago and nearly 18 percent from the previous six months. About 1 in 78 D.C. area loans was in some state of foreclosure from January through June.

Foreclosures tend to drag down home prices and undermine the housing market's stability. The nation's stubbornly high unemployment rate and the lending community's increased willingness to sell foreclosed properties are boosting the number of foreclosures hitting the market.

For a period, lenders were under political pressure to delay foreclosures and modify troubled loans. But as lenders get a better handle on which loans cannot be salvaged, they are starting to complete more foreclosures and put those homes on the market.

However, there are "early signs" that foreclosures might have peaked in some of the most-troubled regions, James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac's chief executive, said in a statement. Foreclosure activity dropped in nine of the 10 most-severely affected areas. Even so, the rates still remain three to five times as high as the national average.

The Las Vegas area still has the nation's highest foreclosure rate, with 6.6 percent of its housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in the first half of the year. But the number of filings fell 15 percent from the second half of 2009 and 9 percent from the first six months of last year.

Foreclosure activity in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area of Florida, which had the second-highest rate among U.S. metropolitan regions, at 4.98 percent, also slipped. The foreclosure rate there in the first half of the year is down 30 percent from a year ago and 22 percent from the previous six months.

Thomas Lawler, a housing consultant, attributes the declines in those regions to a high concentration of exotic loans that went bad and cleared the system.

In other areas, "more of the loans are running into problems not because loans were bad but because the economy stinks," hence the rise in foreclosure activity, Lawler said.

The report collects data from 2,200 counties nationwide that make up more than 90 percent of the U.S. population. Some of the foreclosure filings captured in the first half of this year may have been recorded in previous time periods.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Ex-Teacher Pleads GUILTY To 'Sexting' Nude Photos To Student

Ex-Teacher Melinda Dennehy Pleads GUILTY To 'Sexting' Nude Photos To Student

AP/Huffington Post First Posted: 07-27-10 01:41 PM   |   Updated: 07-27-10 07:49 PM

Melinda Dennehy Sexting Photos

DERRY, N.H. -- A former New Hampshire high school teacher has pleaded guilty to a charge she e-mailed nude photographs of herself to a 15-year-old student.

Forty-one-year-old Melinda Dennehy of Hampstead entered the plea Monday to a misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure. According to police, the ex-teacher sent 'four sexy shots of herself,' with her 'genitals exposed,' to her 15-year-old male student. The sophomore to which the photos had been sent told police that Dennehy texted him detailing sexual acts she wanted to perform with him.

CBS News adds the teenager told police his teacher "continuously sent him text messages" and "kissed him twice on two separate occasions" while at school.

As part of a plea agreement, Dennehy was given a suspended jail sentence on the condition that she remain on good behavior and have no contact with the child or go to the high school.

In court, Dennehy apologized for her actions and poor judgment. She told the court she's continuing counseling and hopes to lead a productive life.

Dennehy was arrested in March after the photos were found circulating around the high school. She resigned three weeks later.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


The 10 most uncool tech moments

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Obama Mocks Polls But Spends More On Them

Obama Mocks Polls But Spends More On Them ($4.4M) Than Bush Did

First Posted: 07-29-10 11:19 AM   |   Updated: 07-29-10 11:36 AM


With Reporting By Julian Hattem

During his daily press briefing on July 13, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was peppered with questions about why the president's popularity numbers are in decline and his policy positions are so difficult to sell.

ABC News's Jake Tapper sought reaction to the network's newest poll showing that 51 percent of respondents would rather have Republicans running Congress. CNN's Ed Henry wanted to know why, in that same poll, "six in 10 Americans have little or no faith in the President to make the right decisions." CBS's Chip Reid then pointed to his own network's poll showing that only 13 percent of respondents thought the president's economic programs had affected them personally.

Exasperated, Gibbs deployed a classic rejoinder: mocking the polling-obsessed media culture.

"You know, in all honesty, Chip, there isn't a website in the world that doesn't have a new poll every day," the press secretary replied. "And if you spent a lot of time sitting around worrying about polls rather than worrying about the people that you're trying to help, I'm sure you'd get discouraged. But we're way too busy to sit around looking at polls."

Too busy to look at polls? Perhaps. But not too poor to pay for them. While Gibbs routinely chides members of the press for obsessing about the day-to-day temperamental swings of the American public, behind the scenes the White House has poured plenty of money into conducting its own public opinion polls. Through June 9, 2010, the administration, via the Democratic National Committee, has spent at least $4.45 million on the services of seven different pollsters, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. (The Huffington Post looked into only those expenditures that totaled more than $5,000)

That total represents only 18 months into the administration. During the first 24 months of the Bush administration, the Republican National Committee spent $3.1 million on polling according to a 2003 study done by Brookings. During the 2005-2006 years of the Bush administration, the RNC spent just north of $1.23 million on "surveys," "focus groups," and "polling," according to an analysis of Center for Responsive Politics data (they spent millions, instead, on telemarketing services). So far this cycle, the RNC has spent slightly more than $1 million on those same activities. (The Huffington Post did not examine data from the 2008 cycle because spending totals were affected by the presidential election.)

The expenditures seem at odds with the image that the administration and the president project publicly. During the past few months, for example, Gibbs has dismissed speculation that polling played a role in the federal government's decision to file a lawsuit against the Arizona immigration law, the president's economic agenda, and the administration's approach to health care reform. In a speech at the National Urban League's 100th anniversary convention on Thursday, the president himself laughed at the "scribes and the pundits" who wonder why he pursues policies that don't poll well.

"I have to explain to them, I've got my own pollsters. But I wasn't elected just to do what's popular," Obama said. "I was elected to do what was right."

All of which may be true. But the administration, like those of the past, is far more invested and interested in the flow of public opinion than it lets on -- wary of the perception that it is operating off anything other than pure conviction. At one point during the presidential campaign, Obama was spending more money on pollsters than the notoriously poll-driven Clinton camp.

Part of the current buys has to do with the state of American politics. The Democratic Party has congressional majorities bigger than any of those Republicans enjoyed during the Bush administration. Keeping those majorities involves a duty to protect incumbents.

"We laid out an agenda in the election and we are pursuing it now," said a senior party official. "Our polling is to get the pulse of the American people, to understand where they are, what their priorities are and how they are responding to the policies we are pursuing."

"It's par for the course for the party in power in the White House to spend more on research than the party out of power," said DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan, before adding a bit of partisan flare. "What is surprising is that going into such an important election that the RNC has spent so little on research and so much on redecorating offices and sex clubs."

That said, the party's campaign committees have spent their own money on polling as well. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, for instance, divided more than $1 million between six separate pollsters, according to Center for Responsive Politics data. (Figures for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are not detailed on the site).

The White House declined to comment on the nature of its polling, noting that it was done under the purview of the DNC. But sources familiar with the expenditures say that the administration has indeed done broad-themed polls on several recent hot-button issues including immigration and energy reform. And while the administration claims it hasn't made decisions based on the results, it does put heavy stock in the data.

Among the firms that have benefited are David Binder Research, which has been paid close to $800,000 this cycle; Harstad Strategic Research, which was paid more than $850,000; Benenson Strategy Group, which took in the biggest haul at $2.36 million; and AKP&D Message and Media -- WH Senior Adviser David Axelrod's old firm - which has not done polling itself but for $334,000 has helped coordinate messaging and questions for the polls, prompting the CRP to define those receipts as a polling expense.

"Part of what they are trying to figure out, I think, is trying to figure out what kind of message to use in terms of selling their policies to the country," said Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University.

But, as Abramowitz points out, even with the data culled from all the polling, the evidence is mixed as to whether the administration has been able to reach or move public opinion. "The problem," he said, "is I don't see a coherent message right now." Indeed, the past year has been marked in a relatively steady decline (with natural ups and downs) in public opinion for the president. As one party operative put it, when shown the expenditures: "They spent this much money to drive their numbers this far down?"

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Girl, 12, calls 911 to report drunk driving mom

Terrified 12-year-old girl calls 911 as boozed-up mom swerves down highway, saving their lives

John Lauinger


Wednesday, July 28th 2010, 4:00 AM


Jamie Hicks' (b.) 12-year-old daughter made a call that saved their lives Sunday. The mother had a BAL of .18 when arrested.

Honda/GettyJamie Hicks' (b.) 12-year-old daughter made a call that saved their lives Sunday. The mother had a BAL of .18 when arrested.




Terrified as her drunken mom swerved her car down a highway, a 12-year-old Long Island girl dialed 911 from the back seat - and may have saved her life, cops said. 

Jamie Hicks, 49, who raged at her daughter for ratting her out, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.18 - more than double the legal limit - when state police collared her for felony DWI on Sunday night. 

Hicks, of Islip, L.I., also had her 10-year-old son in the car.

 "This young girl made a very brave decision," said state Police Capt. Robert Nuzzo. The dangerous situation on Interstate 84 near upstate Southeast happened almost a year to the day of the horrific wrong-way crash on the Taconic State Parkway. 

Hicks had picked up her two kids from their grandparents' place in Connecticut and was returning home to Long Island. 

"She was acting odd, speaking incoherently and swerving in and out of traffic," Nuzzo said, citing Hicks' daughter's account. The cell phone the daughter used to dial 911 cut out at one point during the call, prompting the operator to call back a number of times. One call was answered, apparently as Hicks was berating the daughter. 

From that call, police were able to locate Hicks' car, which she had pulled over to the side of the highway. 

Hicks was charged under the new Leandra's Law, which makes it a felony to drive drunk with a minor in the vehicle.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Rush Limbaugh rips Chevy Volt but cites income from GM

4:50 p.m. July 28, 2010

Limbaugh rips Chevy Volt but cites income from GM

Justin Hyde
Free Press Washington Staff



WASHINGTON – Radio host Rush Limbaugh tore into General Motors today over the Chevrolet Volt, while revealing he had taken advertising money from GM last year during its rescue by the Obama administration.

In his popular show, Limbaugh criticized the Volt and the $41,000 price GM revealed on Tuesday, questioning why the U.S. government needed to add a $7,500 tax credit.

“Obama and the government are admitting nobody wants this,” Limbaugh said, repeatedly referring to GM as “Obama Motors.”

But Limbaugh also seemed somewhat confused about how the Volt worked, noting once that it had a gas engine and an electric motor, but suggesting its 40-mile electric-only range was its only power source.

“That 40-mile range has to include you getting home, and staying home three to four hours to charge the thing,” Limbaugh said.

After 40 miles, the Volt’s gasoline engine kicks in, giving it about 300 additional miles of range.

Limbaugh also said the Volt was the most expensive Chevrolet model outside the Corvette. But in fact the Suburban and Tahoe Hybrid models also cost more.

And the $7,500 tax credit will be available on the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle and other models that have large enough batteries to meet federal guidelines.

Limbaugh admitted that last year following the Obama administration’s rescues, he had taken advertising money from GM. His show’s archives include his promotions for a GM incentive to cover vehicle payments for people who lost their jobs after buying new vehicles.

But Limbaugh said he ended the arrangement even though GM wanted to continue.

"I turned it down because I could not honestly recommend--I knew this was coming--I’m not going to recommend people go buy an electric car,” Limbaugh said. “I wish them luck, don’t misunderstand here,” he added. “We turned down big money."

GM spokesman Greg Martin said Limbaugh was a long-standing critic. "He's entitled to his opinion and we appreciate his wishes for future success," he said.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Grandmother's cremated remains lost in shipping

Grandmother's cremated remains lost in shipping

July 28, 2010 2:13 PM

Chicago Tribune

 _Bink125x150.jpgA north suburban woman's grief over the death of her grandmother in Phoenix was exacerbated when her cremated remains were lost between Arizona and Chicago.

The ashes of 89-year-old Mabel Bink, a Roseland neighborhood native, still haven't been found, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

"It's like it's in limbo," said Bink's granddaughter, Beth Biancalana, 42, of Barrington. "I feel like I've had no closure in all of this."

The package was sent from Phoenix and was supposed to arrive in Chicago on July 19, in time for the July 23 burial the family had scheduled here, Biancalana said.

A U.S. Postal Service official said records show the remains were processed in Phoenix and supposedly arrived at O'Hare on a commercial flight earlier this month, but there's been no trace of the package.

"Everybody is still on high alert for it," said Regina Armstrong, with the U.S. Postal Service's local Consumer Affairs Office. "My heart goes out to the family. I wish they could have some closure."

Armstrong said officials with the postal service's Consumer Affairs Office in Phoenix also are "on alert" for the package.

Biancalana said the family didn't really want Mabel Bink cremated in the first place, but Bink prior to her death had insisted because it would be too costly to ship her body home. Biancalana's uncle, 62-year-old Kenneth Bink, who lives in the Phoenix area, planned to carry the cremated remains when he flew back to Chicago for the burial and memorial. He even bought a special permit allowing him to do so.

The family ordered a vault in which the ashes would be placed for burial.

But the vault was accidentally shipped to Phoenix instead of Chicago, and Kenneth Bink couldn't carry the vault and the cremated remains because of their size. So he decided to have them both shipped.

While the family couldn't bury Mabel Bink without her remains, they decided to carry out an already-scheduled memorial service on Saturday in South Holland.

But the weekend's torrential down pour, which flooded many highways and side streets, prevented Biancalana and many other relatives from attending. She said she drove for about three hours trying several different routes, all blocked by water.

"It's been surreal," she said.

She considers her grandmother, who died of congestive heart failure on June 18, "like a third parent." Mabel Bink lived with Biancalana and her parents all her life.

The daughter of Dutch immigrants, Mabel Bink graduated from Fenger High School in 1939 worked at Argonne National Laboratory as a payroll clerk, processing an estimated $800 million in payroll checks, her family said. She was also a talented seamstress who kept up with fashion trends and made all of Biancalana's clothing.

"She was a larger-than-life type of person," Biancalana said.

 -- Angie Leventis Lourgos

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Judge blocks most controversial parts of Arizona's immigration law

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Aretha Franklin and Condoleezza Rice make soulful music together

Wed, Jul. 28, 2010

A secretary of state and the Queen of Soul make music at the Mann

Peter Dobrin

Inquirer Music Critic


It began like almost any other orchestra summer idyll, with Leonard Bernstein's Candide Overture

And then, with the middle movement of a Mozart piano concerto, Tuesday night's Philadelphia Orchestra concert at the Mann Center suddenly took on rare auras of celebrity, politics, and the general idea that history of a sort was in the making. 

The source of the extra-musical messaging was the soloist: Condoleezza Rice, former national security advisor, 66th U.S. secretary of state and public face of the Bush 43 administration. She took on the 10-minute "Romance" of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466, like the competent amateur she is. 

Rice got a nice, mostly polite reception, but after intermission, the star power intensified exponentially with the arrival of Aretha Franklin. Listeners roared, and she gave them what they came for – "Respect," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Think," and more. "What a wonderful audience," she said. 

A gala fund-raiser for the Mann's educational programs and clearly the Fairmount Park venue's main event of the summer, the concert has no obvious parallels. It was a first, and so far only, commingling for this pop music legend, former member of a presidential cabinet, and major symphony orchestra. Under-cover seating was sold out, and the lawn was thickly settled. Total attendance was near 10,000, a Mann official estimated. 

The Philadelphia Orchestra has plenty of precedent ceding the guest-artist spotlight to personalities more famous for doing something else, among them Harpo Marx, Danny Kaye and, more recently, Alec Baldwin. Amateur Bavarian pianist Joseph Alois Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict XVI, is a friend of former Philadelphia Orchestra music director Wolfgang Sawallisch, though the relationship has yet to yield a performance with the Philadelphians. 

Even Ignacy Jan Paderewski isn't an exact historical relation to Rice. He was first a professional pianist with a top-rank career, one of the greats, and then went on to become a diplomat, prime minister of Poland, and his country's signatory to the Treaty of Versailles. 

Rice, of course, is experienced as a diplomat first, pianist second. She has parlayed her profile and connections into relationships with musicians and ensembles that otherwise would have been unavailable to her. She partnered with Yo-Yo Ma and the Muir String Quartet - big names - but Tuesday's performance marked her entry into the big-time orchestra league. Her only other moment on stage with an orchestra, she said, was a performance of this same concerto with the Denver Symphony, as a teenager. 

But it was the Queen of Soul's show, and she spent so much time sating the audience with Classic Aretha, plus spells at the keyboard, you had to wonder whether she had Rice tied up backstage. Rice did return for a collaboration – briefly, at the very end on "I Say a Little Prayer" and "My Country 'tis of Thee." 

Sans Rice, Franklin intoned her inimitable, liberal take on Puccini's "Nessun Dorma," plus a piece that a Mann publicist confirmed as "Che faro senza Euridice" from Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice

Rice was a pretty player in spots of the Mozart, making conductor Rossen Milanov smile when she took time with the upbeats to a phrase. In the serene opening few minutes, her playing was studied and slightly stiff. She wasn't able to voice effectively in the stormier middle section so that the more important material could be heard. On the whole it wasn't an artistic statement as much as an exercise in survival, and, heard from that point of view, she achieved what she set out to do. 

The audience, which greeted her initial appearance on stage with a partial standing ovation and a boo or two, granted her polite applause afterward. 

Some in attendance viewed her presence as a dangerous omen - for the music industry. 

"I hope this doesn't start an alarming trend of Bush administration officials going on tour," said Manan Trivedi, Democratic candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's Sixth District. "We don't want Cheney on third tenor." 

Trivedi, an Iraq War veteran, was one of many attendees inclined to quarrel with Rice's record in Washington. But the smattering of boos aside, most said the evening had little to do with politics. 

"Look how many cars are in the lot," said Tracy Weatherly, 43, of North Philadelphia, noting the concert's charitable ties. "They're here for the music." 

Any meaning, then, to the orange Barack Obama T-shirt Weatherly donned? 

"Matched the sneakers," he said.



Read more:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Trial delayed due to defendant's T-shirt

Tasteless T-shirt irritates judge

Eileen Kelley

Cincinnati Enquirer

July 26, 2010

William Morse has been to court many times on an assortment of charges ranging from felonious assault to drug trafficking.

So when Morse, 28, stood before Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Bernie Bouchard on Monday for what was to be a non-jury trial for misdemeanor criminal damaging, one would think the accused criminal would have an idea what was acceptable court attire.

At least that's the way Bouchard reasoned.

"Chucky," the evil-come-to-life doll featured in numerous slasher movies, is not proper attire, Bouchard told Morse.

The offending T-shirt was oversized to cover Morse's low-slung jean shorts. The image on the T-shirt was of Chucky holding knives. "Say good-bye to the killer," the shirt read.

"You think this is appropriate court attire?" the judge asked Morse.

Morse mumbled a no and told the judge that he just woke up.

It was nearly 11 a.m. and Bouchard wasn't buying the excuse.

Still, Bouchard asked Morse if that meant he came into court in his pajamas.

Morse again mumbled, "No."

The judge went on to explain to Morse that in a  matter of minutes he could have picked out something more appropriate for court.


"Five minutes,'' the judge said.  Morse mumbled that he understood.

Time will tell.

Because the trial was delayed, Bouchard said that if Morse isn't wearing something more acceptable for his next appearance, he would order him held in contempt of court and send him to jail for a day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Man hopes to be crowned 'World's shortest man

Man hopes to be crowned 'World's smallest'

A 40-year-old from a village in south west China is hoping to claim the title of world's shortest man.

At just 76cm (just under two foot, six inches) Huang Kaiquan is only 1.4cm higher than previous record holder He Pingping, who died in March aged 21. 

Huang, who smokes heavily and is a former magician, is the height and weight of an average three year old. 

In Sanjiang village, Huang is known to locals as 'Short Brother'. He still lives with his mother Cheng. 

She said: "He didn't grow at all one month after birth. We thought it's just late development and didn't pay enough attention. 

"When Huang was three, he still wore the clothes of a one-year-old. It was then we noticed his unusualness."



Wednesday, July 28, 2010


ER Worker admits to stealing rings off body

Cops: Hospital worker stole rings off body

DOWNERS GROVE | ER worker admits to crime, police say


July 28, 2010


Staff Reporter
Sun Times 

During 53 years of marriage, Dolores Yukness of west suburban Lombard almost never removed the rings from her left hand.

But earlier this month, after she died at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, an emergency-room worker allegedly slipped off the rings and sold them, police said.

Felony theft charges are pending against a 36-year-old Romeoville man, said Kurt Bluder, a deputy chief for the Downers Grove Police.

A spokeswoman for Good Samaritan Hospital said the worker acted alone and is no longer employed by the hospital or any affiliated site.

"We have extended our sincere apology to the Yukness family with regard to this unfortunate incident," said Jennifer Dooley, the spokeswoman.

The worker was previously convicted of misdemeanor theft in Cook County in 2001, court records show. He was accused of stealing property from a dead body at West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, a source said.

On July 2, Yukness, a cancer patient, was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital's emergency room and died after going into cardiac arrest. Her husband, William, a retired custodial worker for the village of Lombard, died in 2001.

Their daughter, Kristen Yukness, discovered that the rings were missing when she visited her mother at the funeral home in Lombard. She reported the theft to police.

Downers Grove detectives interviewed the worker, who admitted stealing the rings, Bluder said. The worker told detectives he sold them to a jewelry store in south suburban Lansing, officials said.

Police have recovered Dolores Yukness' wedding band and engagement ring, which were set with a total of six diamonds. The diamonds and rings had already been separated by the store, which was planning to melt down the rings for their gold, police said.

The theft has been traumatic for Kristen Yukness, who is a federal agent living in Georgia.

"She lost her dad about 10 years ago, then her only remaining parent, and now this?" said Adriana Gomez, a friend.

Cindy O'Keefe, an attorney for Kristen Yukness, praised detectives for identifying a suspect and tracking down the jewelry. But she accused the hospital of being uncooperative with her client.

"They were unsympathetic," said O'Keefe, adding that her client is considering a lawsuit against the hospital.

Contributing: Dan Rozek



Dolores Yukness, seen here on her wedding day, rarely took off her rings. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Mom of 1-year-old charged after baby ingests Cocaine and PCP

Woman Charged After Baby Ingests Cocaine, PCP

Yolanda Beck Charged With Endangering Child's Life



A woman has been charged after a 1-year-old child was found to have cocaine and PCP in his system early Sunday at her East Garfield Park neighborhood home, police said.

Yolanda Beck, 37, of the 3600 block of West Fifth Avenue, was charged with misdemeanor endangering the life and health of a child, according to police.

About 3:20 a.m. Sunday, the ill 1-year-old boy was brought to Mount Sinai Hospital where it was discovered that there was PCP and cocaine in the baby's system, according to a Harrison District police captain.

Beck allegedly left multiple aluminum foil wrappers containing a white powder residue suspected to be cocaine and PCP on top of a television stand at the woman's home, according to a police report. The 1-year-old found the foil wrappers and sucked on them, ingesting drug residue.

The child was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital after he was "acting lethargic," police said. After hospital officials called police, investigators went to the house and found the drug paraphernalia.

The child was treated for a drug overdose, but he was in good condition, according to the report.

Beck allegedly admitted to smoking the drugs on the day of the incident and leaving the wrappers behind, where they were easily accessible to the child, the report said.

The relationship between the woman and the child is not known.

Beck was taken into custody Monday at 4:35 p.m. at Harrison Area police headquarters, 3151 W. Harrison St.

She is scheduled to appear in Domestic Violence Court (Br. 60), 555 W. Harrison St., on Aug. 10.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Inside the FLOTUS office

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


John Kerry irritated by yacht questions

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Is This The Best Goal Celebration Ever?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Jeb Bush says no to 2012 run

Jeb Bush says no to 2012 run
Andy Barr
July 27, 2010 12:31 PM EDT


Jeb Bush is pictured at a convention. | AP Photo
Jeb Bush ruled out a 2012 presidential run on Tuesday. AP


Former Florida GOP Gov. Jeb Bush said Tuesday that he is “not running” for president in 2012.

In a wide-open presidential primary field, Bush’s name has been floated as one of the few potential Republicans who might be able to attract voters beyond the typical GOP ranks. Proponents of a Bush run frequently note his moderate stance on immigration as well as his advocacy for education reform as chief selling points.

Bush had provided fuel to the speculation by recently taking a more active role in current campaigns, endorsing New York GOP House candidate Chris Cox and attending a fundraiser for Kentucky Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul.

But asked Tuesday by Louisville’s ABC affiliate WHAS following an event with Paul whether he was eyeing a challenge to President Barack Obama, Bush responded flatly: “I am not running for president.”

Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush, had  weighed a run in this year's Senate race but decided against it.

During his appearance with Paul, Bush repeatedly hit on education reform, his pet issue. “If kids aren't learning, the fault is with the adults not the students,” Bush said, according to WHAS. “All kids can learn. Period.”

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Poll Shows A few cracks in Obama's Hispanic support

Poll: A few cracks in Obama's Hispanic support




AP National Political Writer


Tuesday, July 27, 2010



(07-27) 08:48 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --


President Barack Obama's once solid support among Hispanics is showing a few cracks, a troubling sign for Democrats desperate to get this critical constituency excited about helping the party hold onto Congress this fall. 

Hispanics still overwhelmingly favor the Democratic Party over the GOP, and a majority still think Obama is doing a good job, according to an Associated Press-Univision poll of more than 1,500 Hispanics. 

But the survey, also sponsored by The Nielsen Company and Stanford University, shows Obama gets only lukewarm ratings on issues important to Hispanics — and that could bode poorly for the president and his party. 

For a group that supported Obama so heavily in 2008 and in his first year in office, only 43 percent of Hispanics surveyed said Obama is adequately addressing their needs, with the economy a major concern. Another 32 percent were uncertain, while 21 percent said he'd done a poor job. 

That's somewhat understandable, given that far more Hispanics have faced job losses and financial stress than the U.S. population in general. 

An unfulfilled promise to overhaul the nation's patchwork immigration system, which most Hispanics want to see fixed, also may be to blame. That's despite the fact that Obama is challenging an Arizona law that requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if officers have a reasonable suspicion he or she is in the country illegally. 

Still, 57 percent of Hispanics approve of the president's overall job performance compared with 44 percent among the general population in the latest AP national polling. 

"It's been tough, but I think he's been doing a fair job," says Tony Marte, 33, a physical education teacher in Miami who is a Nicaraguan native. He voted for Obama in 2008 and, so far, likes how Obama has handled the economy. 

But Marte's not satisfied with Obama's work on immigration reform. "Nothing has been done," he says, adding that between now and 2012, Obama should "be looking out for the groups that put him up there. The Latinos. The minorities." He says he'll probably back Obama again but "we'll see."

The political power of Hispanics now and in the future cannot be overstated. They are the nation's fastest-growing minority group and the government projects they will account for 30 percent of the population by 2050, doubling in size from today. 

Democrats long have had an advantage among Hispanics and maintained it even as George W. Bush chipped away at that support. Obama erased the GOP inroads during his 2008 campaign, winning 67 percent of their vote to 31 percent for Republican nominee John McCain. And Hispanics consistently gave Obama exceptionally strong marks in his first year as president. 

With the first midterm congressional elections of Obama's presidency in three months, the poll shows a whopping 50 percent of Hispanics citizens call themselves Democrats, while just 15 percent say they are Republicans. 

Among Hispanics, 42 percent rate the economy and the recession as the country's biggest problem; unemployment and a lack of jobs come in at 23 percent. 

Ascencion Menjivar, a Honduran native who is a cook in Washington, isn't sold on the administration's approach to creating jobs and is waiting for a solution to get the economy back on track. "I think it'll be a long process," says Menjivar, 30. Still, he says Obama — "a genius" — eventually will make it happen. 

Patricia Hernandez Blanco of Miami, 38, is less confident that recovery is under way. "I'm not sure it's improving," she says. Even so, this Cuban who voted for McCain says she would now cast a ballot for Obama. 

Re-electing Obama would be "really stupid," counters Carlos Toledo of Puerto Rico, an independent voter, clothing store manager and self-defense instructor in Washington. Toledo, 35, disagrees with Obama's economic policies and says he worries about joblessness as budgets are cut and money is spent on wars despite the country's debt. 

Behind economic woes, immigration comes in second in importance. 

Since the controversy over the Arizona law erupted in April, Hispanics who mostly speak English at home gave Obama higher marks on his handling of their top issues than did Hispanics who primarily speak Spanish and who tend to be more recent immigrants or non-citizens.

Analysts say it's possible that the more English-dominant Hispanics rallied around the president following the enactment of the Arizona law and his challenge to it; some 40 percent of them approved of his performance on their key issues before Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law in April, but the figure rose to 52 percent in the weeks after.

On Monday, Brewer asked a judge to throw out the U.S. Justice Department's challenge. 

The poll also showed that two years after witnessing Hillary Rodham Clinton's White House bid, Hispanics are twice as likely to expect to see a woman than a fellow Hispanic become president. 

Some 59 percent said it is likely that a woman will be elected president sometime in the next two decades, while just 29 percent thought it likely that a Hispanic will be elected president over that period. And, 34 percent of non-citizen Hispanics thought the country is likely to have a Hispanic president, compared with 27 percent of citizens. 

A significant percentage of Latinos — 41 percent — said they are more likely to vote for a candidate who is Hispanic. 

The AP-Univision Poll was conducted from March 11 to June 3 by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Using a sample of Hispanic households provided by The Nielsen Company, 1,521 Hispanics were interviewed in English and Spanish, mostly by mail but also by telephone and the Internet. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Stanford University's participation in the study was made possible by a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Associated Press Polling Director Trevor Tompson, AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius and AP writers Alan Fram and Ileana Morales in Washington and Christine Armario in Miami contributed to this report.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Man has longest ear hair in the world

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Man tries to open a grenade and boom

Man blows himself up trying to pry open grenade

July 27, 2010 • 11:06 am

Diana Fasanella


A Croatian man blew himself up after trying to pry apart a hand grenade he found while out walking.

The man, identified only as Marko S., found the grenade left from the 1991-95 Homeland War while walking in a field near his Knin home and decided to take it home to sell for scrap metal, the Croatian Times reports. 

The 53-year-old man was hacking into the live device with a grinder in his garage when it exploded.   

He was listed in serious condition after being taken to a local hospital.   

Stupidity blows.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Man hit by six meteorites is being 'targeted by aliens'

Tom Phillips - 19th July, 2010

Daily Mail

Man hit by six meteorites is being 'targeted by aliens'

A Bosnian man who claims he is being targeted by extraterrestrials after a series of meteorite strikes on his house has now been hit by a sixth space rock in the space of a few years.

Radivoje Lajic and one of the many space rocks of doom to have rained down upon his housed Radivoje Lajic and one of the many space rocks of doom to have rained down upon his house


Radivoje Lajic first came to international attention in 2008, shortly after the fifth meteorite had crashed into the roof of his house in the northern village of Gornji Lajici.

And now, within the past month, another rock has hit the roof of his house, in defiance of all the odds - making it six strikes since the plague of meteorites began in 2007.

Experts at Belgrade University have confirmed that all the falling rocks he has handed over were meteorites. They are now trying to work out what exactly it is about his house that particularly attracts them. The strikes always happen when it is raining heavily, he says, never when there are clear skies.

Lajic has his own explanation, of course. After the fifth rock struck his house, he said: 'I am obviously being targeted by extraterrestrials. I don't know what I have done to annoy them but there is no other explanation that makes sense. The chance of being hit by a meteorite is so small that getting hit six times has to be deliberate.'

50-year-old Lajic has had a steel girder reinforced roof put on the house to protect it from the alien bombardment - which he funded by selling one of the meteorites to a university in the Netherlands.

'I have no doubt I am being targeted by aliens,' he adds. 'They are playing games with me. I don't know why they are doing this. When it rains I can't sleep for worrying about another strike.'

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Pentagon can't account for how it spent $2.6 billion in Iraqi funds

Pentagon can't account for how it spent $2.6 billion in Iraqi funds, audit finds


Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post staff writer
Tuesday, July 27, 2010


BAGHDAD -- Because of poor record-keeping and lax oversight, the Department of Defense cannot account for how it spent $2.6 billion that belonged to the Iraqi government, according to the inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. 

An audit of a $9.1 billion fund of Iraqi oil proceeds showed that most American military agencies entrusted with spending the money on reconstruction projects failed to adhere to U.S. rules on how such money must be tracked and spent, the inspector general found. 

U.S. officials failed to create bank accounts for $8.7 billion in the Development Fund for Iraq, as mandated by the Department of Treasury, creating "breakdowns in controls [that] left the funds vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss," according to the report, which is scheduled to be released Tuesday. 

The audit is the latest probe to fault the U.S. government for mismanagement of Iraqi funds in the years following the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, which led to an insurgency and a years-long occupation. 

"Weak oversight is directly correlated to increased numbers of cases of theft and abuse, with the majority of convictions to date being traceable to the 2003-2004 time-frame where accounting practices were weakest," Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said in an e-mail. 

The report also said the U.S. military continues to hold at least $34.3 million of the fund, even though it was required to return it to the Iraqi government in December 2007. 

In a written response to a draft of the audit, the Pentagon vowed to act on the inspector general's three recommendations to strengthen accounting mechanisms and dispose of the Iraqi money not yet relinquished. 

The Department of Defense comptroller promised to report back to the inspector general's office by November on progress made. 

"We look forward to seeing real results," Bowen said. 

The alleged mismanagement of the fund has angered Iraqi officials, who have raised the possibility of taking legal action against the United States, Bowen said. 

American officials with the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-led occupation administration, took control in 2003 of $20 billion of Iraqi government funds and obtained permission through a U.N. Security Council resolution to use the money for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction. 

After the June 2004 dissolution of the CPA, the Iraqi government agreed to let the U.S. military control the remaining funds. 

It revoked the authority on Dec. 31, 2007. 

The inspector general in 2005 criticized the CPA's management of an $8.8 billion fund that belonged to the Iraqi government. A criminal probe conducted by the inspector general then led to the conviction of eight U.S. officials on bribery, fraud and money-laundering charges. 

The latest audit does not include allegations of criminal conduct. 

The United States also has spent more than $50 billion in taxpayer money for reconstruction projects in Iraq.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Highest Paid CEO Of The Decade Nice Work If You Can Get It 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Man tried to trade drugs for cheese

Palm Harbor man tried to trade drugs for cheeseburgers, deputies say



Martine Powers

Times Staff Writer

Jul 23, 2010 07:20 PM



Pinellas County Jail Alexander M. Lemke stole a car to go to McDonald's drive-through, where he tried to trade marijuana and pills for cheeseburgers. Nice plan, Alex.


PALM HARBOR — Alexander M. Lemke went for a drive to get some cheeseburgers from McDonald's early Friday, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says.

Trouble was, deputies said, the 20-year-old Palm Harbor resident broke into a neighbor's home and stole their 2005 Toyota Solara at about 1:25 a.m. Then, he headed to the McDonald's drive-through window at 33830 US 19 N, where he tried to trade marijuana and prescription drugs for the burgers, deputies said.

Authorities were called quickly and Lemke was arrested at 1:40 a.m. at McDonald's.

Deputies found a collection of drugs in the center console of the car, the arrest report said.

Lemke was charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle, driving with a license that is suspended or revoked and eight drug-related charges. On Friday evening, he was being held in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $18,550 bail.


Monday, July 26, 2010


Cornell West President Obama's "no messiah"

West: Obama's 'no messiah'
Patrick Gavin
July 26, 2010 10:48 AM EST

Cornel West (shown) talks to Playboy for its August issue.

Princeton professor (and spoken-word artist) Cornel West has never been shy about publicly sharing his views, whether about race in America, Obama's Nobel Prize or animal rights. He talks to Playboy for its August issue and is typically candid about what's going on today with the tea party movement, Barack Obama, FLOTUS and more.

A sampling of some of West's choicest quotes:

On the tea party movement: "That's not a movement. Social movements are rare. And these days you've got to distinguish between grass-roots organizing versus AstroTurf networking that appears deep only because of televisual disruptions. The tea party might look a mile wide on Fox News, but it's only a few inches deep."

On Glenn Beck: "I'll fight for the right of Glenn Beck to express his opinion. Even he has a right to be wrong, which he is most of the time. ... Beck appears to have a certain preoccupation with black folk. Why is he so obsessed with black people? I notice he doesn't give the Amish that much attention."

On what President Obama is doing wrong: "While he's made some good, positive changes, I don't think he's a messiah or even a very progressive politician. It turns out when you talk about hope, you have to be a long-distance runner."

On Michelle Obama: "I think she's got a lot of Malcolm X in her, a lot of Ella Baker. But she's had to contain it in a very intense manner to conform to the first lady image. Somebody of her brilliance, somebody of her vision, somebody of her courage confined to keeping gardens at the White House, reaching out to military families, highlighting childhood obesity. I think she could be a great force for change if she could only set herself free. She can't, though. Black sister exercising her power, willing to take a stand, would be too much of a threat."

On "whitewashing within [the Obama] administration": "What happened to the black elites inside Obama's campaign, Valerie Jarrett, John Rogers and Eric Whitaker? They're practically invisible or gone. Instead Obama has a savvy political team — brother [David] Axelrod, Bbrother David Plouffe, brother Robert Gibbs, brother [Rahm] Emanuel — who are eperts at PR. ... Black folk can't be blindsided by Obama's pigmentation and historical symbolism. What I'm saying is I wish he could be more Martin Luther King-like. ... But by necessity, Obama has had to downplay his blackness to appease the white moderates and independents and speak to their anxieties."

On his current relationship with Obama: "He doesn't return my calls. ... I did 65 events for my dear brother Barack on the campaign trail but have not seen him since Martin Luther King Day 2008. ... I couldn't even get a ticket to the Inauguration for my mother. ... I think he has the kind of disposition where he just moves on."

Monday, July 26, 2010


Stores Selling Uniforms For Obese Three-Year-Olds

M&S Sells Uniforms For Obese Three-Year-Olds

10:51am UK

Monday July 26, 2010


Hazel Tyldesley

Sky News Online


School blazers for obese three-year-olds and size 18 girls are being offered in Marks & Spencer's new plus-size school uniform range. 

Oversize school uniforms in Scottish shopM&S is the latest retailer to recognise the demand for plus-size schoolwear 


The high street store, which sells more schoolwear than any other British retailer, follows other shops including Next and Bhs in recognising the market for plus sizes. 

A quietly-launched trial of its new Plus range caters for four-year-olds with waistlines of up to 23in - a size usually worn by eight-year-olds, according to the retailer's own guide. 

Meanwhile, girls' age 16 items from the Plus Fit selection have a 40in chest, a 34in waist and 43.52in hips - measurements equivalent to a women's size 18.

For overweight boys, the Plus Fit range has adjustable trousers with up to a 41in waist. 

M&S said the range had been introduced as part of a trial prompted by demand from parents. 

National Obesity Forum 

The larger sizes of boys' pleat front trousers and girls' bootleg trousers in black appear to have sold out. 

A spokesman for the retailer described the move as a "small online trial running in response to customer demand". 

"Marks&Spencer is the leading schoolwear retailer and we want to make sure our schoolwear range is accessible for children of all shapes and sizes," he said. 

Campaigners said the move by M&S simply reflected increasing rates of obesity in young children. 

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: "This is the actual commercial recognition of what we have known for some time - that obesity in pre-schoolers is building up. 

Child obesityChild obesity rates have been rising steadily over the past 20 years 

Mr Fry said he did not think it was wrong for M&S to offer the range, and added that the firm had been among the better retailers when it came to giving clear information on their food range. 

But he called for a collective effort to curb obesity. 

"Parents should not fail in their responsibility - it is they that put food in their children's mouths, send their children out to play," he said. 

"But at a government level, they have consistently ducked out of regulating the food industry." 

The move by M&S was widely debated on parenting forums, with several welcoming the Plus Fit range on the basis that overweight children had the same right to have well-fitting, comfortable uniforms as their lighter peers.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Whooping cough the largest outbreak in decades

Monday, July 26, 2010


Man banned from supermarket for drinking mouthwash

Drunk banned from supermarket for drinking mouthwash

July 26, 2010 • 11:15 am

Diana Fasanella


99 bottles of mouthwash on the wall, 99 bottles of...


A Georgia man was barred from Kroger supermarket after he was found drinking mouthwash while sitting in a patio swing display at the store.   

The Athens man, who was not named, was spotted trying to use a knife to crack open a bottle of Kroger brand mouthwash while in the store last week, Online Athens reports.   

Athens-Clarke police said the man told them in slurred speech that he had a “couple of beers” and was not drinking the mouthwash but using the two bottles in his possession for “oral hygiene.” 

The man has had previous brushes with the law, including an arrest in November when he brandished a knife at Kroger employees who caught him shoplifting.   

He was barred from the supermarket for two years. 

But occifer, I really need minty fresh breath.




“Mouthwash” photo by Six million dollar Dan

Monday, July 26, 2010


If you had a few minutes left to live what would you do?


3:48 p.m. July 26, 2010

Doctor's note shows how people can face death with calmness

Ron Dzwonkowski

The Detroit Free Press
Associate Editor 


If you thought you had just a few minutes left to live, what would you do? Panic, pray, curse and shake your fist at the sky?


Or would you, could you, do you what Dr. Jim Hall did in a small plane sputtering over Lake Michigan — use your precious time to write a note to people you love, not just for yourself but for others facing death with you, and put that note someplace where you hope it will be found?

“Wow. That’s a wonderful thing,” said Dr. E. James Potchen, who chairs the Department of Radiology at Michigan State University. He teaches medical students about decision-making and lectured on “The Art of Dying” after a near-fatal heart attack a few years ago.

“He did what I would liked to have done,” Potchen said.

Hall, a physician from Alma, left a note in a waterproof bag that was recovered from the lake after Friday’s crash of a small plane with five people aboard taking a cancer patient from Alma to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. 

The note said: “10 a.m. Dear all. We love you. We lost power over mid lake Mich. and turning back. We are praying to God that all will be taken care of. We love you, Jim.” The plane disappeared from radar at 10:07 a.m.

Potchen, 77, said people would probably be surprised to learn what they can handle once they are resigned to their fate.

“We can only speculate, of course, but a physician would have experience with this,” Potchen said. “Once you know there is nothing you can do, once you accept the inevitable, there is great clarity and calm.”

There’s a physical reason for that — the release of endorphins in the brain that are relaxing or even euphoric.

“And you think about people you love and you want them to know that you are OK, not to feel badly for you,” Potchen said.

“When I was in the ambulance, the attendant pulled the mask back from my face and said, ‘Are you afraid?’ and I said, ‘No, not the least bit. I feel very excited about whatever is going to happen to me. I know it’s only going to happen once, but I want to learn all I can from it.’”

Potchen said Hall’s note was similar to the many voicemail messages left by victims of the 9/11 attacks once they knew there would be no escape from hijacked jetliners or the burning twin towers.

“If you can’t control it, you adapt very quickly by accepting it,” he said. “I’ve seen it in patients. I have lived it. It’s a remarkable thing. People are more capable of adjusting than they realize. When they know there is nothing they can do, they know there is nothing to fear.”

If you ever think about finding yourself in the situation faced by Hall, there’s some comfort in that — for you and for the people you love.



Monday, July 26, 2010


Man robbed after inviting chat room friend to his home

El Paso Co. man robbed after inviting chat room friend to his home

Adam Singleton
The Denver Post
Posted: 07/26/2010 11:44:19 AM MDT
Updated: 07/26/2010 12:02:15 PM MDT


Leeann Arroyo (El Paso Co. Sheriff | )

El Paso County officials say a man who met a woman online and then invited her over got more than he bargained for Sunday.

The victim explained to deputies that he had invited a woman who he had met in a chat room to his house, according to a release from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

The woman, who officials identified as 30-year-old Leann Arroyo, showed up with two men and all three were invited into the victim's house on Watson Boulevard in Security.

One of the men then waved a gun in front of the victim and demanded money.

The victim handed over $20 and then fled to his room until the intruders left.

The Colorado Springs Police Department later found Arroyo in the 1500 block of Fountain Street. She is being held on charges of aggravated robbery and conspiracy with a $25,000 bond.

Officials are still looking for the two other suspects, who have not been publicly identified.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Deportation of illegal immigrants increases under Obama administration

Deportation of illegal immigrants increases under Obama administration

Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 26, 2010


In a bid to remake the enforcement of federal immigration laws, the Obama administration is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants and auditing hundreds of businesses that blithely hire undocumented workers.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency expects to deport about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration's 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007. The pace of company audits has roughly quadrupled since President George W. Bush's final year in office.

The effort is part of President Obama's larger project "to make our national laws actually work," as he put it in a speech this month at American University. Partly designed to entice Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform, the mission is proving difficult and politically perilous.

Obama is drawing flak from those who contend the administration is weak on border security and from those who are disappointed he has not done more to fulfill his campaign promise to help the country's estimated 11 million illegal residents. Trying to thread a needle, the president contends enforcement -- including the deployment of fresh troops to the Mexico border -- is a necessary but insufficient solution.

A June 30 memorandum from ICE director John Morton instructed officers to focus their "principal attention" on felons and repeat lawbreakers. The policy, influenced by a series of sometimes-heated White House meetings, also targets repeat border crossers and declares that parents caring for children or the infirm should be detained only in unusual cases.

"We're trying to put our money where our mouth is," Morton said in an interview, describing the goal as a "rational" immigration policy. "You've got to have aggressive enforcement against criminal offenders. You have to have a secure border. You have to have some integrity in the system."

Morton said the 400,000 people expected to be deported this year -- either physically removed or allowed to leave on their own power -- represent the maximum the overburdened processing, detention and immigration court system can handle.

The Obama administration has been moving away from using work-site raids to target employers. Just 765 undocumented workers have been arrested at their jobs this fiscal year, compared with 5,100 in 2008, according to Department of Homeland Security figures. Instead, officers have increased employer audits, studying the employee documentation of 2,875 companies suspected of hiring illegal workers and assessing $6.4 million in fines.

On the ground, a program known as Secure Communities uses the fingerprints of people in custody for other reasons to identify deportable immigrants. Morton predicts it will "overhaul the face of immigration." The administration has expanded the system to 437 jails and prisons from 14 and aims to extend it to "every law enforcement jurisdiction" by 2013.

The Secure Communities project has identified 240,000 illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, according to DHS figures. Of those, about 30,000 have been deported, including 8,600 convicted of what the agency calls "the most egregious offenses."

Neither side satisfied

Criticism has been swift and sure.

While the administration focuses on some illegal immigrants with criminal records, others are allowed to remain free, creating a "sense of impunity. As long as they keep their heads down, they're in the clear. That's no way of enforcing immigration law," said Mark Krikorian, a supporter of stricter policies with the Center for Immigration Studies.

"Even the ones who haven't committed murder or rape or drug offenses, all of them have committed federal felonies," Krikorian said. He favors employer audits, but also the roundups that Obama has largely abandoned.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) similarly believes the administration is showing "apathy toward robust immigration enforcement." He said at a House hearing in March that the approach is nothing more than "selective amnesty."

Others, meanwhile, complain that enforcers continue to target otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants, splitting families and harming businesses.

"They've done a lot to start turning the ship in a more strategic and rational direction. It's hard to say how successful they've been," said Marshall Fitz, a specialist at the Center for American Progress. "Just because you change policies at the top or reprioritize your enforcement agenda doesn't mean that on the ground things have changed very much."

Obama heard that message in a closed-door White House meeting with immigration advocates in March and was taken aback, according to participants. They said he was surprised by evidence that thousands of ordinary illegal immigrants continue to be targeted and deported, often for minor violations, despite the official focus on criminals.

The discussion was "vigorous," said a White House official who was present. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. "What he said was: 'We will look at what we are doing. And where we can make changes, we will make them.' The intensity of the conversation, which was already underway, increased as a result of that meeting."

The National Council of La Raza's Clarissa Martinez, who attended the meeting, said: "The gap between the intent and the reality is very, very wide. The president had thought more progress had been made."

Martinez said the federal government is "outsourcing" enforcement to local police, state troopers and deputy sheriffs, opening the way to abuses.

Sarahi Uribe agrees. A National Day Laborer Organizing Network staffer, she contends federal policy has created "a huge dragnet, and it's structural. Basically, it's anyone they can get their hands on."

Focus on crime

Nearly 50 percent of the people who have been deported from the United States this budget year have a criminal conviction, from driving without a license and DUI to major felonies, ICE's Morton said. That represents an increase of more than 36,000 over the same period in 2009, which showed a rise of 22,000 over 2008. "Occasionally, you will hear criticism that our criminal alien efforts are focused around people with cracked tailpipes and speeding tickets. That's simply false," Morton said.

A DHS spokesman said, however, that the agency has no breakdown of the crimes, which makes advocates suspicious.

"It has been a very frustrating experience working with ICE in terms of getting any data on the breakdown," said American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel Joanne Lin, who has participated in what she called "heated" White House meetings on enforcement. While the government pledges to focus on criminal immigrants, Lin said, the question is this: Which ones?

Morton's June 30 memorandum set priorities for the capture, detention and removal of illegal immigrants. With the federal system facing a limit on how many people it can deport each year, he wrote, "principal attention" must go to people convicted of felonies or at least three misdemeanors punishable by jail time.

In descending order of importance, the memo cites people convicted of a misdemeanor, those caught near the border and those who have failed to obey deportation orders. 

"Nothing in this memorandum should be construed to prohibit or discourage the apprehension, detention or removal of other aliens unlawfully in the United States," Morton wrote, but such efforts should not "displace or disrupt" the pursuit of bigger targets. 

In an underlined section, Morton listed illegal immigrants who should not be placed in detention except in "extraordinary circumstances." They include people who are pregnant, nursing or seriously ill. Also included are primary caretakers of children or the infirm and people "whose detention is otherwise not in the public interest." 

"We're very upfront about what our priorities are," Morton said. "We make no bones about it.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Howard Dean calls Fox News absolutely racist

Monday, July 26, 2010


President Obama to appear on the ABC's 'The View'

President Obama to appear on the ABC's 'The View'; Thursday show also marks Barbara Walters' return

Ethan Sacks


Originally Published:Monday, July 26th 2010, 7:39 AM
Updated: Monday, July 26th 2010, 8:58 AM


Then-Deomocratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama poses with Barbara Walters and the cast of 'The View' in March 2008.

Fenn/ABCThen-Deomocratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama poses with Barbara Walters and the cast of 'The View' in March 2008.

President Obama will break another barrier of sorts: He'll become the first sitting U.S. President to appear on a daytime talk show. 

Producers of ABC's '"The View" announced that the President’s interview will be taped Wednesday and broadcast Thursday. 

Topics include jobs, the economy, the Gulf Coast oil disaster -- and how Obama’s family is adjusting to life in the White House, the producers said Monday. 

Obama could use all the good exposure he can get: A new Quinnipiac University poll found Americans would rather vote for a Republican - any Republican - in 2012 by a 39% to 36% margin. 

American voters also reponded by a 48% to 40% margin that Obama does not deserve reelection in 2012, according to the poll. 

Obama appeared on "The View" in March 2008 before he was elected, and his wife, Michelle, was a guest co-host three months later. 

Thurday's episode will mark "View" creator Barbara Walters' first appearance on the show since she underwent heart valve replacement surgery in May. Walters, 80, announced that she would return to the show full-time in September. 

"We are so pleased and honored that President Obama will be a guest on 'The View,'" Walters said in a statement. "This shows that both the President and First Lady feel that our show is an influential and important source of information and news."


Read more:

Monday, July 26, 2010


GOP embraces 'Party of No'


GOP lawmakers optimistic about 'no' votes

Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post staff writer
Monday, July 26, 2010; A02

In February, when unpredictable Sen. Jim Bunning single-handedly stalled extensions of unemployment benefits for several days, his Republican colleagues quickly abandoned him, worried that the GOP would be cast as the party against helping people who are out of work. 

Last month, as jobless benefits were again to set to expire, Bunning (Ky.) still objected to funding them in a way that would increase the deficit. But this time, nearly every Republican in the Senate joined him, leading to a month-long impasse in which more than 2 million people briefly lost their benefits. When the extension finally passed last week, only two Republicans backed the $34 billion unemployment measure, compared with 21 who had voted with Democrats in March. 

That stand-off illustrated the dynamics that have defined Capitol Hill over the last few months. 

After the highly partisan debates on the economic stimulus and health care that dominated the first 15 months of the Obama administration, Democratic leaders, conscious that many members of their party have become wary of being tagged by Republicans as big spenders, intentionally decided to push less controversial measures. 

But the barrage of "no" votes from the GOP has not abated. Emboldened by sagging approval ratings of the Democratic-controlled Congress, Republicans almost unanimously opposed a bill to overhaul the financial regulatory system that President Obama signed into law; they are against a measure to increase the disclosure of campaign spending by corporations; and they've largely eliminated the chance of passing a series of measures Democrats say could help the economy. 

Their opposition turned unemployment benefits, usually an issue with little political controversy, into an intense clash between the parties. 

Republicans say polls suggest that they can oppose all of these initiatives by casting them into a broader critique of Democrats increasing the size of government and the budget deficit, even if their bills are individually popular with the public. 

"We're very comfortable where we're at; we have very few members who feel endangered," said Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), a veteran Republican and a deputy whip in the House. "We feel like we are reflecting a broader mood of dissatisfaction. Right now, the American people want us saying no." 

Republicans say they oppose the substance of nearly every proposal by Democrats or view the GOP alternatives as better. And party strategists argue that voters largely care about one issue this year: the unemployment rate.

Congressional Democrats and the White House "are trying to deal with these other issues when there is only one issue in the room: jobs and the economy," said David Winston, a Republican pollster. 

The opposition has left Democrats fuming. They say Republicans complain that Congress should focus more on the economy but oppose every measure Democrats take up to create jobs. In the Democratic view, the GOP is cynically blocking measures to reduce unemployment so they ensure an angry electorate this fall who will want to vote out incumbents, most of whom are Democrats. 

"They want to blame us for failing to get things done that they themselves have blocked us from getting done," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. 

The Republican opposition itself is not new. Urged by party leaders, every Republican House member opposed last year's stimulus, and every GOP member of Congress voted against the health-care legislation. 

But after the health-care debate, Democrats intentionally played down major pushes on more polarizing issues, such as climate change, and looked for bills that would be easier to get through Congress. 

Some of that has been successful. Senate Republicans backed down from a full-scale blockage of the financial overhaul and have backed some of the smaller job-creation measures. But even on the financial regulation bill, Republicans repeatedly delayed its passage and forced changes that some Democrats felt weakened the legislation. In the end, only six Republicans in Congress backed it. 

In the Senate, the Republicans, joining with a few conservative Democrats, have blocked measures that would offer summer jobs to teenagers, give aid to states to prevent layoffs of teachers and other state employees, and expand funding of Pell grants -- arguing that all would raise the budget deficit. 

The opposition to the unemployment benefits was the most striking; polls show widespread support for the extension. In a recent Gallup survey, 22 percent of people suggested "jobs/unemployment" was the most important issue facing the country, while 6 percent said the national debt and deficit. 

But GOP leaders, who had been blindsided by Bunning's move in February, said they were prepared for the issue and believe the public mood has shifted in their direction. 

"We think the American people agree with our argument," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the architect of the GOP's opposition in Congress. "The spending issue is resonating." 

There has been little public criticism within GOP ranks of the continued opposition. At the same time, some Republicans would like the "no" votes combined with more discussion of the party's positive vision. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said last week that Republicans were reluctant to adopt his comprehensive plan to bring down the federal deficit and reform Social Security and Medicare because "they are talking to their pollsters." 

The GOP leaders emphasize that the party will put out its own governing agenda well before the election. 

Democrats think that the GOP's governing plan and its ardent opposition will help turn the election into a choice between the two parties' visions, and that voters will favor Democrats. Republicans say they see little evidence that will happen.

"Legislative accomplishments and political popularity are very different things," said Cole. "They are racking up victories, but they're not building up political capital. We know we are going to win seats, they know they are going to lose seats." 

Monday, July 26, 2010


Is S.C. nation's 'whoopee cushion'?

Is S.C. nation's 'whoopee cushion'?
Jonathan Martin
July 26, 2010 04:33 AM EDT

Just what is it about Alvin Greene?
By November, Alvin Greene (shown) will probably be the subject of more national coverage than most other Senate candidates.| AP Photo
By November, Alvin Greene will probably be the subject of more national coverage than most other Senate candidates.


A month and a half after Greene’s out-of-nowhere victory in the South Carolina Democratic Senate primary, the media obsession with his unlikely story is becoming as big a mystery as the circumstances surrounding his curious candidacy.

A week ago, CNN sent one of its top correspondents to the Democrat’s small hometown for Greene’s debut speech, and ABC’s “World News Tonight” did an entire segment that day on the 32-year-old military-veteran-turned-unemployed-Senate-candidate.

These reports follow scores of national, and even international, stories about nearly every aspect of Greene’s life: Who he is, how he got on the ballot and why he won the June primary.

There’s no other marginal candidate this election cycle drawing such attention. And there may be no other example in modern political history of a statewide political hopeful with so little hope of victory, yet so much media attention.

It’s virtually certain that, by November, Greene will be the subject of more national coverage than most of those candidates who will actually be elected to the Senate. What’s most curious is that it’s not as though his surprise primary victory dashed or advanced Democratic hopes to pick up a seat — GOP Sen. Jim DeMint is virtually certain to win reelection regardless of who is put up against him.

But while Greene’s long-shot campaign may not offer insights into the broader political environment, the breathless coverage of his candidacy reveals much about how the news media operate in the Obama era and how otherwise obscure stories and individuals can attract and hold their attention.
From the outset, the alchemy of the Greene story has proved irresistible to the national press. At its core is a mysterious, quotable protagonist in a whodunit featuring alleged dirty tricks, against the backdrop of race and region — the equivalent of catnip for reporters.

“You’ve got a lot of volatile chemicals at play here,” said Scott Huffmon, a political science professor at South Carolina’s Winthrop University.

What’s truly remarkable about the Greene story is that the fascination has endured even after a state law enforcement investigation concluded there was no wrongdoing — that Greene paid the $10,400 candidate filing fee out of his own pocket.

As reported in The State newspaper, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division obtained Greene’s bank records and determined that he had cobbled together the money through a payment he received from the Department of Defense for his military service and from federal and state tax refunds. 

So, despite accusations from some Democrats, such as House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, Greene is apparently not a GOP plant meant to ensure DeMint’s reelection. 

With the facts surrounding his candidacy more mundane than first thought, why is Greene still drawing attention?

First, there is the obvious: Greene’s authenticity in an era of talking-point-bound politicians is arresting. Quirky, long-shot candidates are a commonplace election presence across the map; but in this case, Greene has shown a knack for drawing attention. An example is his suggestion to a British newspaper that he could raise revenue for the state by selling bobble-head dolls with his likeness.

“He keeps saying provocative things,” said Republican strategist Tucker Eskew, a South Carolina native. “That’s, on the most basic level, noteworthy.”

And in an era in which cynicism permeates politics, the discovery of an utterly guileless politician whose motives and goals are genuinely unclear fuels even more coverage.

But the lingering fixation on Greene reaches beyond that.

The South Carolina dateline plays a significant role, because, dating back to the Lee Atwater era, the Palmetto State holds a place in the American psyche as a uniquely nasty political universe in which the worst sort of dirty tricks are practiced by the most sinister of operatives.

Even after the conspiracy theory of Greene’s primary victory was knocked down, interest in the bizarre tale has continued, in part because of the state’s better-than-fiction political culture.

“It feeds the narrative about how South Carolina has been a carnival act for the last year and a half,” said Democratic operative Wyeth Ruthven, a veteran of state politics, referring to recent events involving Republicans, including Gov. Mark Sanford’s intercontinental affair, Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst and recent accusations of infidelity against gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley. “Had this happened in any other state, it wouldn’t have gotten the same coverage,” Ruthven said.

State Rep. Anton Gunn, an up-and-coming Democrat, said there is now a national perception about the state along the lines of, “If you want to hear something crazy, if you want to see something stupid, come to South Carolina.”

“I don’t agree with it,” he added, “but there’s this imagery of us being the whoopee cushion of the nation, and we continue to exacerbate that.”

Huffmon put it more simply: “South Carolina politics has become the car wreck on the American political highway, and the public can’t help but slow down and rubberneck.” 

Many in and around the state’s tight-knit political class are, however, growing annoyed at the continuing interest in Greene, which now includes reports that a documentary film is in the works. Both Democrats and Republicans believe the many media profiles of a small-town man who still lives with his father and doesn’t own a cell phone are veering toward mockery.

Gunn said the coverage reflected “condescension toward a Southern state.”

“Here is this guy in a rural town, who doesn’t have it all together and is appearing on TV with a 1993 family reunion shirt — I think it’s very much cultural,” Gunn said.

“The coverage has been patronizing, but because he has no chance to win and makes himself totally available, people can cover him any way they want and there won’t be any consequences to it,” Ruthven said. 

Another Democrat with deep South Carolina roots went further, expressing anger at both the media and Republicans for what he said was ridicule that wouldn’t take place if Greene were not African-American.

“It’s painful to watch,” the Democrat said, noting that state GOP operatives have now purchased website domains to link Greene with the Democrats’ gubernatorial nominee.

Eskew, referring to Haley, an Indian-American, and Lowcountry congressional candidate Tim Scott, an African-American, said, “In a state that has finally made good news politically by nominating two exceptional and interesting Republicans of different backgrounds, it’s unfortunate that it’s a black Democrat who is drawing attention for a lot of the wrong reasons.”

The interest in Greene has shown no signs of abating, as mash-up videos that ridicule his tics go viral on the Internet.

As much as anything else, the appeal of the Greene saga illustrates how the media ecosystem now works. His improbable candidacy began as something of a cult sensation among reporters and political junkies on Twitter and other social media.

At first, the possibility of mischief was alluring, but then the story took on a life of its own as details about Greene, including a pending criminal charge of obscenity, dribbled out. The story then quickly migrated to cable-TV and print-media outlets that discovered their politically inclined readers had a considerable appetite for the tale.

“It drives page views,” Ruthven said. “People who write about Alvin Greene are going to get clicked on. It has become more of an Internet sensation than it is anything else.”

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Drive with a glass of water on dash and improve mpg

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Career as teacher, tutor, counselor and predator dates back to 1978

Kevin Ricks' career as teacher, tutor shows pattern of abuse that goes back decades

Josh White, Blaine Harden and Jennifer Buske
Sunday, July 25, 2010



A four-month Washington Post investigation of former Manassas teacher Kevin Ricks' career as a teacher, tutor, foreign exchange host and camp counselor has revealed a pattern of abuse that goes back to at least 1978 and has left a trail of victims that spans the globe.


Kevin Ricks was a gregarious, well-traveled English teacher at Osbourn High School, a Walt Whitman devotee who was so popular that a photo of him in class was chosen to fill the opening page of the yearbook. A writer and photographer himself, Ricks would walk the halls of the Manassas school with a leather-bound journal of his musings tucked in his bag, next to his laptop computer. 

What teachers, parents, students and even his wife didn't know was that his journals contained decades of dark secrets, a running handwritten commentary of Ricks's world of obsession, infatuation, pursuit, sexual abuse and international child exploitation. 

They didn't know about his library of homemade pornographic videos and explicit photographs capturing his tequila-soaked sex acts with teenage boys he had handpicked. They didn't know about the makeshift shrine boxes containing mementos of the episodes, including sex toys, soiled tissues and hair trimmings. 

Even some of the victims didn't know they were victims. 

A four-month Washington Post investigation of Ricks's career as a teacher, tutor, foreign exchange host and camp counselor has revealed a pattern of abuse that dates to at least 1978 and has left a trail of victims spanning the globe. But despite the abuse, Ricks moved from one teaching job to the next over nearly 30 years, navigating the nation's public and private school systems undetected, evading traps designed to catch him. 

In some cases, school officials and foreign exchange companies knew of or suspected Ricks's inappropriate behavior and simply let him go, leaving the next employer with no idea what was coming. 

His case underscores the difficulties that educators and parents face when they only suspect abuse but can't prove it, and how reluctant even the most suspicious and well-meaning people can be in coming forward with allegations. It shows how someone can for decades wear a mask of trusted role model while using that powerful position to lure unsuspecting boys. 

Interviews with six of his victims or their families in Asia, Europe and the United States -- along with several others who think they or their children were being groomed as victims -- tell a story of a teacher who believed he was falling passionately in love with his students and the foreigners he brought into the country. They said he spent months infiltrating their lives, their families and their youth groups. He plied them with expensive gifts, trips, event tickets, attention and ultimately loads of alcohol. 

When the boys were in a drunken stupor or asleep, Ricks would molest them, using a camcorder and camera to capture the graphic, secret sex acts, according to victims and law enforcement officials. 

Police and prosecutors in Virginia and Maryland said their investigations have turned up alarming evidence of predation along with a hoard of child pornography and matching journal entries describing the abuse. A Manassas police detective and FBI agents are scouring his computers and journals and have been looking across three continents for evidence. 

So far, he is charged in Prince William County with the sexual battery of one teenager. But the federal investigation and Post inquiry have turned up much more. 

Teachers and school administrators in several jurisdictions said in interviews that Ricks came with recommendations and an unblemished record. Some said privately, however, that they had concerns about his closeness with students and rumors of possible abuse but that they felt powerless to do anything about it. 

One school board on Maryland's Eastern Shore let him go after allegations arose citing a contract technicality but later went so far as to ban him from school property. Ricks simply moved to another school district. 

School systems said they couldn't act because they lacked evidence, even after warnings surfaced that Ricks was trouble, or they didn't dig deep enough to find proof. Ricks was hired for a teaching job in Manassas nine days before he was convicted of felony theft and served a weekend in jail in Maryland, a theft that Manassas officials never knew about. 

Ricks -- universally described by those who know him as intelligent, friendly, generous and convincing -- used those natural abilities to get close to the teenage boys around him and to groom them for his exploits. He also became close to their friends and parents, they said, presenting himself as a caring teacher and mentor. 

"He's a predator," said Amy Ashworth, a Prince William County assistant commonwealth's attorney who handles crimes against children and is prosecuting Ricks in the abuse of a Manassas teen. "Predators are masters of manipulation. These people tend to be likable. They don't set off alarm bells, and people think they are not a threat. But parents need to be suspicious of anyone who shows such an interest in their children." 

Ricks is just one of countless teachers, youth group leaders and coaches who have been charged with abusing children in their care across the country. Working among those who do the right thing every day, they have managed to slip through the cracks of society's safety net. 

In more than three hours of conversation with a reporter in six telephone calls and a video conference in the Prince William County jail, Ricks declined to comment on the record, citing a court hearing scheduled for Thursday at which he is expected to plead guilty to one felony charge of indecent liberties with a minor under his supervision. But in a May 24 letter to a friend after his arrest, Ricks wrote: "I'm not innocent this time. I have crossed the line. I deserve to be here," the friend said. 

On Friday, in a written statement provided by his attorney, Ricks asked that the public not judge him on the sexual abuse allegations. 

"I've wanted nothing more from life than to be a model of compassion and empathy. To the extent that I have failed causes me grief for which I will spend the rest of my days seeking forgiveness and atonement," Ricks said. "It is understandable how some may see me in a negative light, but like other people in this world, I have had many positive accomplishments in my personal life and career. I would like people to consider those as well."





Facebook was Ricks's undoing. 

On a cold February morning, Manassas police received a call from concerned Osbourn parents. Their daughter had gained access to a friend's Facebook account and stumbled upon a series of explicit messages between Ricks and her friend. The dialogue indicated sex between Ricks and the 16-year-old boy. 

Detectives located the boy and his family and interviewed them. They learned that over winter break, while the teenager was staying with his father in Manassas, Ricks had gotten him drunk in the father's basement and had performed sex acts on him, according to police and court documents. 

Ricks had been living with the boy's father for about a year, renting the basement room for $500 a month so he wouldn't have to commute to his home in Federalsburg, Md., more than two hours away. The teen had been in Ricks's English class at Osbourn but had since moved away to live with his mother, coming back to Manassas on weekends and vacations. 

It was Thursday, Feb. 18, and Ricks was about to head to the Manassas home after school. Police intercepted him at Osbourn. 

Ricks's arrest prompted an immediate outpouring of student support, including nearly 200 who joined a new Facebook page trumpeting his innocence. He was charged with aggravated sexual battery, carnal knowledge and two counts of indecent liberties with a minor while in a supervisory role. A judge ordered him held without bond. 

A search of Ricks's home in Federalsburg uncovered a private space that police have dubbed "The Toy Room." Hidden inside, detectives found what they think is the intricately documented history of a child predator at work over several decades. 

Stacks and stacks of leather-bound journals included graphic accounts of the pursuit and ultimate sexual conquest of at least a dozen boys and perhaps many more. They found homemade videos of the abuse as it occurred in locations across the country and photographs of teenagers in various states of undress. 

"The journals appear to be a self-confession of sorts," said one law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing. "And they allowed him to relive what he had done." 

One entry, from Christmas Eve 2009, spoke directly of the Manassas victim's abuse, authorities said. In it, Ricks writes about giving the boy a Heineken and five shots of tequila while watching a movie. He then describes deep, passionate kisses and notes details about the boy's genitals. Ricks wrote that he was in love and that it was the best 12 hours of his life, authorities said. 

"It was the most evidence I've ever seen," said Federalsburg Police Chief Donald R. Nagel, describing as "sickening" the bags and bags of materials that were taken from the home in four carloads. "He documented everything, all describing relationships with boys. He was a very intelligent predator. He was a pro at how he accomplished what he accomplished. I think there are many more victims. And others who aren't sure they're victims." 

The magnitude of the find, and the possibility that Ricks's trail crossed state lines and into other countries, led the FBI to get involved. Working with local police, agents have begun poring through the journals and the images to identify what appeared to be numerous unknown victims, all of them attractive, athletic boys in their late teens. 

North Carolina

Ricks was born May 3, 1960, in northern North Carolina, graduating from Roanoke Rapids High School in 1978 and enrolling at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. 

As a teenager, Ricks worked at area summer camps, landing in the late 1970s at Camp Holiday Trails in Charlottesville near the University of Virginia. The camp, which caters to children with disabilities and chronic medical problems, is where he met his future wife, Abby, who is hearing impaired. 

It's also where he met a young deaf boy onto whom he immediately latched. The boy's family provides an account of how the relationship began and evolved, and it also shows the beginning of a pattern that would last until his arrest 32 years later. 

The boy's older brother and mother said that Ricks was a junior counselor in the boy's cabin and that he was very protective of the boy, almost to the level of obsession. 

The Post is not identifying the boy or his family members because he is a victim of a sex crime and did not want to be named. 

The boy's mother said that Ricks helped put together an annual booklet for the camp and that she was surprised to see her son featured in so many stories and poems and in more than half the photos. 

Ricks grew close to the family, visiting them in their Virginia home. Knowing that they were in a tough financial situation, Ricks at one point took the boy on a dream vacation to Disney World. 

In summer 1978, when Ricks was 18 and the boy was 10, he offered to take him to Ricks's family home in North Carolina because the boy's mother had just divorced and didn't have a place to live. 

The brother, who described himself as a longtime friend of Ricks's, said that's when Ricks molested the boy.

Law enforcement officials, who interviewed the victim -- now 42 -- this summer in Virginia, said he recounted incidents at the North Carolina house that escalated from kissing to explicit sex acts. It is the earliest known abuse case involving Ricks, authorities say. 

There is no evidence that Ricks molested the boy at the summer camp, and camp officials who worked there at the time said they had no recollection of any such allegations surfacing.

Many years later, he confronted Ricks via the Internet, asking him about the abuse, and Ricks apologized, according to the family. Law enforcement officials confirmed that they found those chat transcripts among Ricks's belongings and have contacted authorities in North Carolina. Roanoke Rapids police said they have received the case and are going to investigate; there is no statute of limitations for felonies in North Carolina. 

The boy's mother said she learned of the sexual abuse allegation in June, when her son first revealed it after Ricks's arrest. 

"It's like finding out that your brother's a serial killer," the mother said, her voice cracking. "I am so hurt to think that we really loved him like he was a part of our family and that he betrayed us, that he had done this to my child. I just cannot believe anyone could be that horrible. It's just sick." 

Ricks received his diploma from UNC in 1983, and he taught at a private school in Norfolk for a year. He also taught for a year at a private school in North Carolina, and in the mid-1980s, he taught at private schools in the Atlanta area, at least once serving as the dorm master for a boys' boarding school, according to his résumé. 

Because private schools do not always require teaching certificates or teaching experience, Ricks was able to get the jobs without applying for a license. Georgia education officials, for example, have no record of him ever applying for or receiving a license there. 


About 1988, Ricks entered the fledgling Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program, which sent him to the town of Aso in Kyushu, the most southerly of the four main islands of Japan. 

After two years, Shunichi Matsuzaki, the chief of planning for neighboring Oguni, offered to hire Ricks as the town's first foreign English teacher. 

Oguni is a small hill town of about 8,000 people on the slopes of Kyushu's volcanic uplands, a nearly magical setting wedged between steep rocky cliffs and mountains covered with cedar and pine forests. Steam rises perpetually from hot springs, which thread through the hills and valleys. 

Matsuzaki said he hired Ricks as part of an effort to reinvigorate small-town life, paying him $36,000 a year from the town budget. Ricks supplemented his salary by tutoring students privately. 

Ricks taught English at the town's primary and junior high schools. He also tutored at his apartment, at city hall and at a room with beds in it on the second floor of a community center just outside Oguni. 

" 'Kevin's Room' was his base," said Yoshiaki Harayama, now the town's head of education. A manager of the community center said the room had a separate locked entrance, and Ricks had a key, allowing him to come and go as he pleased. 

In Oguni, Ricks was like a rock star. He spent his money freely, buying a red Miata sports car and traveling, at one point going to a Michael Jackson concert in Tokyo. Town officials said that when children spotted him they would shout: "Kevin! Kevin!" 

If people suspected Ricks of molesting children, they didn't talk about it publicly. Child abuse is such a cultural taboo that victims would be unlikely to acknowledge it. 

"It wasn't believed that men would molest boys," said Kenji Tsunoda, assistant principal of the Oguni junior high, who said there is a powerful cultural impulse in Japan to hide or repress such things. 

Additional cover came in December 1992, when Ricks went back to the United States to get married, after rekindling his relationship with Abby via letters in 1991. He moved her to Japan in 1993. 

He was "a kind and gentle person who loved teaching," she said.

Takashi Kajiwara, now 31 and a father of four, remembers being Ricks's "favorite." Then a junior high school student, Kajiwara was treated to taco dinners at Ricks's home and to frequent concert tickets.

"Most of the time Ricks only invited me, but sometimes he had a party with five or six boys," Kajiwara said in an interview at his father's construction company. "They were all boys. We had a lot of fun."

Kajiwara said he remembers Ricks becoming close with the rest of his family, including his parents and grandmother. Ricks also taught his siblings, including a younger brother. At one point, Ricks tried to get affectionate with Kajiwara while in Japan. 

"He approached, but I didn't like it. I said no," Kajiwara said. "He tried to hug me many times. At first I thought it was just because he is American . . . a kind of custom. But little by little, I thought it was a little bit strange." 

Then came the trip to the United States. 

Kajiwara said he flew alone with Ricks to San Francisco in 1994, and they drove across the country in a rented car, stopping to see the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains before staying at the Ricks family home in North Carolina for three weeks. 

On the first night, in a San Francisco hotel room, Ricks brought out tequila and set down shot glasses rimmed with salt. Ricks told Kajiwara that it was customary to drink eight or nine tequila shots in a row, so he did, leading him to pass out cold. The rest is hazy at best. 

"He prepared that for two, so I thought it was like a western movie," Kajiwara said. "And then he said: 'This is our friendship.' So I drank it, and I had no memory after that." 

Law enforcement officials said they have found extensive evidence of Kajiwara's trip with Ricks across the country, including VHS cassettes and photographs of sexual abuse in the San Francisco hotel room and at other locations. Some of the photos were discovered just days ago, law enforcement officials said. Kajiwara is mentioned in Ricks's Dec. 24, 2009, journal entry in a comparison to the experience with the Manassas victim. 

Kajiwara said he has no memory of the abuse but was "disgusted" when informed of what was found in Ricks's home. "I feel a kind of anger as well," he said. 

Whether school officials suspected abuse or not, it was other troubles with the law that ended Ricks's time in Japan. According to Matsuzaki, who hired him in Oguni, Ricks had "shoplifting habits" that caught up with him in 1995. 

At a store in nearby Kumamoto, a former policeman working as a security guard caught Ricks stealing, Matsuzaki said. The store reported the incident to Oguni education officials, who insisted that Ricks's contract not be renewed. 

There was no official charge or prosecution. Ricks and his wife then suddenly left Oguni. 

The allegations surfacing nearly 15 years later shocked townspeople, including Kajiwara, who had gotten a Christmas card from Ricks each year until 2008. Some town officials wonder whether they just missed the truth. 

"Maybe he has two faces," Matsuzaki said. "Maybe he has two personalities. The good face is that of a very good, friendly teacher. The second face is that of a sexual molester." 

The reason Ricks's contract was not renewed in Japan never made it to the United States. 


Ricks and his wife left one small town for another, returning to the United States and settling in Danville, Va., where Abby Ricks had attended college. They traded the mystical volcanic foothills of Japan for a shrinking factory town built along the murky Dan River just miles from the North Carolina border. 

There, Ricks immediately returned to education, according to school records. He worked as a substitute teacher in Danville beginning in November 1995 and then took a full-time job about an hour away in Burlington, N.C., for the 1996-97 school year, for which he obtained a one-year temporary state license, according to North Carolina records. 

Danville then hired him as a full-time English teacher for the 1997-98 school year. Although he would have been required to have a Virginia teaching license for that year, state Department of Education records show that he did not and that he did not apply for one. Danville schools officials declined to explain how he was hired without a license. 

Fresh from his experience working with students in Japan, Ricks began what would be a 15-year stretch hosting foreign exchange students in the United States. Working as both a coordinator who placed students in local homes and as a host himself, Ricks brought dozens of students to Danville.

Law enforcement officials said the foreign exchange program appears to have been a way for Ricks to import vulnerable teenage boys into his home. The students he handpicked were unfamiliar with American customs, spoke a non-native language, and were reliant on Ricks for food and shelter. And he would ultimately be able to send them back overseas. 

Several foreign students who knew Ricks or lived with him described his modest three-bedroom home on Marshall Terrace as being a bit of a zoo, with a constant flow of students and visitors. 

"Kevin's house worked as a social base for all the exchange students, including those who had host families," said former Swedish exchange student Marcus Christiansen, describing himself as a friend who trusts Ricks implicitly. 

"I have done a bit of backpacking, and the feeling of that house was that of an international youth hostel," said Christiansen, who stayed with Ricks for several weeks in the late 1990s. 

In 1997-98, Ricks hosted a German exchange student in his home, who in a telephone interview said that he considered his time in the United States to be one of the best years of this life, praising Ricks for his attentiveness and care.

Although the German student had agreed to be identified for this story, law enforcement officials later said that they think he is a victim of sexual abuse based on evidence they have recovered. The student, who had not yet been contacted by police or the FBI, said in an interview that he was unaware of anything inappropriate during his stay with Ricks. 

Christiansen said Ricks was constantly entertaining the exchange students, taking them on trips up and down the East Coast, going to Tar Heel football games about an hour away in Chapel Hill, and piling them into his red BMW 3 Series to go to the mall or the movies. 

It was on one of those trips that a Spanish exchange student, who asked not to be identified, noticed something unusual. It was Nov. 4, 1998, and Ricks had taken a few students to Cat's Cradle, a well-known music venue outside Chapel Hill. Along a dark rural road about halfway home, Ricks stopped at a post office to go to a box he maintained there, the student said.

 "He left us in the car and got in the postal office. I went out of the car to take my jacket out of the trunk," said the student, who said he noticed an open envelope and some pictures that had scattered. "I took some pictures in my hand, and I realized that the pictures were of naked boys about our age. I didn't know who they were. I was scared, so I put the pictures back in the envelope and closed the trunk." 

Danish exchange student Uffe Emborg also found photographs of a naked teenager. They turned out to be pictures of him, making him the only known victim who caught Ricks with evidence. 

Emborg, who paid foreign exchange company Education First $8,000 to come to the United States for six months in 1999, stayed at Ricks's home for the final two months of his exchange. Emborg, now 29, said Ricks formed a tight bond with him, taking him on frequent trips, lavishing him with gifts -- including an expensive camera and use of the red BMW. Ricks often told him that he loved previous exchange students, but that he loved Emborg more. 

Then Ricks started giving Emborg massages. "I can now obviously see why he would want to give me a massage, but at the time it seemed like he was just being a nice guy," Emborg said in a lengthy interview along one of Copenhagen's famous canals, 11 years later. "I trusted him."

One night, Ricks gave Emborg an enormous amount of tequila, telling him that it "symbolized our friendship," Emborg said. He passed out. When he awoke the next morning, he knew something was wrong but couldn't quite explain it. He looked around the house for answers. 

Eventually he found those answers in Ricks's bedside table. 

"I found some photos of me that he had taken while I was asleep. He had pulled down my pants," Emborg said. "I recognized the bedsheets from my room. They were naked photographs." 

Upset and saddened, Emborg confronted Ricks, who he said acknowledged what had happened and also admitted touching him while he was asleep. He said he told Ricks he never would have welcomed such advances from a man and did not approve. Both emotional, the two then went outside and torched the photographs in a backyard grill. 

But police said they found copies in Ricks's belongings more than a decade later. 

Although Emborg did not tell anyone what had happened, law enforcement officials said Ricks apparently confessed to someone he knew, who then called the authorities. A police car arrived at the house days after Emborg confronted Ricks. Emborg said Ricks talked to a detective and then came to him and asked him not to say anything about the photographs. 

"They asked if anything improper had happened, and I said no," Emborg said. "I wish I would have said yes. But why didn't they just investigate it a little more? I didn't want to be the one who got Kevin in trouble. He was my friend. . . . I know now that it's important for people to come forward. . . . Maybe it could have prevented other things from happening." 

Danville police said because no charges were filed and the event was so long ago, they have no record of visiting Ricks's home that day. 

After Emborg's return home, he refused to answer Ricks's annual Christmas cards and did not want to talk about Ricks, something that always seemed strange to his family. 

Emborg first spoke generally about the abuse five years ago while going through some counseling at work, and he just told his family about it in recent months. Emborg agreed to speak publicly -- and to testify in a U.S. court if asked -- because he wants others to come forward. He also says he thinks Ricks needs help more than he needs punishment. 

"He really told me he loved me, that he would never hurt me," Emborg said. "If all that was a scam to just get in my pants, I'd be very surprised. I still have a hard time thinking that's all it was about. He just took the relationship way too far in his own mind." 

Boston-based Education First declined to answer questions about Ricks's tenure in Danville or the allegations of abuse there, instead releasing a brief statement. 

"Mr. Ricks' affiliation as a local coordinator and host family with our program was terminated several years prior to his recent arrest," wrote Megan Allen, an EF vice president. "EF Foundation for Foreign Study is cooperating fully with any requests from local authorities pertaining to their investigation of Mr. Ricks." 

Although Education First did not answer questions about Ricks's termination, a foreign exchange student from Brazil, Piero Mazzini, alleged that Ricks stole $2,000 from his bank account that Ricks helped open. After Mazzini and his host mother confronted Ricks with evidence of the theft, Mazzini said, Ricks vowed to pay it back. Instead, EF paid Mazzini back and fired Ricks, Mazzini said. 

Ricks and his wife then suddenly picked up and moved to another small town. 

Danville schools officials said Ricks left in November 2000. Janet Gaddy, the lead teacher who supervised Ricks when he taught English there, remembered him as personable but said she told a potential employer of his that she would not hire him again.

"It wasn't for personal reasons," Gaddy said. "It was typical things. . . . He needed some work on classroom discipline." 


If Ricks and his wife were looking for quaint and out of the way, they found it in Federalsburg, at the southern tip of Caroline County on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The town of 2,700 sits amid the low-lying farmland just west of the Delaware border. 

They moved into a two-story home with an expansive back yard and a garage that was converted into an apartment. The house sits close to its neighbors along Bloomingdale Avenue, a main street in what is considered one of the town's nicer areas. It's also just up the street from the police station and a few minutes to Col. Richardson High School, where Ricks landed a full-time teaching job in November 2000. 

Ricks obtained a provisional teaching certificate in Maryland that was good from January 2001 to January 2003, a temporary license that indicates a school system wants to hire a teacher who hasn't met all state requirements, according to the Maryland State Department of Education.

At Richardson, Ricks became adviser to Students Helping Other People, a group that participated in service projects. Ricks selected the members, who pledged not to drink, smoke or do drugs, and it was there that Ricks met another boy. 

"He was a teacher, and he started out being real friendly and being very complimentary of our son," said the boy's mother, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his identity. "He started out being a good friend, a good role model. In a roundabout way, he started getting friendly with us so we were comfortable with him being a friend to our son. It's nice when a teacher is interested in your kids educationally." 

But the relationship shifted quickly. Ricks would invite the boy out to pizza, take him to movies such as "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings," and host sleepovers. He joined the boy's church and his youth group as an adviser, and began pulling him out of class to talk. 

Both the boy and his parents became wary, even suspicious.

"It just got creepy to the point where my son knew that something wasn't on the up-and-up," his mother said, adding that the boy's father told Ricks to stop bothering him and to stop calling. "He hadn't really done anything; it was just getting to the point where we were feeling unsafe. . . . We felt we had to protect our son, and the other kids." 

Rachel Clark, a mother of 11 whose husband works in the Caroline County school system, met Ricks in late 2002 through school activities, and they quickly became close friends. She remembers the incident with the boy at school -- and several other episodes with different boys -- and said Ricks would come to her in tears. 

Over lunch at Dairy Queen, Clark and Ricks would talk about how devastated he would be when a parent told him to stay away from their son. 

"I told him that he looked like he was grooming this kid and stalking him," Clark said. "He said that those are some pretty powerful words. And I said that he was doing some pretty powerful things. The word 'stalker,' 'grooming,' 'pedophile' came off my lips more than once. He never denied it." 

But Clark said that at the time she never seriously suspected any abuse and spoke to potential employers as a reference for Ricks: "I told them that, if anything, he's been accused of caring too much and being too involved. Little did I know what too involved really meant." 

Still, the rumors in the small town reached the school board. Ricks's contract was allowed to expire June 30, 2003, because he did not convert his temporary teaching certificate into a full certification, said John T. Perry, supervisor of human resources for Caroline County Public Schools. But backroom discussions centered on the earlier allegations of Ricks's stalking of the student and his becoming too close to students, according to current and former county school employees. School officials called county social services to look into the matter; the department declined to discuss the case, and a county report, included in a Circuit Court case file, is sealed. 

Clark said she thinks that the school system was looking for a way to remove Ricks and found a technicality, but it was a technicality that would leave no mark on his record. 

James Orr, a former assistant superintendent who hired Ricks, said he could not comment on the case because it was a personnel matter. But, he said, it is an example of why schools must remain vigilant. 

"It just turns my stomach when this mud splashes on education," Orr said. "It just makes me sick. We work really hard to educate kids and protect them, and then something like this happens. As a victim of this occurring, it's embarrassing, but it also heightens my resolve to make sure each and every person that has contact with kids is the right person, the right professional." 

At the same time Ricks was teaching, he linked up with another foreign exchange company, the American Scandinavian Student Exchange. 

Clark said Ricks would excitedly show her photographs of prospective exchange students, such as one time in 2003. 

"Kevin came to me and said: 'Look at this profile of this kid I'm thinking about getting,' " Clark said. "He was going through pictures deciding which kid he wanted."

It was another German exchange student, then 17 years old. He arrived in September 2003 and began living with Ricks, while Ricks was teaching at a nearby private school, Wye River Upper. 

Strange things began happening immediately, the student, now 23, said in an interview in Seoul, where he is in a one-year management program. He agreed to be interviewed only if his name was not used. 

The student said Ricks insisted on a hug before bed every night, something that made the student very uncomfortable. 

"It was very important to him," the student said. "He told me a lot that he loved me and he only had a short time to get close to me." 

Ricks seemed to have unlimited time to take the student to movies, restaurants, a skiing trip in New England, a Washington Wizards game, a visit to North Carolina, an Aerosmith/Kiss concert in Washington and a tennis tournament featuring a match between Andy Roddick and James Blake. 

But on one trip, the student noticed something weird: "When I was sleeping in the passenger seat, he turned the rear-view mirror so he could look me right in the face. I woke up and looked directly into his eyes." 

The student said he was allowed to use Ricks's home computer but in doing so discovered a large amount of gay pornography. He said Ricks explained that he copied video cassettes onto DVDs to sell on the Internet, a story the student didn't question. 

Ricks captured the German student's e-mail log-in information when he used the computer and began spying on his communications, the student said. When the student decided he had had enough, Ricks threatened to ruin him, accusing him of drinking and using drugs and ultimately sending out messages to the teen's family and friends alleging as much. 

When the student complained to ASSE, the program immediately removed him from Ricks's home, and police were sent to retrieve the student's belongings. Although there were no allegations of sexual abuse, ASSE officials felt uncomfortable and acted immediately, said Bill Gustafson, the group's current president. 

Naomi Richards, a special education teacher at nearby Preston Elementary School, said the German student came to her in March 2004 and begged to live with her, saying he wasn't happy with Ricks. 

"Mr. Ricks wouldn't let [the student] go," Richards said. "He was in love with him. He kept him prisoner. He would mentally torture him." 

After the student moved out, Ricks called Richards's house incessantly trying to speak with him, sometimes crying, and he would leave little gifts at the front door, Richards said. She remembers Ricks being particularly upset that the student "never even said goodbye." 

Ricks even changed his bulldog's name from Brodie to the German student's name, Clark said. At one point, Ricks allegedly got another student to go to the high school to take video of the German student during tennis team practice. Ricks couldn't go himself, according to court testimony, because he had been barred from school property. School officials would not confirm the ban. 

It got so bad that Richards and the student went to Caroline County District Court on May 13, 2004, seeking a restraining order against Ricks. In a 13-minute hearing before Judge Douglas H. Everngam, they argued that Ricks was harassing the student. 

"I want him to leave me alone, but he doesn't do that," the student said, according to an audiotape of the hearing. But the student did not report any abuse. 

The judge said that he was glad the student was out of Ricks's house but that there were not grounds for a restraining order. 

The student said in the recent interview that he was not articulate or persuasive in court because of language issues and his fear of talking to a judge. But he said it was also because of the subtle kind of misery he had endured. 

"I couldn't express it so much," he said. "Because he didn't stab me or touch me, there was no way I could get [the judge to issue an order]. If I would have lied, maybe they would have searched his house and that maybe would have prevented some other victims." 

Part of the student's difficulty in court was that he does not remember any sexual abuse. But in May -- six years after the court hearing -- the FBI called to tell him that they had found pictures and videos of him naked as well as a box of mementos related to what Ricks had done to him. He said it was the first time he had heard of it. 

He said it had to have happened on a winter night after a bout of heavy drinking with Ricks and another boy. 

"I remember going to bed in the TV room he had and waking up with really weird hair," the student said. "That night he took pictures of me naked without me noticing. . . . I didn't want to see the pictures. I didn't want to know how it looks or what kind of pictures he took." 

The student also endured some level of mental abuse after returning to Germany, he said, because Ricks tried to disparage him with family and friends, sending angry e-mails, he said. In 2004, Ricks also apparently created a profile for the student on a German dating service's Web site, posting a photo of the boy wearing just a towel and directing responses to Ricks in the United States 

"There were red flags flying up everywhere when he was around," Richards said. "The man is devious. . . . He was picking out these nice-looking, tall, handsome, athletic boys. How can they let someone like that through to work in all these schools?" 

Gustafson said that after the incident with the German student, Ricks was barred from hosting students in his own home but was still allowed to place students with other hosts. ASSE discovered the following year that Ricks had scammed his way into hosting another student. 

Clark said Ricks listed her family as the host family for the new student knowing that the Clarks couldn't host him, allowing Ricks to have him. When ASSE found out, they immediately removed the student from Ricks's home and fired him. 

"At that point, he became furious," Gustafson said. 

Ricks fought back, filing papers in Caroline County Circuit Court on Oct. 15, 2004, asking for a temporary injunction against the company and arguing that the student should stay put because his family had formed "a bond" with him. But a judge refused to move forward with the case. 

The situation, which Gustafson described as "horrible," was particularly difficult for ASSE because Ricks passed the company's routine background checks: "The thing that is disturbing is that in a situation like this, it typically isn't convicted felons. How do you identify sexual abuse or exploitation when they're not criminals?" 

Gustafson said he would love to see a formal "black list" that foreign exchange companies and the State Department could use to identify people who are inappropriate or unsuitable to host students. But he said officials have been unwilling to support such a list because "without proof, we have been told that we could be held liable for essentially preventing someone from having an opportunity." 

In Ricks's case, Gustafson said: "He for sure would have gone on the black list." 

A week before Ricks filed the court papers in 2004, he took another teaching job, this time in the Baltimore City schools. The State Department of Education has no record of Ricks completing the requirements for a full license, but Baltimore confirmed that he worked there until September 2007 as a high school teacher.

About midway through his tenure in Baltimore -- in September 2006 -- the parent of a 13-year-old boy in Federalsburg called police to report that something suspicious had happened in Ricks's home. The parent told police that the boy was with Ricks playing video games and watching movies when Ricks asked him to sit on his lap. 

Police investigated but couldn't find any law that had been broken. 

"This wasn't the only complaint we got, but we couldn't validate anything," said Nagel, the Federalsburg police chief. "We had our suspicions. But we were hitting brick walls everywhere. We all felt the same way, but we would get one step and then fall six behind. We couldn't prove anything." 

Ashworth, the Prince William prosecutor, said cases of alleged inappropriate actions are hard for authorities to pursue because "creepy" behavior often doesn't rise to anything illegal. For police to get a search warrant, for example, they need probable cause that a crime has occurred. 

"Police are powerless until they have a victim who is cooperating or real evidence of abuse," Ashworth said. "Prosecutors are powerless until we have a case provable beyond a reasonable doubt." 

While police couldn't prove anything related to abuse, Ricks got caught up in legal troubles in Maryland in 2007. That April, Ricks stole $650 worth of movie tickets from a theater in Salisbury during a trip with a group of young people. Security surveillance video caught him reaching over the counter, and he was arrested in cinema No. 5 with the items in a shopping bag.

 Convicted in Wicomico District Court in May 2007, Ricks received a 20-day jail sentence but immediately appealed to Circuit Court. 

Over that summer, Ricks scrambled to get a new job, according to his friend Clark. He applied to Manassas and got an interview, all the while delaying his court case. 

Manassas Schools Superintendent Gail Pope said officials did a criminal background check on Ricks and nothing turned up. He came with letters of recommendation, including one that said he was "an excellent teacher," Pope said. Checks with a previous employer were clean. State records indicate he started in Manassas on Aug. 20, 2007. 

He was found guilty at trial of theft, a felony, nine days later. He was sentenced to a weekend in jail and a year of probation, but the judge arranged it so the judgment would purge after a year of good behavior. 

According to jail records, he served his sentence from 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, to 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 3, Labor Day. The next day, he was dismissed by the Baltimore schools and went to Osbourn High School for the first day of classes. 


Not long after going to Manassas as an 11th- and 12th-grade English teacher, Ricks began tutoring students in his spare time. He took a particular interest in one Fauquier County student, offering to take him on trips, buying him an iPod and trying to spend more time with him.

Ricks also reached out to the boy's friends, including Joel Kaiser, also of Fauquier. Kaiser said he met Ricks via MySpace in 2008, when he was 16.

Ricks sent a message to Kaiser, asking if the two could talk more about the friend whom Ricks was tutoring. The questions from Ricks were vague, but they soon veered as Ricks prodded Kaiser for details about his friend's life, personality and needs. 

"My walls for being fearful of the guy were down because he was a tutor and a teacher," said Kaiser, now 18. "He asked questions that should have raised a red flag, but he had a good way of asking them that made him seem more concerned." 

Ricks's messages, obtained by The Post, are like those an infatuated teenager might send while trying to determine whether a love interest has reciprocal feelings. He wrote about seeing the boy's face pop up on his cellphone while on a trip in Europe, hearing songs on the radio that reminded him of the boy, and asking questions while trying to determine how the boy felt. 

"Does he have Jekyll/Hyde potential or is what you see, what you get?" read one message. "Any hints from your perspective as to what he might 'need' from me? . . . I've made a tremendous financial and time investment in him. I do not regret it at all, but I'm questioning myself in a major way." 

Kaiser corresponded with Ricks for about a week in mid-August 2008 before agreeing to meet him. His mother, however, intervened and prevented the meeting. Then, Kaiser said, Ricks started showing up and lingering at the restaurant where Kaiser worked. Police were asked to get involved, but they determined that he was in a public place and wasn't doing anything illegal. 

Joel Kaiser's mother, Elena Kaiser, said she warned the friend's parents about what was happening. The friend's father, on Sept. 15, 2008, wrote an e-mail to Ricks asking him to leave the boys alone. 

"I have consulted with friends who are knowledgeable about adult-adolescent relationships . . . and all of these people view your behavior with my son as obsessive and predator-like," the father wrote, according to an e-mail Elena Kaiser provided. "Indeed, you infiltrated many aspects of my son's life including tennis, his circle of friends, school, and scouting, all in a matter of months. Looking back on how things developed . . . I am extremely concerned about your behavior so I want this relationship to end now." 

Ricks responded: "Received, and, sadly, understood. It is certainly one way to interpret all of this, and certainly has caused me to reexamine my own behavior. Thanks for the communication." 

Elena Kaiser then took every MySpace message between Ricks and her son to Osbourn Principal John Conti in an effort to protect Ricks's students there. 

"He hadn't committed any crime in what we presented, but it was behavior most reasonable people would find inappropriate for a high school teacher," Elena Kaiser said. "Mr. Conti assured us he would go to the right people, and I felt confident he'd address this." 

Patrick Lacy Jr., a lawyer for the Manassas schools, said Conti spoke to Ricks after the warning from Kaiser and told him not to have any contact with the Fauquier students. Lacy said that Conti also spoke with a school resource officer and Fauquier police but that it appeared no laws had been broken. 

"You just can't fire someone because a complaint is made and the investigation shows no criminal activity," said Lacy, whose firm represents 50 to 60 school systems. Lacy said he determined there weren't sufficient grounds to do anything. 

"I can assure you . . . had the school system known at the time of employment [about what has since surfaced] they would not have hired him," Lacy said. "But, once you hire them, they have certain rights, and you can't just say: 'You're gone.' " 

Pope said she asked about dismissing Ricks at the time but was advised there were no grounds. 

Ricks remained at the school.


Despite the warning, the next school year Manassas officials asked the Virginia Department of Education to grant Ricks a full teaching license, which would have been his first in his 27-year career. 

According to documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, Manassas tried to convince the state that Ricks was qualified for a full license, even though his license in Maryland was not full time and it appeared he had not completed the requirements. 

"I request that Mr. Ricks be given credit for a valid out of state license and 3 yrs of full time teaching experience and be issued a full 5 year renewable license with no further requirements to complete," Lydia A. Ware, a city schools senior personnel specialist, wrote on an application dated Aug. 31, 2009. The schools knew that Ricks's provisional license, which cannot be renewed, was set to expire in June 2010. 

State officials wrote back Sept. 30, 2009, to say that his application had been denied, and Ricks did nothing to advance the process. It was about this time, police say, that he was grooming the Manassas boy for a relationship that would lead to sex acts three months later. Ricks's arrest in the school's halls followed shortly thereafter. 

Elena Kaiser had hoped her alerting the Manassas schools would have gotten Ricks out of Osbourn before he could hurt anyone. Her hopes faded in February when she saw Ricks's face on the evening news. 

"We were elated he was caught but so upset because we tried to tell the school system and they basically ignored us," she said. "This is something that was preventable." 

The Manassas victim's father, who rented the room to Ricks and said he feels he and his family were betrayed, is livid. 

"My biggest disappointment lies with the school system and the teachers union for failing to identify any type of behavior that Kevin obviously displayed," the father said in an emotional interview. "That could have prevented this tragedy." 

School officials were likewise upset, and Pope called harming a child "the greatest breach of professionalism" she could think of. "I am furious that this could happen, but I understand that people who have this kind of intelligence can fool us," Pope said. 

The arrest and allegations shocked some students, who believed that Ricks was not only a great teacher, but also a great person incapable of such crimes. 

Alex Vieyra, a 2010 Osbourn graduate, said that Ricks was the "nicest, most generous teacher" he had ever met. Ricks was different because he sincerely cared for his students, was interested in the same things his students were and would help them with whatever they needed, he said. 

Ricks was so popular with students that the first page of the school's 2009 yearbook is a picture shot from behind, showing Ricks in his classroom with the caption: "English teacher Kevin Ricks used probing questions to help students search for insights in literature." 

Some law enforcement officials said they think Ricks had prepared for allegations to surface, preemptively gathering negative information about some of his alleged victims and sometimes warning parents and school officials that someone might say something -- but not to believe it. 

In Manassas this past school year, Ricks's honors syllabus included John Patrick Shanley's play "Doubt," which was made into a popular movie starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep that Ricks screened in his class. The fictional play centers on a priest accused of molesting an altar boy in 1964. 

The priest, in defending himself, tells his congregation that unproven gossip can unfairly and irreparably destroy one's reputation, running wild like feathers blown to the winds. As the story progresses, the priest accuses the boy of stealing wine as a way of explaining what has happened. 

In the preface, Shanley explained how his play reflected his own youth at Catholic school: "We had, like many animals, flocked together for warmth and safety. As a result, we were terribly vulnerable to anyone who chose to hunt us. When trust is the order of the day, predators are free to plunder. And plunder they did."


Federal probe

Ricks's arrest and the search of his home have sparked a federal investigation, largely focusing on Ricks's alleged production of child pornography in several locations, law enforcement officials said. Authorities said child pornography charges are easier to prove than sexual abuse and could still yield decades of prison time in the event of a conviction. The FBI's Washington Field Office said it is policy not to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

Authorities are considering charges in federal courts in Maryland and Virginia, based on the materials found at his Maryland home and on a laptop Ricks was carrying with him when he was arrested in Manassas. If convicted this week on the local charge in Manassas, Ricks would be registered as a sex offender and would not be able to teach again. 

"He has spent his entire adult life preying on underage males," said Manassas Police Chief Douglas W. Keen. "He has been able to stay one step in front of the system, moving out of the area and changing jobs before he was caught." 

Unwittingly, Ricks has provided authorities with a running narrative of his life, in the form of the piles of journals that date to his teen years. FBI agents and local police have been interviewing potential victims identified in those journals, and they are tracing his steps to the late 1970s, when they think it all began. 

"It is clear from what I've seen so far he would have his attention focused on one or more young people at a time," said Jonathan G. Newell, Caroline County state's attorney. "It was cultivating relationships and pushing the envelope. He had a little bag of tricks and a lot of experience using them." 

Abby Ricks said she couldn't believe it when she learned of her husband's secret life, something he hid from her "as an actor and a master manipulator." 

"I was totally shocked and felt betrayed, victimized and used," she said in response to written questions. She has filed for divorce and is cooperating with police.

As school administrators examine their policies and procedures and regret they didn't catch on to Ricks sooner, many say there is simply no way to screen out everyone. Especially those who know the system.

"When something like this happens, it reflects on all of us and hurts us to the core," Pope said, starting to cry. "You will never know the angst professional educators go through when they read about this and know one of their own is responsible. There is not a teacher who will not go back now and say: 'Did I miss something? Was there something I should have picked up on?' . . . My job is to protect these children."

Even those who knew him best, including his wife and close friends, might have felt something was wrong but gave him the benefit of the doubt.

"It's a pattern," said Clark, Ricks's longtime friend. "And it happened and it happened and it happened. What's the matter with us blind people? He did it right in front of us. I saw it happen, but I didn't see Kevin for what he is."


White reported from Copenhagen, Federalsburg and Washington; Harden reported from Oguni and Seoul; Buske reported from Danville and Washington. Staff writer Michael Alison Chandler and staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


White House sends 2012 rescue team to Florida

W.H. sends 2012 rescue team to Fla.
Carol E. Lee
July 25, 2010 07:02 AM EDT

Two Floridians are pictured holding a sign that states the phrase, 'Save Our Shore'
The Obama White House is responding to calls and letters from Florida Dems. unhappy with its response to the oil spill. AP



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The White House has quietly launched an effort to confront the political backlash along the Gulf Coast over its handling of the BP oil spill – giving special attention to Florida, the only state in the region President Barack Obama won in 2008 and one he will need again when he runs for re-election in 2012.

The White House dispatched political and communications aides to the Gulf Coast states on July 12, with Alabama and Mississippi each receiving one, sources familiar with the effort said. Some aides went to Louisiana. Florida received four.

The battleground state will be a heavy lift. In interviews along the coast, Florida Democrats accused the administration of largely ignoring their calls and letters, and complained of a White House that’s out of touch.

Alex Sink, Florida’s chief financial officer and presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee, even characterized Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to the state as “a screw-up,” saying she was “embarrassed” by his speech.

“It was just so off-target and out of touch with the reality of what’s going on over there,” Sink said in an interview at the Florida Democratic Party headquarters in Tallahassee.

It’s the type of criticism the White House wants to avoid. The administration aides in Florida function similarly to a campaign. They do rapid response and media coordination, and they report back to senior aides in the West Wing in nearly real time about what they’re hearing on the ground.

The effort came about after the White House grew concerned over political damage from not having a permanent presence in the Gulf Coast states. Obama’s top advisers summoned a small group of young, former campaign staffers working in the administration to the White House for a meeting, said a source with knowledge of the meeting. No one mentioned 2012 specifically, but it was clear the administration’s approach to the oil spill had the potential to hurt the president’s re-election campaign, and the issue required more hands-on attention.

“Someone recognized that all we were doing was playing defense,” an administration official said. The aides were sent to the Gulf Coast five days later.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the officials are on the Gulf Coast to ensure an effective response but did not offer details of the effort.

"This was an unprecedented disaster, the likes of [which] we haven't ever seen," Gibbs said. "We moved folks there as the disaster lasted longer and needed to ensure we had the personnel there to do what needed to be done to respond effectively."

The Florida team arrived in New Orleans to begin a series of briefings that took them to Mobile, Ala., and ultimately, Tallahassee, Fla. They set up shop in Florida's Emergency Operations Center, where they work alongside the Coast Guard and down the hall from BP and state officials.

Their task is to improve the administration’s outreach with local leaders, and to tend to political fields the White House has largely neglected. The immediate focus is on residual angst in the Panhandle, the area hit hardest by the oil spill.

But the White House also has its eye cast further south, to areas along the Gulf Coast that were pivotal in putting Obama over the top in Florida in 2008: the traditionally conservative counties around Tampa and St. Petersburg, down to Sarasota.

The political stakes are clear. Obama’s approval rating in Florida is around 40 percent. His numbers in red states that he picked up in the election, such as Virginia and North Carolina, make his 2008 campaign’s 50-state strategy look increasingly implausible for 2012, elevating the importance of Florida.

And within Florida, the Tampa Bay area on the west end of the I-4 corridor is key for Obama. Yet it is here where anxious residents, small business owners and elected officials languished for months without answers from the administration about what to expect and how to prepare for oil to wash ashore. Oil never arrived – and by most predictions never will – but the damage was done.

Now the region’s economies are suffering under the perception that there’s oil on their shores, crippling the tourism and fishing industries. BP recently opened an office in the area, and in Miami, but White House officials have yet to make an appearance. It’s created a palpable sense of disenchantment with a president many people here worked hard to get elected.

“The Obama campaign was brilliant at connecting with people emotionally, and what I’m seeing and feeling on the ground as I talk to people in Sarasota is that is not happening,” said state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, a Democrat who organized for the Obama campaign and introduced him at a rally in Sarasota two days before the election.

“And so they have some catching up to do,” Fitzgerald added. “He can’t lose those votes.”

The White House team in Florida includes Jon Wright, the Obama campaign’s deputy political director in northwest Florida who works in legislative affairs for the Commerce Department; Tom Reynolds, the campaign’s deputy communications director in Ohio and now the deputy director of public affairs at the Energy Department; Rohan Patel, the campaign’s Indiana political director who is a senior adviser to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; and Kevin Lewis, a White House press assistant who also worked on the campaign. 

For some Florida Democrats, the administration’s handling of the oil spill irritated pent-up frustration over what they say has been a lack of communication from the White House on key issues for their area, including Obama’s pre-spill decision to open up the waters off the coast of Florida to oil drilling.

“When that decision was made, to my knowledge there was no consulting of a lot of these coastal communities,” said Sarasota Mayor Kelly Kirschner, a Democrat who organized for Obama’s campaign.

For Sink, Biden’s June 29 visit to Pensacola fed into a larger perception that the administration was disengaged. She said the White House invited her to meet briefly with Biden, but instead she saw him “for about 10 seconds” and watched his speech on TV.

Biden’s communications director, Jay Carney, said in response to Sink’s comments: “The administration's response to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill has been unprecedented at every level. The vice president visited Louisiana and Florida on June 29 to assess the federal response to the spill and to meet with people affected by it. He did the same thing this week when he returned to the Gulf Coast region, this time to Alabama.”

The president’s recent weekend vacation in Maine didn’t help.

“Sometimes it’s just how you communicate, and when you go to Maine instead of coming down here it kind of sends a message,” said state Rep. Bill Heller, a Democrat and early Obama supporter whose Pinellas County district includes St. Pete Beach. “He’s my president and I like him, but at the same time that was not good for us.”

That sentiment threatens to persist despite the White House announcing Thursday that Obama plans to spend a weekend family vacation on Florida’s Gulf Coast in mid-August – although Panama City Mayor Scott Clemons welcomed the news. “I think that’s quite a statement that they’re willing to bring their family here,” he said.

The administration’s Florida team already appears to be having an impact.

In Apalachicola, a coastal community 160 miles from Pensacola Beach that produces 90 percent of Florida’s oysters, Mayor Van Johnson said his letters to the White House went unanswered for a month until he received a call last week. An administration official also recently attended a town hall in Apalachicola, where some 100 residents vented their frustrations.

“It was heated,” said Johnson, whose office is steps from a BP Community Outreach Center. “You have to realize, though. We’re not just whistling Dixie. We’re talking about survival.” 

Certainly not everyone along the Gulf Coast takes issue with the administration. Officials in Panhandle cities like Pensacola and Panama City had positive things to say about the current state of the response. Pensacola Mayor Mike Wiggins praised Biden’s stop in his city as “terrific.” Others across the coast almost unanimously said the response has gotten better, including Sink, who specifically said she believes the administration aides in Tallahassee will be “very, very helpful.”

“I’ve been hearing a lot of frustration with BP, not so much with the administration,” said Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), an Obama supporter who represents the Tampa area.

But the economic strife that the oil spill has reintroduced into the region has raised new ire. Property values are declining. Real estate is not moving. Hotel reservations are being cancelled. Customers walk into restaurants and ask if the fish is safe, if they enter at all.

With the oil well essentially capped and the Florida economy under siege, state officials are asking for more funds for a tourism PR campaign and pushing for claims to be quickly paid to small businesses.

Ken Feinberg, the administrator of the $20 billion BP claims fund, has been meeting with officials in the state, but Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) criticized the White House for not including state and local government claims under Feinberg’s jurisdiction, forcing them to deal directly with BP.

“That needs to be done by Feinberg as well so they get BP out of having to haggle with our local governments,” Nelson said. Indeed Florida’s attorney general, Bill McCollum, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, said the state will soon file a “very sizable” claim with BP.

Dan Gelber, a state senator from Miami and Democratic candidate for attorney general, described the oil spill as a “cancer” that will linger in 2012. “The impact of this is not going away,” he said.

For Obama that potentially means trouble, particularly on the Gulf Coast around Tampa Bay. He picked up far more votes in this region than Sen. John Kerry did in 2004, said Daniel Smith, a political science professor at the University of Florida, yet he performed worse in smaller counties where Democrats usually do well.

“He needs to keep the margins that he had in the I-4 corridor and keep the turnout high in southeast Florida where he had very strong support, if he wants to keep Florida,” said Smith. “That’s a steep hill to climb between now and 2012.”

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Sister Act: Reclusive Nuns Sign Record Deal

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Cows make a moo-ving escape as truck overturns

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Obama's bungling of Shirley Sherrod issue overshadows accomplishments

Obama's bungling of Shirley Sherrod issue overshadows administration's legislative accomplishments

Thomas M. Defrank


Sunday, July 25th 2010, 4:00 AM


President Obama delivers remarks on the economy (above). His worst approval rating yet, combined with the PR gaffe over Shirley Sherrod could overshadow his legislative achievements.

Monsivais/APPresident Obama delivers remarks on the economy (above). His worst approval rating yet, combined with the PR gaffe over Shirley Sherrod could overshadow his legislative achievements.

WASHINGTON - The day after skidding to his worst approval rating, President Obama and his team came across as rattled and defensive - traits Americans don't like in their leaders. 

The administration's stumble-bungling in the Shirley Sherrod melodrama is an epic case of lousy damage control - and that's putting it mildly. 

By sacking Sherrod on the strength of a doctored video posted by a blogger on the Obama-bashing right, the White House seemed afraid of offending conservative media critics - and white voters who helped elect an African-American President. 

"They're so panicky about looking anti-white that they overreact and do things so they can't be accused of being pro-black," a prominent Democratic official complained to the Daily News. "It was very sloppy execution." 

By contrast, it's difficult to imagine Bill or Hillary Clinton, who as First Lady hammered the "vast right-wing conspiracy," so easily caving to the conservative attack machine that skewed the "evidence" against Sherrod. 

Compounding the misery, the Sherrod mess stepped all over the President's marquee achievement of the week - the landmark financial regulation reform bill.

His carefully orchestrated bill-signing ceremony was swallowed whole by the media's fixation with Sherrod.

The flap capped the second straight off-message week for Obama. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was incensed when press secretary Robert Gibbs said Democrats might lose the House in November.

The White House was forced to sue for peace. Obama pledged to raise more money for the Democratic campaign committee, but the incident underscored lingering tensions between the White House and congressional allies.

The irony is that while Obama's job rating dropped to 44% in a Quinnipiac poll, his legislative accomplishments continue to pile up. 

The anemic numbers fuel reservations about his leadership style and difficulty communicating his message more crisply. 

That doesn't mean he's doomed, much less a goner for reelection a political lifetime away in 2012. Defenders say it's simply the summer doldrums, which will dissipate as the economy continues a slow recovery. 

Still, with only months until the midterm elections, more bad news is certain to raise jitters among party leaders. 

"Ronald Reagan did a lot of bad things, but people trusted him and thought he was strong," a Democratic veteran fretted. "Obama is doing a lot of great things, but unfortunately, a lot of people don't seem to trust him and think he's weak."

Read more:

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Trapped bear takes car for joy ride

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Dwindling openings for Shaq

Multiple nicknames, dwindling openings for Shaq



Howard Beck 
New York Times News Service 
Saturday, July 24, 2010 9:27 p.m. MDT


There was a time, in the not-so-distant past, when Shaquille O'Neal rumbled across the country collecting nicknames and championship rings by the bundle, his career one great, giddy joyride, set to his own thumping soundtrack. He was the Diesel and the Big Aristotle, the Big Cactus and the Big Witness and always the life of the party. 

Except the greatest, giddiest free-agent party in NBA history is proceeding without him. Shaq is the Big No-Show, which prompts the question: Is it time for the Big Farewell? 

Twenty-three days have passed since the free-agent market opened. Sixty-five players have signed new contracts, including 13 centers. Darko Milicic got $20 million. Johan Petro got $10 million.

Yet O'Neal — the Most Dominant Ever, according to the syntactically awkward title he gave himself — is unemployed. Is this the end? Possibly. 

This limbo is largely self-created. O'Neal, according to team executives, is seeking an $8 million salary. He wants a two-year deal. He is 38. He has trouble staying healthy. He can be helpful in spurts, but he is no longer the menacing figure who once ruled the paint. 

"I don't know who takes him," said an Eastern Conference scout, citing O'Neal's diminished production. 

Potential suitors keep drifting away. 

The Dallas Mavericks had interest, but balked at O'Neal's salary demands. Instead, they re-signed Brendan Haywood for $55 million over six years, traded for Tyson Chandler and signed Ian Mahinmi. 

The Atlanta Hawks were similarly intrigued, and similarly spooked by O'Neal's price tag. They are working to re-sign Jason Collins as their third center. The O'Neal talks are "dead," according to a team official. 

The Boston Celtics needed a veteran to fill the void while Kendrick Perkins recovers from knee surgery. They found a younger, cheaper O'Neal — Jermaine, 31, who signed for two years and $12 million. 

The Houston Rockets needed insurance for Yao Ming. They signed Brad Miller. 

Miami needed an enforcer behind LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the SuperFriends. Instead of calling Superman, the Heat called Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Jamaal Magloire. 

In Cleveland, where he spent last season, O'Neal is superfluous. Without James, there are no title hopes and no need for an aging All-Star center.

 "I think he can definitely help a contender," the Mavericks' owner, Mark Cuban, said in an e-mail message. "It just didn't work for us once we signed Brendan." 

There should be a soft landing spot for O'Neal, a future Hall of Famer: a contender who can offer one last shot at a title. The problem is that O'Neal torched the most fertile ground.

He would surely welcome a return to Los Angeles, where he won three championships with Kobe Bryant. But O'Neal alienated everyone from Bryant to staff members to the owner, Jerry Buss, before demanding a trade in 2004. 

In theory, O'Neal could be a backup and mentor to Dwight Howard, the Magic's All-Star center. But he has repeatedly insulted Howard and mocked Orlando's coach, Stan Van Gundy. Nor would he be easily forgiven for calling Orlando "a dried-up pond" when he bolted for Hollywood in 1996. 

The Heat provided O'Neal his last breath of postseason glory, a furious sprint to the title as Wade's co-star in 2006. That bridge was burned, too, after O'Neal's trade to Phoenix in 2008. He derided the Heat's medical staff, ripped the roster and — as he has done in nearly every city — complained about his role in the offense. 

Even O'Neal's generally amicable departure from Phoenix last year was tinged with controversy — an allegation that he stole a television-show concept from Steve Nash, the Suns' star point guard. No one in Phoenix is pushing for a reunion. 

If O'Neal is determined to retire with a contender, he might be out of options. The San Antonio Spurs are not interested. The Denver Nuggets are inundated with outsize personalities. He is too big for Utah, too demanding for Portland and too risky for Oklahoma City. 

This has always been the Shaq package: muscle, mirth and bouts of mayhem. In his prime, he was worth the gamble. In his twilight, teams must hesitate — especially at a cost of $8 million. 

To make that sum, O'Neal needs a sign-and-trade deal with the Cavaliers. That, too, is a complicating factor. And the longer O'Neal holds out for his price, the fewer jobs that remain. 

Allen Iverson, another fading superstar, miscalculated the market last summer and had to wait until September to find a job. He signed with the Memphis Grizzlies, a middling franchise in a small market, for $3 million. It is hard to envision O'Neal doing the same. 

Yet it still seems unlikely that O'Neal will remain unemployed. Although he averaged just 12 points and 6.7 rebounds last season — both career lows — he shot .566 from the field and can be an effective deterrent in the lane. 

After losing the last 29 games of the season to a thumb injury, O'Neal returned for the playoffs, looking rusty but fit. He accepted a small, defined role and seemed fine with it. 

A rival executive said O'Neal looked "better than I'd seen in a long time." But he no longer commands double teams or scrambles game plans. 

If he retires now, after 18 seasons, O'Neal will leave with four championships, three finals MVP trophies and 15 All-Star appearances. He is fifth on the career scoring list, with 28,255 points, and second in field-goal percentage, at .581. His ticket to Springfield is assured. 

In his prime, O'Neal boasted of sending All-Star centers into retirement — Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, Rik Smits and David Robinson, Alonzo Mourning and Vlade Divac. Now he marks the time by watching inferior big men snap up roster spots: Aaron Gray and Timofey Mozgov, Tony Battie and Ben Wallace. 

On his Twitter page, O'Neal still lists his location as "Cleveland/Everywhere." In the background is a promotional graphic for his TV show, "Shaq Vs." His last NBA-related tweet came on July 1, the day free agency began: "Yup, I got 720 days left." 

The Big Optimist is still waiting for that final payday. But the Big Farewell might have begun.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Fixing broken gadgets making millions for entrepreneur

free spirit" savors success

Fixing broken gadgets making millions for entrepreneur

Rita Wold
The Denver Post
Posted: 07/24/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT
Updated: 07/24/2010 09:22:50 AM MDT


Brett Mosley, founder of (Leah Millis | The Denver Post )

Brett Mosley built, a million-dollar business, based on an idea he had after his camera and iPod broke.

He spent as much money fixing the camera as the cost of a new one, while the iPod fetched nearly as much on eBay as the price of a working one. "I thought something is wrong with this system," he said.

At the time, he had been itching to quit his job as a securities analyst for mortgage-backed securities. In 2006, he posted an ad seeking broken iPods on Craigslist. So many sellers responded that Mosley needed friends across the country to pick up the iPods in different cities.

After six months, in 2007, his profits were enough to build a website, which he called Soon after, his site was featured in two widely read blogs, one at Mac/Life and the other at ReadyMade magazine's website.

Mosley renamed the website to as the options for sellers evolved to include cellphones, game consoles and Apple computers. Mosley expects to diversify its purchases further.

BuyMyTronics fixes the devices and sells many of them on eBay.

The website's revenue was $100,000 its first year, Mosley said. He projects $2 million to $3 million in sales this year, with the company buying and reselling 30,000 to 40,000 devices. The company employs 13.

"I was really blown away with how much money they gave me," said Max Gerson of Denver, who found the site during a Google search and has sold it three gadgets.

"I think it's a great concept," he said. "It exposes a niche in the market."

Mosley moved to Denver in 2006 after a downturn in the San Diego housing market forced him to look for work elsewhere. After 11 months, he quit his securities analyst job.

"I'm kind of a free spirit," Mosley said. "I really couldn't take the corporate life."

Mosley recently was named a Top of the Town entrepreneur in 5280 magazine, and national publications have cited his company for its business model.

One of the benefits of BuyMyTronics is that it keeps electronic devices out of landfills.

In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that of the 2.25 million tons of TVs, cellphones and computers ready for disposal, only 18 percent were recycled. The remaining 82 percent mainly went to landfills.

"People don't realize it's a problem, and if they do, they don't know there's a solution," said Rike Sandlin, director of environmental affairs at Intechra, a 20-year-old technology recycler.

Electronic waste makes up 75 percent of toxics infiltrating landfill space, directly threatening the soil and ground water, said Andy Hellmuth, BuyMyTronics' operations coordinator.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Candidate barred from using a racially charged phrase sues

Ieshuh Griffin_20100723084713_JPG

Ieshuh Griffin, an independent candidate for the Wisconsin state Assembly, talks to the media Wednesday, July 21, 2010, at the state Capitol in Madison. (AP Photo/Todd Richmond)



Candidate can't use controversial…


Candidate takes expletive fight to court

Ieshuh Griffin running for Wisconsin Assembly

Updated: Friday, 23 Jul 2010, 9:26 AM CDT
Published : Friday, 23 Jul 2010, 9:26 AM CDT


MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A legislative candidate from Wisconsin barred from using a racially charged phrase to describe herself on the ballot is taking her fight to federal court. 

Ieshuh Griffin, an independent running for a downtown Milwaukee seat in the state Assembly, wants to use the phrase, "NOT the 'whiteman's b----."' 

The state's Government Accountability Board on Wednesday barred her from using the language on the ballot and on Thursday she filed a federal writ of habeas corpus seeking an order allowing the wording.

The board said the wording was pejorative and therefore not allowed. Griffin argues the wording is protected free speech.

State law allows independent candidates to have five words describing themselves placed after their names on the ballot.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


VP Joe Biden criticizes Tea Party

Biden criticizes Tea Party, says voters shouldn't be 'generically angry'

Sean J. Miller
The Hill
07/23/10 05:01 PM ET

Vice President Joe Biden defended Rep. John Spratt's (D-S.C.) handling of the budget process at a fundraising event.

Vice President Joe Biden defended Rep. John Spratt's (D-S.C.) handling of the budget process at a fundraising event in Columbia, S.C. Friday.

Spratt, the House Budget Committee chairman, has come under fire from state Sen. Mick Mulvaney, his Republican opponent, for the House Democratic leadership's decision not to pass a budget blueprint in 2010.

During his speech, Biden instead noted Spratt's role in the Balanced Budget Agreement of 1997 and blamed the Bush administration for unraveling his good work.??

"This man engineered a balanced budget," Biden said, according to the poll report. "We left George W. Bush on his first day of office with a $270 billion operating surplus. These guys, our opponents, talking about balanced budgets and deficits is like an arsonist lecturing us on fire safety." 

Biden said it’s “understandable” that many Americans are angry about the nation's economic situation. But when voters start paying attention to what the GOP alternative is, Democratic prospects will improve.

??"They don’t want to think about anything other than what's made them mad," Biden said. "Come September ... they're going to have to look at the alternatives and not just be generically angry."

Biden then noted his motorcade passed a Tea Party protest en route to the event.??

"Today’s Republican Party is not your father's Republican Party. It's the party of the Tea Party, some of whom I passed outside," he said. "I'm not questioning their integrity. I'm questioning their judgment."

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Rush Limbaugh: Fox 'caved' on Shirley Sherrod

Rush: Fox 'caved' on Sherrod
Andy Barr
July 23, 2010 07:49 AM EDT


Rush Limbaugh is shown speaking at an event. | AP Photo
On his show Thursday, Rush Limbaugh blasted Fox News host Shepard Smith for not showing the original misleading video fragment that led to the firing of Shirley Sherrod. AP

Rush Limbaugh is blasting Fox News for its coverage of Shirley Sherrod, saying that one of the network’s anchors “caved” by not showing the original misleading video fragment that led to the firing of Shirley Sherrod.

The video, posted and promoted by Andrew Breitbart as a display of racism, was a sensation in conservative corners of the Internet, but Fox News host Shepard Smith explained Wednesday that his show had decided to not show the video.

“We on Studio B did not run the video and did not reference the story in any way for many reasons,” Smith said. “Among them: We didn't know who shot it, we didn't know when it was shot, we didn't know the context of the statement, and because the history of the videos on the site where it was posted. In short, we did not and do not trust the source.”

On his show Thursday, Limbaugh blasted Smith for not showing the video, suggesting that Smith showed restraint only because he didn’t have the “guts” to show it.

“Even Fox caved on this. Even poor old Shep Smith went down there and said that everybody's wrong on this, that Breitbart is wrong and so forth,” Limbaugh said during his show.

“There are only a handful of us that have the guts to put this story straight,” he said. “If we don't hammer back, nobody will. We got a bunch of cowards in the conservative media inside the Beltway which will not deal with this honestly.”

Picking up Breitbart’s defense of the video, Limbaugh argued that it was “not about Shirley Sherrod” but rather the NAACP’s recent accusation that the tea party is racist.

“This is about the continuing smearing of great patriotic Americans, which is all the left has left to do,” Limbaugh declared. “There's no racism in the tea party. They don't have racist signs.”

The conservative radio host also said that Smith and much of the rest of the media establishment were missing what the Sherrod story really revealed about the state of race relations during Barack Obama’s presidency.

“This regime is tribalizing this country,” he said. “They are dividing this country. It's not just enough to say that they are dividing us. They are tribalizing this country. We aren't Americans anymore. We're all members of different racial tribes, and we are to be pitted against each other: Black Americans, White Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans. We're all being divided up racially, by tribes.”

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Lawyer arrested for burglarizing home of former client

Police: Arrested Longwood lawyer sent taunting texts to former client



Jeff Weiner and Susan Jacobson

Orlando Sentinel

9:18 p.m. EDT, July 23, 2010


A Longwood lawyer arrested on charges of burglarizing the home of a former client taunted his victim with several text messages threatening "all out war," according to a Lake Mary police report released Friday.

Albert E. Ford II, 43, who specializes in environmental and land-use issues, and Kasee Singh, who has owned realty, development and title companies, were locked in a dispute over fees, documents show.

Singh filed a complaint in April with The Florida Bar. The group on July 13 informed Singh that his complaint was being dismissed because Ford's fees were not excessive or fraudulent. The Bar told Singh he was free to sue Ford if he wanted to pursue the matter.

Messages left for Singh were not returned. Ford's attorney could not be immediately reached.

Among the Bar documents released Friday was a Feb. 25 e-mail to Ford from Singh demanding payment and stating that his "former friend" owed more than $20,000.

"Well, you, sir, have proven to be a no good liar and I will be compensated for my work one way or another," Ford wrote, adding he would win a lawsuit against Singh so "the entire community knows what a sleazy, no good, deceitful jerk that you are."

Ford remained in the Seminole County Jail late Friday on charges of armed burglary to a dwelling, grand theft, burglary to an occupied dwelling and damaging property-criminal mischief.

Police say Ford is the man shown on security video burglarizing Singh's Lake Mary house Wednesday. He was arrested Thursday at his home, also in Lake Mary.

The armed burglary charge apparently was lodged after Singh told police that he found ammunition and gun parts near his garage. They were taken into evidence.

Singh told officers he arrived home from work to find damage to his house and pool. He also showed police several messages in which Ford offered a "last warning" and referred to Singh as a "weak puppy," the police report shows.

"I declare all out war against you," wrote Ford in the first message, received by Singh at 9:35 a.m. Wednesday, according to the report. "I warned you against trying to go after my livelihood. This is your last warning."

In two other messages in the report received minutes after the incident, Ford asks Singh, "Why are you so weak" and taunts, "What's up weak puppy."

Video and still photos released by police show a man driving up to Singh's house in a black pickup at 5:19 p.m. Wednesday, going to the front door, then walking around back and entering a pool enclosure.

Police say Ford broke the front doorbell, kicked a concrete bench into the pool and removed a pool tank and filter and canister on the side of the house near the pool. The filter and canister were found nearby.

In the video, the man, who was accompanied by a black dog — possibly a Labrador retriever — jiggles a large American flag in front of the house till it dislodges from its holder. He tosses the flag into the bed of his truck along with the tank and filter, then drives off with the dog in the pickup bed, too.

Singh showed police three .380-caliber rounds and pieces of a gun he said he found near his garage along with broken glass from a shattered light, the report says. Before he was arrested, the report states, assistants at Ford's law firm told authorities that Ford often carried a gun.

Ford graduated from Tulane University Law School in 1995 and was admitted to The Florida Bar the same year. The Bar website has no record of discipline against him during the past 10 years.

Friday, July 23, 2010


16 Most Outrageously Misleading Hotel Ads

Friday, July 23, 2010


Diners run without paying but forget purses

Dine-and-dash foiled when purses left at restaurant

Kathryn Wall


July 22, 2010

                                                                                                                                                          Three women skipped out on a $39 restaurant bill  by running out the door, but two of them are paying  a bigger price -- they forgot their purses.

Springfield police were called to the Waffle House at  3135 N. Glenstone because three women had run out on the check.

The general manager of the restaurant said the women came in around 6:15 Sunday morning.    He described the women as seemingly intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.  After about half an hour, the three women were handed a $39.31 bill.

The women then ran out the door, according to the manager, and into a gold Mitsubishi sedan. They left behind two purses. The manager called police and locked the purses in his office.

Not long after, one of the women returned and allegedly demanded the purses. The manager said  he told the woman she could wait until the police arrived. She didn't.

The police report indicates that identifying documents -- including what appeared to be a
check stub from another Waffle House in Arkansas -- were found in each of the purses.

The purses are now being kept in the police department's property room. No charges have been filed as of Wednesday

Friday, July 23, 2010


Man shot in face with shotgun on a dare

Man shot in face with shotgun on a dare in Gifford

Keona Gardner
Lamaur Stanci


Posted July 21, 2010 at 5:33 p.m.

updated July 21, 2010 at 10:59 p.m.


David Lee Martin
David Lee Martin 

GIFFORD — Indian River County deputies charged David Lee Martin, 62, with attempted murder after they said he shot a coworker in the face with a shotgun about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Community Auto Recycler’s Salvagers, 4845 45th St. 

The victim, Ronny Bailey, was listed in critical condition at Indian River Medical Center Wednesday evening, said Jim Harpring, acting sheriff’s office spokesman. Detectives Wednesday evening were still investigating the motive for the shooting. 

Martin worked as a night watchman for the salvage company and Bailey's job at the company was not known. 

Witnesses said they heard a "loud boom" and later saw Bailey lying on the ground and Martin holding a double-barreled shotgun and removing shells from the gun. 

Salvage company manager Eric Hein told detectives that Martin said he shot Bailey on a dare. Hein told detectives that Martin told him that Bailey said he didn’t have the courage to do it, "so I showed him,’’ according to an arrest report.


It was the second shooting in Gifford in five days.


Clifford Wallace
Clifford Wallace 

In the first case, the suspect in a Sunday night non-fatal shooting in Gifford was arrested Tuesday night and booked into the Indian River County Jail, the Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

Clifford Wallace, 43, of the 4400 block of 33rd Avenue, was charged with aggravated battery with a firearm and posted $10,000 bail Wednesday. 

Wallace Yorker, 61, of the 4800 block of 32nd Avenue, told investigators he was outside talking with friends near 33rd Avenue and 47th Street when he got into an argument with Wallace. Witnesses said the two men had been drinking and arguing on and off throughout the day, the warrant affidavit states. Yorker said three or four shots were fired.

Wallace told investigators he had grabbed a .38 caliber revolver and fired because he thought Yorker was going to stab him. 

Yorker was shot once in the left forearm and was treated for the injury at Indian River Medical Center. 

Detectives don’t think the two shootings are related, Harpring said.



Friday, July 23, 2010


Top Secret America an investigation into the U.S. intelligence industry

Friday, July 23, 2010


10 mind-bending optical illusions

Friday, July 23, 2010


Sheriff Candidate's Sex Tape Leaked

Dirty Politics: Sheriff Candidate's Sex Tape Leaked

Shaun Chaiyabhat


10:06 PM CDT, July 21, 2010


(Bolivar, TN 7/21/2010) The race for Hardeman County Sheriff has taken a dirty turn after a businessman leaked a taped phone call between on candidate and his mistress.

In his first run for Sheriff, John Doolen faces the dirtiest in politics where no skeleton stays hidden.

"I was caught in an extramarital affair nine years ago by my wife, which is still my wife, she forgave me," said Doolen who calls it "desperation" and "the lowest form of politics you can get".

Businessman Larry Charles Bates sent the audio recording to all registered voters in the county.

Bates has ties to Doolen's two biggest opponents and spent money on both campaigns.

Bates said he sent out the tape because his company is investing in the region and he lives in the county.

In the letter sent to voters, Bates wrote the "R-rated" private phone was recorded when Doolen was working at the Whiteville Police Department. When reached by phone, Bates would not reveal who gave him the tape, but he clearly stated whom he hopes it helps: "anybody but Doolen".

Bates threw money into T-A Cook's campaign as well as incumbent Sheriff Delphus Hicks' primary. Doolen defeated Hicks in the Democratic primary and Hicks is now a write-in candidate. Hicks denied having any part in leaking the tape and said Bates no longer contributes to his campaign. Cook did not reply to attempts to reach him.

"I wonder why this man would stoop to try to destroy a family just over a sheriff's election," said Doolen who wonders why anybody would spend this much money, and devote this much time, to a rural sheriff's race. Now his family must work through a bitter election and revisit a bitter private affair. His wife said she will stand by his side.  FAST FACTS:

(Bolivar, TN 7/21/2010) The race for Hardeman County Sheriff has taken a dirty turn after a businessman leaked a taped phone call between on candidate and his mistress.

In his first run for Sheriff, John Doolen faces the dirtiest in politics where no skeleton stays hidden.

"I was caught in an extramarital affair nine years ago by my wife, which is still my wife, she forgave me," said Doolen who calls it "desperation" and "the lowest form of politics you can get". 

Businessman Larry Charles Bates sent the audio recording to all registered voters in the county.

Bates has ties to Doolen's two biggest opponents and spent money on both campaigns.

Bates said he sent out the tape because his company is investing in the region and he lives in the county.

In the letter sent to voters, Bates wrote the "R-rated" private phone was recorded when Doolen was working at the Whiteville Police Department. When reached by phone, Bates would not reveal who gave him the tape, but he clearly stated whom he hopes it helps: "anybody but Doolen".

Bates threw money into T-A Cook's campaign as well as incumbent Sheriff Delphus Hicks' primary. Doolen defeated Hicks in the Democratic primary and Hicks is now a write-in candidate. Hicks denied having any part in leaking the tape and said Bates no longer contributes to his campaign. Cook did not reply to attempts to reach him.

"I wonder why this man would stoop to try to destroy a family just over a sheriff's election," said Doolen who wonders why anybody would spend this much money, and devote this much time, to a rural sheriff's race. Now his family must work through a bitter election and revisit a bitter private affair. His wife said she will stand by his side.



Friday, July 23, 2010


Tom Tancredo says Obama is a more serious threat to America than al Qaeda

TANCREDO: The case for impeachment

Obama has violated his oath of office over immigration

Tom Tancredo

Washington Times


5:57 p.m., Thursday, July 22, 2010



Illustration: Obama's Constitution by Alexander Hunter for The Washington Times



Eleven years ago, like every citizen elected to serve in Congress or any person appointed to any federal position, I swore an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic." 

I've always thought it significant that the Founders included domestic enemies in that oath of office. They thought liberty was as much at risk from threats within our borders as from outside, and French political thinker and historian Alexis de Tocqueville agreed with that warning. 

In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the greatest threat to our nation was clear - and foreign. While Islamic terrorism still represents the greatest external threat to America and American lives, the avowed program of the Obama regime has changed the picture in a fundamental way. 

For the first time in American history, we have a man in the White House who consciously and brazenly disregards his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution. That's why I say the greatest threat to our Constitution, our safety and our liberties, is internal. Our president is an enemy of our Constitution, and, as such, he is a danger to our safety, our security and our personal freedoms. 

Barack Obama is one of the most powerful presidents this nation has seen in generations. He is powerful because he is supported by large majorities in Congress, but, more importantly, because he does not feel constrained by the rule of law. Whether he is putting up the weakest possible defense of the Defense of Marriage Act despite the Justice Department's legal obligation to support existing law; disenfranchising Chrysler and GM bondholders in order to transfer billions of investor dollars to his supporters in the United Auto Workers; or implementing yet a third offshore oil-drilling moratorium even after two federal courts have thrown out two previous moratoriums, President Obama is determined to see things done his way regardless of obstacles. To Mr. Obama, the rule of law is a mere inconvenience to be ignored, overcome or "transcended" through international agreements or "norms." 

Mr. Obama's paramount goal, as he so memorably put it during his campaign in 2008, is to "fundamentally transform America." He has not proposed improving America - he is intent on changing its most essential character. The words he has chosen to describe his goals are neither the words nor the motivation of just any liberal Democratic politician. This is the utopian, or rather dystopian, reverie of a dedicated Marxist - a dedicated Marxist who lives in the White House. 

Because of the power he wields over budgets, the judiciary, national defense and even health care, his regime and his program are not just about changing public policy in the conventional sense. When one considers the combination of his stop-at-nothing attitude, his contempt for limited government, his appointment of judges who want to create law rather than interpret it - all of these make this president today's single greatest threat to the great experiment in freedom that is our republic. 

Yes, Mr. Obama is a more serious threat to America than al Qaeda. We know that Osama bin Laden and followers want to kill us, but at least they are an outside force against whom we can offer our best defense. But when a dedicated enemy of the Constitution is working from the inside, we face a far more dangerous threat. Mr. Obama can accomplish with the stroke of his pen what bin Laden cannot accomplish with bombs and insurgents. 

Mr. Obama's actions, not just his words, show the threat he poses. A level of government deficit spending unheard of since World War II and trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see represent an unacceptable threat to our economic security and our children's future. Mr. Obama could be the first president to guarantee that the next generation of Americans has a lower standard of living than their parents. 

Mr. Obama's most egregious and brazen betrayal of our Constitution was his statement to Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, that the administration will not enforce security on our southern border because that would remove Republicans' desire to negotiate a "comprehensive" immigration bill. That is, to put it plainly, a decision that by any reasonable standard constitutes an impeachable offense against the Constitution. For partisan political advantage, he is willfully disregarding his obligation under Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution to protect states from foreign invasion. 

There is no higher duty of the federal government and our elected representatives than to protect our nation from invasion. Multiple reports and testimony before Congress by U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials have stated that a porous border with Mexico is "a path" terrorists will use if they can. Some would-be terrorists, including at least one associated with Hezbollah, already have. Recent reports of contacts between Hezbollah and Mexican drug cartels make it all but certain that terrorists intent on destroying us will come across our southwestern border. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for the administration to do everything in its power to keep Americans safe. Our safety is not a bargaining chip for another amnesty - or for any other political objective whatsoever. 

Mr. Obama's refusal to live up to his own oath of office - which includes the duty to defend the United States against foreign invasion - requires senators and representatives to live up to their oaths. Members of Congress must defend our nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Today, that means bringing impeachment charges against Mr. Obama. 

Tom Tancredo is a former member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and five-term member of Congress from Colorado. He serves as chairman of the Rocky Mountain Foundation.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Former VP Al Gore accused by two new women of sexual assault

Thursday, July 22, 2010


House charges NY Rep. Charles Rangel with ethics violations

House panel charges New York Rep. Charles Rangel with ethics misdeeds

Michael Mcauliff


Thursday, July 22nd 2010, 6:04 PM


Rep. Charlie Rangel has been charged with multiple=

Miller for News Rep. Charlie Rangel has been charged with multiple ethics violations by a House committee.

It looks like Rep. Charlie Rangel will finally get his day in court.

A House panel said Thursday that its investigative subcommittee charged the Harlem Democrat with multiple ethics violations, and it will form an "adjudicatory subcommittee" to weigh the matter. 

"I am pleased that, at long last, sunshine will pierce the cloud of serious allegations that have been raised against me in the media," Rangel said in a statement. 

"I will be glad to respond to the allegations at such time as the Ethics Committee makes them public." 

The charges - though not immediately specified - are a serious blow to the former Ways and Means chairman and an election-year headache for Democrats. 

Rangel's critics say this could be the blow that forces him out of office. "I think he’ll have to resign," said Melanie Sloan, head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, whose group has already called for Rangel's resignation. 

"If he doesn’t, things could get ugly, Sloan said. "It’s like an indictment, and now he goes through a trial." The subcommittee, which includes no members from the investigative team, will meet next Thursday in an open "organizational meeting." 

The group ultimately will "determine whether any counts in the statement of alleged violation have been proved by clear and convincing evidence and to make findings of fact." 

Rangel has been under fire for nearly two years over his failure to report rental income, his fund-raising activities for a CUNY center named for him, and the use of four rent-controlled apartments. 

He was forced to step down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee earlier this year after the ethics panel found he took a pair of Caribbean trips that he should have known were sponsored by corporations, and therefore not allowed. 

Read more:

Thursday, July 22, 2010


The funniest marketing fails of all time

Thursday, July 22, 2010


To All City Employees Bring Your Own Toilet Paper

Cory Booker, Newark mayor, won't spend public funds on toilet paper for city employees

Aliyah Shahid


Thursday, July 22nd 2010, 12:21 PM


Mayor of Newark, Cory Booker, has prohibited spending public funds on toilet paper.

Xanthos for NewsMayor of  Newark, Cory Booker, has prohibited spending public funds on toilet paper.


For Newark city employees, there may be a new plan:  BYOTP—bring your own toilet paper.

That's because Newark Mayor Cory Booker, whose city is facing a $70 million shortfall, has prohibited spending public funds on toilet paper for city employees, according to the Star-Ledger. 

"We're going to stop buying everything from toilet paper to printer paper," the newspaper reported Booker saying on Wednesday. "Call me Mr. Scrooge, if you want, but they'll be no Christmas decorations around the city."

The New Jersey city is struggling to make ends meet. Additional belt-tightening measures include closing all city pools on Aug. 2, prohibiting city council members from having gasoline debit cards, and demanding that 1,450 non-uniformed city employees work 4-day weeks starting in September (about a 20% pay cut), according to NBC. 

The cuts are expected to save the city $10 to $15 million. Booker, 41, said he wouldn't cut property taxes. 

In Newark, which has a population of about 280,000, a quarter of the residents live in poverty. Booker said nearly 2,500 homeowners are behind on their mortgage payments. An increase in property taxes could make things worse, he said.

The tough measures after the city council deferred action on creating a municipal utilities authority, something Booker has been pushing for. The council has not passed the mayor's $600 million budget, which was proposed last month. 

Some councilmembers are not pleased with the new cuts, including Donald Payne Jr. 

"We continue to try to work with him to lessen the pain of the citizens, but at the end of the day, it's his obligation," he told the Star-Ledger.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Obama would lose Presidential election to ANY Republican if held today

Obama would lose Presidential election to Republican - ANY Republican - if held today: poll

Aliyah Shahid


Originally Published:Thursday, July 22nd 2010, 10:36 AM
Updated: Thursday, July 22nd 2010, 12:04 PM


President Obama's public approval rating has hit an all-time low.

Somodevilla/GettyPresident Obama's public approval rating has hit an all-time low.


Two-plus years before the 2012 election, a Republican candidate — any Republican candidate — has a better chance of being President than current White House occupant Barack Obama does. 

According to a new Quinnipiac University poll , Americans would rather vote for an unnamed Republican than Obama in 2012 by a 39% to 36% margin. 

Obama's approval rating is now at an all-time low. According to the poll, 44% of Americans approved of the president, while 48% disapproved. Just two months ago, 48% of voters approved while 43% did not. 

"It was a year ago, during the summer of 2009 that America's love affair with President Barack Obama began to wane," said Peter A. Brown., assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. 

And it is the confidence of those critical independent voters he is losing the most. 

"Today, his support among Democrats remains strong, but the disillusionment among independent voters, who dropped from 52% to 37% approval to 52% to 38% disapproval in the last 12 months, is what leads to his weakness overall when voters start thinking about 2012." 

It's possible that Obama could see a bump in his popularity by extending jobless benefits for 2.5 million Americans who have been unemployed for six weeks or more. The House is expected to vote on the legislation Thursday, after the Senate OK'd it Wednesday. He has said he will quickly sign the bill into law. 

The poll is good news for all Republicans — but especially good news for potential 2012 Republican candidates like Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin — all of whom are rumored to be considering a run. 

Among the hot issues, 56% of voters said they disapproved his handling of the economy, 51% did not like his handling of the Gulf oil spill and 58% disliked his policy on illegal immigration — with 60% saying the federal government lawsuit against Arizona's new immigration law was a bad idea. 

American voters said 48% to 40% that Obama does not deserve reelection in 2012. 

From July 13-19, 2,181 voters were interviewed. The poll has an error margin of 2.1 percentage points.

Read more:

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Officer leaves his patrol to meet the world's smallest porn star

Officer quits over stripper incident

Arranged meeting while on duty

Jonathan Saltzman

Globe Staff

July 21, 2010


A Stoughton police officer has resigned after internal affairs investigations found that he left his patrol to meet a stripper known as “the world’s smallest porn star’’ and that he modified his service pistol by attaching a laser-sighting device, according to the police chief.

Tweet 1 person Tweeted this Submit to Diggdiggsdigg Yahoo! Buzz ShareThis

Paul J. Shastany, who on April 5 became chief of a force that has been battered for years by scandals and corruption charges, said Officer Richard P. Bennett submitted a one-paragraph resignation letter June 30 and left the department.

Shastany said he was proud of his officers, not embarrassed. Bennett’s colleagues reported the officer’s actions, prompting dual internal affairs investigations, said Shastany, who worked in the Framingham and Natick police departments for 34 years and has vowed to restore Stoughton’s reputation.

“This is a classic example of the organization policing itself,’’ he said. “This surgically quick removal was a very beneficial thing for the organization.’’

Bennett, 28, of Fall River, could not be reached for comment.

The officer, who has been on the force about two years and who received a commendation last month for helping to secure the scene of a homicide, committed two serious forms of misconduct, Shastany said.

He deserted his patrol area during a shift in mid-June and drove to Club Alex’s in Stoughton, Shastany said. He spoke to a manager at the club and arranged to have a 3-foot-9 porn actress and stripper, known as Bridget “The Midget’’ Powers, meet him in the parking lot so he could be photographed with her while in uniform.

“This brings discredit and shame on an organization,’’ said Shastany, 55. If people in the community saw Bennett posing with the stripper, he said, “what’s the takeaway? Is that something where people say, ‘Oh, that’s awesome, look at the community policing?’ I am frankly livid that that’s something an officer thinks he could get away with.’’

In a phone call to Club Alex’s yesterday, a man who identified himself as the manager declined to comment on the incident, saying, “We’re not involved with the politics of the Stoughton PD.’’

In a separate case last month, Bennett was spotted by other officers with a laser-sighting device on his .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic service pistol, Shastany said. The officers reported it to the department’s armorer, who told the internal affairs investigator. But when the investigator confronted Bennett, Shastany said, the officer initially denied doctoring his pistol before admitting he had lied.

Shastany said that the department’s 48 officers are forbidden to modify their weapons without permission and that he was unaware of any officer who has received approval to add a laser-sighting device. But just as egregious as the modification, said Shastany, was Bennett’s lie.

“We bring ourselves to court to testify and, potentially, take liberty and freedom from some people,’’ said Shastany. “An officer that’s not truthful is basically unable to perform his duties. He can’t testify. He’s of no use to me.’’

The Stoughton Police Department has been in upheaval for years.

Former chief Manuel J. Cachopa was found guilty by a Norfolk County jury in 2009 of being an accessory to attempted extortion. The charge stemmed from allegations that he tried to hinder an investigation into whether a subordinate, Sergeant David M. Cohen, abused his authority while attempting to collect a debt from a local businessman.

Cohen was fired in August 2007 after being convicted of four counts of public corruption for his role in the alleged extortion scheme. He spent two years in jail, but was freed last October as a result of an appellate court decision and is awaiting a new trial.

In addition, three Stoughton officers were accused by federal authorities of participating in a scheme to obtain four high-definition televisions and other merchandise that they believed was stolen from a convicted criminal, who was secretly wearing an FBI wire. One of the officers — retired detective Anthony Bickerton, a former School Committee member — was recently sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

Shastany said that in recent years the department has paid dearly for failing to scrutinize job applicants to make sure they “possess the core character attributes’’ of honesty, integrity, and a desire to serve the community. He said he plans to rigorously screen job candidates, train supervisors to nurture younger officers, and seek accreditation of the department from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission.



Thursday, July 22, 2010


Woman wears underwear to rob McDonald's

Suspect Covers Face with Underwear During McDonald's Drive-Thru Theft

Posted: Jul 21, 2010 3:22 PM EDT Updated: Jul 21, 2010 11:19 PM EDT


Thief Uses Underwear to Cover Face

Police are looking for a woman who used underwear to cover her face.


Police are looking for a woman who used underwear to cover her face


Police said the suspect opened the drive-thru window at a Midwest City McDonald's and stole money from a cash register.


Police said the suspect opened the drive-thru window at a Midwest City McDonald's and stole money from a cash register


Link to News9 Video



MIDWEST CITY, Oklahoma -- A middle-aged woman wearing what appeared to be underwear over her face is wanted in connection to an overnight drive-thru burglary.

On Tuesday morning around 3 a.m., an employee of the 24 hour McDonald's, at 7025 S.E. 15th Street, noticed that money was missing from the cash register in the drive-through. 

When the manager reviewed the surveillance video, it showed a white female dressed in a black shirt, black pants, most likely a blonde wig, gloves and underwear over her face held in place with yellow paperclips, walking toward the drive-thru window. A car then pulls around the business and the female walks off. 

A short time later, the same suspect walked up to the drive through window, slid it open, reached into the business with a cash drawer key and opened up the register. The woman stole money from the cash drawer and walk off. The employee who was working the drive-through was somewhere else in the business at the time of the theft. 

"I've seen a wide variety of crime over the last 30 years but this particular case is one of the strangest based on her method of operation and weird disguise," said Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes in a press release. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Couple 'fell out of window during steamy sex'!

Couple 'fell out of window during steamy sex'!

21.07.2010 - 12:40 UHR Vergrößern

Rescue workers treat stricken lovers

Rescue workers had to treat the stricken lovers for head wounds and broken bones.


A loved-up couple apparently fell out of a building from a first floor window while they were having steamy sex!

Mirja P. (30) and 28-year-old Robert K. (names changed) fell about five metres from their precarious perch to the garden below.

According to, neighbours in Lübeck observed their sex games before their tumble.

Spicy: Mirja and Robert are not actually a couple – she is married! Mirja P. protested to BILD: “We weren’t having sex. We were just fooling around. I can’t remember the fall anymore.”

What is clear is that rescue workers took both of the supposed lovers to hospital with broken bones and head wounds.

They met Mirja's husband there – who in a bizarre coincidence had fallen from a roof a few days before! There was sex involved that time, however…

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Prisoners escape after guards put dummy in watch tower

Prisoners escape after guards put dummy in watch tower

Two prisoners have escaped from a prison in Argentina after guards placed a dummy with a football for a head in the watch tower because of a shortage of manpower.


3:48PM BST 21 Jul 2010

Prisoners escape after guards put dummy in watch tower

Prison workers said that a shortage of staff meant they were only able to man two of the 15 guard towers Photo: AP

The two men, Walter Pozo and Cesar Andres, leapt over a wire fence before scaling the perimeter wall and making their escape unnoticed by the remaining guards.

Prison workers said that a shortage of staff meant they were only able to man two of the 15 guard towers so they had to resort to using a stand in.

A prison source said: "We've made a dummy out of a football and a prison officer's cap, so that the prisoner see its shadow and think they're being watched."

"We named him Wilson, like in the film Cast Away, and put him in one of the towers," the man told the Diario Rio Negro newspaper, referring to the Tom Hanks film in which his character invents a volleyball character for company.

The source said that the video cameras monitoring the perimeter wall had stopped working some months ago. He said that he hoped the incident would alert the authorities to the problems with lack of resources and that politicians would act to improve the conditions.

Both had been serving out sentences for armed robbery at the jail in Argentina's Neuquén province. The escaped convicts, who were nearing the end of their sentences so were being held in a part of the prison with fewer security measures, have not yet been recaptured.

Nestor D'Abramo, a prison official, confirmed the two men had escaped and said they had jumped the fence before clambering over the wall.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Man shoots wife in back with toilet paper

Shot His Wife In The Back PDF Print E-mail             

Mark Childrey

Reidsville News 

Tuesday, 20 July 2010 19:00



A Reidsville, NC, area man was arrested after shooting his wife with a black powder gun and burbing her.

Early this morning, 38-year-old Lonnie Irvin Pinnix of 951 Garrison Road in Reidsville was charged with Assault With A Deadly Weapon. His bond was set at $1,000, and his court date is August 11.

It all began this morning at 1:49 – that’s when deputies responses to 951 Garrison Road near Reidsville – the home of Darlene and Lonnie Pinnix. When deputies spoke to Darlene Pinnix – she was lying in bed – crying and in severe pain.

She said she had come home about 12:15 to find her husband, Lonnie, agitated – so she went to bed. Darlene Pinnix said that Lonnie insisted she get out of bed – but before she could get up, he fired the weapon, striking her in the back.

The report from the Sheriff’s Office says that Pinnix suffered a powder burn from the close contact gunshot – so she was taken to the hospital for treatment. The Sheriff’s Office report goes on to say that Lonnie Pinnix claims to have loaded the pistol with toilet paper rather than a bullet – and shot his wife because she would not leave.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Imprisoned man charged with writing letters to wife's cat

Imprisoned Utahn mails pleading letters to wife's cat

Deseret News

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 9:18 p.m. MDT


SALT LAKE CITY — Prosecutors say a jailed South Salt Lake man found a unique way to send his wife letters begging her not to testify against him in a domestic violence case: He mailed them to her cat.

Ronald Charles Dallas was arrested in March for investigation of assaulting his wife. According to charges filed Tuesday in 3rd District Court, Dallas mailed 11 letters intended for his wife to her neighbor and to her cat, named Molly Judge.

Dallas, 32, has been ordered to have no contact with his wife, the alleged victim in a domestic violence case against him, the charges state.

In one letter, Dallas wrote: "I'm taking this assault charge to trial on the 30th. I'm scared, but I know deep in my heart that you will not testify against me no matter what, because you told me you wouldn't, but I'm scared that you will because you're mad at me still."

In another letter, Dallas pleads with his wife not to testify against him, according to court documents.

The defendant is charged with 11 counts of violation of a protective order and two counts of tampering with a witness, all third-degree felonies.

— Lana Groves

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


District Attorney charged with theft

Tunica Investigator Under Investigation

Charged in theft case

Dennis Turner


4:52 PM CDT, July 20, 2010

(Tunica, MS 7/20/2010)

A high-ranking law officer gets nabbed on a burglary charge.

But his defense attorney says it's all a misunderstanding.

It happened in Tunica County, where an investigator for the local District Attorney is in plenty of hot water.

Sources around Tunica say District Attorney's investigator Rich Cannon had as close to hero status as you can get in town.

A former football star, he went into law enforcement and was someone to look up to until talk surfaced that some items had come up missing from the home of a friend.

We're told the possible burglary happened in an apartment in the southern end of the Town of Tunica, in the past week or so.

We're told no criminal complaint was filed, but that a police report was made, which resulted in the case against District Attorney's investigator Rich Cannon.

"Rich Cannon has been charged. I certainly anticipate that this matter will be resolved and we're not going to see this go to trial I don't believe." said Defense Attorney Stan Little.

That's because Little says it's quite possible the victim will not press charges on her life-long friend.

So far there's no record of an arrest, or that Cannon had been booked into the Tunica County Jail.

We're told Rich Cannon investigated hundreds of cases for District Attorney Laurence Mellen, and never had any problems.

But Tuesday, all an Assistant District Attorney would tell us is that the man technically worked for the Tunica Sheriff's Department.

A Sheriff's spokesman says Cannon was a County employee and only commissioned through the Sheriff's Department.

We're told none of the items reported stolen were ever sold or pawned and that Cannon resigned from his job Monday, and over the weekend apologized to the friend who found the items missing from her apartment.

"They've known each other literally all their lives and some items turned up missing. There were allegations that Mr. Cannon may have been responsible for that." said Little.

During a probable cause hearing in Coahoma County Tuesday, a judge did find probable cause to prosecute Mr. Cannon. But his defense attorney says without a criminal complaint from the victim, such a case is unlikely.

An assistant District Attorney confirms what defense lawyer Stan Little told us, that this case would have no bearing on any of Cannon's current or previous investigations.

"These are two totally unrelated things from his personal life to his professaional life and there is not one shred of evidenced or even insinuation of any kind of malfeasance in the office so the people don't need to be worried that this is even something to worry about." said Little. 


Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Obama approval hits low

Poll: Obama approval hits low
Andy Barr
July 21, 2010 10:54 AM EDT



President Barack Obama’s approval rating has dropped to its lowest point yet in a new Quinnipiac University poll out Wednesday.

Only 44 percent of the 2,181 registered voters surveyed said they approve of the way Obama is handling his job. Forty-eight percent disapprove of the president’s performance.

The president’s numbers are upside-down on many of the key issues on voters’ minds.

On the economy, which consistently rates as voters’ top concern, 56 percent of those surveyed disapprove of Obama’s performance, compared with 39 percent who approve.

Fifty-one percent disapprove of his handling of the Gulf Coast oil spill, and 58 percent said the same of the president’s job on immigration.

Support for the war in Afghanistan too has hit a new low, with 48 percent saying it is the “right thing to do.” In April, 56 percent thought the war was the “right thing to do.”

All of the bad polling data for the president is reflected in the fact that a plurality say they would vote for an unnamed Republican challenger over the president in 2012.

Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed said they intend to vote for a Republican in the next presidential election, compared with 27 percent who said they plan to vote for Obama. The rest either didn’t know or said their decision would depend on who the Republican candidate was.

The poll was conducted July 13-19 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


White House apologizes to ousted Ag worker

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Obama: Mr. Incredible

Obama: Mr. Incredible

David Keene 

The Hill

07/19/10 05:34 PM ET


During the healthcare debate, President Obama and his operatives assured congressional Democrats and the media that once Obama-Care passed, all would be well. The president himself said the GOP focus on process would be forgotten quickly by a public far more interested in “policy than process.”

However, the public has made it clear it likes neither the product (about which more is being learned by the day) nor the process that led to passage. Many of the deals needed to piece together majorities in the House and Senate received enough publicity at the time to outrage many, but as time goes on revelations about additional concessions made to woo votes are justifying what were dismissed as simple partisan attacks during the debate.

Moreover, the possible consequences of the bill are making many wake up and take note.

When critics of the legislation alleged during the debate that the enforcement of its many provisions would vastly increase the power of the IRS and empower tax collectors to go where they had never gone before, administration spokesmen reacted in outrage. The president’s critics, they charged, were not just wrong, but lying to scare people.

It turns out that the critics were dead right and that if there was any lying going on, they weren’t the guilty ones. In the days since passage, we have learned that the IRS will have to hire literally thousands of new agents, auditors and analysts to make sure everyone required to buy into the program does so and to catch those who violate its many provisions as well as to collect the data that will be required of small businesses to help the government collect new taxes to pay for the scheme.

The result is that small-business owners who were promised they would benefit from the new law are up in arms as they discover that they will in fact be targets of an IRS planning to impose even more regulations on the way they operate. The absolute ludicrousness of the new requirements is that business owners will apparently now be required to file forms reporting on aggregate annual payments of as little as $600 to “vendors” like Staples or the office coffee supplier.

Meanwhile, it turns out that while some members of Congress were being promised one thing in return for their votes, others were being assured that such promises would never be kept. Thus, while members concerned about whether benefits would be extended to illegal immigrants were assured that this would not be the case, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the House were being told that they shouldn’t worry about any restrictions in the healthcare bill because they would be removed later … in the administration’s promised immigration reform bill.

Recent news reports that Democratic leaders promised Hispanic Caucus members that provisions inserted in the healthcare to win the votes of others would be removed later suggest that South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R) charge that President Obama’s denial that the healthcare bill would cover illegal aliens was a lie was dead on.

The healthcare bill as passed and signed into law prohibits illegals from buying into the so-called healthcare exchanges that will be established under the law and denies even temporary legal immigrants access to Medicaid unless they’ve been here for five years. Hispanic Caucus leaders are now charging that the administration specifically promised to eliminate these and other restrictions and are vowing to hold the president and congressional Democratic leaders to that promise.

Under the Obama plan, of course, Medicaid has been expanded and something like half of all illegals in the country would qualify if the restrictions written into the law are removed, increasing the costs of a program that is already expected to exceed the estimates publicized by the administration before its passage by tens of billions of dollars.

The monetary cost of delivering on this promise would be enormous, but the political cost could be even higher. President Obama gives pretty good speeches, but fewer and fewer Americans are paying much attention to what he says. Some are beginning to ignore him for lack of follow-through or because he’s overexposed, but increasing numbers of those who were initially shocked by Wilson’s outburst are becoming convinced that he was right. 

A president’s credibility is key to his success. When those he deals with in Washington or those on whose votes he relies for reelection conclude that his word isn’t worth much, his ability to lead vanishes.

Keene is chairman of the American Conservative Union and a managing associate with the Carmen Group, a Washington-based governmental consulting firm.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Senate Dems spent $26,000 in Albany restaurants over 6 months

Senate Democrats bulk up for election fight by spending $26,000 in Albany restaurants over 6 months

Glenn Blain


Tuesday, July 20th 2010, 9:59 PM


The NY State Capitol Building.

Benjamin for News, Martin, FreelThe NY State Capitol Building.

ALBANY - Senate Democrats must be really hungry for victory. 

The Senate Dems' campaign committee spent a whopping $26,000 on restaurants during the past six months, according to recently filed financial statements. 

"They're all associated with political and fund-raising meetings," insisted group spokesman Eric Blankenbaker.
He declined to offer specifics about any of the meetings. 

The Democrats held nearly 80 such "meetings" at dozens of restaurants across the state, including three stops at Jack's Oyster House - a fixture among Albany's power players - costing from $192 to $644, and four visits to Amber Japanese on Columbus Circle, where they rang up a $1,218 tab in just one visit. 

Democrats also satisfied their political appetites at the Ricardo Steak House, which bills itself at "The New Oasis in Harlem," Les Halles, a "typical Parisian brasserie" on Park Ave. in Manhattan, and Café Luxembourg on the upper West Side. 

The restaurant binge comes as Senate Democrats bulk up for what promises to be a bruising battle to retain their slim one-seat majority. 

Republicans, by comparison, seemed content to stay at a leaner fighting weight. They billed their campaign committee for only about 20 restaurant visits, costing about $3,200. 

"While they raised taxes and created hardship for working families, they obviously treated themselves very well," said Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif.


Read more:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The Big Question: Should Republicans join Tea Party caucus?

THE HILLThe Big Question: Should Republicans join Tea Party caucus?

Sydelle Moore
07/20/10 12:52 PM ET

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.

Today's question:

Would it be a good political move for House Republicans to join the new Tea Party caucus? Why or why not?


Bernie Quigley, Pundits Blog Contributor, said:
No. As one who had a hand in the origins of Tea Party sensibilities in New Hampshire, I would say there should no longer be a Tea Party. It has done its job, and it did a good job. It opened a door, and it will not be closed. Tea Party guys, Rand Paul in particular, are largely Libertarian purists in their true nature. They tend to gather in small autonomous groups to practice the Old Time Religion in its purity. Today, we have Judge Andrew Napolitano bringing to millions via Fox the same ideas that a few hundred shared on Libertarian websites five years ago. It would be better that the thinking behind Tea Party — especially Hayek and state sovereignty — metabolize into the mainstream where the Judge brings it rather than lock itself into a box. Politicians such as South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, who is the Republican candidate for governor, Sarah Palin and Rick Perry, governor of Texas, bring the complexity of Tea Party issues to the mainstream.  As an organic model of organization, one could look to the Newport Folk Festival that brought Bob Dylan and Joan Baez to the mainstream. Had they remained loyal to their folk roots in the provincial world of folk music their generation would never had awakened.

Bruce E. Gronbeck, professor of Political Communication at the University of Iowa, said:
That would be a backward move. Pushing indoor politics into the out-of-doors and expecting leadership and discipline is courting disaster. Just think about the '68 Democratic convention in Chicago. The Democrats didn't recover until the Watergate scandal. And even then, the party didn't get fully reorganized until the early '90s. The GOP has to do its work the other way around, courting Tea Party members as voters, maybe even giving some a place on the RNC and on some campaign staffs.

John F. McManus, president of The John Birch Society, said:
House Republicans don't need to join the Tea Party Caucus. They already have the support of practically all Tea Party members.
House Republicans (and Senate Republicans, too) should be careful not to upset Tea Party partisans by adopting positions that are too liberal, or too neoconservative (socialist and internationalist). While Tea Party support can be assured for most Republicans, it should not be taken for granted.
Of course, every voter should be aware that campaign oratory is not always matched by performance once someone gets elected. There is no substitute for an informed electorate, and this includes keeping watch over any elected official and letting one's voice be heard once the election is over. 




Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Request For iPhone Repair Denied Because Of Last Name

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Lohan reports to jail for probation violation

Lohan reports to jail for probation violation

Associated Press - 210 pm 


Story photo: Lohan reports to jail for probation violation

Lindsay Lohan is shown in a court, Tuesday, July 20, 2010, in Beverly Hills, Calif., where she was taken into custody to serve a jail sentence for probation violation. (AP Photo/Al Seib, pool)


Associated Press

LYNWOOD, Calif. - Whisked away to a women's jail in an unmarked sheriff's car after a brief hearing, Lindsay Lohan reported Tuesday for a 90-day sentence that the troubled actress likely will serve in isolation, and which may be significantly shortened.

Wearing dark denim jeans, a gray top, black corset belt and black jacket, the 24-year-old Lohan showed up at the Beverly Hills courtroom about 10 minutes late. After a short hearing, she rose and was handcuffed behind her back to serve her time for a probation violation.

Lohan was accompanied to court by her mother, Dina, and younger sister Ali, who wiped away tears after her sister was taken into a lockup.

Her estranged father, Michael Lohan, yelled, "We love you Lindsay!" as his daughter was led away. She was then taken across town to the Century Regional Detention Facility in the industrial suburb of Lynwood.

In court, Lohan was represented by her longtime attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, who had resigned earlier but never filed a formal motion with the court. Famed celebrity attorney Robert Shapiro said Friday that he had agreed to represent the actress, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Marsha Revel said Tuesday that he had told her hours earlier that he would not take the case.

Holley said after the hearing that Lohan had decided she did not want Shapiro to represent her.

"She's stepped up, she's accepted responsibility," Holley said of her client. "She's scared as anyone would be, but she's as resolute and she's doing it."

Prosecutor Danette Meyers said she thought Lohan was receiving the appropriate sentence. She said the case, which is atypical for the attention it receives, spotlighted that drunken driving is a serious offense with consequences. "Someone can get killed," Meyers said. "Hopefully it has opened a number of eyes."

While the judge did not address Lohan's tardiness Tuesday directly, she did order her to report to probation officials within a day of her release from jail. The judge had previously ordered Lohan to report within two days.

Revel also has ordered officials not to allow Lohan to serve any of her sentence on house arrest or work release.

Two weeks ago the judge determined that the "Mean Girls" star violated her probation by missing seven alcohol education classes since December. She had been on probation since August 2007 after pleading guilty to misdemeanor drug charges and no contest to three driving charges.

Lohan, a prolific user of the microblogging site Twitter, posted a message roughly 12 hours before her court appearance referencing her looming incarceration.

"The only 'bookings' that I'm familiar with are Disney Films, never thought that I'd be 'booking' into jail eeeks," Lohan posted.

The jail and rehab stints have left some of the actress' projects in limbo, including her planned portrayal of porn star Linda Lovelace in a biopic.

Once considered an up-and-coming star, Lohan has in recent years been better-known as a tabloid staple and for the criminal case she has struggled to put behind her.

Her probation had to be extended for a year to give Lohan more time to complete her alcohol education courses and Revel ordered weekly attendance in December. But the actress didn't complete the sessions as ordered and missed a court date in May, setting a stage for her return to jail.

She is expected to serve her time — probably a quarter of her sentence or less — in isolation at a women's jail in the industrial suburb of Lynwood. The facility has hosted several female celebrities, including Paris Hilton, Nicole Richi, Michelle Rodriguez, Khloe Kardashian and very briefly, Lohan.

She will be forced to wear a jail-issued jumpsuit and be given a set of simple toiletries that all inmates receive: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, comb, deodorant, shampoo and shaving implements. Hilton received one for her own secluded 23-day stay in 2007 for reckless driving charges.


McCartney reported from Beverly Hills. AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


World's weirdest x-rays

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Third pleads guilty in Obama loan case

July 20, 2010

Third pleads guilty in Obama loan case

The Associated Press

DES MOINES -- A third former employee of a U.S Department of Education contractor has pleaded guilty to illegally accessing President Obama's student loan records.

Patrick Roan, 51, of Iowa City, pleaded guilty in federal court July 13 to one count of fraud activity connected with computers, a misdemeanor. It wasn't immediately clear what maximum punishment he could face when he is sentenced Oct. 12.

Neither Roan's attorney, Rockne Cole, nor a U.S. attorney's office spokesman immediately responded to messages seeking comment.

Roan was one of nine Vangent Inc. employees accused of accessing Obama's student loan records. Two others pleaded guilty last month to a charge of exceeding authorized computer access and face up to a year in prison and $100,000 fine at their Sept. 24 sentencing.

The other six former employees have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to stand trial in August and September. Prosecutors say the nine accessed Obama's records between July 2007 and March 2009.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Shirley Sherrod Resigns USDA Job After Admitting Use Of Racial Preference During NAACP Banquet

Shirley Sherrod Resigns USDA Job After Admitting Use Of Racial Preference During NAACP Banquet (VIDEO)

Huffington Post   

Adam J. Rose

First Posted: 07-20-10 04:41 AM   |   Updated: 07-20-10 07:08 AM


Shirley Sherrod Usda Naacp

Shirley Sherrod, who resigned Monday from the USDA.

Shirley Sherrod, a USDA official in Georgia, has resigned after publicly admitting that race played a factor in her decision to limit how much aid would be given to a white farmer.

Sherrod, who is African American, made the comments during a local NAACP banquet on March 27, according to information displayed on the video. A clip of her speech first appeared Monday morning on and aired that evening on Fox News.

Her resignation as the agency's state director of rural development was quickly accepted by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. He cited a zero-tolerance policy and told CNN that he was working to "reverse the checkered civil rights history at the department."

In her controversial speech, Sherrod discussed the first time she was "faced with having to help a white farmer save his farm." She claimed that during the conversation, the man "was trying to show me he was superior to me."

"I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland," Sherrod told the crowd. "And here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land."

"I didn't give him the full force of what I could do."

During the portion of her speech posted online, she mentioned that Chapter 12 bankruptcy had just been enacted for family farmers. That protection started in 1986, more than two decades before Sherrod joined the USDA. She added that the incident "opened my eyes."

The website for the department Sherrod last oversaw has a notice clearly stating that the USDA "prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status."

Sherrod appears to have a long record in the civil rights movement prior to her USDA appointment, which came almost exactly a year ago. It's possible that she has been on the other side of the "checkered history" that Vilsack referred to.

The Rural Development Leadership Network lists her as a board member and has a page congratulating her on the appointment. In that announcement, they state that Sherrod and her husband, Charles, were part of a multi-million dollar settlement against the USDA based on civil rights claims from the 1980s. The case wouldn't be settled until May 12, 2009. She was appointed to her USDA job two months later.

A picture on the RDLN website shows her standing with her husband next to a sign for the Charles M. Sherrod Civil Rights Park in their hometown of Albany, GA.

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous issued a statement late on Monday saying his organization was appalled by Sherrod's "shameful" actions.

The NAACP has recently been embroiled in a heated debate after passing a resolution condemning the tea party movement for tolerating bigotry. Mark Williams, spokesperson for the Tea Party Express, responded by calling the NAACP racist and was later expelled from the National Tea Party Federation for a racially charged blog post. Tea party activists are now planning a summit to combat racism.

According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the local chapter of the NAACP has also firmly rejected Sherrod's comments. They further report:

Sherrod, 62, lives in Albany. She was appointed to her position in by Obama in July 2009 to manage more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs, and more than $114 billion in federal loans.

Before that, she had served as director of the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Fox News Glenn Beck: I could go blind next year

Fox News personality Glenn Beck: I could go blind within the next year

Aliyah Shahid


Tuesday, July 20th 2010, 8:30 AM


Fox News personality Glenn Beck may be losing his eyesight, he acknowledged to a crowd in Utah on Saturday.

Caulfield/WireImageFox News personality Glenn Beck may be losing his eyesight, he acknowledged to a crowd in Utah on Saturday.



The Fox News personality was diagnosed with macular dystrophy and could lose his eyesight within the next year. 

A teary-eyed Beck told a crowd of 6,000 fans during his American Revival tour on Saturday that he went to a doctor after having difficulty focusing his eyes. 

"So, I went to the best doctor I could find -- while I could still go the best doctor I could find," Beck said, taking a jab at healthcare reform. 

Macular dystrophy is a rare genetic condition, which can cause vision loss that grows worse over time. Patients often experience difficulty driving, reading and identifying faces. 

Beck asked the doctor if the condition was a "Jerry Lewis thing." The physician told him he could go blind in the next year -- or he might not. 

"I said, ‘Did you just charge me a thousand dollars for knowing what I already knew my whole life?' I knew that at 3! You might go blind someday. You might not," he joked. 

But then Beck became serious, and his eyes welled with tears and his voice quivered, "Lord if you need my eyes, they're yours," he said. 

The conservative pundit said he can deal with not being able to see his family, because he already knows what they will look like. But, he's terrified about not being able to read. 

"I'm too darn lazy to learn Braille," he said. 

On Monday, Beck acknowledged his condition on his show. He said he is going to deal with his eyesight problems with a smile. 

"I'm grateful that I've had them," he said of his eyes. "I don't want to lose them, but I'm grateful that I have them."

Read more:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Is this really an emergency? Judge ask police who called him...

Memo: Cops can only call judges overnight in emergency situations

Orange-Osceola Chief Judge Belvin Perry issued a memo defining when judges can be called during non-business hours to help officers.


Bianca Prieto

Orlando Sentinel

10:19 p.m. EDT, July 19, 2010



Ongoing issues between Orlando police and judges on call during nights and weekends prompted a meeting Monday afternoon to help clarify when police should seek out judges to sign arrest and search warrants and how jurists should respond.

Police Chief Val Demings met with Orange-Osceola Chief Judge Belvin Perry on the heels of a memo Perry wrote last week outlining what constitutes the need for "emergency judicial intervention" outside normal court hours.

During the weekend, the on-call judge turned away an Orlando police officer seeking an arrest affidavit for a suspect in a domestic-violence case at 4:50 a.m. Sunday. Judge John Adams questioned whether the warrant was an emergency that needed to be handled during overnight hours and offered instead to meet the officer at 7:30 a.m. In this case, although the abuser was at large, the victim had been moved to a safe place, so the officer agreed.

"We are not on duty to be subject to calls 24 hours a day," Perry said Monday. "Every judge who is on emergency duty has a regular docket they have to attend to."
Now, the Orlando Police Department and court officials are trying to hash out the best policy for involving judges in after-hours intervention. It's an issue because crime is a 24-hour-a-day business, and officers must be able to request warrants for searches or arrests at all hours.

"There had been an issue in the past with a couple of judges who said, 'Is this really an emergency that you would call us in the middle of the night?'" said Natasha Permaul, OPD's legal adviser. "We have come up with some language to [define] when is the right time for the officers to contact the judge in the middle of the night."

In May, Demings sent a written directive to her officers outlining that they were no longer allowed to contact the on-duty judge during non-business hours to get arrest warrants in domestic-violence cases. Confusion about what constitutes an emergency prompted the directive, Permaul said. The temporary order — meant to offer some direction until formal guidelines were issued by Perry — expired in early June.

Last week, Perry sent a memo to all law-enforcement agencies in Orange and Osceola counties outlining when an officer should contact the on-call judge during non-business hours. The guidelines were crafted with input from OPD, Permaul said.

"Emergency-duty judge intervention is only to be sought in rare and extreme circumstances where the law or totality of the circumstances requires immediate action," the memo states. "Most 'emergencies' can be handled during normal court hours utilizing existing procedure."

The memo directs officers who need a judge to sign an arrest or search warrant to be sure that the situation is urgent and that the "lack of immediate action would result in the loss of evidence or the imminent escape of a suspect."

If officers don't know the suspect's identity or whereabouts, they shouldn't call the judge, the memo says. But officers should call the judge if they know who the suspect is, but can't find that person, and the "threat to the safety and welfare of the citizen is great."

But this weekend, while Judge John Adams was performing his weeklong on-call duty — which each judge must perform about once a year — he questioned the officer's call because he did not feel the situation fit the emergency criteria.

In that case, the officer was seeking an arrest warrant for a man who beat up his ex-girlfriend two nights in a row and was on the loose. The woman was removed from her home and taken to a safe place, officers said. The officer called Adams at 4:50 a.m. Sunday asking the judge to sign the warrant.

Adams responded by reading Perry's memo to the officer and then asked to speak to a supervisor.

When reached Monday, Adams told the Orlando Sentinel he found probable cause to sign the affidavit, but questioned whether it fit the definition of emergency. He told the officer to instead meet him at the juvenile courthouse at 7:30 a.m., where Adams would be presiding over first appearances.

But an officer didn't meet Adams until 4 p.m. Sunday, nearly 12 hours after the first call to the judge.

"It was clear that this was not an emergency situation" because officers waited several hours to get the affidavit signed, Adams said. "If it had been an emergency, they could have had it signed much, much sooner."

Permaul said she stands behind the officer's decision to call the judge in the middle of the night and said a miscommunication resulted in the time lag.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Wesley Snipes could be headed to federal prison

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Lindsay Lohan's new lawyer quits before she heads to jail

Lindsay Lohan's just-hired lawyer Robert Shapiro quits the night before she heads to jail: report

Nancy Dillon


Tuesday, July 20th 2010, 4:00 AM


Sources say Lindsay Lohan, who is set to begin her 90-day jail sentence Tuesday, is a 'nervous, fidgety' mess.

POOLSources say Lindsay Lohan, who is set to begin her 90-day jail sentence Tuesday, is a 'nervous, fidgety' mess.


LOS ANGELES - Lindsay Lohan was reportedly scrambling for a new lawyer Monday night as she prepared to go to jail Tuesday.

Famed defense attorney Robert Shapiro - who was expected to make an eleventh-hour request for a judge to reduce or restructure LiLo's 90-day sentence - walked out on the troubled actress Monday night, reported. 

It was not immediately clear why Shapiro, a member of O.J. Simpson's Dream Team, quit on Lohan. 

Shapiro refused to comment Monday night, but sounded like he was still preparing to rep Lohan in court. 

"The only comments I will make will be in open court," he e-mailed the Daily News. 

Lohan, 24, last week checked into a sober living facility founded by Shapiro, whose son died in 2005 from a drug overdose. 

Shapiro agreed to take on the "Mean Girls" star's case on the condition she accept a "requirement of jail."

Lohan's previous attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, parted ways with the starlet this month without explanation. 

As her final hours of freedom ticked down, Lohan seemed to be coming to terms with her fate. 

"The only 'bookings' that I'm familiar with are Disney Twitter page Monday night. 

Lohan has been ordered jailed for 90 days for violating her probation on her DUI case, but she'll probably serve only a quarter of that time because of overcrowding. 

But even a few days at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Los Angeles was enough to crack one ex-inmate. 

"I was depressed and crying every day," Shirley Alexander, 37, of Hawthorne, Calif., told the Daily News. "I was counting the bricks in the walls." 

Lohan is already "a nervous, fidgety mess," a source told "She has not been able to sleep and has barely been eating." 

Read more:

Monday, July 19, 2010


Bank robber takes the money leaves flowers

Manhattan bank robber takes off with the money, leaves bouquet of flowers

John Lauinger


Monday, July 19th 2010, 6:31 PM


The bald-headed bandit put a note inside the flowers at the Bank of Smithtown in Chelsea. 


The bald-headed bandit put a note inside the flowers at the Bank of Smithtown in Chelsea.


Call this crook the Romeo robber.

Cops released security-camera images Monday of a thief who knocked off a Manhattan bank last week and gave a teller a bouquet of flowers.

The bald-headed bandit put the bouquet to good use, pulling a note from inside the flowers and handing it to a teller at the Bank of Smithtown on Seventh Ave. in Chelsea last Thursday.

"Give me all your $100's, 50's!" the note read. "Don't be a hero!"

The teller complied,forking over an undisclosed amount of cash, police said.

The robber left the bouquet behind - and took off on foot, police said.

The robber, who struck shortly before 9 a.m., was described as a black man in his early 30s, about 5-foot-9. He wore a Navy blue T-shirt, jeans and white sneakers.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Man looking for hugs is arrested

Police: Drunken man rejected for hugs, throws punches


The Press-Citizen • July 19, 2010


Police said a drunken Iowa City man went looking for hugs, but ended up dishing out punches instead Sunday night.

Iowa City Police responded to Town & Campus Apartments, 1100 Arthur St., for a report of a drunk man “being aggressive and punching cars,” at 9 p.m., according to a criminal complaint. After speaking with the complainants, police said they were approached by the suspect, 23-year-old Dominique J. Conway, who lives at the apartment building. 

Police said Conway told them he got mad after he tried to hug a man and got pushed away. Conway responded by punching and denting the hood of a Ford Explorer, police said. Conway also punched the “would-be hug recipient” in the face, causing him pain, police said. 

Police said Conway had a blood-alcohol content of .086. He was arrested and charged with simple assault and fourth-degree criminal mischief, a serious misdemeanor.




Dominique James Conway


Dominique James Conway

Monday, July 19, 2010


Sarah Palin gets slammed for poor grammar

Sarah Palin uses Twitter to criticize Ground Zero mosque, gets slammed for poor grammar

Michael Sheridan


Monday, July 19th 2010, 1:16 PM


Sarah Palin used Twitter to voice her opinion about a controversial Muslim community center being proposed for lower Manhattan.

Krupa/APSarah Palin used Twitter to voice her opinion about a controversial Muslim community center being proposed for lower Manhattan.

The former governor of Alaska has something to say to Muslims in New York: Stop the Ground Zero mosque. 

Sarah Palin posted the remark on Sunday in an effort to involve herself in a local city issue regarding a controversial community center near Ground Zero.

"Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts," she tweeted. "Pls reject it in interest of healing." 

The mosque, which would be included in a 13-story, $100 million Islamic community center and prayer space on Park Place near Ground Zero, has been under fire from residents for several weeks. 

Originally called the Cordoba House, developers recently changed its name to Park51, in reference to his address. 

Although the final version of the tweet was grammatically correct, Palin went through several incarnations of the post, deleting three versions before arriving at the above statement. 

Bloggers were quick to jump on her first tweet, which included some questionable grammar: 

"Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate," she wrote on Sunday afternoon. 

"Refudiate," however, is not an actual word. Palin deleted the post, but not before it was picked up by bloggers, who were quick to mock the one-time vice presidential candidate. 

In response to the critics, Palin posted another tweet that referenced former President Bush, whose inventive use of the English language was often ridiculed. 

She also suggested she was channeling playwright William Shakespeare with her writing. 

"'Refudiate,' 'misunderestimate,' 'wee-wee'd up.' English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!" she posted Sunday night. 

It is not clear what sparked Palin's posts regarding the mosque, which came on the heels of Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams getting kicked out of his position over an offensive blog post he wrote regarding "colored people." 

Palin had also criticized the NAACP last week for labeling the Tea Party as "racist. 

Read more:

Monday, July 19, 2010


What does Bill Clinton want to do before he dies

Mon Jul 19, 9:20 am ET

What does Bill Clinton want to do before he dies?

Andrew Golis


Mon Jul 19, 9:20 am ET

It sounds like Bill Clinton is thinking of taking his post-presidency in a more cinematic direction. 

At the 18th International AIDS Conference on Monday, Clinton noted that he is now old enough to join Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson's fictional characters from "The Bucket List" in making a list of things to do before he dies. Clinton says he has an A-list of important things, and a B-list of "fun" things he could do without. 

On his A-list:


 Over 33 million people live with HIV, and each year another 2.7 million cases are reported. Clinton is at the Vienna conference to help raise awareness and money to battle a disease that, though less in the national consciousness than it has been in years past, continues to devastate large parts of the world. 

On Clinton's lighter B-list:


Monday, July 19, 2010


Michael Jordan shares his disappointment of Heat Big Three

Jordan shares his disappointment of Heat Big Three

July 18, 2010
Ken Berger Senior Writer

    LAS VEGAS -- The latest Big Three backlash came Sunday from none other than Michael Jordan, who contributed his weighty opinion to the debate about whether LeBron James should've teamed up with two superstars instead of trying to beat them.
Michael Jordan preferred to face off against superstars like Larry Bird -- not play alongside them. (Getty Images)  
Michael Jordan preferred to face off against superstars like Larry Bird -- not play alongside them. (Getty Images)  

"There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team,'" Jordan said after finishing tied for 22nd in the American Century Championship golf tournament in Stateline, Nev. "But that's ... things are different. I can't say that's a bad thing. It's an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys."

Those last few words, said in an interview with NBC Sports, will resonate and hang over James all season, the way Jordan's legacy has hovered over the first seven years of his career. Clearly, I am not alone in believing that James broke ranks in a legacy-damaging way by teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh instead of trying to go through them in the eternal struggle for championships that the great players have always faced.

"Mike and I are in 100 percent agreement on this," Charles Barkley told the Arizona Republic this week. "If you're the two-time defending NBA MVP, you don't leave anywhere. They come to you. That's ridiculous. I like LeBron. He's a great player. But I don't think in the history of sports you can find a two-time defending MVP leaving to go play with other people."

Disappointment from their elders is only part of the backlash James and Wade -- more so than Bosh -- will face as they embark on their magical mystery tour. The other is that the Heat will be a bull's-eye for criticism, and easy for the competition to root against. This is something Wade addressed in an article published Sunday by AOL Fanhouse -- one in which he made an unfortunate comparison between the Heat losing a couple of games in a row and the collapse of the World Trade Center.

"We enjoy the bull's-eye," Wade said. "Plus, there's going to be times when we lose 2-3 games in a row, and it seems like the world has crashed down. You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade is coming down again, but it's not going to be nothing but a couple basketball games."

I have to assume that Wade didn't intend to equate losing basketball games to a murderous act of war against innocent civilians, but these are the kind of tone-deaf quotes you get sometimes in sports. And you get them in any era. It was Jordan, remember, who came across as a shameless, out-of-touch shoe salesman when he explained not endorsing a black Democrat for U.S. Senate in his home state of North Carolina by saying, "Republicans buy sneakers, too."

The point Wade was trying to make, I think -- and one he made poorly -- is that anything less than a championship for the Heat will be considered a failure. Along those lines, several GMs and personnel people I spoke with during Las Vegas Summer League aren't convinced that the Larry O'Brien Trophy should be shipped to South Beach just yet.

"The Lakers are still the better team," one executive said. "The question is, how are those guys [in Miami] going to fit together?"

Wade himself has acknowledged that the Lakers are still the team to beat, which is the only respectful way to go about it. The two-time defending champions are the two-time defending champions until somebody changes that. Personnel people digesting the impact of the Heat's Big Three, and the supporting cast assembled around them so far, shared two overriding opinions: 1) As difficult as it was for Tom Thibodeau to create a defensive scheme to combat LeBron or Wade while serving as the Celtics' defensive architect in Boston, it's going to be infinitely more difficult to stop both of them; and 2) As impressive as some of Miami's complementary signings have been, the pressure on the supporting cast to deliver -- which all championship supporting casts must do -- will be immense.

What if the Heat need Joel Anthony to knock down a couple of free throws in the final seconds of a road playoff game? What if they need Mike Miller to hit a contested 3-pointer from the corner in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against Boston or Orlando?

"Mike Miller has never played in a game like that," one of the personnel execs said.

But in the end, the pressure will fall on the shoulders of Wade and James. How evenly they share the responsibility and the glory remains to be seen.

As for Jordan, he couldn't have summed up my feelings any better when it comes to the Miami Big Three -- the Dream Team or the Scheme Team, depending on your perspective. One executive scouting Summer League games told me he hadn't heard Jordan utter those words about Bird and Magic, but he didn't need to.

"When I brought the subject up, he was just typing on his Blackberry," the executive said. "And he was just shaking his head; you know, like when you're disappointed? He didn't say anything. He was just pecking away on his Blackberry."

He didn't say anything because he didn't have to.

"Exactly," the executive said.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Female bank robber stuck in entrance door

July 19, 2010

Female suspected in 7 bank robberies arrested

Baltimore Sun

A woman who used heavy makeup as a disguise and is suspected of robbing seven Baltimore area banks was arrested on Saturday when a teller hit a panic button, trapping her inside a vestibule until police arrived.

Special Agent Richard J. Wolf, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore FBI office, said the 27-year-old suspect became "extremely agitated" while stuck Saturday between the entrance way doors of the Madison Bank in the 6800 block of Harford Road.

Wolf identified the suspect as Darion Randle of Landsdown. She had been sought since early July after the FBI says six banks were robbed by a woman wearing a long black wig and used notes to threaten tellers that bank employees and customers would be injured if she didn't get money. Authorities say that female bank robbers are "rare."

Police say that they've linked four bank robberies in Baltimore County and three in the city to the woman.

The latest occured Saturday about 11 a.m. at the Madison Bank on Harford Road. Wolf said the woman -- who sometimes wore an Arab head covering, but not this time -- handed a teller a note and got money. The teller pushed the alarm button as the suspect left, trapping her in the vestibule.

A city police officer said cops rushed to get a picture of her before her makeup came off. Wolf said her makeup was melting in theheat. "She was extremely agitated," he said. ""She tried to bang the glass off. She pulled some weather stripping. Her make-up was running because of the heat. There was a lot of make-up."

Monday, July 19, 2010


Man upset over left wing politics shoots at police

Monday, July 19, 2010


Man tries to shoot wife but shoots son instead

Man accused of shooting teen son in Ocoee to face judge today

Rafael Rodriguez


Ocoee man Rafael Rodriguez, who is accused of shooting his teenage son in the ear, appears before a judge at the Orange County Jail on Monday. He faces attempted first-degree murder charges. (Orange County Jail, Orange County Jail / July 19, 2010)


Walter Pacheco

Orlando Sentinel

8:53 a.m. EDT

July 19, 2010

The Ocoee man accused of shooting his teenage son in the ear after attempting to shoot his wife will appear before a judge Monday afternoon.

Rafael Rodríguez, 44, is at the Orange County Jail on a charge of attempted first-degree murder with a firearm as well as a count of attempted first-degree murder.

He is scheduled to appear before Orange County Judge Deb Blechman sometime after 1:30 p.m.

Although Rodríguez is currently being held without bond, his initial appearance before a judge today will determine if there was probable cause for the arrest and if he can be released on a bond. Jail records show he is considered a violent offender.

Ocoee police investigators said the incident started after a heated argument between Rodríguez and his wife at their Palastro Way home Saturday night.

Records show Rodríguez had been drinking heavily that day and had become intoxicated and argumentative.

For some reason, he pulled out a .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol and pointed it at his wife. He did not fire the weapon. But their 17-year-old son, who was at home with his girlfriend, witnessed the alleged act and rushed to help his mother.

She told her son to keep away, but Rodríguez allegedly fired the weapon — striking his son behind the ear, police said.

Investigators said the woman struggled with her husband after the shooting and took his gun. Rodríguez left the house in the family car and was found passed out on the side of the road near Apopka on Sunday at 12:40 a.m.

Rescue crews transported the boy to Arnold Palmer Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Det. David Gray of the Police Department said.

Court records show Rodríguez has a history of aggressive behavior and a domestic-violence arrest.

Ocoee police arrested him in 2009 on charges of aggravated assault with a firearm, domestic battery by strangulation and domestic violence battery.

The state dropped the case because his wife chose not to prosecute, court records show.

He also was arrested in 1998 on charges of resisting an officer without violence. The state also dropped that case.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Chicago police officer shot and killed 3rd in two months

Uniformed Chicago officer is shot, killed at South Side home after guarding Daley's house

Officer Michael Bailey — the third officer killed in two months — was cleaning his car at 6 a.m. when men approached and they exchanged gunfire, police say



Jeremy Gorner, Serena Maria Daniels and Caroline Kyungae Smith

Tribune reporters

10:09 p.m. CDT, July 18, 2010


The third Chicago police officer killed in the last two months was gunned down Sunday morning by attackers trying to rob him or steal his new Buick Regal, a gift the officer bought for himself in anticipation of his retirement, police said.

Officer Michael Bailey, 62, a 20-year veteran due to hang up his gun in weeks, was shot in front of his Park Manor home after an overnight shift guarding Mayor Richard Daley's house. Bailey, a married father of three, was about a month away from turning 63, the mandatory retirement age for Chicago police officers.

Bailey was in his uniform shining his prized black Buick when he was attacked about 6 a.m., a police source said. He identified himself as an officer before exchanging gunfire with at least one attacker, the source said, citing early reports.

Ryane and Angelece Cook, Bailey's neighbors, were already awake when they heard gunshots. She looked out the window but didn't see anything. Then the couple heard Bailey's daughter Jada screaming, "They shot my daddy! Somebody shot my daddy!"

Bailey's son, Michael, was home, grabbed one of his father's guns and ran outside to defend him, police said. It was unclear whether the son fired any shots at the attackers. A neighbor, Idella Jennings, said she saw him standing over his father yelling, "Daddy, get up!"

Bailey was lying on the ground in front of his car. Nearby was a bottle of Windex.

"He's had the car three weeks. Every time he came home, he wiped it down," said Angelece Cook, whose husband said he ran to Bailey after shooting and   felt his pulse.

The shooting took place about 6 a.m. in the 7400 block of South Evans Avenue, police said. Bailey was pronounced dead at 6:41 a.m. at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

At the scene later, there were as many as 17 police evidence markers, apparently showing the locations of shell casings and what appeared to be a handgun. Three guns were found at the scene, one of them belonging to Bailey, police said. Dozens of officers scoured the scene until early evening.

According to police bulletins, officers are seeking an older-model tan Ford pickup truck that may have bullet holes on the driver side. It was last seen heading south on Evans.

The killing marks the third shooting death of a Chicago officer in the last two months. On July 7, Officer Thor Soderberg was in uniform leaving a police facility in the Englewood neighborhood when he got into a struggle with a man who took his gun and shot him. On May 19, Officer Thomas Wortham IV, just back from a second tour in Iraq, was shot outside his parents' home in Chatham.

The Bailey and Wortham shootings have striking similarities. Wortham's killers also tried to rob him, attempting to steal his motorcycle. Wortham's father, a retired Chicago police officer, came to his son's aid. He retrieved his gun inside the home and shot at his son's assailants.

Ald. Freddrenna Lyle, 6th, who represents parts of Park Manor and the part of Chatham where Wortham was killed, said some residents have considered leaving the area.

"How do you convince people to stay in a community when you have armed police officers shot down?" Lyle said. "It's devastating. ... It's like a war out here. I never thought that in my life it would be this way."

Lyle said the problems in the community are a result of the loss of the blue-collar jobs and the inadvertent effects of tearing down public-housing high rises and sending their occupants into neighborhoods where they have fewer nearby resources.

Bailey was assigned to the Central District and had been stationed overnight at the mayor's home.

"This is a tragic, stunning reminder of the senseless violence that stalks too many of our neighborhoods," Daley said in a statement. "Another Chicago police officer gunned down, this time just weeks before leaving a long career of protecting Chicago. It's absolutely outrageous. … I knew him. He was a good man. He did not deserve this."

Bailey dedicated his life to public service, his family said, noting that he was a firefighter before he became an officer.

Friends and family described Bailey as a soft-spoken gentleman. He reportedly lived in his Park Manor home for more than 25 years and was considered an elder on the block.

"Everyone respected him," said Howard Davis, 34, who grew up on the street. "He was a cool, mellow guy."

Bailey, vice president of the 74th Street Evans block club, was helping plan a block party for senior citizens. Members of the club were concerned about the three abandoned two-story homes on the block.

Ryane Cook, the president of the club, said he and Bailey talked daily about how to respond to the area's recent violence and crime.

"Being a Chicago police officer, he gave us a lot of insight on getting trespassers arrested, filing complaints," Cook said.

Bailey also tried to keep kids in the neighborhood busy by teaching them martial arts in his yard, Cook said.

He was a "great Zen master" who practiced tai chi, said Stephanie Tatum, who has known Bailey since they were classmates at Chicago State University. He was the godfather of her two sons.

Other residents said Bailey was an inspiration in the community.

"Back in high school, I could have gone two different ways," said Vincent Dove, 32, of Dolton, who grew up a few houses away from Bailey. "He'd tell me that my mom worked too hard for me not to go to school."

Dove heeded the officer's advice and went to college.

Bailey's children and his wife, Pamela, called friends and family Sunday morning shortly after the shooting to tell them what happened. John Holmes, Pamela Bailey's cousin, said, "She's pretty torn up."

"It's a flip of the coin when you walk out of your house," said Holmes, a retired police officer. "Everyone's sad about this. This is happening too frequently."

Mark Donahue, president of the police union, called Bailey's death a "great loss."

"The frequency which we are experiencing this is extremely disturbing, but it does go along with what's happening in our communities," Donahue said. "It's unfortunate. Times have come where we have to readjust with how we police, to bring situations like this to an end."

Bailey's death was "heartbreaking," especially given Bailey's years on the force, Officer Kevin Brown told WGN-TV. The Central District already had plans under way for Bailey's retirement party.

Officers who worked with Bailey told WGN-TV that he loved his job so much that he would not have been retiring if he weren't required by law to do so. They said Bailey always went out of his way to pass along knowledge to younger officers — and he was affectionately known as "old-timer."

Police Superintendent Jody Weis was out of town Sunday tending to the affairs of a family member who recently died, a police spokesman said.

Beatrice Cuello, assistant police superintendent for administration, spoke Sunday morning outside Northwestern Memorial before a police motorcade took the officer's body to the medical examiner's office.

"Words cannot express the shock, sorrow and outrage we feel at the loss of a Chicago police officer. This is the third brave officer killed since May," she said. "The job of being a police officer is incredibly rewarding each day we have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. At the same time, being a Chicago police officer is incredibly dangerous, and it is the risk we accept without hesitation because of the overwhelming commitment to public service."

She said the latest officers killed "embodied the commitment to public service and the willingness to sacrifice their lives protecting all of us."


LINK TO PHOTO GALLERY,0,7949796.photogallery

Tribune reporters Hal Dardick, Carlos Sadovi, Annie Sweeney, Liam Ford, Andrew L. Wang, John Byrne, Daarel Burnette II and WGN-TV reporter Randi Belisomo contributed, and Tribune reporter Kristen Mack wrote this report.

Monday, July 19, 2010


The Stupidest Inventions Ever

Monday, July 19, 2010


Obama fears BP cap still leaking oil into Gulf

President Obama's man in Gulf of Mexico questions BP, sparking fear that oil well is still leaking

Helen Kennedy


Monday, July 19th 2010, 4:00 AM


The news that BP had successfully capped the well that had spewed millions of gallons of crude since a deadly April 20 rig explosion now seems premature.


Martin/APThe news that BP had successfully capped the well that had spewed millions of gallons of crude since a deadly April 20 rig explosion now seems premature.



The government's top official overseeing the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster sparked fears Sunday night that crude is continuing to seep from the crippled well. 

Retired U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said tests revealed oil leaking a "distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the wellhead." 

The news came just days after it appeared BP had successfully capped the well that had spewed millions of gallons of crude since a deadly April 20 rig explosion. 

In a letter to Bob Dudley,  BP managing director, Allen asked the petroleum giant to ready plans to reopen the 75-ton cap to relieve pressure on the well. 

"I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the wellhead be confirmed," Allen wrote in the letter. 

Opening the choke valve would cause oil to flow into the gulf again. But scientists say that opening it would prevent another major leak that might be even more difficult to seal. 

Allen demanded BP fork over records and documentation of tests the company is running on the cap it put on the damaged wellhead last week. 

"Monitoring of the seabed is of paramount importance during the test period," Allen wrote. "As the national incident commander, I must remain abreast of the status of your source control efforts." 

BP officials had no comment on Allen's letter except to say the company is "continuing to work very closely with the government." 

Earlier yesterday, Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer, said the company planned to keep the cap in place, stopping the flow of oil, until the drilling of a relief well is finished next month. The relief well is supposed to kill the troubled well for good. 

Meanwhile, a British newspaper reported yesterday that BP is discussing plans to downsize. 

The Sunday Times of London reported that directors at the oil giant once known as British Petroleum had been discussing a dramatic restructuring of the company with major shareholders. 

Options reportedly include selling off the firm's refineries and gas stations, turning it into a far smaller company that would focus primarily on exploration in emerging oil regions in Africa and Latin America.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Joe Biden says tea party not a racist movement

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Glenn Beck: Michelle Obama's Oil Spill Outfit Was An 'Outrage'

Glenn Beck: Michelle Obama's Oil Spill Outfit Was An 'Outrage' (VIDEO)

First Posted: 07-16-10 07:24 AM   |   Updated: 07-16-10 08:09 AM

Glenn Beck chided First Lady Michelle Obama for her recent oil spill outfit on Thursday's "The O'Reilly Factor." FLOTUS wore a white top with black splotches on it and white capris, which was, according to Beck, "the most Marie Antoinette of anything with Michelle Obama....Who pulls this dress out of the closet and is like, 'you know, I think I'm going to do a tour of the oil spill?'" We didn't think much of it because that type of print is incidentally in this season and for fall, but Beck, a budding fashionista, called Michelle's outfit an "outrage."

Thanks to Daily Intel!


Sunday, July 18, 2010


Tea Party Express leader kicked out over 'Colored People' letter

Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams kicked out over 'Colored People' letter

Helen Kennedy


Sunday, July 18th 2010, 4:18 PM


Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams has offered up insulting rants regarding the proposed mosque at Ground Zero.

Nelson/APTea Party Express leader Mark Williams has offered up insulting rants regarding the proposed mosque at Ground Zero.

Mark Williams, the flamethrower leading the battle against the Ground Zero mosque, was kicked out of the National Tea Party Federation Saturday for a racist blog post. 

He shrugged off the diss, calling it "grandstanding" from a "minor player on the fringe." 

A California radio host and leader of the Tea Party Express, Williams had labeled the Manhattan boro president a "Jewish Uncle Tom" and President Obama an "Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug." 

But when he posted a satirical letter supposedly from "the Colored People" to President Lincoln praising slavery, that apparently crossed the line. 

The federation, an umbrella organization that claims to represent 85 Tea Party groups, kicked out Williams' group when it wouldn't fire him.

"We have expelled Tea Party Express and Mark Williams from the National Tea Party Federation because of the letter that he wrote," federation spokesman David Webb said on CBS's "Face the Nation." 

He called the letter - written after the NAACP called on Tea Party leaders to oust racists from their ranks - "clearly offensive." 

In the voice of slaves, Williams wrote: "Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. 

"We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!" 

He went on to say blacks don't want taxes cut because "how will we Colored People ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn?" 

In a press release, the National Tea Party Federation says it ordered the Tea Party Express to kick Williams out and say so "prominently" on their Website. They did not.

Williams' response: who's the National Tea Party Federation anyway?
"There are internal political dramas amongst the various self-anointed tea party 'leaders' and some of the minor players on the fringes see the Tea Party Express and Mark Williams as tickets to a booking on Face the Nation," he said. 
"There is no tea party leadership; every tea partier is a tea party leader." 

The federation says it represents more than a million activists in 85 groups.

Williams' Tea Party Express is one of the most influential in the conservative movement. It has reportedly raised $2.3 million this year, helped elect Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts and organized a rally in Nevada that featured a rare Sarah Palin speech. 

Williams stepped down as chairman last month to concentrate on leading the fight against the proposed Lower Manhattan mosque, which he called a monument to the 9/11 attackers to "worship the terrorists' monkey-god." 

He called Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who backs building the mosque, a "Jewish Uncle Tom who would have turned rat on Anne Frank." 

Read more:

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Handcuffed prisoner opens police car and escapes

Search continues for handcuffed man who escaped from police car

Ridgh Genesis Achille, 19, had just been arrested on a charge of shoplifting a pair of sunglasses from Altamonte Mall.

Ridgh Achille

Ridgh Achille, 19, escaped from the back of a police car as he was being transported to the SEminole County Jail. (Seminole County Sheriff's Office / July 17, 2010)




Susan Jacobson,

Orlando Sentinel 7:09 p.m. EDT, July 17, 2010

Law enforcement officers have called off the dogs and the helicopter, but they continue to search for a man who escaped from a police car Friday evening as he was being transported to jail.

A handcuffed Ridgh Genesis Achille, 19, escaped from the car after telling the officer behind the wheel that he was claustrophobic and couldn't breathe, Altamonte Springs police said. It's not uncommon for the air to get stuffy in the back of a patrol car, they said.

Achille had been arrested on a shoplifting charge at the Altamonte Mall about 8 p.m. and was being taken to the Seminole County Jail when the officer opened the window slightly, Altamonte Springs Lt. Derrick Becton said.

Somehow, the prisoner opened the door from the outside and ran off at County Home Road, near Flea World and the jail in Sanford 

Seminole County deputies and Altamonte Springs police officers, aided by dogs and a helicopter, looked in vain for Achille into Saturday morning. He will be rearrested on an escape charge, Becton said.

Achille was caught on the outskirts of the mall after he stole a pair of sunglasses from Solstice Sunglass Boutique, police said. There also is a warrant for his arrest out of Orange County on a burglary charge, they said.

Achille is awaiting trial on 2009 Orange County charges of burglary of a dwelling, theft and resisting arrest, court records show. In January, he pleaded no contest to resisting arrest in Orange County after initially being charged with aggravated battery on a pregnant woman, witness tampering, false imprisonment and resisting arrest.

When he escaped, Achille was wearing a blue plaid or checked shirt with tight black jeans and tennis shoes. He is black, has a shaved head and a goatee, Becton said.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Sarah Palin Puts Stamp on G.O.P. Primaries

July 17, 2010

Palin Puts Stamp on G.O.P. Primaries






LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — The latest candidate to win the most coveted Republican prize of the election year stood on the steps of a gazebo here and reminded voters of a new reason to support her in the crowded race for Georgia governor. 

“Sarah Palin has come on board,” the candidate, Karen Handel, told a group of supporters who gathered Friday on the grounds of the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse. As they broke into applause, she added: “It means one thing. We’re winning.” 

Last week, Ms. Handel became at least the 50th candidate to win the Palin seal of approval. Through a breezy 194 words posted on Ms. Palin’s Facebook page — calling Ms. Handel a “pro-life, pro-Constitutionalist with a can-do attitude” — a four-way Republican primary came alive, the latest in a number of races across the country that have been influenced by Ms. Palin. 

One year after leaving public office behind, defiantly stepping down as governor of Alaska to become a best-selling author and a television celebrity, Ms. Palin has waded deeply back into electoral politics, and she plans to increase her visibility on the campaign trail after Labor Day. 

That she is leaving a major footprint on the 2010 midterm elections is not disputed, but less clear is whether the endorsements are rooted in an effort to amplify her image or to create a political strategy for the future. 

When her organization, SarahPAC, filed its quarterly financial report last week, it prompted renewed speculation about her political ambitions for 2012. She raised $866,000 and donated $87,500 to Republican candidates — the biggest tallies in both categories since she opened the political action committee last year, but hardly exceptional for a prospective presidential candidate. 

After parting ways with Senator John McCain following the 2008 presidential race, Ms. Palin did not receive the list of campaign donors she had helped build, so her aides have been creating her own roster, a critical ingredient to a future political bid. More than half of her contributions have come from California, Florida, New York, Tennessee and Texas, but she received donations from all 50 states. 

She has extended many of her endorsements to women, whom she refers to as “Mama Grizzlies.” (One exception is Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, whose male opponent Ms. Palin endorsed.) But some of her decisions have been met with resistance from social conservatives who argue that her selections are guided by politics over principle. 

In Iowa, conservative Christians criticized her for passing over their candidate in favor of a former governor, Terry Branstad. 

And the biggest furor so far has erupted here, with a leader of an anti-abortion group, Georgia Right to Life, accusing Ms. Palin of “endorsing any female Republican candidate that she could find.” Rival candidates complained that Ms. Palin was backing the most liberal Republican in the race. 

Ms. Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, dismissed the matter as petty politics on Friday as her bus tour passed through Lawrenceville, about 30 miles east of Atlanta. She said her fellow Republicans “would be equally as thrilled to have Sarah Palin’s endorsement as I have been.” 

But worried about the fallout in the days leading up to the primary on Tuesday, she turned to Ms. Palin for validation.

“The primary is really close, so Karen’s opponents are kind of saying those crazy things about her,” Ms. Palin said in a phone message to thousands of Georgia voters. “Please just get the truth for yourself.” 

Ms. Palin has offered her long-distance support to Ms. Handel and other candidates, but her campaign appearances have been rare. She has delivered a few policy addresses in recent months and seemed to be moving beyond the family drama that often enveloped her. 

That changed last week, when her daughter Bristol announced on the cover of Us Weekly that she was engaged to her former boyfriend, Levi Johnston, stirring a reminder of the circus-like atmosphere that accompanied the Palins’ arrival on the national scene two years ago. 

Ms. Palin devotes the majority of her time to her own projects, including appearances as a commentator on Fox News and work on a second book, “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag,” to be released in November. She is in a position to exert tremendous influence at the grass-roots level without engaging in the give and take of regular campaigning or relinquishing her earning power. 

Still, Republican candidates across the country continue to clamor for her support, even if it is unlikely that she will ever arrive in their districts for a rally. 

Like other national political figures, Ms. Palin has been supporting candidates all year, a mix of Tea Party enthusiasts like Rand Paul of Kentucky and establishment Republicans. But her endorsements did not gain much notice until she weighed in on the South Carolina governor’s race, helping to vault Nikki Haley from the bottom rung of candidates to the winner of the Republican nomination last month. 

For most candidates, Palin endorsements arrive as if they are a gift from a secret Santa, with words of support suddenly popping up on Facebook without notice. She reached a New York Congressional candidate, Ann Marie Buerkle, at home last week, telling her that an endorsement had been posted online. 

“She was just lovely,” recalled Ms. Buerkle, whose race has been ignored by party leaders. “She made us legitimate.” 

When Ms. Palin announced her backing of Mary Fallin in the Oklahoma governor’s contest, the other Republican in the race testily denounced the endorsement. That candidate, Randy Brogdon, declared, “Stop acting like you are owed the governor’s mansion, and stop hiding behind the skirt of Sarah Palin.” 

Ms. Fallin, a two-term member of Congress who would be the first woman to be governor of Oklahoma, dismissed the criticism from her opponent as sexist. 

“Sarah is at the top of my list to receive an endorsement from,” Ms. Fallin said in an interview. “Even a lot of Democrats and independents admire her spunk and her willingness to stand up for what she believes and say what’s on her mind.” 

While the endorsements often land as a surprise — in Iowa, Mr. Branstad did not get the word until Ms. Palin called his campaign headquarters — increasingly the decisions are less spontaneous than they may appear. 

Her choices in governors’ races have hewed closely to preferred candidates of the Republican Governors Association, including in Iowa, where the presidential race begins. And after a long stretch in which most Republican operatives had no idea how to reach Ms. Palin, a formal structure has taken shape and a researcher on her staff reviews information candidates provide in a quest to earn her support. 

“SarahPAC is trying to be in a position to have the resources for the governor to do whatever she wants between now and November 2010,” said Tim Crawford, treasurer of the committee. 

Fred Malek, a Republican fund-raiser who is a friend and supporter of Ms. Palin, said it would be incorrect to view her role in the midterm elections through the prism of the 2012 presidential race. 

Mr. Malek said she does not seek his counsel — nor that of any other Republican establishment figure — in deciding whether to support a candidate. “She carefully watches what’s going on in the political world and makes decisions based on who she thinks deserves support,” he said. 

Indeed, the endorsements provide little evidence that she is moving closer to a presidential run. A willingness to inject herself into so many primary fights and frustrate the supporters of the candidates she overlooks is a risky way of building establishment support.

In conversations with Republicans in recent months — including at a rally Ms. Palin held with Mr. McCain in Arizona, at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans and at campaign events here in Georgia — voters often give Ms. Palin high marks. But asked whether they believe she should run for president, few say yes. 

Judy Pruitt, a 70-year-old retiree in Lawrenceville, said she came to see Ms. Handel partly because of the Palin endorsement. But she had a swift answer when asked if she would welcome a 2012 Palin campaign. 

“I’m not sure she’s ready for the presidency,” she said. “I do like listening to her, and I respect her views on things. But I think she can have more of an impact if she’s not running. I really do.” 


Derek Willis contributed research. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Obama: Hold me accountable for high unemployment

Obama: Hold me accountable for high unemployment


Jordan Fabian
The Hill
07/16/10 11:05 AM ET

President Obama said in an interview Friday that voters should hold him accountable for the struggling economy, but that his policies are restoring it to health. 

Obama welcomed voters to judge his administration’s work on the economy as the November midterm elections approach. The economy and jobs consistently poll as the number one issue for voters. 

“If somebody’s out of work right now, the only answer that I’m going to have for them is when they get a job. Up until that point, from their perspective, the economic policies aren’t working well enough,” he said in an interview with NBC News. “That’s my job — as president — is to take responsibility for moving us in the right direction.” 

Though polls show that the voters are worried about the state of the economy and high unemployment, Obama used the interview to express confidence about his policies and contrast them with Republican ideas. 

Obama said he is responsible for instilling the recovery, but stressed that policies enacted by previous GOP-controlled Republicans and former President George W. Bush left the economy in a recession.

“What I’m absolutely convinced of is that we’re going to have a choice, not just in November but for years to come,” he said. “We can go back to all the same policies that got us into this mess, where we basically provide special interest loopholes, we don’t regulate Wall Street, we have a healthcare system that’s out of control, we provide tax cuts to folks who don’t need them and weren’t asking for them.”

Democrats are stepping up efforts to draw a sharp contrast between themselves and the Republicans as they head into a challengeing election. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs stirred up his own party this week when he acknowledged a GOP takeover of Congress was possible.

Asked about Gibbs’s comments, Obama said: “This is going to be a choice between the policies that got us into this mess and my policies that are getting us out of this mess.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) responded on Twitter "POTUS on NBC News: 'I expect to be held accountable on jobs'; Where are the jobs?"

With unemployment still hovering at 9.5 percent, Obama said he would not be surprised if there is a backlash at the polls.

“What I’m prepared is to be held accountable for the policies that I put in place. But Americans don’t have selective memory here. They’re going to remember the policies that got us into this mess, as well. And they sure as heck don’t want to go back to those.”

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Police wins week off for time he spends dressing

Cop wins week off work for time spent dressing

German police officer says he lost 15 minutes a day putting on his uniform

updated 7/14/2010 11:59:34 AM ET
A police officer in Germany has won an extra week off work every year because of the 15 minutes it takes him to dress for duty each day, according to news reports.

Martin Schauder, 44, worked out how long he spent putting on his undershirt, overshirt, trousers, belt, handcuffs, weapon and gas canister, tunic, boots, protective kneepads — when on riot control — hat and gloves, the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph reported. 

The officer, who joined the force at 16, is said to have argued with his superior officers for a number of months, asking for time off or a pay increase to compensate him for 45 hours spent dressing each year. 

They refused, but he won the argument when he took his case to an administrative court in Munster, north-west Germany, the Telegraph said. 

The U.K.'s Guardian newspaper, citing Germany's Münstersche Zeitung, said Schauder told the court: "If my shift starts at 1 p.m., say, I'm expected to be completely fitted out by then, including my pistol, handcuffs and reserve weapon, otherwise I face being cautioned." 

Test case for hundreds
His case was was a test complaint for more than 120 police officers in Munster and a further 1,000 in North Rhine-Westphalia, the Guardian said, but Schauder's employers will be able to appeal to a higher court. 

The Guardian said it was unclear whether Schauder would receive back payment for his 28 years in the force or a holiday of six months.


Saturday, July 17, 2010


Win $10,000 for spending a month in the museum

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Obama the most travelled first year president

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Two men injured arguing over frying pan

Third-degree burns, stitches for South Bend brothers-in-law fighting over frying pan

Tribune Staff Report

2:19 p.m. Saturday, July 10, 2010

Updated Friday, July 16, 2010

SOUTH BEND — A dispute over the ownership of a frying pan led to third-degree burns for one South Bend man and 11 stitches for another, police reports said.

A 49-year-old man was cooking bacon on the stove at a house in the 600 block of Lincoln Way East when his 47-year-old brother-in-law claimed the pan was his, the report said.

The argument led to the man cooking cornering the younger man into a closet and spilling hot grease on the younger man. The report said the 47-year-old then grabbed the pan from his attacker and hit him in the head twice.

The 49-year-old was taken to an area hospital were he received 11 stitches before being arrested for assault, the report said. But the man who received third-degree burns on his hands told police he did not wish to press charges.
Police did report finding two pieces of bacon in the closet.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Robber caught after car runs out of gas

Bad Luck Bandit’ runs out of gas


Dee Riggs
World staff writer


Thursday, July 15, 2010


WENATCHEE — It helps to have a full tank of gas when driving away from the scene of a crime, a Tacoma man discovered Wednesday afternoon.

The man, dubbed by Wenatchee police as the Bad Luck Bandit, ran out of gas as he was leaving a store where Native American collectibles were stolen. 

Police, who had been alerted to the thefts by the store owner, arrested the 47-year-old suspect after he fled on foot from his car, which stalled 50 feet from its original parking spot, said Sgt. John Kruse, a Wenatchee Police Department spokesman.

The incident happened about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday in the 800 block of South Wenatchee Avenue, Kruse said. The man is suspected of stealing several Native American collectibles, which were on display at the Discount Center, 807 S. Wenatchee Ave. 

At the time of his arrest, the man also was in possession of several necklaces that were stolen from the Antique Mall in downtown Wenatchee, Kruse said. He also is suspected of stealing a beaded Native American ceremonial garment with a price tag on it for $10,500. Kruse said officers do not know where that garment came from. 

Anyone with information about the suspect or items he may have in his possession is asked to contact Detective Jeff Ward at the Wenatchee Police Department, 888-4210. 

The man was booked into the Chelan County Regional Justice Center on suspicion of first-degree theft.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Man uses fake money to post bail

Camden man accused of using fake money to post bail in Burlington County



Courier-Post Staff

July 15, 2010


CINNAMINSON — Police here didn't have to look far for a man accused of posting bail with counterfeit cash.

They say the suspect, 25-year-old Ronald T. White of Camden, returned on his own to the police station -- and asked for some of his money back.

"You can't teach stupid," Cinnaminson Police Det. Sgt. William Covert said of White, whose bail payment five days earlier had been inflated by a paperwork error. "He walks in the door looking for his money and we lock him up." 

White, who allegedly used five phony $20 bills to help pay $400 in bail on July 7, had two bogus $20 bills in his possession when he came to the station on Monday, Covert said. 

The two bills shared a serial number and matched at least one of the $20s used to make bail, he said. 

White's problems in Cinnaminson began with his July 7 arrest on multiple counts of shoplifting. White, accused of taking items from a Burlington Coat Factory and a Shop-Rite supermarket on Route 130, "actually had almost $900 in his pocket," Covert said. 

White received a summons for the shoplifting charges, but he had to pay $400 bail for two outstanding warrants from Camden, Covert said. 

Authorities realized the next day that the $20s were fakes printed on the wrong paper stock. Cinnaminson police then issued a warrant charging White with forgery. 

Meanwhile, Covert said, White apparently learned at a court appearance that he had been sought on only one warrant in Camden, with a bail requirement of $200. The second warrant, also with $200 bail, had been listed in error. 

"He said, "I want my $200 back,' " Covert said. 

Instead, White received a trip to Burlington County Jail, where he was held Wednesday on $5,000 cash bail.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Huge sandwich locks man's jaw

Too much Sandwich more than man could chew



Christopher Quinn
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

3:36 p.m. Friday, July 16, 2010


"When this is all over, it's going to be funny," Paul Addison predicted to his best friend, Chad Ettmueller, who one night last February lay pumped full of morphine in an Atlanta emergency room. Quantcast

Chris Dunn, [email protected] Chad Ettmueller of Cumming takes a bite out of the double meat wicked sandwich at the Which Wich sandwich shop in Cumming on Monday, July 12, 2010. Ettmueller ordered that sandwich in March, dislocated both joints of his jaw while taking the first bite and paid about $4,000 out of pocket for the medical services needed to correct his jaw.

Ettmueller responded with mouth agape. He could not do otherwise. He had dislocated his jaw at maximum stretch when he tried to bite into a Which Wich sandwich shop's Double Wicked, a glorious pile of double portions of beef, bacon, turkey, ham, pepperoni, three cheeses and a wad of fixings on a whole wheat bun.

For 14 aching hours on that cold Saturday night, Ettmueller sat with his mouth stuck open, wide enough for a sparrow to check it out for a nesting site. 

As Jay Leno said while noting a news item about Ettmueller, "If the sandwich doesn't fit in your mouth, you've got too much sandwich." 

It has been an interesting five months. Ettmueller's discomfiting pose earned him Internet fame and the cross-county sympathy of Which Wich fans, who in a company-sponsored contest concluded June 23 voted the sandwich a new name. The Lockjaw.

That night in the Cumming Which Wich with his jaw jacked open, Ettmueller looked perplexedly at wife Carolyn and kids Conner, Kenna and Maddie and said as best he could that his mouth was stuck. 

Yup. OK, Dad. Whatever. Their responses had been conditioned by years of their father's joking. 

He walked outside. He manipulated the formerly cooperative body part with his hands. No luck. He was hitting himself in the chin in an unsuccessful effort to shut his mouth when Carolyn realized this was no laughing matter, though some emergency room workers would later disagree. 

She was a little freaked out, Carolyn admitted, but she was not crying. Not yet. The tears would come after they hurriedly wrapped the sandwiches and left for a visit to a nearby clinic. 

Ettmueller said, "They actually laughed at me," when he walked in gaping and Carolyn explained. 

The doctor failed to fix him. So the Ettmuellers headed to the first of two more emergency rooms they would visit that night. A half-day and $3,000 later for the insurance co-pays, deductibles and MRI's, Ettmueller awoke from the anesthesia with a closed mouth, sore muscles and a tight, chin-to-crown head wrap that stayed on for four days. 

It was, he said, "the most expensive sandwich that I never ate." 

Carolyn, a bit punchy from the night, dashed off an e-mail to Which Wich, telling the story and suggesting her beleaguered husband deserved a new sandwich since he did not get to eat his. 

Gary Birnberg, the Cumming Which Wich franchisee, saw it and thought: Is this for real? 

He discovered it was and, somewhat disturbingly, Ettmueller worked for a company that structures large lawsuit settlements. 

Phone calls between Binberg, the Ettmuellers and Jeff Sinelli, the CEO of the Dallas-based chain, eased the businessmen's concerns about Ettmueller practicing his craft upon them. 

Sinelli decided to try to spin Internet gold out of the bad situation. He flew to Atlanta and with Ettmueller's cooperation oversaw the making of YouTube videos about the incident.


As the story spread, Ettmueller's name popped up in media from Forsyth County newspapers to the BBC in England. He fielded calls from radio stations around the country. 

He has since pondered buying a Which Wich franchise and has also gingerly eaten a few Lockjaws since the incident. But he hung on to the coupon Binberg gave him to replace the original. 

And whatever did happen to the original? 

Addison, who had been called in for moral support that painful night, left the emergency room hungry. He knew that somewhere in the parking deck, the never-bitten sandwich sat in the Ettmuellers' minivan, he said. When he found the minivan and its doors were open, it was like a green light.

"It was delicious," Addison said, noting that he acted in the best interest of his friend. 

"It was a mercy killing, only tastier," he said.



Friday, July 16, 2010


Man tries to shoplift tweezers lands in jail

Man tries to shoplift tweezers, lands in jail

Stacey Mulick
July 13, 2010 at 9:05 am Bookmark and Share 


A 48-year-old man is facing theft and assault charges over an $8 pair of tweezers even he admitted he didn't need. 

The charges stem from an incident Friday at a pharmacy in Gig Harbor.

According to charging documents, Troy J. Montgomery went into the store, selected a pair of tweezers and put them in his pocket. A store employee spotted the activity, confronted Montgomery and told him she was calling police. 

Montgomery took the tweezers from his pocket, threw them and headed for the door, court documents state. 

The store's pharmacist stepped into Montgomery's path to stop him and was shoved aside. The pharmacist fell to the floor and suffered a 3-inch cut to his arm, court documents state. 

Shoppers took Montgomery to the ground and detained him until Pierce County sheriff's deputies arrived. 

A deputy asked Montgomery if he wanted to answer questions about what happened.

"Not really," he replied, according to charging documents. "Besides being stupid, don't even need the thing, about the dumbest thing I ever did." 

Pierce County prosecutors have charged Montgomery with third-degree assault and third-degree theft.

Read more:

Friday, July 16, 2010


Police deliberately pushes man off bike

Friday, July 16, 2010


Woman lied about being carjacked and having sex to cover up...

July 16, 2010

Authorities: Woman lied about sex in SUV to hide laptop theft


The Daily Journal
Staff Writer


VINELAND -- The real story behind what happened to a Vineland woman who made up a tale about being carjacked, and then told police she was having sex with a driver when their SUV crashed, took another strange twist, authorities said Thursday.

Turns out both accounts were nothing but lies designed to cover up her role in the theft of a laptop computer that led to stealing a car and committing arson, authorities said.

The woman, 23-year-old Sara C. Blasse of Galli Drive, initially told Vineland police she broke her arm in a confrontation with an armed carjacker in Chesilhurst early Saturday morning, authorities said. Officers found her wrecked SUV abandoned on a residential street in the Camden County town, smoldering from an apparent arson.

But police said they weren't fooled by inconsistencies in her account of the carjacking, which prompted Blasse to change her story and say a male prostitute crashed her car while she gave him oral sex.

That story wasn't true either, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office announced Thursday.

Further investigation revealed Blasse and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Newtonville resident Henry Goode Jr., stole a laptop from a vehicle on Miller Street in Chesilhurst, the Prosecutor's Office said. The computer's owner witnessed the theft and called police.

The couple evaded police, but soon crashed Blasse's 2003 Kia Sorento at Atlantic and Sherman avenues in Chesilhurst, breaking Blasse's arm in the process, Prosecutor's Office spokesman Jason Laughlin said.

Blasse and Goode then stuffed paper towels into the SUV's gas tank and attempted to set it on fire but failed, Laughlin said. The couple fled in opposite directions, he said.

Goode's brother took Blasse to South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center, where she told police her first of two phony explanations, authorities said.

While Blasse was at the hospital, Goode stole a van from a South Jersey Gas facility in Winslow, police said. He drove south to Atlantic County, where he abandoned the vehicle in Buena Vista -- but not before attempting, and failing, to ignite the vehicle's gas tank, the Prosecutor's Office said.

Goode then fled to his home on the 400 block of 10th Street, where he was arrested Wednesday, police said.

Blasse is charged with aggravated arson, burglary, theft, hindering apprehension by destroying evidence and filing a false report. She was released on bail Thursday.

Goode was charged with aggravated arson, burglary, theft and hindering apprehension. He was being held at Camden County Jail.

Friday, July 16, 2010


RNC Michael Steele rebukes top Democrats for personal attacks

Steele fires back at Democrats' sniping

Some liberals defend him, too


8:21 p.m.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Washington Times



Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele rebuked top Democratic spokesmen Thursday for personal attacks that go beyond the pale, including suggestions that Senate candidate Sharron Angle wants her political opponents to die and that he is rooting for U.S. defeat in Afghanistan.

He also is getting unexpected help on the latter count from commentators normally aligned with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan this week said, in a reference to old health care debates, that Mrs. Angle wishes death on her opponents.

Mrs. Angle, a Nevada Republican backed by Sarah Palin and a "tea party" favorite, leads her Democratic rival, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in the polls.

During the fight over the health care bill, Mrs. Palin and some other Republicans predicted that the bill would result in "death panels" that would ration resources and decide which ill patients would or would not get expensive lifesaving treatments. Democrats denounced the claims.

"While 'death panels' were nowhere to be found in his health insurance reform bill, it looks like Sarah Palin can find a one-woman version of one in Nevada where Sharron Angle thinks people who criticize her political positions should die," Mr. Sevugan said. "Her sentiments are sick, but that fact that Republicans endorse, as their standard-bearer in Nevada, someone who wishes death upon her critics and calls for 'Second Amendment remedies' to deal with her political opposition is just as disturbing."

In an e-mail to The Washington Times on Thursday, Mr. Steele denounced the attack. 

"In politics, tough talk comes with the territory. But there is a line that should not be crossed. Making personal attacks - and claiming any candidate wants their opponents to die - is not just over the line, it denies basic human dignity," Mr. Steele said.

The jagged-edged comments began last week when Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse accused Mr. Steele of acts verging on treason - and supposedly "betting against our troops and rooting for failure in Afghanistan." 

Just before the July Fourth holiday, Mr. Steele created a political furor by telling donors at a Connecticut fundraiser that history shows that a land war in Afghanistan is a fool's errand and calling it President Obama's war. 

Last week, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, who describes himself as a political liberal, called Mr. Woodhouse's exaggerated rhetoric dangerous. 

"I have some empathy for Woodhouse, who must be weary of dealing with the other side's demagoguery day after day," Mr. Dionne wrote in his regular column. "But this is dangerous stuff in a democracy and particularly perilous from a party that, less than two years ago, rightly insisted it could oppose the Bush administration's foreign policy on thoroughly patriotic grounds." 

Some Democrats also saw more than a hint of hypocrisy in the Woodhouse attack on Mr. Steele coming after a vote by a majority of House Democrats to require that Mr. Obama present a plan by April to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. 

Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald, long a fierce critic of the Bush administration, called Mr. Woodhouse's statement "truly repellent" and compared the DNC's tactics to those of former chief Bush political strategist Karl Rove and called them "poisonous" and "manipulative." 

Mr. Greenwald, whose column on the subject also chastised Mr. Steele for not noting that Afghanistan was invaded under a Republican administration, also called out other liberals for similarly "replicating the worst of the GOP rhetoric." 

"Over on the front page of Daily Kos, Barbara Morrill ends her post about Steele's comments this way: 'What the family and friends of those who died or those who are still fighting there today think is, of course, another story.' A couple of months ago, Jonathan Alter and Keith Olbermann both suggested that criticisms of Obama weaken the U.S. and thus help Al Qaeda. Last October, both the DNC and some progressive groups accused Steele respectively of 'siding with the terrorists' and being 'downright unpatriotic' because he questioned whether Obama's Nobel Peace Prize was merited," Mr. Greenwald wrote. 

Mr. Woodhouse also suggested that Mr. Steele was being two-faced in giving a cold shoulder to Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine's offer to jointly call for a toning down of the rhetoric and, in language Republicans regarded as a poison pill - to "condemn the violence and threats which Republican supporters have engaged in since the passage of health reform." 

The RNC chief fired back on that matter Thursday. 

"We rejected the DNCs 'civility statement' precisely because we knew - and we have seen - that Democrats are incapable of living up to their own standards or their word," Mr. Steele said in a written comment to The Times. 

In a syndicated column titled "Steele right on Obama and Afghan war," Richard Cohen, another liberal commentator, called Mr. Woodhouse's attack on Mr. Steele "an ugly smear." 

Expressing a view shared by non-interventionist Republicans and conservatives, Mr. Cohen wrote that "Steele was right from the start. His truth was the larger one, which is that enough time has elapsed so that the war in Afghanistan can be seen as Barack Obamas." 

Mr. Cohen referred Mr. Woodhouse as "exhibit A in what, looking back, will be seen as the overselling of this particular war." 

Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog said he understood that "the urge at the DNC to give the RNC a taste of its own medicine is pretty intense, but when DNC messages about a war in 2010 are effectively identical to RNC messages about a war in 2004, there's a problem." 

Some conservative leaders who are not normally cheerleaders for Mr. Steele also came to his defense, especially over calls from such prominent Republicans as William Kristol, Liz Cheney and GOProud that Mr. Steele should resign over his Afghan remarks. 

"There are many reasons why Michael Steele should not be chairman but Afghanistan is not one of them," former Texas GOP Chairman Tom Pauken told The Times. "Republicans have legitimate reason to question the rationale for the war and whether we have an exit strategy."

Friday, July 16, 2010


Woman Finds Cash Clashes With Police Over Money,0,3471059.story

Friday, July 16, 2010


LeBron pendant bought at yard sale for $5 was stolen

Friday, July 16, 2010


Man dies after hiring friend to shoot him in custody plot

Father killed in failed plan to get custody of child


12:00 AM CDT

Wednesday, July 14, 2010



The Dallas Morning News 


Dwayne Lamont Moten wanted custody of his child. So he devised a plan with another man to get the new boyfriend of the child's mother out of the way, according to Dallas police.

Jacob Wheeler would shoot to wound Moten. Then Moten would call 911 and pin the shooting on the third man.

"It was a very ill-conceived plan," said Dallas police homicide Sgt. Bruce McDonald.

And it failed.

Moten, 20, a felon, died Saturday afternoon. Wheeler, also 20 and a felon, faces a murder charge, according to police records.

The shooting occurred about 3:20 p.m. Saturday in the 2700 block of Malcolm X Boulevard near Grand Avenue.

"He was actually planning on shooting him in the thigh and shoulder," McDonald said. "I don't know if [Moten] flinched and turned sideways a little more. The bullet entered the chest cavity and was fatal."

Before he died, Moten drove a short distance and yelled for someone to call an ambulance, according to a Dallas police report.

At some point Moten also called 911, though he did not pin the shooting on the third man during that call, police said.

The story that detectives were initially told implicated the boyfriend and didn't add up, McDonald said.

Police arrested Wheeler on an unrelated aggravated robbery charge Sunday morning and later added the murder charge. He was being held at the Dallas County Jail on Tuesday night on $750,000 bail.




Friday, July 16, 2010


Sen Scott Brown blasts Kathy Griffin for calling his daughters prostitutes

Scott Brown slams Kathy Griffin for calling daughters 'prostitutes'

Michael O'Brien 

The Hill

07/15/10 06:24 PM ET

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) lashed out at comedienne Kathy Griffin on Thursday for describing his daughters as "prostitutes."

Brown strongly condemned remarks Griffin made on CNN in which she mocks Brown's daughters, Ayla and Arianna.

“People can call me any name they want, but families are off limits," Brown said. "I love my daughters Ayla and Arianna very much, and any parent would be proud to have them as children. Kathy Griffin and Bravo ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

Griffin is shown in video identifying a photo of Brown, in which she makes a joke about the Brown daughters.

"Scott Brown, who is a senator from Massachusetts, and has two daughters who are prostitutes," she tells CNN anchors John King and Dana Bash.

Brown has drawn some guffaws for his signs of affection toward his daughters; after winning a special election in January to fill the Senate seat of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), joking that the two were "both available."

Ayla Brown, a former college basketball player and "American Idol" contestant, works as contributor to "The Early Show" on CBS. Arianna Brown has spent this past summer doing some modeling.



Friday, July 16, 2010


Mild earthquake hits Maryland

5:18 AM ET, 07/16/2010  

Mild earthquake felt across region

Washington Post

The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 3.6 magnitude earthquake centered in Montgomery County at 5:04 a.m. Friday.

The epicenter was in Gaithersburg near the intersection of Forest Brook and Waring Station roads (39.145°N, 77.222°W), USGS reported in a preliminary finding. Its depth was 3.1 miles.

Authorities in the District and Montgomery and Arlington counties said there were no reports of damage.

“We are getting flooded with calls,” a Montgomery County police spokesperson said.

Amy Vaughan, a spokesperson for USGS, said the quake was the largest recorded within about 30 miles of Washington since a database was created to track such activity in 1974. Previously, the largest earthquake reported during that time period was a 2.6 magnitude tremor in 1990.

"So this is pretty significant for your area," Vaughan said in a telephone interview with WRC-TV (Channel 4).

At the same time, she said, earthquakes are possible anywhere, because of the continual seismic activity under the Earth's crust. "It may be rare and unexpected, but not unheard of," Vaughan said.

Vaughan said USGS was receiving reports from as far away as Pennsylvania from people who had felt the quake. Given the relatively low magnitude of the tremor, she said, it was not likely it caused any significant structural damage.

"It's going to be very widely felt, more than damaging, we suspect," Vaughan said.

Jahi Chikwendiu, a Washington Post photographer, said he heard and felt the tremor at his home in Reston while he was standing in the kitchen. It was strong enough to wake his wife, who was sleeping upstairs, Chikwendiu said.

"I thought it was thunder at first," he said.

Dean Miletich, of Frederick, said he was taking out the trash when the quake hit.

“When I came back into the garage, everything on the shelves were shaking,” he said. “It sounded like a deep rumble. When I came back inside, my wife had woken up and asked me, 'What did you do?'”

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Fiance gives bride-to-be $250,000 winning lottery ticket

Ballwin bride-to-be wins $250,000 in lottery




Thursday, July 15, 2010 11:21 am 



Tracie Rogers, 30, of Ballwin, received an early wedding gift from her fiance, Robert Russell. The scratch-off lottery ticket turned out to be worth $250,000. (Missouri lottery photo)


BALLWIN -- Tracie Rogers, a Ballwin bride-to-be, is ready to cash in big time after her fiancée ran to the store to get a CD -- and decided he should probably pick up something for her, too. 

Rob Russell, 33, bought Rogers a "$250,000 Payout" scratchers ticket at the local QuikTrip last week. Sure enough, she got the top prize. 

"I thought it was fake," Rogers, 29, said in an interview Thursday. "You see this on TV, but I thought, 'No way. These things don't happen to me.'" 

Russell bought the ticket from the QuikTrip at 14800 Manchester Road. Rogers returned to the store, showed it to the clerk to confirm it was real. She got a high-five from the happy clerk. 

The Missouri Lottery said "$250,000 Payout" is a $10 game that began June 12. 

Rogers said she and Russell have been together 12 years and got engaged in 2007. They never have set a date for the wedding. He lost his job as a welder, and Rogers has been unemployed as well. 

"It didn't seem right to spend that kind of money" on a big wedding, she said. 

Now with the lottery winnings, Rogers said she would like to pay off the mortgage on their house. "That will be one big burden we won't have to think about," she told Lottery officials. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Armed robbery caught on tape

Thursday, July 15, 2010


BP says The oil has finally stopped flowing into Gulf

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Why President Obama loses by winning

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Drunk tries to get on Fatso the crocodiles back

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Atlanta $50K Winning Lottery Ticket Expires Next Week

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Lindsay Lohan enters rehab to avoid jail

Lindsay Lohan checks into Pickford Lofts rehab facility owned by new lawyer Robert Shapiro: report

Christina Boyle


Thursday, July 15th 2010, 10:44 AM


Lindsay Lohan reportedly entered rehab in an apparent attempt to convince the judge to either dismiss or reduce her 90-day jail sentence.

McNew/GettyLindsay Lohan reportedly entered rehab in an apparent attempt to convince the judge to either dismiss or reduce her 90-day jail sentence.


Troubled actress Lindsay Lohan has reportedly entered rehab in an apparent attempt to curry favor with the California judge who wants to lock her up for 90 days.

The fallen starlet was pictured entering the Pickford Lofts facility Wednesday, according to

The clinic was set up by O.J. Simpson's former attorney, Robert Shapiro, who has been hired by Lohan to handle her on-going legal woes, reported.

Shapiro established the facility after his son Brent died of a drug overdose in 2005.

On her first day at the center, Lohan received visits on Wednesday from her mom, Dina, sister Ali, ex-girlfriend Samantha Ronson, assistant Eleanor and alleged new love Eilat Anschel, according to X17.

Her assistant brought in pillows and bags from Blick art supply, a case of Sprite and toilet paper, while Ronson arrived about 10 p.m. and stayed for 45 minutes, reported the celebrity Web site.

Shapiro will reportedly attempt to convince Los Angeles Judge Marsha Revel to put Lohan in a detox clinic and either dismiss or reduce her 90-day jail sentence.

Lohan, 24, was sentenced to time behind bars followed by 90 days at an inpatient rehab center last week for violating the terms of her probation in her DUI case.

She must surrender herself in Revel's courtroom on July 20.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Foreclosures in U.S. could hit 1 million

Foreclosures in U.S. could hit 1 million as housing market continues to struggle, report finds

Sean Alfano


Thursday, July 15th 2010, 7:39 AM


One in 78 homes have been issued a foreclosure warning in the first half of 2010.

Mallin/BloombergOne in 78 homes have been issued a foreclosure warning in the first half of 2010.

Buying the house was the easy part. Keeping the home is another story. 

More than one million homes are facing foreclosure, new numbers indicate. So far, nearly 528,000 homes have already been repossessed, according to RealtyTrac Inc. 

"That would be unprecedented," Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac, said. 

The wave of foreclosures stems from banks and lenders trying to clear the logjam of borrowers who have fallen way behind on loans. 

While the report isn't all bad news — the number of foreclosures is down 5 percent in 2010 compared to the last six months of 2009 — it reflects a housing market still mired in crisis. 

Between January and June of this year, one in 78 homes — 1.7 million in all — got a foreclosure warning. 

While banks have pulled back their pressure on delinquent borrowers, it is only to avoid flooding the housing market with more foreclosed homes. 

"The banks are really sort of controlling or managing the dial on how fast these things get processed," Sharga said. 

Despite the Obama administration's $75 billion effort to stem the foreclosure outbreak, at least a third of 1.2 million homeowners who sought help have dropped out of the government's aid program. 

The immediate outlook doesn't look to good, either. 

Even if the economy doesn't get worse, Sharga says it will take until 2013 for banks to clear its backlog of foreclosed homes. 

Good economic news, however, has been hard to find lately. 

The unemployment rate is at 9.5% and more than a million people will lose their jobless benefits in July. 

And the June housing numbers showed that prices of new and previously-owned homes dropped to its lowest-level in 10 years. Those prices stand to drop even lower as more foreclosed homes hit the market. 

"The downward pressure from foreclosures will persist," Celia Chen, senior director of Moody's said.

"Prices will be very weak well into 2012." 

RealtyTrac, a foreclosure listing service, says in a typical year 100,000 homes are repossessed by the banks. 

Overall, Nevada has been the hardest hit in 2010, with one in 17 homes facing foreclosure. Arizona, Florida, California and Utah round out the top five states in foreclosure trouble. 

With News Wire Service 

Read more:

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Officer fired after woman repeatedly tasered

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Mother Took Child To Drug Deal

MPD: Mother Took Child To Drug Deal

Shaun Chaiyabhat


8:23 PM CDT, July 14, 2010


MPD: Mother Took Child To Drug Deal

  • Patrice Hughes, 33, arrested for reckless endangerment
  • Myron Frazier, 24, arrested for reckless endangerment
  • Alleged drug-dealer, Cordarel Oliver, put gun to child's head

(Memphis 7/14/10) Memphis police say a mother took her five-year-old on a drug-deal and bad turned to worse when guns got involved.

Now, the 33-year-old mother and her boyfriend are charged with reckless endangerment and they're facing harsh criticism from other parents. Police say Patrice Hughes and 24-year-old Myron Frazier put her little girl in the middle of a drug deal that turned into an armed robbery.

Around 2:30 Wednesday morning, cops say the pair drove to the Ridgeway Terrace Apartments to buy pot. According to the Affidavit of Complaint "they admitted taking the child to the drug deal" and "knowingly placed the child in danger". Records show the accused dealer "became angry and got in the back seat of the car with the 5-year-old and put a gun to the child's head". He then threatened to "blow her brains out if they did not give him the money".

"That's ridiculous," said Courtney Redman who lives nearby. "Lord have mercy, how stupid can you be? Why would you want to bring your child and put your child in the midst of something like that anyway?"

As a father, he can't imagine putting a child in harms way.

"Common sense would tell a parent that you shouldn't have a child around any kind of drugs and alcohol any kind of way," said Redman. "She needs a real rude awakening... You can imagine what a five-year-old was going through, she was probably terrified."

We went to the address Hughes gave authorities and heard more harsh words from her neighbors.

"They should have never taken that baby if they were going to be doing crazy stuff and putting their baby's life in danger," said one neighbor who did not want to be identified. "They're not good parents. They didn't even think about their baby's life."

The neighbors also had a lot of ideas of what should happen to that innocent girl, but that will be up to a judge to decide. All three adults will head to court Thursday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Dems vent frustrations over midterm strategy to Obama

House Dems to vent frustrations over midterm strategy to Obama

Russell Berman - 07/14/10 08:37 PM   

                                              House Democrat’s frustration with what they feel is an under-appreciative White House blew into the open Wednesday.


Democrats have been boiling for four days over comments by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who suggested his party could lose control of the House this fall.


Irritation with the spokesman’s foray into political prognostication have exposed tensions between the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue that is centered on the feeling among some House lawmakers that the White House has not given the lower chamber due credit for an unprecedented string of accomplishments.

The House has approved a controversial healthcare overhaul and tackled difficult votes on climate change and financial regulatory reform, only to see legislation languish for months in the Senate.

More broadly, some Democrats complain, the White House has not made an aggressive enough push to keep the House in Democratic hands this fall.

“It was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” one Democratic campaign strategist working on 2010 elections said of Gibbs’s comments.

Lawmakers in the lower chamber have taken note that the president has held many more fundraising and campaign events for Senate candidates than House candidates. During the recent July 4 recess alone, one campaign aide pointed out, the president stumped for two Senate candidates — Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada and Robin Carnahan in Missouri — but did nothing for House candidates.

“There has been less of a focus on House Democrats and what we’re trying to do here and on our electoral prospects than on the Senate,” one Democratic aide said.

“The end result is a sense by some members that they’re being ignored,” the aide said.

House Democrats planned to vent their frustrations with the White House’s political strategy during a Wednesday meeting with President Obama.

While Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders want to move on from the flap, the speaker, as leader of House Democrats, has a responsibility to take their concerns to the White House, the aide said.

“She had to stand up and fight for them,” the aide said.

Rank-and-file members were outraged over the comments from Gibbs, who told “Meet the Press” the GOP was within “striking distance” of winning the House given the number of seats in play.

“I think he’s wrong. He clearly hasn’t evaluated or examined our House races,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said. “We’re not going to lose the House. You can use mathematics to look at anything, and politically our members are in very good shape, and I think we’re going to have a better-than-average election cycle.”

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said the White House and House Democrats were plainly not on the same page.

He said Gibbs was “off the wall” in his statement on NBC. “That was something that should have been said to the caucus and not glibly stated on national television on Sunday,” Pascrell said.

“If the administration is trying to tell us ‘stay away from us with an arm’s length,’ they did a good job. We don’t need a wake-up call. The White House needs a wake-up call on the politics of these issues.”

Democratic leaders have publicly downplayed the Gibbs comments as merely stating an obvious fact, but Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Wednesday also suggested the White House press secretary should have known better.

“People need to be aware of how their comments will be interpreted in a political environment,” he said.

Asked if Gibbs had misspoken, Van Hollen replied: “I’m just saying people need to be aware of how their comments will be interpreted in a political environment. Many people interpret that to mean that the Democrats will lose the House when he himself has been very clear that that is not the case and he does not believe that.”

Democrats were particularly frustrated at the timing of the Gibbs statement, coming as the party felt it had forced Republicans onto the defensive by highlighting gaffes by House GOP leader John Boehner (Ohio), who compared the financial meltdown to an “ant,” and Rep. Joe Barton (Texas), who apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward at a congressional hearing.

They also want more help from Obama on the campaign trail. While it is clear that the president could not be helpful to some vulnerable Democrats who hail from conservative districts where Obama is unpopular, there are several districts where Obama is wanted, the Democratic campaign strategist said.

The message to the president: Come visit where you can, and send money where you can’t.

The strategist mentioned Rep. Steve Driehaus’s district in Ohio, where the congressman was helped in 2008 by first-time Obama voters, as well as races in the president’s home states of Illinois and Hawaii. “It’s a question of actions,” the strategist said. “There’s an onus on [the White House] to do more.”

House Democrats aired their grievances with the White House to an Obama staffer Tuesday night during a closed caucus meeting.

Pelosi confronted that White House aide, Dan Turton, after her members lashed out at Gibbs for undermining the party’s electoral chances and handing a talking point to Republicans during his appearance on “Meet the Press.”

 At the White House on Wednesday, Gibbs described his relationship with Pelosi as “cordial.”

“Of course the opinion of the Speaker of the House matters to me,” he said. “It matters to Democrats throughout this country.”

Heaping praise on Pelosi, Gibbs added: “The work that the House and the Speaker have done over the past 18 months in making tough choices and making tough votes and in passing the agenda of this president have — have been monumental.”

Jordan Fabian contributed reporting.

This story was originally posted at 1:38 p.m. and updated at 8:37 p.m.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Woman finds LeBron James pendant at yard sale worth thousands

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Will Sarah Palin do it?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Critics slam Harry Reid's immigration remark

Critics slam Reid immigration remark
Scott Wong
July 14, 2010 08:23 AM



Immigration reform critics are seizing on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's comments this week that seemed to downplay the number of illegal immigrants working construction jobs in Nevada, even though a recent study found that his home state had the largest percentage of undocumented workers in the country.

When a reporter from KLAS-TV in Las Vegas told Reid a 2009 Pew Hispanic Center report found 17 percent of the nation’s construction workers were undocumented, the Nevada Democrat replied: “That may be some place, but it’s not here in Nevada.” 

Political opponents have tried to twist Reid’s words, saying he believes there are no illegal workers in Nevada. But Reid spokesman Jim Manley on Wednesday clarified his boss’ comments, saying the majority leader was simply disputing the reporter’s statistic and did not say the state has zero illegal workers.

In the interview, Reid was also asked why he blocked an amendment introduced last year by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) that would have required all construction firms working on economic stimulus projects to use E-Verify, the federal online system that allows employers to check whether someone is eligible to work in the country.

“That’s the reason we need to do comprehensive immigration reform,” Reid said. “We cannot do it piecemeal.”

Manley said Reid supports E-Verify and has worked to ensure the program does not expire. But Reid believes the current system is flawed because it sometimes penalizes American workers and can be susceptible to identity fraud.

"Improving our employment verification system is only a partial solution, however, to the exploitation of illegal labor and the undercutting of American wages,” Manley said in a statement to POLITICO. “Our broken immigration system can be fixed only through comprehensive immigration reform.”

Facing a tough challenge this fall from tea party darling Sharron Angle, Reid has been touting the success of the Democrat-backed stimulus plan, saying it has created jobs and helped repair the nation’s battered economy.


But Reid’s remarks on immigration have provided ammunition for opponents, who have tried to paint him as out of touch with average Americans.

“When you consider that Harry Reid has been splitting his time lately between his Ritz-Carlton condo in Washington and high-dollar fundraisers with trial lawyers in Canada, it’s easy to understand why he honestly may not believe that there are illegal workers in Nevada.,” said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “But for those who live and work in the real world, and particularly for his constituents in Nevada, America’s broken borders and the lack of enforcement at construction sites is a very serious problem that is hurting American jobs.”

Stand With Arizona, a group backing the state’s tough new immigration law, uploaded the KLAS-TV interview on YouTube and posted a link on its website, The site links to its Facebook page, which has more than 321,000 fans.

“Just when you thought the open borders crowd could not possibly be more out of touch with American workers, comes this gem,” the group posted on its website. “Sen. Maj. Leader Reid (D-NV), even when confronted with multiple sources of data, denies both that illegal aliens work on construction jobs in his state at ALL (they do), or that E-Verify is effective in weeding out illegals from jobs in the first place (it is). … As usual with his ilk, he repeats the phony mantra of ‘comprehensive reform’ again and again like a malfunctioning robot on Star Trek.”

According to the Pew report, “A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States,” Nevada had 170,000 illegal immigrants in its labor force in 2008, or 12.2 percent, more than twice the national rate of 5.4 percent. California was next with 1,850,000 illegal immigrants, representing 9.9 percent of its labor pool. Arizona had about 300,000, or 9.8 percent.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Bubba's back

Bubba's back

Clinton joins W.H. business meeting

 MATT NEGRIN | 07/14/10 3:04 PM


Clinton joins W.H. business meeting

Former President Clinton (right) will meet with President Obama Wednesday. AP 

Former President Clinton returned to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Wednesday to meet with President Obama, Vice President Biden and business leaders, the White House announced. They were scheduled to "discuss new ways to create jobs in the private sector and strengthen the partnership between the public and private sectors to make new investments in the clean energy industry," according to White House guidance.

The meeting, at 2:35 p.m., was closed press.

In Wednesday's White House briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs denied that Clinton was called because Obama needed extra support. Rather, Gibbs said, the Clinton Global Initiative is particularly engaged with one of the topics of discussion: making buildings more energy efficient.

Gibbs added that the opportunity for Obama to meet with Clinton was too great to be turned down, and he said of the former president's relationship with the current White House generally, "I think it would be crazy not to have a real popular former president out campaigning as he has."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Working seniors outnumber teens in labor force

Working seniors outnumber teens in labor force

Tom Abate

Chronicle Staff Writer


San Francisco Chronicle

July 14, 2010 04:00 AM


For the first time on record, senior citizens outnumber teens in the labor force as the Great Recession accentuates trends that make it harder for young people to find jobs and more likely for older workers to delay retirement. 

This historic crossover is revealed in data compiled by Bloomberg News showing that 6.6 million people over age 65 worked or looked for work in the first six months of the year, versus 5.9 million 16- to 19-year-olds. 

That analysis is based on federal records that started in 1948 when there were 4.4 million teens in the labor force compared with 2.9 million people over age 65. 

Experts say that over the past decade older workers have tended to hang on to their paychecks longer, owing to sagging stock portfolios and falling home prices. 

This shift toward an aging workforce has been disastrous for 16- to 19-year-olds, who face unemployment rates of 25 percent nationwide and 34 percent in California, similar to the Great Depression. 

"It's killing kids," said Andrew Sum, director of the center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. "We're tossing our future into the trash bin."

Economists agree that youngsters, especially those who lack college degrees, need entry-level jobs to help them acquire the discipline, confidence and motivation they need to succeed later in life. 

Slammed hard

The recession hurts. 

"Young people, as is always the case, get slammed hard because they are last hired, first fired," said Heidi Shierholz with the liberal Economic Policy Institute.

Some economists argue that high rates of teen unemployment make it time to rethink minimum-wage laws that put youngsters at a disadvantage compared with older workers who may compete for the same jobs.

For instance, the Bloomberg data cited a Labor Department report on employment trends in food preparation and serving - a strong teen job sector. From 2000 through 2009, the report found that employment among 16- to 19-year-olds fell by 242,000 jobs while the number of workers 55 and older increased by 128,000. 

"We need to create a lower minimum wage for teens to lower the cost of hiring and training entry-level employees," said Michael Saltsman, a research fellow at the conservative Employment Policies Institute. "What we would get for this is more jobs for our teens to learn career skills." 

Such a policy is anathema to Shierholz, who thinks a better way to improve job prospects for younger workers is to make Medicare and full Social Security benefits available at age 64 for the next two years to coax more older workers into retirement. 

Sum, the academic expert, argued for wage subsidies for employers who hire teens and better school-based programs to help young people find jobs. 

Young people at work

Some Bay Area youths have already benefited from such efforts. 

Sierra Faulkner, a 17-year-old student at Albany High School, parlayed a job-shadowing day at Chez Panisse in Berkeley into an unpaid internship at the internationally renowned restaurant. "I get paid in knowledge," said Faulkner, who said her once-a-week restaurant gig has taught her how to work at a fast pace. 

Cherisha Leung, a 20-year-old resident of Noe Valley in San Francisco, said she went looking for her first job at age 15 and ever since has worked through programs like Enterprise for High School Students and the United Way to find everything from odd jobs to career-track training.

This summer she is working as a paid intern at a real estate firm where she's getting exposure to her planned career in design and communications. 

"Little things here and there have built me into a pretty well-rounded individual," she said.


Forty-year McDonald's employee Ray Aronson was in the tee... Michael Andrews MICHAEL McANDREW / Hartford Courant TPN

Forty-year McDonald's employee Ray Aronson was in the teen demographic when he started in food service. He's now in the fast-growing over-55 worker crowd.


Photo: Michael Andrews MICHAEL McANDREW / Hartford Courant TPN 


Read more:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Nanny dies while using sex toy

British nanny Nicola Paginton dies using sex toy while watching porn: coroner

Daily News Staff


Originally Published:Friday, July 9th 2010, 4:00 AM
Updated: Friday, July 9th 2010, 5:19 AM


Nicola Paginton

 Nicola Paginton


The ecstasy - and the agony.


A 30-year-old British woman's death, when using a sex toy while watching a porn movie, was probably caused by her state of arousal, officials said. 

Nicola Paginton, a children's nanny, was found dead in bed - naked from the waist down - in October as the porn movie played on her laptop, according to the Daily Mail.

A pathologist and coroner said during an inquest that Paginton died from a sudden heart arrhythmia, likely caused by "her activity before death." the paper reported.

Police had been called to Paginton's home after her employer, Sarah Griffths, went to her house when she failed to show up for work. She and a neighbor saw Paginton lying on her bed with her cat sitting on her chest, the newspaper said.

Read more:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Barack Obama compared to Hitler and Lenin in Tea Party billboard

Barack Obama compared to Hitler and Lenin in Tea Party billboard


A roadside billboard created by a branch of the Tea Party in Iowa comparing President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin has been condemned by other groups in the movement.



A billboard ordered and paid for by the North ...


Tue Jul 13, 6:30 PM ET


North Iowa Tea Party co-founder Bob Johnson said the sign highlighted what the group argues is Mr Obama's support for socialism Photo: AP



The North Iowa Tea Party began displaying the sign in Mason City last week. It shows photographs of Mr Obama.  the German Nazi leader and Russian communist with the statement: "Radical leaders prey on the fearful & naive."

The words "Democratic Socialism" are featured over Mr Obama's picture, over Hitler's photo is "National Socialism" and over Lenin's head is "Marxist Socialism." The word "Change" – Mr Obama's campaign slogan – is included on each photo. 

Placards with similar messages have been discouraged from tea party events after drawing negative publicity. Pictures of the president daubed with a Hitler moustache were commonly seen during the early days of the movement in protest at his health care reform.

Shelby Blakely, a spokesman for the national Tea Party Patriots, said the sign was not appropriate. She said her group opposed any such comparisons.

John White, state coordinator of the Iowa Tea Party movement, said such signs were distasteful. But he told Radio Iowa that he believed that everything Mr Obama had done was in "lock-step" with what Hitler did in his day.

The White House declined to comment.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Officers charged in post-Katrina bridge shooting

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


4-time Texas lotto winner rich with money, mystery

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Tea party to NAACP: 'Grow up'

Tea party to NAACP: 'Grow up'


ANDY BARR | 7/13/10 3:37 PM EDT


Tea party activists rally in the desert outside Searchlight, Nev. | AP Photo


Tea party activists are pushing back against a resolution by the NAACP that asserts tea partiers have engaged in 'explicitly racist behavior.' AP


A spokesman for a group of tea party activists on Tuesday said that they are taking offense to a resolution the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is set to approve that condemns the grassroots movement as “racist.” 

“For the NAACP to accuse the tea parties of racism is insulting to the great patriots who have participated in this movement, and sadly shows just how out of touch that group is with the American people,” Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell told POLITICO. 

The NAACP is expected to vote at its annual conference as soon as Tuesday on a resolution that accuses tea Party activists of having used racial epithets in denouncing the policies of President Barack Obama and of having verbally and physically abused members of Congress. 

The resolution asserts that tea partiers have engaged in “explicitly racist behavior” and asks NAACP members to “stand in opposition” to the conservative group’s “drive to push our country back to the pre-civil rights era.” 

In response, Russell said the resolution fails to recognize minorities’ contributions to the grassroots movement and attacked the NAACP for lobbing racism charges without evidence to back them. 

“Some of the most compelling leaders of this movement are of many different races — men and women such as William and Selena Owens, Lloyd Marcus, Kevin Jackson and others,” Russell said. 

“The racism accusation by the likes of the NAACP has been proved false time and again. Earlier this year, Democrats smeared tea party activists by claiming members of the Black Caucus were spit on and called the n-word as they paraded through a crowd of tea partiers,” he added. “Their blatant lie was proved false by overwhelming evidence from multiple video cameras that recorded the event.” 

Russell contended the NAACP is guilty of overstepping its bounds and of acting juvenile. 

“As the tea party movement has gained political momentum, groups or individuals still playing the race card look like a foolish embarrassment to their own party,” he said. “It’s time for the NAACP to grow up and stop hiding behind hypocritical race-baiting politics.”

Read more:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Man blinked as life support machine about to be turned off

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Man pushes boy into traffic

Fort Worth man accused of pushing boy into traffic

Monday, Jul. 12, 20106
Fort Worth
Michael Jerome Walker


Audio: 911 call on Grapevine motorist 



After a woman got out of her car in the middle of Texas 121 on Saturday night to escape her boyfriend, the man grabbed her 5-year-old son, held him over his head and shook him before pushing him into traffic, Grapevine police said Monday.

Motorists slowed to avoid hitting the child, who was found uninjured by officers responding to numerous 911 calls.

One caller told a dispatcher, "A guy has some lady's baby, and the baby got thrown in the middle of the highway," according to a 911 tape released Monday afternoon. "She's freaking out."

On the tape, the sound of screeching tires can be heard as a van strikes the car, and a woman can be heard screaming.

Michael Jerome Walker, 22, of Fort Worth, was in the Grapevine City Jail on Monday with bail set at $15,260.

He faces a charge of endangering a child. He also faces charges of making a terroristic threat and assault based on the woman's complaint that he punched her and threatened to kill her, police said.

After Walker was arrested, authorities found that he was named in eight unrelated warrants issued in Fort Worth and three from Euless.

Boy's mom 'exited the car, looking for help'

Walker's girlfriend, a 24-year-old Lewisville woman, told police that she was driving Walker home Saturday night when they began to argue. Walker was upset because he believed that she was helping police to get him arrested, police said.

The woman told police that Walker told her son: "Mommy is about to go to sleep and not wake up. I'm about to make Mommy go to sleep."

He then punched her, the woman told police.

"She was trying to find a place to pull off and stop, but she couldn't, so she just stopped her car in the middle of the highway," Grapevine police Lt. Todd Dearing said Monday. "She exited the car, looking for help."

The 911 calls started coming about 11 p.m. Saturday from the 100 block of Texas 121 in Grapevine just north of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

Walker also got out of the car, grabbed the boy and stood on the side of the highway, holding him in the air, witnesses told police.

They told police that Walker shook the boy violently, but the youngster managed to escape. Then Walker pushed the boy into traffic, witnesses said.

About the same time, a van crashed into the car, which was still in the highway, according to police reports.

No injuries were reported.

Officers believe that Walker had been drinking, according to a report.

Read more:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


NAACP to vote on resolution condemning tea party supporters

NAACP to vote on controversial resolution condemning 'tea party' supporters

Krissah Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 13, 2010; 4:09 PM


Members of the NAACP will vote Tuesday on a resolution that condemns what the group calls "explicitly racist behavior" by supporters of the "tea party" movement. 

The resolution, which is expected to pass, pits the civil rights group against the conservative grass-roots movement, which has repeatedly denied allegations of racism. 

NAACP president Benjamin Jealous told members of his group that he wants to put the tea party "on ice." 

The resolution has drawn scorn from some conservatives. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin became the latest to denounce it on Tuesday, tweeting: "I'm busy today so notify me asap when NAACP renders verdict: are liberty-loving, equality-respecting patriots racist? Bated breath, waiting . . . " 

The tea party statement is one of many actions the NAACP has taken this week during its annual convention, which kicked off Saturday in Kansas City, Mo. The group has also requested a meeting with oil company BP to discuss the effect that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is having on minority workers. Meanwhile, one of the NAACP's local chapters has persuaded Alvin Greene, South Carolina's surprise Democratic Senate nominee, to speak at a meeting Sunday. 

The tea party resolution, which was submitted by the NAACP's Kansas City branch and was first reported by the Kansas City Star, has sparked a hot debate. It says members of the movement have "displayed signs and posters intended to degrade people of color generally and President Barack Obama specifically" and calls "the racist elements" within the tea party "a threat to progress." 

As an example, authors of the statement point to reports by black members of Congress that they endured spitting and racial epithets before voting for the health-care overhaul. (No charges were filed, and some tea party supporters have denied the claims.) 

The resolution also calls on "the leadership and members of the tea party to recognize the historic and present racist factions within it and to repudiate those factions," and says the movement has opposed government programs that help working people and people of color, according to NAACP spokeswoman Leila McDowell. 

Many members of the loose affiliation of groups that make up the tea party have roundly condemned the resolution. 

"Some of these charges have been going on for a while," said Brendan Steinhauser, director of campaigns for FreedomWorks, which organizes tea party groups. "I think there's been a concerted effort to make us look like were are extreme. . . . We're a very mainstream movement that talks about the debt, the bailouts, the spending." 

Steinhauser said he is "inspired by the American civil rights movement" and considered the 1963 March on Washington a model for the tea party's anti-tax march on the Mall last fall. 

Gina Loudon, one of the founders of the St. Louis Tea Party, told Fox News that the NAACP's charges are untrue and called the resolution a "shame." 

"I can't believe that the tea party is even going to be put in a position of dignifying something like that," she said. "This is sad, because this established organization is being used by the left." 

She said the tea party groups have tried to give minority conservatives a platform. 

A simple majority of the more than 2,000 NAACP voting delegates will have to approve the resolution at a business meeting Tuesday. 

The NAACP has also become the first group to get a meeting with Greene, the South Carolina Senate candidate who was a virtual unknown before winning the Democratic primary in June. Greene, who is from Manning, S.C., told the Associated Press that he has accepted an invitation from that city's NAACP chapter to speak at its regular monthly meeting Sunday at Ebenezer Baptist Church. 

Greene will give a 20 to 30 minute speech, said chapter President Robert Fleming. Greene also asked for a space to hold a news conference after his speech, said Fleming, whose family has known Greene's for years. (Fleming's family operates the local funeral home, and Greene's mother runs the town's flower shop.) 

"We presented the invitation to him as an opportunity for him to allow the citizens of South Carolina to know why he is running," Fleming said. 

When asked what he planned to discuss, Greene told the AP that he would talk about "jobs, education and justice, the campaign for the general election." 

Back in Kansas City, the first days of the NAACP's weeklong meeting have focused on the oil spill in the gulf and its impact on minorities. NAACP President Ben Jealous sent a letter Saturday to BP saying that minority and local workers are not getting a fair shot at contracts for cleanup work and that the jobs they have gotten are low-paying. 

McDowell said company officials responded quickly. "They will meet with us," she said.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Tiger Woods fumes at personal questions in Ireland

'Worth it?' Tiger Woods fumes at personal questions in Ireland


Tiger Woods met with reporters in Ireland on Tuesday.

Tiger Woods met with reporters in Ireland on Tuesday.

When asked whether his liaisons with other women had been "worth it" since it cost him his marriage and commercial endorsements, Woods replied, "I think you're looking too deep into this." He torpedoed the follow-up question with an icily firm "Thank you." 

Faced with questions about why he was returning immediately to his Florida home rather than heading to Scotland to prepare for next week's British Open at St. Andrews, one of his favorite courses where he's won two previous Opens in 2000 and 2005, the previously easy-speaking Woods flipped a switch into staccato half-sentences. 

How will you prepare? "Practicing." 

Where? "Home."

Why not try and play some links golf in Scotland beforehand? "I need to get home." Silence. 

Why? "See my kids." Silence. 

Throughout the 15-minute press conference journalists attempted various angles to coax and comment on how Woods' marital implosion was affecting his game. 

"There are times in one's life when things get put in perspective, one being when my father passed, and obviously what I've been going through lately," he said in his most expansive reply. 

But when asked again whether he was finding personal worries overshadowing his game, Woods had clearly had enough. 

"Everything's working itself out," was all he would say. 

When asked if that meant his troubles were still undermining his golf, Woods descended into glum-eyed silence, offering only an expression somewhere between a grimace and a frown. 

Out on the Adare Manor Golf Course, Woods felt nothing but love and admiration from the more than 20,000 fans who lined the 7,453-yard course five-deep to watch his every drive, approach shot and putt. 

Armed with a full night's sleep, Woods breezed through a course that had befuddled him on Monday, when he shot a 7-over-par 79 to fall near the bottom of the field of 54 professionals. 

Woods' Irish caddie, silver-haired Tipperary car dealer Arthur Pierse, said Woods was exhausted on Monday after flying overnight from the conclusion of the AT&T National in Pennsylvania, where he finished a distant 46th. 

He climbed back into the middle of the pack with Tuesday's performance, though the score didn't matter because the pros at the McManus Invitational typically give their prize money to Irish charities, and the event is not U.S. PGA-ranked. 

Every five years, Irish billionaire McManus persuades many of the world's top golfers to join his charity event in Adare, where three-member teams of amateurs pay —125,000 ($155,000) for the chance to play alongside the pros. 

Tuesday's rested Woods attacked the outward nine, birdieing three holes and narrowly missing others when putts clipped the hole. He missed an eagle on the 7th, the first par-5 target, by barely an inch. The day before, the same hole produced a double bogey into a pond. 

Woods' game suffered once the weather took a decidedly Irish turn at the 10th hole. Drab gray skies that previously offered softly spitting rain deteriorated into an in-your-face icy shower. Woods, setting aside his umbrella for rushed shots, underhit his approach into a bunker, then shanked the following chip shot 8 feet right of the hole. Woods slapped his wedge into the sand and groaned before two-putting for his day's first bogey. 

Woods dallied at a gourmet sausage vendor — where he inquired about what a Cumberland sausage was before opting instead for a bunless burger — until the rain eased. At the 11th, a par-3 230-yarder offering a straight shot across the River Maigue to the green, Woods planted the ball 8 feet from the hole, then nailed the putt for another birdie. 

Woods did it again on the par-4 14th, covering most of the 444 yards on his drive, then planting the ball 2 feet from the cup for another birdie. 

But just like Monday, Woods couldn't conjure any magic in his approach to the par-5, 548-yard 18th in front of the fans' main stands. He tried again to cross the river in two shots but once again put the ball into the water for his final bogey. 

One of the thousands who came specifically to Adare to see Tiger, 32-year-old high school teacher Marie O'Sullivan, snapped off pictures rapid-fire as he passed by on the 18th fairway. 

She told a reporter of her County Kerry village's recent dramatization of Woods' personal troubles, an earthy variety show called "Pride of the Parish" featuring Tiger Woods and wife Elin Nordegren in marriage counseling. In the show, she said, the couple mended their troubles with the help of a counselor. 

"If only life imitated art," said O'Sullivan, who played the role of Nordegren in the revue.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


George Steinbrenner owner of New York Yankees dies

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Confidence in President Obama reaches new low

Confidence in Obama reaches new low, Washington Post-ABC News poll finds


Dan Balz and Jon Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 13, 2010; A01


Public confidence in President Obama has hit a new low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. Four months before midterm elections that will define the second half of his term, nearly six in 10 voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country, and a clear majority once again disapproves of how he is dealing with the economy. 

Regard for Obama is still higher than it is for members of Congress, but the gap has narrowed. About seven in 10 registered voters say they lack confidence in Democratic lawmakers and a similar proportion say so of Republican lawmakers. 

Overall, more than a third of voters polled -- 36 percent -- say they have no confidence or only some confidence in the president, congressional Democrats and congressional Republicans. Among independents, this disillusionment is higher still. About two-thirds of all voters say they are dissatisfied with or angry about the way the federal government is working.

Such broad negative sentiments have spurred a potent anti-incumbent mood. Just 26 percent of registered voters say they are inclined to support their representative in the House this fall; 62 percent are inclined to look for someone new. 

Democrats nationally remain on the defensive as they seek to retain both houses of Congress this fall. Registered voters are closely divided on the question of whether they will back Republicans or Democrats in House races. Among those who say they are sure to cast ballots in November, 49 percent side with the GOP and 45 percent with Democrats. 

Overall, a slim majority of all voters say they would prefer Republican control of Congress so that the legislative branch would act as a check on the president's policies. Those most likely to vote in the midterms prefer the GOP over continued Democratic rule by a sizable margin of 56 percent to 41 percent. 

Economic worries continue to frame the congressional campaigns. Almost all Americans rate the economy negatively, although compared with the depths of the recession in early 2009, far fewer now describe economic conditions as "poor." Only about a quarter of all Americans think the economy is improving. 

Recent economic developments -- a declining stock market, problems in the housing industry and an unemployment report showing only tepid job growth in the private sector -- may have bruised the president's ratings. 

Just 43 percent of all Americans now say they approve of the job Obama is doing on the economy, while 54 percent disapprove. Both are the worst, marginally, of his presidency. Even a third of Democrats give him negative marks here. And overall, intensity runs clearly against the president on the issue, with twice as many people rating him strongly negative as strongly positive. 

At the same time, Democrats generally continue to hold the edge over Republicans when it comes to dealing with the nation's fragile economy. But that Democratic lead is slimmer than it was in 2006 before the party won back control of Congress. And among those most likely to vote this year, 39 percent trust the Democrats more and 40 percent the Republicans. About 17 percent of likely voters put their confidence in neither side. 

Public opinion is split down the middle on the question of whether the government should spend more money to stimulate the economy in a way that leads to job creation. Among those who support such new spending, 18 percent change their minds when asked what they think if such outlays could sharply increase the budget deficit. In that scenario, 57 percent opposed another round of spending. 

About six in 10 Democrats say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who favors new government spending, while 55 percent of Republicans say they would be less likely to do so. Independent voters are divided on the question, with 41 percent more apt to oppose and 35 percent to support. 

On at least one issue pending in Congress there is broader agreement: A sizable majority says the government should extend unemployment benefits. 

Most Democrats and independents support increasing the time limit on government payments for jobless claims, and they are joined by 43 percent of Republicans. The notion clearly divides the GOP: Sixty percent of conservative Republicans oppose the idea, while 57 percent of moderate or liberal Republicans support it.

Low marks on deficit

On the question of Obama's leadership, 42 percent of registered voters now say they have confidence that he will make the right decisions for the country, with 58 saying they do not. At the start of his presidency, about six in 10 expressed confidence in his decision-making. 

Obama's overall job-approval rating stands at 50 percent, equaling his low point in Post-ABC polling; 47 percent disapprove of the job he is doing. For the first time in his presidency, those who strongly disapprove now significantly outnumber those who strongly approve. 

Among those who say they definitely will vote in November, 53 percent disapprove of the way he is handling his responsibilities. 

The president's approval ratings reached a new low among whites, at 40 percent, with his positive marks dipping under 50 percent for the first time among white college-educated women. 

On the issues tested in the poll, Obama's worst ratings come on his handling of the federal budget deficit, where 56 percent disapprove and 40 percent approve. He scores somewhat better on health-care reform (45 percent approve) and regulation of the financial industry (44 percent). His best marks come on his duties as commander in chief, with 55 percent approving. 

Obama's overall standing puts him at about the same place President Bill Clinton was in the summer of 1994, a few months before Republicans captured the House and Senate in an electoral landslide. 

President Ronald Reagan, who also contended with a serious recession at the outset of his first term, was a little lower at this point in 1982, with a 46 percent to 45 percent split on his approval ratings. Republicans went on to lose about two dozen seats in the House that fall. 

Of course, Reagan and Clinton subsequently rebounded and went on to win reelection easily. Obama advisers find some hope from that history, even as the historical record foreshadows Democratic losses this November. 

The latest poll was conducted by conventional and cellular telephone Wednesday through Sunday among a random national sample of 1,288 adults including interviews with 1,151 registered voters. The results for the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. 

Polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta and polling assistant Kyle Dropp contributed to this report.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Backlash grows against full-body scanners in airports

Backlash grows against full-body scanners in airports


Gary Stoller






Gary Stoller, USA TODAY Opposition to new full-body imaging machines to screen passengers and the government's deployment of them at most major airports is growing.   Many frequent fliers complain they're time-consuming or invade their privacy. The world's airlines say they shouldn't be used for primary security screening.  And questions are being raised about possible effects on passengers' health. 


"The system takes three to five times as long as walking through a metal detector," says Phil Bush of Atlanta, one of many fliers on USA TODAY's Road Warriors panel who oppose the machines. "This looks to be yet another disaster waiting to happen."


BODY SCANNERS: Concerns about privacy and health set off debate


The machines — dubbed by some fliers as virtual strip searches — were installed at many airports in March after a Christmas Day airline bombing attempt. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has spent more than $80 million for about 500 machines, including 133 now at airports. It plans to install about 1,000 by the end of next year. 

The machines are running into complaints and questions here and overseas: 

•The International Air Transport Association, which represents 250 of the world's airlines, including major U.S. carriers, says the TSA lacks "a strategy and a vision" of how the machines fit into a comprehensive checkpoint security plan. "The TSA is putting the cart before the horse," association spokesman Steve Lott says. 

•Security officials in Dubai said this month they wouldn't use the machines because they violate "personal privacy," and information about their "side effects" on health isn't known. 

•Last month, the European Commission said in a report that "a rigorous scientific assessment" of potential health risks is needed before machines are deployed there. It also said screening methods besides the new machines should be used on pregnant women, babies, children and people with disabilities. 

The U.S. Government Accountability Office said in October that the TSA was deploying the machines without fully testing them and assessing whether they could detect "threat items" concealed on various parts of the body. And in March, the office said it "remains unclear" whether they would have detected the explosives that police allege Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to detonate on a jet bound for Detroit on Christmas. 

TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee says the agency completed testing at the end of last year and is "highly confident" in the machines' detection capability. She also says their use hasn't slowed screening at airports and that the agency has taken steps to ensure privacy and safety. 

The TSA is deploying two types of machines that can see underneath clothing. One uses a high-speed X-ray beam, and the other bounces electromagnetic waves off a passenger's body.

  Passengers can refuse screening by the machines and receive a pat-down search by a security officer, screening by a metal detector, or both, the TSA says.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Not in my House, Pelosi says on potential GOP win

Pelosi fires back after Gibbs' comment on potential GOP win


Drew Joseph

SFChronicle staff writer

July 12 2010 at 03:50 PM




San Francisco's Congresswoman and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in town on Monday, taking advantage of a visit to Mission Neighborhood Centers to assure those in attendance that the Democrats will maintain control of the House.

Her remarks came after White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Sunday warned on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Republicans could reclaim the House with this year's elections.

Never far away from a Pelosi press conference in her hometown, Shaky Hand Productions was there to capture it all:

"I don't think there's much likelihood [of Democrats losing control of the House], but anytime the White House wants to lower expectations, that's okay with me," Pelosi said.

Pelosi acknowledged that only Lincoln and FDR (heard of them?) had held off major midterm losses, but said, "we absolutely have no intention of losing the House."

Pelosi, whose speakership depends on how Democrats fare in November's elections, also touted the benefits of the stimulus and lambasted Republican senators for blocking legislation that Pelosi said would extend job benefits and help create or save more jobs.

She warned of an even deeper recession if Republican senators continue to filibuster against jobs bills that the House has passed.

"We don't necessarily need another stimulus package, we need public policy that keeps jobs at home," Pelosi said.

Pelosi called the Centers, which has received $136,000 from the stimulus and employs 18 people with Jobs Now! funding, a "model to the nation of what our public policy should be." She toured the community center, and a group of young children even wrote the speaker a little ditty that went something like this:

"Nancy is here! Nancy is here! We're so happy, because Nancy is here!"

Read more:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Man sues to get $100K engagement ring back

Larry Lipshutz, who unknowingly tied knot with married woman, sues to get $100K engagement ring back

Kevin Deutsch and Jose Martinez


Tuesday, July 13th 2010, 4:00 AM


Nadia Kiderman's ex Larry Lipshutz is suing to get back this $100,000 engagement ring.
Florescu for News

Nadia Kiderman's ex Larry Lipshutz is suing to get back this $100,000 engagement ring.



He wants the ring, but he may just get the finger.

A real estate honcho is fighting to get back the $100,000 diamond engagement ring he gave a woman he married in a Jewish religious ceremony.

Larry Lipschutz claims he was clueless that Park Ave. dentist Nadia Kiderman was still legally married to another man when they tied the knot before a rabbi, but she says things soured when she realized he was just a "a con artist preying on wealthy women." 

"There's no way I am giving him the ring back!" Kiderman said last night of the custom-made Princess-cut bauble. 

"It's something out of this world." 

As for Lipschutz, she says he wasn't the man she thought he was: "Women should run from him like fire." 

Lipschutz, 53, of Monsey, Rockland County, placed what she said was a 7-carat rock on her finger just weeks before their Orthodox Jewish wedding in September 2006.

And she gave him a $25,000 gold Rolex that he still has, she said.

He and Kiderman, 48, who lives in Westchester County, split a few weeks before the one-year anniversary of their religious ceremony, and a Rockland judge last year ordered Kiderman to return the ring. 

A state appeals court has since given Lipschutz the wedded diss, tossing the lower court decision and declaring he was "well aware" Kiderman was still married to Queens pediatrician Howard Nass when he gave her the massive diamond ring . 

Lipschutz could not be reached for comment. But a man who said he was his son blasted Kiderman as a "total fraud." 

"She's not an honest woman," he said. "He's going to get that ring back from her." 

A Lipschutz pal who asked only to be identified as "Simcha" said he understands why he wants it returned: "When I saw the ring, my jaw dropped. I said, 'Larry, you must really be crazy about her to buy her something like that.' " 

Nass and Kiderman were not divorced until December 2007, according to the appeals court decision, but a lawyer for Kiderman said that never mattered to Lipschutz. 

"His concern was not a civil divorce but a get, a Jewish divorce," said lawyer Anthony Piscionere. 

"He told her that as long as she gets the get, he wanted to marry her." 

Kiderman had secured a get from Nass in 2002. 

"A religious divorce cannot terminate a marriage," countered Abe Konstam, a lawyer for Lipschutz. "Since she didn't have a civil divorce, she was, in the eyes of New York State, still married to her first husband." 

The stunning ring remains in the hands of a third party until the couple settle their differences - or take the matter to trial. 

"He doesn't have the ring in his pocket, she doesn't have the ring on her finger," Konstam said. 



Read more:

Monday, July 12, 2010


Woman attacked man with bottle of hot sauce

Police: Woman attacked man with bottle of hot sauce

Three women jailed after attacking man with a broken bottle of hot sauce, according to Orlando police.


Bianca Prieto

Orlando Sentinel

4:40 p.m. EDT, July 12, 2010 

Three women were jailed this weekend after they were accused of beating up a man and attacking him with a broken bottle of hot sauce, Orlando Police said. 

Officers said Telesia Donaldson, 27; her sister, Jahleah Donaldson, 23; and a friend, Tiffany Scarlett, 26; attacked Telesia Donaldson's ex-boyfriend inside his apartment early Saturday. 

Telesia Donaldson and the victim, John Flukers, lived together in Flukers' apartment until three weeks ago when the couple broke up. 

Telesia Donaldson moved out, but didn't return Flukers' apartment key, reports show. 

On Saturday, Telesia Donaldson's friend and sister dropped her off at the apartment and she used the key to get inside, where she found Flukers and his new girlfriend in bed, a report said. 

The new girlfriend ran from the apartment when the mayhem started, reports show.

Telesia Donaldson called her sister and friend to come back to the apartment and claimed Flukers was arguing with her and had a kitchen knife. Once the women were inside the apartment they began to attack Flukers, the report states. 

"All three began hitting him and he defended himself and hit back," according to the report. "He punched and pushed them to get them to leave, but all three are larger girls and they were overpowering him." 

Flukers grabbed a knife to defend himself, but the women continued the attack. Jahlea Donaldson grabbed a bottle of hot sauce, broke it on the counter top and tried to use the broken bottle to cut Flukers, the report said. 

Flukers defended himself and cut Jahlea Donaldson's right hand, he told investigators. Later, he ran from the apartment and asked a neighbor to call police. Then he ran over to Jahlea Donaldson's car and broke out the back window, a report said. 

During the melee, Telesia Donaldson was cut on her leg, officers said. All three women were later jailed. 

Jahlea and Telesia Donaldson were taken to the hospital for treatment of their injuries. 

Officers found a steak knife hidden in Telesia Donaldson's shorts and marijuana in her purse. She was charged with armed burglary of a dwelling with a dangerous weapon, carrying a concealed weapon and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. She was booked into the Orange County Jail. 

Officers found a small amount of crack cocaine in Jahlea Donaldson's purse while booking her into the jail. She is charged with burglary of a dwelling with aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon and introduction of contraband into a correctional facility. 

Scarlett is charged with occupied residential burglary with a battery. 

Monday, July 12, 2010


More Americans' credit scores at new lows

July 12, 2010

More Americans’ credit scores at new lows

Eileen Aj Connelly
Associated Press

NEW YORK — The credit scores of millions more Americans are sinking to new lows.

Figures provided by FICO show that 25.5 percent of consumers — nearly 43.4 million people — now have a credit score of 599 or below, marking them as poor risks for lenders. It’s unlikely they will be able to get credit cards, auto loans or mortgages under the tighter lending standards banks now use.

Because consumers relied so heavily on debt to fuel their spending in recent years, their restricted access to credit is one reason for the slow economic recovery.

“I don’t get paid for loan applications, I get paid for closings,” said Ritch Workman, a Melbourne, Fla., mortgage broker. “I have plenty of business, but I’m struggling to stay open.”.

FICO’s latest analysis is based on consumer credit reports as of April. Its findings represent an increase of about 2.4 million people in the lowest credit score categories in the past two years. Before the Great Recession, scores on FICO’s 300-to-850 scale weren’t as volatile, said Andrew Jennings, chief research officer for FICO in Minneapolis. Historically, just 15 percent of the 170 million consumers with active credit accounts, or 25.5 million people, fell below 599, according to data posted on

More are likely to join their ranks. It can take several months before payment missteps actually drive down a credit score. The Labor Department says that about 26 million people are out of work or underemployed, and millions more face foreclosure, which alone can chop 150 points off an individual’s score. Once the damage is done, it could be years before this group can restore their scores, even if they had strong credit histories in the past.

On the positive side, the number of consumers who have a top score of 800 or above has increased in recent years. At least in part, this reflects that more individuals have cut spending and paid down debt in response to the recession. Their ranks now stand at 17.9 percent, which is notably above the historical average of 13 percent, though down from 18.7 percent in April 2008 before the market meltdown.

There’s also been a notable shift in the important range of people with moderate credit, those with scores between 650 and 699. The new data shows that this group comprised 11.9 percent of scores. This is down only marginally from 12 percent in 2008, but reflects a drop of roughly 5.3 million people from its historical average of 15 percent.

This group is significant because it may feel the effects of lenders’ tighter credit standards the most, said FICO’s Jennings. Consumers on the lowest end of the scale are less likely to try to borrow. However, people with mid-range scores that had been eligible for credit before the meltdown are looking to buy homes or cars but finding it hard to qualify for affordable loans.

Workman has seen this firsthand.

A customer with a score of 679 recently walked away from buying a house because he could not get the best interest rate on a $100,000 mortgage. Had his score been 680, the rate he was offered would have been a half-percent lower. The difference was only about $31 a month, but over a 30-year mortgage would have added up to more than $11,000.

“There was nothing derogatory on his credit report,” Workman said of the customer. He had, however, recently gotten an auto loan, which likely lowered his score.

Studies have shown FICO scores are generally reliable predictions of consumer payment behavior, but Workman’s experience points to one drawback of credit scoring: Lenders can’t differentiate between two people with the same score.

Another consumer might have a 679 score because of several late payments,
which could indicate he or she is a bigger repayment risk.

On a broader scale, some of the spike in foreclosures came about because homeowners were financially irresponsible, while others lost their jobs and could no longer pay their mortgages. Yet both reasons for foreclosures have the same impact on a borrower’s FICO score.

In the past too much credit was handed out based on scores alone, without considering how much debt consumers could pay back, said Edmund Tribue, a senior vice president in the credit risk practice at MasterCard Advisors. Now the ability to repay the debt is a critical part of the lending decision.

Workman still thinks credit scores alone play too big a role. “The pendulum has swung too far,” he said. “We absolutely swung way too far in the liberal lending, but did we have to swing so far back the other way?”

Monday, July 12, 2010


President Obama's policy time bombs

Obama's policy time bombs
Chris Frates and Ben White

  July 11, 2010 07:28 PM EDT


Barack Obama shown here.
Some of President Barack Obama's biggest promises won't go into effect until long after his first term -- and in some cases, well past a second.


President Barack Obama has long boasted about the transformative change he’s bringing to the country.

But by the time those reforms finally arrive, he could be long gone from the White House.

Some of Obama’s biggest promises won’t go into effect until long after his first term — and in some cases, well past a second. In fact, buried deep within some of the Democrats’ most significant reform bills are dozens of policy time bombs set to blow at more politically convenient times.

The Democratic reform triumvirate — health care, Wall Street and energy — is filled with provisions designed to front-load policy benefits and delay political pain.

Health care reform cracks down on insurers right away but won’t force people to buy insurance until 2014. A new consumer financial protection agency kicks in almost immediately under the Wall Street reform bill, but banks won’t feel its full force for more than 10 years. And even Democrats’ nascent immigration reforms include at least an eight-year wait before illegal immigrants can apply for permanent residency — after Obama leaves office.

The delicate balance aims to gradually get a skittish public accustomed to the enormous changes, while insulating lawmakers from potential backlash.

“You always delay anything that might be disruptive or difficult,” said Frances Lee, professor of political science at the University of Maryland. “The goal is to do it in a way that no one feels it and no one writes news stories about it — minimize the blowback.”

Lawmakers and the White House justifiably, and almost reflexively, argue that it’s logical to phase in the sweeping changes over time. Forcing massive industries like Wall Street and health care to make drastic changes overnight would be virtually impossible and incredibly destabilizing.

That doesn’t mean politics aren’t a factor.

Perhaps most famously, House Democrats practically demanded that their leaders load the health care bill with goodies that take effect before November’s election, giving them something to sell on the campaign trail.

In the Wall Street reform bill, some of the toughest crackdowns on the financial sector were delayed. The bill offers long timetables for compliance and generous opportunities for extensions.

For instance, a new rule to drastically cut the amount banks can invest in hedge funds and private equity doesn’t sound as tough when banks could get more than a decade to do it, as some analysts believe.

The bill also calls for a six-month study of the so-called Volcker rule, which restricts banks’ ability to make the risky transactions. The actual rule-making, however, doesn’t take place until the fall of 2011. The new rules are supposed to take effect by mid-2012, with full compliance by 2014. 

But they are allowed to file up to three years of extensions — and can take an additional five years to ditch some of their most difficult-to-sell investments.

This period could give banks plenty of time to find other ways to make money — or figure out how to skirt the new rules.

“There is a long phase-in period in which the actual rules will be crafted by regulators,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a note to clients last week. “While this may lead to further surprises down the line, we see this as important as financial institutions have time to adapt their business models.”

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said he didn’t know how long the Volcker rule gives banks to phase in the changes, but making sudden, sweeping changes could trigger an economic crisis.

“When you are forcing a whole group of institutions to sell the same thing, it’s crazy to make them all sell it at one time. That’s creating a fire sale. That’s very destabilizing, so we have tried to phase it in,” Frank told POLITICO on June 30, the same day the House passed the financial reform bill that bears his name.

Lawmakers also gave credit-rating agencies a stay of execution of sorts.

The Senate passed a tough provision that essentially banned banks from choosing their own rating agencies, a way to keep banks from shopping around for investment ratings they might not deserve. But in the bill’s final version, Congress allowed for a two-year study before enacting the provision — plenty of time for credit raters to lobby for a pardon, away from the harsh glare of major legislation.

Another major requirement, that banks wall off their most risky derivatives-trading businesses into separately capitalized subsidiaries, also delays the pain for banks. They will have until 2015 to move their equity, commodity and other riskier derivatives into spinoff ventures.

Goldman analysts estimated that banks will have to refinance $100 billion in securities under the bill. However, they don’t have to do it until 2013, which should make it fairly painless.

Democrats took a similar tack on health care reform, quickly activating the more popular bits, such as a ban on denying people insurance because of pre-existing conditions, while delaying the most unpopular ones.

For instance, the provisions requiring everyone to buy insurance and penalizing employers that don’t offer coverage won’t begin until 2014. A tax on high-end insurance plans isn’t effective until 2018. Not surprisingly, those three elements were viewed as the least favorable pieces of health reform in a recent Kaiser Health Tracking Poll.

But some Democrats say there are plenty of popular items in the health care bill that were delayed to keep from botching the law’s rollout. Many of the delayed provisions, according to Lee, were aimed at keeping costs under Obama’s $900 billion price tag. The later it starts, the cheaper it looks in the 10-year budget projections.


Obama certainly isn’t the first president to work the calendar to keep costs down, Lee noted. In 2001, President George W. Bush’s tax cuts front-loaded relief for poor and middle-class taxpayers and gradually phased in tax cuts for the wealthy. In fact, the full repeal of the estate tax just took effect this year, Lee said. 

And in 1983, when Congress raised the Social Security retirement age, the first people the change affected were those who turned 65 in 2003 — giving most lawmakers who voted for it plenty of time to retire, Lee said.

Democrats are continuing the pattern in their work on an energy bill.

If a carbon cap is passed this year, the first year emissions would have to be cut is 2012, but the immediate decreases aren’t drastic. In fact, because the recession has decreased economic activity, the country could probably meet the emissions targets without changing how it does business.

And lawmakers are hoping to further reduce the upfront pain by sending checks to consumers to help offset any increased energy costs.

An immigration reform plan by Senate Democrats also includes long time horizons. One of the most controversial proposals is likely to be the path to legal residence for the roughly 11 million people living in the country illegally.

It calls for screening, registering and fingerprinting illegal immigrants. Once registered, they would have to wait eight years after current visa backlogs have cleared before applying for permanent residency. The provision is based on the idea that people who entered the country illegally should have to wait at the back of the line for the opportunity to live here permanently.

Norm Ornstein, a congressional expert at the American Enterprise Institute, said part of the reason lawmakers would rather serve voters dessert before making them eat their vegetables is as old as politics itself.

“If half your political process has a strong interest in seeing you fail and is telling everybody that the sky is falling on them,” he said, “then you have a much stronger incentive to front-load the benefits and backload the cost.”

Darren Samuelsohn contributed to this report.


link to video

Monday, July 12, 2010


Newt Gingrich says he's considering White House run

Gingrich says he's seriously considering White House run and will decide early next year



Newt Gingrich


Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaks during a fundraising breakfast for Iowa Congressional candidate Brad Zaun, Monday, July 12, 2010, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) (Charlie Neibergall, AP / July 12, 2010)



Associated Press Writer

6:14 p.m. CDT, July 12, 2010 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Monday he's seriously considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination and will announce his decision early next year.

Gingrich, 67, told The Associated Press that he would focus on helping Republican candidates through the midterm elections in November, then decide in February or March whether to seek the GOP nomination.

"I've never been this serious," Gingrich said.

"It's fair to say that by February the groundwork will have been laid to consider seriously whether or not to run," he said.

Gingrich, in Des Moines for a fundraiser and workshop for local Republican candidates, predicted President Barack Obama would be a one-term president. Obama's poll numbers have dropped below 50 percent, and Gingrich predicted they would continue to fall, making him vulnerable in 2012.

Unlike President Bill Clinton, who rebounded from first-term problems by pushing for welfare reform and budget balancing changes that pleased moderate voters, Gingrich argued that Obama shows no inclination to move toward the center.

"He's not like Bill Clinton," Gingrich said. "Bill Clinton was an Arkansas, Southern Baptist, sort of understood middle American. While he had some Yale overtones being liberal, the truth is Bill Clinton was quite happy to move to the right."

Gingrich has been mentioned as a possible 2012 presidential candidate along with other Republicans, including former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Gingrich had a long congressional career and was House speaker from 1995 to 1999. He was given much of the credit for the Republican takeover of the House in 1994. But he abruptly resigned from Congress in 1998 after his party faired poorly in midterm elections. He also was reprimanded by the House ethics panel for using tax-exempt funding to advance his political goals.

The former speaker, who championed a family values agenda, spearheaded efforts to impeach Clinton for perjury over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Gingrich later admitted having an extramarital affair of his own in 1998 with a former congressional aide, Callista Bisek. He married Bisek after divorcing his second wife, Marianne.

After leaving Congress, Gingrich created American Solutions for Winning the Future, a tax-exempt organization that promotes conservative causes. He acknowledged considering a White House run in 2007 and said he also thought about a run against Clinton before deciding it wasn't possible.

"You couldn't be the first Republican speaker in a generation and engage in a contest with Bill Clinton for setting the direction of the country and run for president," said Gingrich. "It wasn't physically doable."

Gingrich said he would to return several time this year to Iowa, where precinct caucuses lead off the presidential nominating process. He said he planned to lay the groundwork for a campaign by working hard for Republicans in the midterm elections.

Gingrich is known for his frequently harsh rhetoric, and he didn't hold back in speaking about Obama.

"I think he will replace Jimmy Carter as the worst president of modern times," said Gingrich.

Thanks to Obama's performance, Gingrich said he expected that whoever wins the Republican nomination would win the White House.

"He is a disaster," Gingrich said of Obama. "His principles are fundamentally wrong. The people he appoints are more radical than he is and less competent."

Despite his fiery personality, Gingrich said he wasn't worried that his comments would turn off moderate voters. At a time when the economy remains fragile, Americans want results and aren't worried about personality, he said.

"I think likable is a word you have to think about a lot," said Gingrich. "If people believe their country is in trouble, they want a captain of the lifeboat, they don't want a fraternity brother."

Monday, July 12, 2010


'Please, sir, don't take me to jail'

'Please, sir, don't take me to jail'

Karen Voyles
Staff writer

Published: Monday, July 12, 2010 at 12:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 12, 2010 at 12:32 p.m.

A Gainesville man was arrested Sunday, one day after his birthday, after Waldo Police pulled his truck over to check its tint and found bags of marijuana, cash and a pistol.

Stacey Jerald Dennis, who turned 36 on Saturday, was charged with possession of marijuana, possession with intent to sell marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and delivering drug paraphernalia.

Dennis, of 3721 N.W. 63rd St. in Gainesville, was driving a Ford F150 pickup northbound on U.S. 301 with one passenger, Jimmie Leon Ross, 30, of 2806 S.E. 19th Ave. in Gainesville, on Sunday night. Officer Brandon Roberts said he noticed the dark tint on the truck's window and decided to pull the truck over. While following the truck, Roberts said he received confirmation from dispatchers that the owner of the truck had an expired driver's license.

After Dennis pulled over and acknowledged he had let his license lapse by a day, Roberts said he noticed the odor of marijuana. Officer Jeff Pedrick assisted in the search of the truck, which turned up two partially smoked marijuana cigarettes, a freshly rolled marijuana cigarette, a wad of cash, a plastic container of sandwich-size plastic bags of marijuana, several boxes of flavored cigars, a glass smoking pipe and a .45-caliber handgun.

The gun was found in the glove box of the car, directly in front of the seat where Ross had been sitting. According to police, the handgun had been reported stolen out of Levy County. Ross had served a year in state prison on drug charges and was released in 2007. He was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Dennis and Ross both were charged with one count each of delivery of drugs, possession of marijuana, drug possession with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.


Monday, July 12, 2010


Booty shorts to belly shirts intern fashions make companies...

From booty shorts to belly shirts, some intern fashions make companies cringe

Employers struggle to impart integrity and professionalism on scantily clad workers

Jill Rosen

The Baltimore Sun

July 12, 2010

In a recent episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" called "The Bare Midriff," Larry David is disgruntled that his new secretary is wearing a shirt that exposes her tummy. When he confronts her, she tells him she's proud of her body and wants to flaunt it.

"You can flaunt two-thirds of the day outside the office and then you have one-third non-flaunt," he tells her. "Why not take a break in the flaunt?"

In white-collar offices across Maryland, "the flaunt" has become an issue and a distraction, particularly when it comes to interns who, professionals say, perennially show more daring than sense in their work wardrobes.

In Washington, D.C., where they've never quite forgotten Monica Lewinsky, a name has evolved for the scantily-clad summer staff: "skinterns."

"It's something we deal with all the time," says Carol Vellucci, director of the University of Baltimore's Career Center. "One staff member said she received a call from a not-to-be-named employer who had to speak to their intern about wearing booty shorts to the office. I said, 'She had to tell her that'"?

Booty shorts. Thigh-grazing dresses. Flip-flops. Ripped jeans. Cleavage-baring tops. See-through skirts. Forgotten bras. … Employers have seen it all — and wish they hadn't.

Missy Martin hires about 80 interns a year as vice president of human resources for Ripken Baseball, where she says it's critical that employees — even interns — represent the Ripken name with integrity and professionalism. That's difficult to do with thong underwear peeking from your waistband.

If Martin sees a sartorially-challenged intern, she says she nips the problem in the bud with an up-front discussion about standards and expectations. But at other offices, she's seen young staff members in jaw-dropping get-ups.

"It's not that they come in and look sloppy, that's not what you see," she says. "They're showing up to work in bar clothes. Short skirts, tank tops and cleavage showing. It's like, 'Kids, do you realize you're not supposed to be dressed like you're going out to drink in Canton?' "

Vellucci says, no, they don't.

When a lot of students hear they're supposed to get "dressed up" for work, she says they think of their best, night-on-the-town outfits. "It seems to be something that especially younger students aren't quite getting," Vellucci says.

To remedy that, the university has just launched a one-credit elective, taught by Velluci, called "Personal And Professional Skills for Business." Anyone can take it, but it's required for business majors. She talks about things like how to network, how to write a resume, how to handle oneself in an interview — and what to wear.

"It's really, really basic," she says. "No cleavage. Closed toe shoes. All the things that you'd think you wouldn't have to say but we say them anyway."

Every year at Towson University, the College of Business and Economics invites students to an event called Dress Smart. Part fashion show, part networking opportunity, the event is designed to show students, in a very visual way, what isn't right for the office.

Professor Laleh Malek, the organizer, asks students to wear things to the program that range from professional to a little bit wrong to wildly inappropriate. The students model and mingle while real company recruiters, folks from firms including T. Rowe Price and Black & Decker, talk to them and tell them why their outfits work or don't.

"Recruiters from well known firms come in and say this is wrong — so if you thought it was right it's not," Malek says.

With the prevalence of the vaguely defined "business casual," Malek says it's no wonder interns can become confused.

She urges them to take a better-safe-than-sorry approach, erring on the conservative side.

"We advise you put your best foot forward cause you are meeting clients, you're meeting people who could potentially be prospective employers and in the current economic situation, it's all about employers seeing who you are," Malek says. "How you dress gives off an image of who you are."

Missy Martin learned that the hard way, in the first minutes of her first job out of college.

She walked into the office and her boss started clapping and said, "Oh, we have a short skirt today!"

"I wanted to die. To die," she says. "I learned a very hard lesson. You should let your brains and accomplishments speak for you and not the skirts and the tight tops."

Martin believes that if an intern is wearing the wrong thing, the short skirt or whatever it is will serve as a blinder, hiding all of his or her attributes. "I think it takes you down a notch," she says. "When you see an individual at work that doesn't have the sense to realize you shouldn't be showing things…it drowns out all of their good deeds, their good work, because they don't have good judgment."

At Himmelrich PR, Mike Fila managers the intern program. How they should look in the office is a huge part of his first-day orientation lecture.

Why? Because he's seen how it can go wrong — especially in the summer when young women are tempted to wear less because it's so hot outside and young men think it's alright to come in unshaven, or in shorts.

"These things just don't project the kind of professionalism you would want in an office atmosphere," he says. "We go over how we as paid staff present ourselves and how we believe interns should present themselves as well….

"Most often it's because they just don't know. It's their first experience in a formal office environment. I've never gotten any push back."

Fila brings his interns to call on clients. And he expects them to look the part. "Daisy Dukes would just not work," he says.

Himmelrich intern Alexa Pollokoff of Owings Mills just graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Marketing. On her first day of work, before Fila even got to the "What Not to Wear" speech, she showed up in black dress slacks and a short-sleeved white blouse, explaining, "I tried to steer it down the middle road."

So, potential employers, there's at least one out there who gets it.

Monday, July 12, 2010


For some job loss leads to fulfillment

For some, job loss leads to fulfillment

They start businesses, thrive in new careers

  Jim Deramo, who once worked for a Winthrop oil company, started his own business, Jim D & Sons.
Jim Deramo, who once worked for a Winthrop oil company, started his own business, Jim D & Sons. (Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff)


Katie Johnston Chase

Globe Staff

July 12, 2010



Jim Deramo says his former company’s bankruptcy was a blessing. Tom Hurwitch is glad he is no longer a cog in the wheel at a huge management consulting firm. And former portfolio manager James Wiess feels liberated from the shackles of the stock market.

Like about 104,000 others in Massachusetts who have lost jobs in the past three years, none of the three changed occupation by choice. But unlike their counterparts, they have found work they like even better — whether it is because they are pursuing a new passion, have a saner schedule, or enjoy running their own business.

“Sometimes getting fired is the best thing that can ever happen to you,’’ said Wendie Howland, a former insurance case manager and consultant who is now a certified nurse life care planner.

Many job seekers no doubt disagree. And post-firing happiness is not enjoyed by all workers equally. Executives, or others especially successful in previous jobs, are more likely to thrive — even if they end up making less money.

Almost a quarter of executives who lost jobs during the recession are more satisfied with their new position, accord ing to an online survey conducted by the recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International. But according to a separate Korn/Ferry survey, a majority of newly reemployed workers are making less money.

Some people are working for smaller companies, and some have switched careers or gone into business for themselves. But if their companies had not forced them out, several of them probably never would have made the leap, they said.

James Wiess, for instance, might have stayed on the path he was on if he had not been laid off from Putnam Investments in November 2008. With guidance from the Boston career firm New Directions, he started volunteering at job training and tutoring programs, which helped lead him to a career as a high school math teacher.

If not for the layoff, though, “I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have had the guts to do it,’’ he said.

The fresh slate is liberating after 25 years of hanging on every stock market dip, said Wiess, 50, who will start student-teaching at English High School in Jamaica Plain as part of the Boston Teacher Residency program.

He will be making a fraction of his old salary as a portfolio manager when he starts working full time next year, but he has saved enough money that he doesn’t anticipate having to change his lifestyle.

And he is grateful that instead of obsessing about the stock market, he can spend time helping young people understand how math “describes the world around us.’’

“It feels like it will be much more worthwhile,’’ he said.

Many unemployed people who are lucky enough to land a job do not feel the same way, though. Of the approximately 170 monthly job placements Jewish Vocational Services has been making recently, few workers have landed better positions than they had before, said president Jerry Rubin — so few, in fact, “we could tell you who they are,’’ he said with a grim laugh.

“We have a number of people who are getting pretty desperate,’’ Rubin said. “The willingness to take anything is increasing.’’

Being open to switching careers helps, Rubin added — which is exactly what Tom Hurwitch did after he lost his job as a strategy consultant for the oil, gas, and utilities industries at the management consulting giant Booz & Co. in October 2008.

A month later, Hurwitch landed a job as a project manager at Arcadia Solutions, a small Burlington company that provides information technology solutions to the health care industry. His salary is about 10 percent lower than it was and the benefits aren’t as good, he said, but he feels lucky.

The health care industry is fairly recession-proof, for one thing, he said, and he doesn’t have to leave his wife and two young daughters to travel four or five days a week, as he did at Booz.

“You’re very much a cog at a management consulting firm, whereas with Arcadia you’re much more a player in the organization,’’ said Hurwitch, 35.

Cassie Scarano, president of Commongood Careers, a Boston executive search firm that focuses on the nonprofit sector, theorizes that people who were top performers at their old jobs are more likely to find satisfying work because they are proactive and tend to turn the layoff into an opportunity to find something better.

“Immediately it’s very problematic,’’ Scarano said of being laid off, “but in the longer term it actually turns out to be a fairly positive thing for people.’’

That’s the way it went for Jim Deramo.

His dream of starting his own oil service business was pushed into reality almost overnight when the Winthrop oil company where he had worked for 13 years went under at the end of 2007.

A month later, he was putting the vinyl letters on his first Jim D & Sons van in Revere and calling on his family for help.

Deramo is working harder than ever for the same salary — answering middle-of-the-night calls and putting in 100-hour weeks in the winter to keep up with the demand — but he wouldn’t go back to his old job even if he could.

“I’m happier,’’ said Deramo, who enjoys building relationships with his customers. “People trust me.’’

Howland also went into business for herself when she was let go from her job as a consultant for workers compensation insurance claims in the fall of 2007.

After being out of work for a year, Howland, 59, who already had a master’s degree in nursing, became a certified nurse life care planner.

Now she is making about $25,000 more a year to come up with “road maps for care’’ for people with lifelong medical conditions.

Howland said the work is more rewarding than her old job, though it is a path she never would have taken if she hadn’t been forced out.

“I ought to find my old boss,’’ she said, “and thank her for doing me the favor.’’

Monday, July 12, 2010


The left needs a right brain

The left needs a right brain

E.J. Dionne Jr.  Washington Post
Monday, July 12, 2010; A15


If the midterm elections were held now, Republicans would probably take control of the House of Representatives. It's as hard these days to find a Democrat who's not alarmed as it is to find a Cleveland Cavaliers fan who's cheering for LeBron James. 

Worse for Democrats: They face two very different challenges, and addressing one could exacerbate the other. Think of it as a set of simultaneous equations. 

On the one hand, independent voters are turning on them. Democratic House candidates enjoyed a 51 percent to 43 percent advantage over Republicans in 2008. This time, the polls show independents tilting Republican by substantial margins. 

But Democrats are also suffering from a lack of enthusiasm among their own supporters. Poll after poll has shown that while Republicans are eager to cast ballots, many Democrats seem inclined to sit out this election. 

The dilemma is that arguments that might motivate partisans could further alienate the less-ideological independents. The classic formulation holds that the party can either move left to excite its base or move to the center to win back independents. 

If there is an answer to this conundrum, it lies in the reality that many voters -- partisans and independents alike -- are not particularly ideological. They respond to facts as they see them (a stalled economic recovery) and to a party's performance (the Senate Republicans' obstruction ends up hurting Democrats because they are supposed to be in charge). 

The GOP's gridlock strategy was well-thought-out and has paid enormous dividends. Republican leaders understood that delay was their friend because the immediate elation over President Obama's election was bound to wear off. And while Republicans erected their blockade, they insisted that all the nastiness arose from Obama's failure to reach out to them

The politics of passive-aggressiveness worked twice over. Independents hated all the fighting. And even when Democrats won on health care and other issues, they emerged less with a renewed sense of purpose than with feelings of exhaustion and frustration over all the compromises it took to eke out victory. 

Turning all this around is a White House mission, and the president's campaign stops last week in Missouri and Nevada previewed his effort to paint Republicans as both extreme and recalcitrant. His speech in Kansas City included one major innovation, an echo of a legendary 1940 assault by Franklin D. Roosevelt against his political opponents in Congress -- "Martin, Barton and Fish." 

Obama went after the alliterative trio of "Barton and Boehner and Blunt," references to Reps. Joe Barton of Texas, John Boehner of Ohio and Roy Blunt of Missouri. Challenging them for their resolute opposition to every Democratic approach, Obama asked "if that 'no' button is just stuck." 

He hopes that this Republican trinity can do double duty. It creates a tangible group of foes against whom Democrats can rally. And it reminds independents that a Republican vote this fall would not simply be a rebuke to Washington but also an affirmative ballot for Republican leaders who are none too popular themselves. 

Democrats are counting on a similar twofer from their attacks on the current brand of Republicanism as being too doctrinaire and too extreme. The energy that the Tea Party provides Republicans could be offset by a negative reaction in the electoral middle to the new movement's ferocity. This is the GOP's simultaneous equation puzzle: It must benefit all it can from Tea Party organizing without getting tarred by its members' frequently radical outbursts. 

But there is an intangible: Passion counts in politics. It motivates a movement's most fervent followers but can also carry moderates attracted to those who promise change and profess great certainty about how to achieve it. Barack Obama got himself elected president by understanding this. 

Passion may come especially hard to Democrats this year, and even in the best of times it can be difficult to muster among liberals. As the philosopher Michael Walzer observed in his book "Politics and Passion," liberals by their nature highly prize skepticism, irony and doubt. Walzer argued that "administrators do well when they follow their rational convictions," but "political activists must be more passionately engaged, or else they will lose every struggle for political power." 

On paper, Democrats have a rational solution to their political math problem. They must still find the passion that executing it will require.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Sarah Palin's PAC Steps Into the Big Leagues

SarahPAC steps into the big leagues   

7/12/10 6:17 AM EDT


Sarah Palin (shown) is supported by a political operation befitting someone considering a presidential run. | AP Photo 

Sarah Palin is supported by a political operation befitting someone considering a presidential run. AP


A new financial report filed Sunday evening showed Sarah Palin’s political action committee has taken its fundraising to a higher level – and suggests that she has begun building a more sophisticated political operation in place of a bare-bones organization powered mostly by her rock star status and scrappy on-line presence.

The report, filed with the Federal Election Commission, shows that Palin’s political action committee raised more money in the second quarter of this year – $866,000 – than it had in any previous three-month stretch since Palin formed the group in January 2009.

The committee, SarahPAC, also spent nearly twice as much – $742,000 – as it had in any previous quarter, the lion’s share of which went to the type of list-building and fundraising (including its first major direct-mail campaign) that typically undergird top-tier political committees. It also reported its biggest-ever round of donations to candidates – $87,50 – and its highest outlays for travel costs, including $17,000 on private jet fare to crisscross the country for high-profile political speaking gigs, and speechwriting. It also showed continued payments for that speechwriting as well as foreign and domestic policy consulting, and its first ever payments to a scheduler.

In short, for the first time since the 2008 campaign when she was the vice-presidential running mate to GOP presidential candidate John McCain, Palin is supported by a political operation befitting someone considering a presidential run.

SarahPAC, a so-called leadership political action committee, relied largely on small donors for its fundraising haul between the beginning of April and the end of last month, according to the report, which shows more than $1 million in the bank at the end of the quarter.

Though the stated purposes of political action committees like SarahPAC are to boost like-minded candidates through contributions and appearances on their behalf, it’s become common for prospective presidential candidates to use such committees to pay for political staffs and travel before formally declaring their candidacies – as well as to collect chits by contributing to potential allies. Several of Palin’s potential rivals for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination – including Govs. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Haley Barbour of Mississippi and former Govs. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas – have their own PACs, and some have multiple committees in different states.

Most of their reports are due this week, though a spokesman said Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC raised more than $700,000, while Romney’s field-leading Free and Strong America PAC, which reports monthly, had raised more than $1 million in April and May alone. Of the bunch, only Barbour had filed a second quarter report, which showed that one of his committees, a Georgia state committee called Haley's Leadership PAC quietly created late last year, pulled in nearly $70,000 from April through June, largely through a fundraiser last month that drew some big Republican names to a trendy restaurant in Washington’s Glover Park neighborhood.

Though SarahPAC has been competitive with all but Romney’s fundraising juggernaut in previous quarters, Palin and her PAC until recently had eschewed many of the traditional trappings of a big-time political operation. Instead, she largely relied on an ad hoc strategy built around Facebook posts, Tweets, and occasional speeches and fundraising emails, which sometimes left her appearing reactive or even flakey, such as on the few occasions where scheduling mix-ups or crossed signals prevented her making appearances at events at which she had been expected. 

But Sunday’s report offers a glimpse into an operation that is becoming more organized and streamlined as it builds out.

For instance, for the first time since it launched, SarahPAC reported payments – $11,000 worth – for scheduling assistance.

It also reported $128,000 in travel-related costs – more than twice as much as Palin had accrued in any previous three-month span, which reflects a packed political schedule that had Palin hop-scotching the nation stumping for candidates and appearing at political events. Take the $10,500 charter flight booked by the PAC in April; PAC officials said it jetted Palin between a fundraising rally for fellow tea party hero Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in Minneapolis to New Orleans, where Palin spoke to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. The conference, considered a crucial stop for would-be presidential candidates, draws a cross-section of activists and operatives, and attendees got gift bags including caribou jerky from Palin, for which SarahPAC reported paying $3,800 to Indian Valley Meats in Indian, Alaska.

But perhaps most indicative of a more traditional, robust political operation were the $330,000 in fundraising costs reflected in the report, including $154,000 to HSP Direct, a direct-mail vendor that put together SarahPAC’s first direct-mail campaign. Palin had previously used primarily online fundraising techniques, which tend to have lower overhead but cannot necessarily equal the return rate of a well-targeted but more expensive traditional direct-mail campaign. HSP’s campaign for SarahPAC, which started in earnest in April, sent glossy fundraising solicitations to more than 500,000 conservative households, asking them to help the PAC support conservative candidates in 2010, according to SarahPAC treasurer Tim Crawford.

Through the direct-mail campaign and its continued online fundraising, SarahPAC added about 8,000 new donors in the second quarter, bringing its total contributors to more than 25,000, said Crawford, adding the PAC also has more than 200,000 emails on its list.

“Essentially when we started last January, we started from scratch,” Crawford said. “We didn’t have a big base of people coming out of the presidential campaign. Everybody knew that there was this massive amount of support, but she didn’t have it, because all that stuff was property of the McCain campaign. But now, I think we’ve got a pretty formidable thing going on, and it grows every day,” Crawford said.

Among SarahPAC’s $87,500 in second-quarter contributions were donations to candidates Palin has helped boost in contested GOP primary victories this year in states that will play a key role in determining the 2012 Republican presidential nominees, such as Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle ($2,500), South Carolina congressional candidate Tim Scott ($5,000) and Iowa gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad ($5,000). SarahPAC also gave $5,000 to the reelection campaign of Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, whose support will be courted assiduously by the field of 2012 GOP presidentiaal aspirants.

Palin’s endorsements and her PAC’s accompanying contributions have helped her forge a burgeoning reputation as queen-maker whose coveted support has been credited with helping a group of female Republican candidates – “mama grizzlies,” in her parlance – to victory.

But Sunday’s report shows more goes into her endorsement decisions than just her gut instinct.

In fact, the PAC continued paying a Sacramento-based researcher named Andrew Davis to vet most candidates before Palin endorses them.

The PAC also paid $5,700 for speechwriting to Lindsay Hayes, who previously penned speeches for the McCain-Palin campaign, and before that for former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. And SarahPAC continued paying $10,000 a month to a consulting firm run by former John McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann to provide consulting on “national and international issues” to Palin.

Her late June speech outlining a hawkish approach to international engagement was well received by conservative foreign policy types and taken seriously by the broader community – a marked contrast from the wide-spread criticism in 2008 that her views on international affairs were often ill informed.

Palin also got a surge of glowing press this week for a campaign-style video paid for by SarahPAC that promoted her message of conservative female empowerment and touted the surge of the grassroots tea-party activists who have in turn embraced her. Payments to the videographer hired to shoot and produce the video were not reflected in the report, likely because campaigns, like businesses, have a lag between delivery of goods and services, and billing and payment for them.

To be sure, SarahPAC in some ways still embodies Palin’s non-traditional, grassroots personae. It paid $6,000 a month to the consulting firm owned by Rebecca Mansour, a Los Angeles screenwriter and political neophyte whose creation of the popular cheerleading blog Conservatives4Palin endeared her to Palin’s inner circle and led to her being hired to help manage Palin’s Internet presence, including her closely watched Facebook page.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Jesse Jackson: Cavs Owner Gilbert sees LeBron James as 'runaway slave'

Jesse Jackson faults Cavs owner's LeBron comments


Associated Press

7:23 p.m. CDT, July 11, 2010

Bosh, Wade and James on stage


Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James greet fans at American Airlines Arena. (HANS DERYK, REUTERS / July 10, 2010)





Jesse Jackson criticized Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert on Sunday, saying Gilbert sees LeBron James as a "runaway slave" and that the owner's comments after the free-agent forward decided to join the Miami Heat put the player in danger.

Shortly after James announced his decision last week, Gilbert fired off an incendiary letter to Cleveland's fans, ripping the 25-year-old and promising to deliver a title before James wins one. He called James' decision "cowardly" and later told The Associated Press he believes James quit during a handful of Cavaliers playoff games.

"He has gotten a free pass," Gilbert told the AP in a phone interview late Thursday night. "People have covered up for (James) for way too long. Tonight we saw who he really is."

Jackson said Gilbert's comments were "mean, arrogant and presumptuous."

"He speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers," the reverend said in a release from his Chicago-based civil rights group, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. "His feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave. This is an owner employee relationship -- between business partners -- and LeBron honored his contract."

Messages were left Sunday night seeking comment from Gilbert, the Cavaliers and James.

Jackson also called Gilbert's comments an attack on all NBA players and said the owner should face a "challenge" from the league and the players' association.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank declined comment.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Robber unaware 70 deputies were already in area,0,6221676.story

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Palin gave $87,500 to candidates

FEC filing shows Palin gave $87,500 to candidates

FILE - In this June 29, 2010 file photo, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks to the crowd at the P.U.R.E. Ministries in Duluth, Ga. Palin has put her money where her mouth is, contributing at least $87,500 to candidates she's endorsed in the last few months. (AP Photo/Erik S. Lesser, File) FILE - In this June 29, 2010 file photo, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks to the crowd at the P.U.R.E. Ministries in Duluth, Ga. Palin has put her money where her mouth is, contributing at least $87,500 to candidates she's endorsed in the last few months. (AP Photo/Erik S. Lesser, File) (Erik S. Lesser - AP)


The Associated Press
Sunday, July 11, 2010; 9:12 PM



JUNEAU, Alaska -- Sarah Palin's political action committee contributed at least $87,500 to candidates she's endorsed in the last few months, according to a report filed Sunday with the Federal Elections Commission.

But SarahPAC's financial disclosure also shows Palin spending more than $210,000 on consulting.

Candidates receiving money from Palin for the period covering April 1 to June 30 include former Gov. Terry Branstad, who won last month's Republican gubernatorial primary in Iowa, and Joe Miller, who's challenging Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the August GOP primary. Each received $5,000.

Among Palin's other high-profile endorsements, Republican Carly Fiorina, who's running for the U.S. Senate from California, received $2,500.

Sharron Angle, who's challenging U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada, also got $2,500. Nikki Haley, who's running for governor in South Carolina and for whom Palin personally campaigned, got no money, according to the filings.

Palin entered the reporting period with more than $916,000 on hand. She received more than $865,800 in contributions, and ended the period with more than $1 million on hand, according to the filings.

That leaves her with more than $1 million to help campaigns this year, PAC treasurer Tim Crawford said.

"We're going to really help a lot of Republican candidates get a chance to win," he said. "And I'm glad we have the resources there for the governor to use."

Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, has been mentioned as a possible contender for the 2012 presidential nomination. She hasn't ruled out a bid but aides have maintained her focus is on this year's elections and on getting conservative candidates elected.

While Palin has supported tea party favorites like Angle across the country, her endorsement of the more mainstream Branstad was seen as a pragmatic pick.

If Branstad wins this fall, he'll be a highly sought-after political ally among 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls, given Iowa's historical role in hosting the leadoff caucuses in the nomination process.

It's been a whirlwind year for Palin. Last July, she resigned midway through her first term as Alaska governor amid a barrage of ethics complaints and media scrutiny that followed her home after the 2008 election. Most of the complaints ultimately were dismissed.

In announcing her resignation, she said she'd take the unconventional route in advocating for less government, individual rights and energy independence. Palin also said she'd support like-minded candidates, and she's become a political phenomenon whose support - and celebrity - are actively sought by candidates.

Sunday's FEC report included consulting fees for grassroots and communication, media, national and foreign affairs, and coalitions consulting.

Additional spending went toward air travel, car rentals and lodging, postage and mailings, and cell phones.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Black voters still support Obama but are ambivalent about midterm elections

Black voters still support Obama but are ambivalent about midterm elections

                                                                                                                      Nia-Malika Henderson and Perry Bacon Jr.

Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, July 11, 2010



KANSAS CITY, MO. -- Curtis Adams, who owns Curtis A's barbershop here and who is also the establishment's senior political analyst, is a close observer of President Obama. This is something of a full-time job itself at Curtis A's, a gathering place in a black neighborhood five miles from downtown. All day every day, men (and occasionally women) come for a trim and wind up lingering to argue about jobs and the oil spill and the war in Iraq.

But mostly jobs. "If Obama was in this chair right here, I would tell him to give me a job. That's what I would ask for," said customer E.J. Jones one recent afternoon. Jones has worked off and on since he was let go from an Army ammunition plant in 2008.

The recession was especially rough on Kansas City's black community, where unemployment is 15 percent, nearly three times the rate for whites. Adams pointed to the empty chairs in his shop. He's down 75 customers a week. Of Obama, he said: "That man has a hell of a workload, and Bush left a hell of a mess. I like what he's doing. But I can't feel it."

Despite his frustration with the slow pace of the recovery, Adams, who has portraits of the first family on the walls of his shop, doesn't think Obama bears the blame for his troubles. And neither do most black Americans. Just the opposite: Polls show that 90 percent of African Americans believe Obama is doing a good job, far higher than the president's overall 46 percent approval rating. Obama's popularity has dropped among nearly every segment of the population -- old, young, Republican, Democrat, white, Latino. Yet blacks still overwhelmingly support him, even though they are among those who have lost the most since he was elected.

"We understand the difficulty of being a black man in his position, because of our close proximity to race and how it affects our lives, so we are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt," said Rodney Knott, who runs a fatherhood initiative and blogs on local issues. "Black folks are taking this personal because we identify with him so much. It's like somebody in our family. I can talk about them, but you better not."

Airick Leonard West, who heads the Kansas City School Board, agrees. "Maybe other people thought he had a magic wand and went to Hogwarts and thought, 'Oh, he's black so he's going to help all the black people,' " he said. "If that's what you're looking for, that ain't coming."

The political potential to be found in devotion this deep is very much on the minds of a president and a Democratic Party anxious about losing control of the House or Senate in the fall. When Obama administration and Democratic officials travel here this week to address the annual convention of the NAACP, they will be looking for ways to turn black enthusiasm for the president into votes for his party.

That is no simple thing. The loyalty many blacks feel to Obama does not always spill over to other Democratic candidates.

Take Missouri, where blacks make up about 12 percent of the population. Obama narrowly lost the state in 2008, although blacks turned out in record numbers. This year, Missouri's secretary of state, Democrat Robin Carnahan, is running to replace retiring Republican Sen. Christopher S. Bond. Carnahan is unlikely to win, however, unless black voters once again rush out to the polls. Without Obama on the ballot, Democratic strategists are having a difficult time generating much interest among blacks. Last week, the president held a rally for Carnahan and attended a fundraiser for her campaign. But in conversations with several African Americans here, support for Carnahan seemed lukewarm at best.

"I am just starting to tune in" to the campaign, said Jamekia Kendrix, 31, who has seen several homes foreclosed on her block. She had more to say about Obama. She said she voted for him and still strongly supports him, though she wishes he would spend more on education and reviving the economy and less on war. "He is doing the best he can," she said. "He's not always going to do what I think he should."

Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster, warned that not even politically engaged black voters like Kendrix are necessarily going to turn out for Democrats in the fall. "These are Obama voters. These are not Democratic voters," he said. "They are leaning toward Democrats in their views, but these surge voters are not a part of the traditional Democratic voting bloc. That's the big X factor here. We can't turn surge voters out by two weeks of black radio."

To that end, the Democratic National Committee has launched a $50 million nationwide effort to try to lure these "surge voters" back to the polls in November.

As the Democrats worry about this fall, Obama's strategists are looking to 2012.

Prominent black public figures such as commentator Tavis Smiley and scholar Michael Eric Dyson have accused Obama of not doing enough to create jobs in black communities. And some black academics are looking more critically at Obama's reluctance to talk about race.

"I'm not saying he should say, 'Here's the black agenda.' That would be political suicide," said John Powell, executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University. "But I think he needs to help people understand to be mindful of these things. His strategy seems to be, 'Let's be colorblind, let's ignore it.' "

Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University, said that the intellectual elite will probably grow more critical of Obama and that support among working-class blacks could falter.

"People are contrasting Obama to the prior administration, so they are inclined to support him even if they disagree with him," Gillespie said. "But if they think they haven't seen enough in terms of jobs, or reducing inequality, that's where fair criticism might come in and support could start to decline."

Here in Kansas City, Knott isn't so sure. No matter how bad the economy is, or how many people can't find work, he believes most African Americans will stick with Obama. Before blacks reject the president, he said, "he would have to reject us first."

Bacon reported from Washington. Polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


'Barefoot Bandit's' 2-year run from law is over

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Man loses drinking bet agrees to have leg set on...

Naked man hospitalized after drinking game leads to prosthetic leg being set aflame


(5 p.m.)

Sun-News report

Las Cruces Sun-News

Posted:07/09/2010 04:55:12 PM MDT


LAS CRUCES - A 47-year-old Dona Ana County man is in a Texas burn center after a drinking game left him nude on the side of the highway with his prosthetic leg in flames.

Sheriff's deputies learned that the victim and friends were drinking Monday and had made a bet that whoever drank the least would be set on fire, according to a news release.

The victim told investigators that since he drank only six beers, the least amount, he agreed to let his friends set him on fire.

The victim, who has a prosthetic left leg made of plastic, said his friends set his leg on fire, which spread to his buttocks and lower back area, causing severe burns.

Not being able to stand the pain, the victim disrobed. His friends then decided to take him to the hospital but became "nervous and dropped the victim off" on U.S. 70, the release said.

Witnesses reported seeing an individual walking on a U.S. 70 bridge with his leg on fire. Another witness reported that the victim was naked, while other witnesses reported that the victim was struck by two cars and even attempted to jump into passing vehicles as well into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer.

When questioned by deputies if he had asked his friends to stop at any point in time while setting him on fire, he stated "no, he lost the bet" and therefore did not attempt to stop them.

The man was taken from MountainView Regional Hospital to a Texas burn treatment center.

Read Saturday's Las Cruces Sun-News in print and online for more on this story.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Liberals analyze their Obama 'despair'


Liberals analyze their Obama 'despair'
Abby Phillip
July 10, 2010 05:38 PM EDT


Barack Obama is pictured. | AP Photo
Many liberals are disappointed with President Barack Obama’s ability to deliver on his campaign promises. AP



For many liberals, it is the summer of their discontent.

Already disappointed with President Barack Obama’s ability to deliver on campaign promises, they now contemplate a slowing economic recovery and a good chance of Republican gains in November. Such developments would make enacting Obama’s agenda even more difficult.

Two recent essays framed the debate raging within the progressive community over why the promise of Obama’s candidacy has not lived up to their expectations — and how liberals should proceed in what they fear will be difficult months ahead.

In a 17,000-plus word piece published in The Nation on Thursday, journalist Eric Alterman calls the Obama presidency “a big disappointment” for progressives and blamed a broken system in Washington that he says allows the minority party to rule with impunity, and special interests and big money to dictate legislative policy.

“Face it,” he concludes, “the system is rigged, and it’s rigged against us.” His essay is subtitled: “Why a progressive presidency is impossible for now.”

But writing in Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, Michael Tomasky, the editor, counsels patience, arguing that American history has shown that change always takes time and continued effort against entrenched conservative opposition.

“The changes we want to see won’t happen in 18 months, or in two years, or four, or probably even eight,” he concludes in his article, “Against Despair.”

The essays suggest it is a time of reckoning for a liberal community whose relationship with Obama has had a series of ups and downs since the climactic moment of hope and expectation when he claimed the presidency in Chicago’s Grant Park on Nov. 4th, 2008.

“It’s not just really about Obama, it’s about the state of our country. Every day, you have a sense that people are wondering where this country is headed,” says Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation.

The elation of that night in 2008 quickly gave way to the realization that the Number One issue, the economy, and the ensuing fight over an $800 billion stimulus bill, would make Obama's agenda different from the one he had described in his campaign.

From the beginning, the stimulus bill was viewed as containing too many compromises in a futile attempt to garner Republican support. Economist and columnist Paul Krugman led the charge, arguing that the bill was not ambitious enough, containing too many tax cuts and not enough funding for infrastructure projects.

But the bill’s $800 billion price tag created a toxic environment for congressional Democrats when they began the long debate over health care, and many liberals viewed Obama’s compromises on the legislation as a betrayal. The low point may have been after the special election victory of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in January, when the possibility of any health care legislation seemed lost.

“It’s open season on Obama, whom so many hoped would lead us out of the neo-liberal wilderness,” Firedoglake blogger Les Leopold declared not long afterward. “He once was a community organizer and ought to know how working people have suffered through a generation of tax breaks for the rich, Wall Street deregulation and unfair competition. When the economy crashed, he was in the perfect position to limit the unjustified pay levels on Wall Street...”

“Instead, we got a multitrillion dollar bailout for Wall Street, no health care reform, no serious financial reforms whatsoever, record unemployment and political gridlock that will be with us for years to come.”


The bill’s passage was viewed as a major victory for the White House, but the reaction among progressives was mixed, at best. Only 10 days after the House bill passed, Tomasky writes, “things on the liberal side were more or less back to the dour normal.”

“It simply took too long to pass health care,” The Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. said. “What should have been seen as an important progressive victory didn’t feel like it was as much of a victory because it just took so long.”

But the worst seems yet to come.

“The bad economy creates a mood in which everything looks a bit more bleak than it did before,” Dionne said. “The economy helps to create the less-than-wonderful poll numbers for Democrats, and it conditions the national mood — and all of that affects the way that progressives feel.”

The list of grievances includes a slew of agenda items yet to be meaningfully addressed: a climate change bill, immigration reform, “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the Employer Free Choice Act, not to mention a war in Afghanistan that many liberals oppose.

Yet, some of the blame that once was put squarely on Obama and his White House staff has now shifted to a broken system where congressional Republicans have exerted power that does not rightfully belong to them.

“Whatever the motivation, it has become easier and easier for a determined minority to throw sand in the gears of the legislative process,” Alterman writes. “It is therefore no coincidence that the 40 Republican senators with the ability to bottle up almost anything in the Senate represent barely a third of the U.S. population.”

Tomasky sees this shift as an inevitable one that will eventually bring liberals around to the realization that the great periods of change — Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society — took place after years of effort and many setbacks along the way.

Slower to come around to this view, Tomasky acknowledges, have been the vanguards of the liberal blogosphere: the Huffington Post, Firedoglake and, to an arguably lesser extent, The Daily Kos.


“People have to work through stages like that before they get to the point where they say that ‘this is not exactly what we thought it would be, but let’s just deal with it,’” Tomasky said in an interview with POLITICO. “I don’t know that the progressive community is at that stage yet, but people are getting there.”

Ironically, given the generally more pessimistic tone of his essay, Alterman sees a more immediate time of possibility than Tomasky — Obama’s second term, assuming there is one.

“This would be consistent with FDR’s strategy during his second term and makes a kind of sense when one considers the nature of the opposition he faces today and the likelihood that it will discredit itself following a takeover of one or both houses in 2010,” Alterman writes in his piece.

Still, others are wary of putting too much stock in the promise of 2012.

“I think that depends on what we build,” says Bob Borosage, president of the liberal Institute for America’s Future.

Borosage says that over the past 18 months, progressives have learned the hard way that they need to be more independent of the White House to realize the change that they are seeking.

The remedy for the problems that progressives face, Borosage says, lies in the need to create an equal and opposite force that can rival the enthusiasm of the tea party movement.

“If there is a progressive movement that is demanding change, driving the debate, challenging conservative Democrats and Republicans and challenging the White House, you might see a bolder agenda,” he says. “But it’s equally possible that this reform moment … that we miss it and conservatives come back with the same ideas they had when they drove us off a cliff.”

“It was always naive to expect a president to start a movement,” says Michael Kazin, a Georgetown University history professor and co-editor of the liberal magazine, Dissent. “It’s a little bit like expecting a chief executive to start a union.”


17,000-plus word piece published in The Nation


Democracy: A Journal of Ideas

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Woman jailed for making threats ... to herself

July 9, 2010
3:00 p.m.

Woman jailed for making threats ... to herself



SANTA ANA – A 25-year-old Santa Ana woman was sentenced to a year in jail Friday for sending hundreds of threatening text messages – to herself.

Jeanne Mundango Manunga's criminal problem was that she blamed the harassing text messages on an ex-boyfriend and his sister-in-law, and reported them to the police.


Article Tab : Jeanne Manunga

                                       Jeanne Manunga



They were arrested on false charges of making criminal threats and required to post thousands of dollars in bail. The sister-in-law was arrested three times, and spent some time in custody before she could gather enough funds to pay the bail on her third arrest.

A jury convicted Manunga of three felony counts of false imprisonment by fraud or deceit and two misdemeanor counts of making a false police report in May.

On Friday, Superior Court Judge Patrick H. Donahue sentenced Manunga to a year in jail, placed her on three years probation, told her to stay away from her ex-boyfriend and his sister-in-law, and ordered her to repay the victims about $50,000 in restitution.

Deputy District Attorney Mena Guirguis said that after Manunga and her former boyfriend stopped dating in 2008, she took out a pre-paid cell phone in his sister-in-law's name, and started sending the threatening text messages to her regular cell phone.

Manunga then went to three different police departments on at least 19 occasions and claimed that the ex-boyfriend and the sister-in-law were behind the threats.

Her scheme was uncovered when the victims went to the phone store, talked with the salesman and learned that Manunga had bought the pre-paid phone under the sister-in-law's name, Guirguis said.

They reported that information to a Costa Mesa police detective, but by then a third arrest warrant had been issued for the sister-in-law.

During a follow-up investigation, the detective discovered that most of the threatening text messages were sent when the pre-paid cell phone was in close proximity to Manjunga's home or work, Guirguis said.

At the sentencing hearing Friday, the two victims said they were devastated about being arrested on false charges, and worried about clearing their names.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


2010 midterms most expensive with $1 billion already spent

2010 midterms will be most expensive in history with more than $1 billion in play

Sean J. Miller
08:02 PM ET

More than $1 billion has already been spent on the 2010 battle for Congress, which is expected to be the most expensive midterm election in history.

Interest groups riled up by the Obama administration's far-reaching legislative agenda of healthcare and Wall Street reform are pledging massive expenditures. Democratic strategists have been circulating a four-page memo that chronicles how Republican-leaning independent groups are set to spent $301.5 million this cycle.

Rich candidates are also fueling the political spending spree. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (R) has already funneled $5.5 million from her personal fortune into her Senate campaign and in Florida billionaire Jeff Greene (D) is expected to do the same in his race for the Democratic Senate nomination.

“We fully expect this will be the most expensive midterm election ever in U.S. history,” said Dave Levinthal, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). “Not only do we expect it to exceed the high water mark set in 2006, but this could very well obliterate that number when all is said and done.”

The 2006 midterms, which gave Democrats back control of the House and Senate, cost more than $2.8 billion, according to CRP estimates.

More than $1 billion has been spent on campaigning so far and the group estimates the 2010 elections will cost some $3.7 billion. Their estimate includes spending by Senate and House candidates, political parties, so-called 527 groups and independent expenditures on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts by political action committees. And that number could climb.

“We wouldn’t be surprised at all if this is a $4 billion-plus election, particularly because of the Citizens United decision in January,” Levinthal said, citing the Supreme Court ruling that reversed the ban on independent expenditures by corporations and unions.

“Nobody has any good idea at this point come September, October, how much money companies and trade associations and unions are going to be pouring into television advertisements or radio advertisements now that they are allowed to spend unlimited sums directly from their treasury to advocate for or against any particular candidate,” he said.

The House recently has passed the Disclose Act, which could again restrict corporate and union spending, but it’s not clear if it will become law before the November vote.

This increase in political spending is more notable, Levinthal added, because it comes at a time when the country is reeling from a bad economy and rampant unemployment. “Comparatively, the 2006 election cycle was a time of economic milk and honey,” he said, noting there’s been a 30 percent increase in spending in the last four years. “There’s really no recession in politics.”

Much of the money is being driven by Congress's ambitious agenda. In the last 18 months, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) have tackled Wall Street reform, healthcare reform, energy policy and even campaign finance.

“Congress has been very ambitious,” Levinthal said. “The fact of the matter is there are a lot of folks out there who want to put dollars and sense behind their influence efforts and are doing just that.”

The largest expenditure from a Republican-leaning group is expected to be made by the Chamber of Commerce. 

The influential business group will spend some $75 million this cycle, according to the CRP. A spokesman for the Chamber would not confirm that figure, but noted that this Congress has addressed issues important to its membership.

“We have had some of the most important business issues come through this Congress and the Chamber will let voters know where their lawmakers stood on these issues,” said J.P. Fielder, a spokesman for the Chamber.

Political spending increases aren’t confined to one industry or one side of the political spectrum. “It’s across the board, from the very ideological special interest groups to the big industries in finance or energy or healthcare,” said Levinthal. “You’ve got to keep up with the Joneses in politics. And if one side is just bringing to bear every resource that they can, the other side, if they don’t do the same, does so at its own peril.”

Unions and progressive groups are also going to spend big this cycle. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the AFL-CIO plan to spend close to $100 million on the 2010 election, with most of those funds going to protect incumbents. EMILY’s List, which support pro-abortion-rights female candidates, will spend close to $43 million. In comparison, the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA), an anti-abortion-rights group that supports primarily female candidates, will spent close to $10 million.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Miami's image gets marketing sizzle with LeBron James

Miami's image gets marketing sizzle with LeBron James
E-mail | Save | Print | Reprints & Permissions | Subscribe to stories like this

Steve Mitchell

US Presswire

July 10, 2010 


The decision by LeBron James to join the Miami Heat has boosted the city's cultural profile.
The decision by LeBron James to join the Miami Heat has boosted the city's cultural profile.

Larry Busacca, Getty Images


LeBron James announced Thursday that he will play for the Miami Heat next season at the Boys & Girls Club of America in Greenwich, Conn.
LeBron James announced Thursday that he will play for the Miami Heat next season at the Boys & Girls Club of America in Greenwich, Conn.

Bruce Horovitz


If Miami is the hot place now for marketers to embrace, LeBron James is the central heat source.But he's not all that's sizzling in Miami.

Miami's got South Beach chic. It's got Cuban cuisine. It's got celebs. It's got 23 miles of beaches. And while — with its real estate market still struggling — it's not back to its Miami Vice super cool days, Miami is increasingly a backdrop again for TV shows and movies. 

"Miami is on a very bullish, upward swing in American cultural consciousness," says Robert Thompson, professor of pop culture at Syracuse University. "But it's always competing with that stereotype as that place where your grandparents go to drive slow with their left turn signal on."

 Leading the cultural charge: 

• LeBron's leap. "Symbolically, LeBron has moved Miami onto a new stage," says Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at University of Oregon. 

The former Cleveland Cavalier superstar's decision to spurn Cleveland for Miami has placed the tourist Mecca at the vortex of pop cultural chatter. James and Miami both ranked among the most popular Google searches and Twitter tweets the day after his announcement. 

The big stages for major sports figures have been New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, says Swangard. Now, he says, the addition of Miami to the mix "is reflective of the changing culture of the USA." 

• South Beach chic. James announced Thursday that he planned to "take my talents to South Beach." William Talbert, president of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau says, "I could not have written that phrase better as a destination marker." The decision, he says, is worth "millions and millions" to the Greater Miami area." 

• Cuban cuisine. The popularity of the food now common in Miami — with an African, Spanish and Caribbean influence — has gone mainstream. Ingredients often include fresh fruits, veggies and seafood. "The food isn't overworked," says Andrew Wild, chef tournant at the Culinary Institute of America. "People like the bright, fresh ingredients — and the feeling that it's always summer." 

• Hollywood East. With LeBron's entrance — and local film incentives recently put in place — Miami Dade County expects filmmakers to spend a record $125 million in the county next year, estimates Jeff Peel, the county's film commissioner.

The hit TV shows CSI Miami and Burn Notice both are filmed there. Also, now that James will live in Miami, Peel expects the star's upcoming film project, Fantasy Basketball Camp, to be filmed there. 

• Celeb central. LeBron's got celeb company in Miami. It's home to Matt Damon, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony and Gloria and Emilio Estefan. 

The celeb hotspot is LIV nightclub at the renovated Fontainebleau Resort hotel where Lady Gaga, Paris Hilton and Chris Brown have been spotted.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Biden: I wanted Russia to swap for Limbaugh

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Getting fired is a good thing for some journalists

Christopher Buckley, David Weigel and Mike Barnicle are shown in this composite.
In a new media world, getting fired can turn out to be a good thing for some journalists.

The Politico

Losing a job to get ahead
Keach Hagey and Daniel Strauss
July 9, 2010 05:22 PM EDT



Two weeks almost to the minute after he resigned from his job blogging about the conservative movement for the Washington Post, David Weigel was back on the Washington Post Company payroll Friday morning, writing about the tea party for Slate

In the interim, Weigel himself noted in a piece in Esquire Thursday, more than 500 articles were written about him, his downfall after the leak of his emails disparaging some conservative leaders, and what it all means for journalism.

Whatever conclusions were drawn from these musings, the digital mob turned into a kind of digital mosh pit that carried a crowd-surfing Weigel on to his next destination. MSNBC immediately snapped him up as a contributor. Poynter brought Weigel together for a live web chat with Jay Rosen Friday afternoon. He’s writing a piece for Columbia Journalism Review, and guest blogging for Andrew Sullivan next week.

Which all begs the question: Did this whole thing actually help him? Is spectacular firing – or in this case, embattled resignation – possibly the best way to advance your journalism career in the digital age?

A string of recent comebacks by writers suggests this may be the case.

Take the case of Spencer Ackerman. In 2006, while at The New Republic, Ackerman wrote a blog on the side called Too Hot For TNR which used to sometimes criticize the magazine. According to Michael Calderone, then writing in the New York Observer, Ackerman once wrote “TNR’s webdesign software, very appropriately, is called Coma” and “all the cool kids hate TNR.” The New Republic’s editor, Franklin Foer, had clashed with Ackerman in the past, and after reading the comments set up meeting where he fired him on the spot.

Less than a day later, Ackerman was hired by the American Prospect as a senior correspondent, and the trajectory has been upward ever since. He’s had a blog at the Center for American Progress and FireDogLake, was a national security reporter for Talking Points Memo and the Washington Independent, and was recently hired for Wired’s Danger Room.

Or how about Christopher Buckley? The son of National Review founder William F. Buckley and the author of numerous books including “Thank You For Smoking,” Buckley wrote a column for the National Review until he wrote a piece for the Daily Beast titled, “Sorry, Dad, I’m Voting For Obama.”  Soon after the piece was published National Review received a flurry of criticism and Buckley was forced out as damage control. Buckley continued writing books and at the Daily Beast, his credentials, with liberals at least, greatly enhanced.

David Frum provides one of the most recent examples. After serving as editorial page editor at the Wall Street Journal and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, as well as a frequent contributor to National Public Radio, Frum became a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. While at AEI he founded –now – a site “dedicated to the modernization and renewal of the Republican party and the conservative movement” which includes political reporting and analysis.


During the healthcare reform debates, he wrote a post called “Waterloo” in which he criticized the Republican Party’s obstruction of passing a healthcare bill. The post garnered a lot of criticism from the right and soon after “Waterloo,” AEI fired Frum. Since then, FrumForum’s traffic has continued to grow and the site has increasingly become one of the primary destinations for conservative news and analysis.

And it’s not just writers. Cable news, the first venue to publicly scoop up Weigel after the Post debacle, has a long and storied history of rehabilitating careers. Where else could Mike Barnicle, who resigned from the Boston Globe amid plagiarism scandals, be reborn as a permanent fixture of the political American morning through his contributor position at MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”? Or could Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor who resigned after being caught using prostitutes, become the co-anchor of CNN’s plum 8 p.m. hour?

Modern media is vicious, but sometimes also curiously forgiving.

Weigel, who is coy about where he’s headed for more permanent employment, is careful not to count his chickens just yet.

“I’m not doing a touchdown dance,” he told POLITICO. “I was much happier just keeping my head down, doing good work. But I’m lucky that people are coming to me, asking me to write stuff.”

Sometimes, as in the case of the Esquire piece, that stuff is about him, not his beat. Moments like these can make dizzyingly self-referential reading: “I had ceased to be a head-down reporter, I readied for my new life as a political football. This was Stage Two of a Media Firestorm,” he wrote in Esquire.

Stage Three, necessarily, involves a bit of over-sharing. But Weigel’s Stage 4 looks bright.

He admits he is enjoying his new life as “a Washington-based reporter and contributor for MSNBC,” as his Slate bio states, but adds, “It’s been tiresome having to talk about myself.”


Saturday, July 10, 2010


The Tea Party Needs a Makeover

Building a more positive Tea Party?

David S. Broder
The Washington Post
Sunday, July 11, 2010

                                                                                                                    The Tea Party phenomenon is one of the significant puzzles of this year's politics -- exciting to some people and alarming to others. By placing it in the historical context of other populist movements, Henry Olsen of the American Enterprise Institute has helped define it -- and the important choice that Republicans now face.

This Story

In an article in the summer issue of National Affairs and a follow-up interview, Olsen, who worked as a legislative staffer in California before joining three conservative think tanks, briefly reviews the checkered history of American populism.

Until the 1960s, it was mainly a phenomenon of the left -- led by such figures as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, William Jennings Bryan and Franklin Roosevelt.

Conservative populism had an unsuccessful trial run in 1964 under Barry Goldwater but did not flourish until Ronald Reagan took on the Washington establishment in 1980. The differences between them were significant. Goldwater lost his presidential bid because "the tone and ideas of some of his extreme backers were viewed as odd and frightening by most voters, and the candidate's inability (or unwillingness) to disavow their words allowed [Lyndon] Johnson to paint Goldwater himself as odd and frightening," Olsen writes. "Instead of seeking to help honest folk restore the rights denied them by an adversary, too often Goldwater came across as wanting to lead victims in a violent battle against an implacable enemy."

Olsen, like many others, finds Reagan as his model. "Throughout his career, he minced no words when describing the threats to freedom and prosperity posed by unlimited, centralized government," Olsen says, "but when it came to his domestic opponents, Reagan avoided the classical-populist trap of vilifying his political adversaries as outright enemies."

"The populist spirit is back with a vengeance today," Olsen adds, fed partly by anger with Wall Street and partly by frustration with Washington. "Those who believe that the aggressive, angry pitch of the Tea Partiers' rhetoric will automatically alienate independent voters should think again. . . . Successful populist movements define adversaries in stark and often abrasive terms."

But this is not enough, he says, and it can be overdone. Bryan failed in part "because he made a majority afraid. Some libertarian populists, with their rejection of every facet of the modern welfare state, are likely to do the same -- because even this center-right nation does not want to see the welfare state dismantled." Republican Senate candidates in Kentucky and Nevada need to have those words imprinted on their brains.

The need for Republicans, then, is to do what Reagan did -- "to propose alternatives that offer a real change of direction without seeming too radical." He had an advantage that is too often overlooked. As the two-term governor of our most populous state, Reagan could answer those who viewed him as dangerous by pointing to the success he had achieved in managing California.

The new conservative populists, Olsen says, need their own positive vision, one that can "turn an intense but transient public sentiment into an enduring political force."

When I asked Olsen if the House Republican plan to draft a new version of the 1994 Contract With America met that need, he responded as I would: Let's see what their ideas are.

The drafters have postponed the moment of truth by conducting a series of grass-roots hearings and soliciting ideas from the voters -- and, it turns out, in private sessions with Washington lobbyists.

Building a majority coalition will require a strong, sensible platform. And a clear separation from the kooks and cranks who sank both Bryan and Goldwater.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


9-7-0 is winning pick in Michigan's midday and evening drawings

Lucky numbers! 9-7-0 is winning pick in Michigan's midday, evening Daily 3 drawings

Associated Press

9:04 p.m. EDT, July 9, 2010


DETROIT (AP) — It was a lucky day in Michigan for the numbers nine, seven and zero. The Michigan State Lottery says nine, seven and zero were the winning numbers in Friday's Midday Daily 3 drawing. And the lottery says the same numbers drawn in the same order were the winning ones in Friday evening's Daily 3.

There was no immediate word of winnings related to the numbers.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Man crashes car into home with family inside during rage

Police: Boca man crashes car into home with family inside during jealous rage

Joseph Loprete


Joseph Loprete of Boca Raton (PBSO, courtesy / July 7, 2010)



Alexia Campbell

Sun Sentinel

7:25 p.m. EDT, July 7, 2010 


A mix of alcohol and jealous rage led a Boca Raton man to smash an SUV into his home on July Fourth while his wife and children were inside, according to police. 

Police arrived in the 800 block of Southwest Ninth Avenue on Sunday night to find the home's front door, window and wall in pieces, according to an arrest report. A damaged silver Mercury SUV was parked haphazardly in the driveway. 

Inside, Joseph Loprete, 48, sat on the couch. His wife was in the bathroom crying hysterically.

"Put me in cuffs, take me to jail, let's go," Loprete allegedly told police, according to a police report. 

Loprete was arrested on charges of DUI property damage, aggravated assault and criminal mischief, records show. 

He reportedly told police he drove the SUV into the house because he was jealous and wanted to get back at his wife. No one was hurt. 

His wife, who is not being identified, told police her husband got angry at her when she was playing the guitar with two men at a party earlier that day. Loprete had been drinking at the party and began to fight with her. 

The couple was still arguing as he drove home with her and four of their children. Loprete stayed behind as his wife and children went inside. 

"I was with the kids and I heard a boom. Then I saw the car in the living room," his wife told police, the report said. 

Their two teenagers, a 4-year-old-son and a 2-year-old son were in a back room in the house. 

Officers at the scene said Loprete reeked of alcohol and was slurring his words. He refused a breath test and was arrested. 

Loprete was booked at the Palm Beach County jail and released on July 5 on $3,000 bail. 

He was charged with DUI and reckless driving in 2007, but the charges were dropped in December 2008, state records show. 

Loprete could not be reached for comment, despite an attempt by phone. 

His wife and children left the house Sunday night to stay with relatives because part of their house was boarded up. Boca Raton firefighters inspected the home and deactivated wires that became exposed in the living room after the crash. 

Staff researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Bosh, Wade and LeBron show like nothing basketball has seen before,0,6779072.column

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Man Tries To Steal Car With Fake Grenade

Jul 9, 2010 1:46 pm US/Eastern

Police: Man Tried To Steal Car With Fake Grenade


  Carlos Guzman



Boston police have arrested a man they allege tried to steal a Mercedes Benz from a dealership by claiming he had a hand grenade.

Police say a man showed up at Expressway Toyota on Wednesday and asked to test drive the car. Staff, describing the man as "nervous and fidgety," insisted on accompanying him.

When they got back, the man produced what appeared to be a grenade from his pants pocket and told the sales person to "get back or I will blow this up."

He fled when he heard staff calling police and was caught a short time later with a fake grenade.

The suspect, 27-year-old Carlos Guzman, was ordered to undergo a 20-day mental health evaluation after pleading not guilty to attempted armed robbery at his arraignment Thursday.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Woman tapes dog to refrigerator because boyfriend...





Saturday, July 10, 2010


Mom reports twins missing 5 hours after they were found

Gwinnett County News 5:35 p.m. Friday, July 9, 2010


Toddlers' mom reported them missing 5 hours after they were found


Alexis Stevens

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Gwinnett County mother reported her two youngest children missing five hours after police found them wandering alongside Lawrenceville Highway, police said.

This unidentified girl is one of two found wandering near Lawrenceville Highway.
Gwinnett Police This unidentified girl is one of two found wandering near Lawrenceville Highway.
Police say the girls appear to be twins.
Gwinnett Police, Gwinnett Police Police say the girls appear to be twins.


Shortly before 1 p.m. Friday, a Gwinnett County mother called police to report her two youngest children missing. But police already knew where the twin girls were: they had been picked up by an officer when they were found wandering alongside Lawrenceville Highway shortly after 8 a.m.

The toddlers remained in protective custody Friday afternoon as police tried to determine how the girls ended up alone near the busy roadway, nearly a mile from their home, police said.

The twins' mother, whose name has not been released, told police the girls were asleep at 6 a.m., Cpl. Brian Kelly said. The woman said her husband left for work at 6 a.m. and locked the front door behind him, Kelly said. At some point, the girls let themselves out and wandered away from the home, the mother told police. Three older children also live in the home, Kelly said.

The incident remains under investigation, police said.

Officers responded to a call around 8 a.m. from a driver on the way to work who said the children may get on the busy thoroughfare, Kelly said. When police arrived, the toddlers were not in the road, but standing on the corner of the sidewalk near the intersection with Hamilton Road. Neither child had been harmed.

"Officers checked the area for a guardian, to see if someone had possibly fallen in the area or had a heart attack or something, but no supervising adults were found," Kelly told the AJC.

The toddlers, between the ages of 2 and 4, were taken into protective custody, where they were fed and hydrated, Kelly said. By 5 p.m., the girls had not been returned to their parents, he said.

Earlier Friday, Kelly said police sent out a phone recording to all residences within a one-mile radius of where the toddlers were found.

At 12:56 p.m., the girls' mother called police to report the two missing, Kelly said. Officers were then dispatched to the home, in the 200 block of Phoenix Drive, to interview the woman, but the girls were not immediately returned to their parents.

- Staff writer Chelsea Cook contributed to this report

Friday, July 9, 2010


Minister sues to take guns to church

Georgia minister sues to take guns to church


Rhonda Cook


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


3:53 p.m. Friday, July 9, 2010


A Thomaston minister and a gun rights advocacy group is filing lawsuit challenging Georgia’s prohibition against guns in church, a move that was predicted after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month the Second Amendment's guarantee of an individual right to bear arms applied to state and local gun control laws. 

“They had indicated they would do that,” Alice Johnson, executive director of  Georgians for Gun Safety, a group that supports more restrictions on weapons, said of the suit which is to be filed in Upson County. 

The suit,  mailed Friday to the Superior Court in Upson County, is brought by; the Baptist Tabernacle of  Thomaston; Ed Stone, the president of  and the Rev. Jonathan Wilkins. The suit lists Upson County and the state as defendants.

Those for less as well as more restrictions on guns had said last month  places of  worship  would be the next battle over where permitted gun owners can take their weapons. Georgia law was changed this year to remove the prohibitions of guns  at “public gatherings” but it banned firearms in certain places – places of worship, government buildings, schools, nuclear power plants and bars without the owner’s permission. 

“The handgun is the quintessential self-defense weapon in the United States,” the suit said. 

The suit said Georgia law says people with permits to carry firearms "are not prohibited from carrying firearms throughout the state except for certain places.”

The suit cites the First Amendment freedom of religion and the Second Amendment right to bear arms as grounds for bringing the case. 

According to the suit, Ed Stone, president of, and others want to be able to arm themselves while worshiping “for the protection of their families and themselves" without fear of  arrest and prosecution. 

The suit also said Wilkins often works long hours alone at the Baptist Tabernacle and needs to be able to protect himself and during services " for the protection of his flock, his family, and himself, but he is in fear of arrest and prosecution under the carry ban for doing so.  The Tabernacle would like to have members armed for the protection of its members attending worship services and other events at the Tabernacle's place of worship.” 

The Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision on June 28 said the Second Amendment guaranteed a person the right to have a gun in the home for protection but the justices left open to state and local governments as to where the lines could be drawn beyond the home. 

The experts and advocates on both sides of the debate said many court cases would be filed to find those lines. 

“I think that the test that the Supreme Court has set out is where is it reasonable to allow firearms and where is it reasonable to restrict them,” said Johnson. “This is one more action … to test that. We’ll see what the courts decide. It continues to draw attention from the general public to those very questions: What is reasonable where firearms don’t belong?” 

Johnson said research by Georgians for Gun Safety had found “the citizens of Georgia do not believe that guns should be in church.” 

John Monroe, the attorney for, said this suit was stronger than other cases the group had brought because it also has the First Amendment component. 

“The question is why do you want to disarm people in church?” Monroe said. “Things happen in church…. What we really want is the state not to say what can happen in church.” 

Friday, July 9, 2010


President Obama: GOP would have US economy on wrong path

President Obama: GOP would have US economy on wrong path

Michael Mcauliff


Friday, July 9th 2010, 6:33 PM


President Barack Obama points into the crowd after a campaign rally for Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev., Thursday.

Morris/APPresident Barack Obama points into the crowd after a campaign rally for Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev., Thursday.



WASHINGTON - President Obama sounds like he's banking on  economic recovery and voter patience to keep Democrats in control this November. 

Stumping for embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in Las Vegas Friday, Obama said the America would stilk be headed in the wrong direction of the GOP had its way. 

"To simply continue with the policies that had gotten us into this mess in the first place would mean further disaster," Obama said. "We're in a different place today than we were a year ago. An economy that was shrinking is now growing," 

"It took years to dig this hole; it's going to take more time than any of us would like to climb out of it," he added, pleading for patience. 

"But the question is, No. 1, are we on the right track? And the answer is, yes." 

Republicans responded with an ad accusing Reid and Obama of destroying Nevada's economy, pointing out that unemployment in the state is 14%.


Read more:

Friday, July 9, 2010


RNC targets Harry Reid and Obama on economy with TV ad

Friday, July 9, 2010


Obama's new slogan: 'Yes we did!'

Obama's new slogan: 'Yes we did!'
Carol E. Lee
July 8, 2010 05:12 PM EDT



KANSAS CITY, Mo. — President Barack Obama has a new campaign slogan.

“Yes, we did.”

And it doesn’t stop there. Republicans, an animated Obama argued Thursday, wouldn’t have.

They wouldn’t have set the economy back on track, he said during a fundraiser for Senate candidate Robin Carnahan, or passed a health care overhaul or financial regulatory reform. Giving the GOP control of Congress again — a possibility that Obama acknowledged — would usher in another era of a “you’re on your own philosophy,” he said.

“You’re going to face a choice in November. This is a choice between the policies that got us into this mess in the first place and the policies that got us out of this mess, and what the other side is counting on is people not having a good memory,” Obama said in a fiery 30-minute speech at the Folly Theater in downtown Kansas City. “They are peddling that same snake oil that they’ve been peddling now for years.”

“Kick ‘em out,” a donor yelled.

“Well, we did kick ‘em out,” Obama replied, “because it wasn’t working.”

With less than four months before voters deliver a verdict on his first two years in office, Obama is adding more muscle to his fight against Republicans and for Democrats. Much of Democrats’ trouble this cycle stems from their votes for unpopular initiatives on Obama’s agenda, including the economic stimulus bill and the health care overhaul. But the president is trying his best to turn that equation around.

“We don’t have to guess how the other party will govern because we’re still living with results from the last time,” Obama said, insisting the GOP’s political approach will fail.

Obama is an imperfect messenger, particularly in a battleground state like Missouri, which he very narrowly lost in 2008 but has visited repeatedly since taking office. His approval rating here is below 50 percent. And earlier this year, Carnahan was seen as distancing herself from Obama by being out of town while he was in her state.

In a sign of the double edge that Obama brings in this election, Carnahan criticized her opponent, Rep. Roy Blunt, for voting for the $700 billion TARP legislation in 2008, calling him “Mr. Bailout” during her introduction of Obama.

Obama voted for the bank bailout bill as a senator.

The president didn’t seem fazed by the ding. Carnahan, the Missouri secretary of state who is running against Blunt for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Kit Bond, also promised to “call bull” on Obama if she makes it to Washington.

Obama was at his best. He was in a good mood. He laughed at his own jokes and found the right pitch that connected with the crowd. He was also as partisan as he gets, calling out Republicans by name and having fun at their expense.


“They say no to everything,” Obama said, feigning indignant. “I go and I talk to them, and I say, ‘C’mon we can get something going here.’ No! Don’t want to.”

He again took on House Republican leader John Boehner for comparing Democrats’ financial regulatory reform legislation to killing an ant with a nuclear weapon — “You’ve gotta make a movie: The Ant that Ate the Economy,” he joked. He again knocked Rep. Joe Barton, the Texas Republican who apologized to BP for the administration’s actions during the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — “When I heard that, I said, ‘Naw, he didn’t say that,’” Obama said playfully.

The audience laughed. So did he.

“The Bartons and the Boehners and the Blunts. They’ve got that ‘No’ philosophy,” Obama said. “That’s the choice in this election: moving backward or moving forward.”

Voters have seen this movie before, he said, “So we know how this movie ends. Right?"

In a statement, Boehner replied: “On President Obama’s watch, more than 3 million Americans have lost their jobs, and unemployment is near 10 percent. The American people continue to ask, 'where are the jobs?' But the president keeps whining and indulging in childish partisan attacks. How out of touch can he get?”

Obama made the case that despite having no help from Republicans, Democrats have gotten an historic amount of work done in the past 18 months.

In terms of “Yes, we did,” he was putting a fine point on an argument he first made in Toronto when asked about his plans to bring down the deficit. “One of the interesting things that’s happened over the past 18 months as president is, for some reason, people keep on being surprised when I do what I said I was going to do,” Obama said at the time. Vice President Joe Biden repeated the line last weekend in an interview with POLITICO, saying when U.S. troops end their combat mission in Iraq next month, the White House can “point to it and say, ‘We told you what we were going to do, and we did it.’”

On Thursday, Obama said his policies, however unpopular, reflect “what we talked about during the campaign.”

“Folks don’t mean what they say, and they don’t do what they say,” Obama said. “People get surprised when we follow through and keep our campaign promises.”

“Yes we can,” someone yelled.

“Yes we did,” Obama said before jetting off to Las Vegas to headline a trio of events for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “And we’re still doing it.”


Friday, July 9, 2010


Cavaliers Owner Curses LeBron James

Friday, July 9, 2010


Life without LeBron

Life without LeBron will pose plenty of challenges for Cleveland Cavaliers

Friday, July 09, 2010, 12:59 AM


John Kuntz

The Plain Dealer

With LeBron James' departure, Mo Williams becomes the most prolific scorer on the Cavaliers, although the team has explored some trade talks with other NBA teams about the veteran guard.

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- LeBron James is no longer a Cavalier, but there will still be 82 NBA games played next season.

Like many of their fans, the Cavs were in a state of shock after James announced he was going to sign with the Miami Heat. As recently as last weekend, the team felt positive that James would re-sign and they could make some adjustments and contend for a championship again next season.

But even though it is a massive blow, losing a two-time Most Valuable Player in his prime, the team did prepare for this contingency. Team owner Dan Gilbert is likely to continue his willingness to spend on payroll and keep the team competitive.

No one will pick the Cavs to contend for the title with Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson. But with some additions, the team does feel it can compete for a sixth consecutive playoff season.

While there is still a chance that the Cavs could do a sign-and-trade with the Heat for James to get back future draft picks, it is unlikely they would take part in helping James go to another team. It is a virtual certainty that the Cavs would not get any players in return, which means they face the reality of losing James for nothing.

The other reality is that the majority of the available top free agents have come to terms with other teams while the Cavs waited on James' decision. Thursday, the first day teams could sign free agents, saw a flurry of activity as the Cavs had to wait on the sidelines.

In addition, without James the Cavs are not going to be an attractive free-agent destination.

The team does have some things going for it. One is that for the first time since 2005, the Cavs will have salary cap space. That is the good news; the bad news is it isn't a large amount.

Note for commenters

We understand your anger, but please show that Cleveland has class: no racism, no vulgarity, and leave his family out of it. Commenters who cross those lines may have their accounts temporarily or permanently suspended.

Without James, for whom the Cavs were saving $16.6 million with their maximum contract offer, they are about $9 million under the salary cap. If they choose to release Delonte West before Aug. 3, they could clear another $4 million.

To get all of that space the team would have to renounce the rights to all their free agents including Shaquille O'Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Wally Szczerbiak (a carryover from last year).

Using that cap space on free agents, however, may not be the heart of the team's plans. There are several different ways to use space and it can be valuable in acquiring players in trades. That is the route the team is expected to go to improve, part of its after-James plan.

In recent weeks, General Manager Chris Grant has been making calls to check into deals whether James re-signed or not. Most centered around West's contract, which will be valuable in cost-cutting trades. The Cavs have also tested the market for point guard Williams.

After not having first-round picks in three of the last six drafts and no lottery pick since 2004, the Cavs may be looking for trades that bring additional first-round picks. They also may look to sign some of the draft picks they have playing overseas, especially '09 first-round pick Christian Eyenga and '08 second-round pick Sasha Kaun.

Unlike in '03, when the Cavs won James' rights in the draft lottery, there is likely no magic bullet on the horizon. But there are options to improve what James left the Cavs with.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Woman arrested on mistaken charge can't sue

Woman arrested on mistaken charge can't sue

Case is thrown out by appellate court even though she was held in cuffs more than 12 hours


Peter Hermann

The Baltimore Sun 7:59 p.m. EDT

July 8, 2010


Eyrania Smith is, in the words of Maryland's second-highest court, a "truly innocent and injured" person.

Eyrania Smith, in the words of the same judges of Maryland's Court of Special Appeals, has no basis to sue over her mistreatment. 

That ruling comes even though all sides agree that Smith was mistakenly arrested on a city warrant that should never have existed, taken away by a police officer who left her two children alone in a car in a highway parking lot, and was shackled by her left wrist and ankles to a pole for more than 12 hours in a Baltimore County police precinct. 

Smith had been arrested at 9:08 a.m. on March 26, 2005. She was released from custody at 12:54 a.m. on March 27, 2005. She sued for $2 million in Baltimore County Circuit Court, alleging that her detention amounted to the use of excessive force. A judge threw out the case and on Wednesday the appeals court upheld that ruling. 

It appears from reading the court's 25-page opinion that there are so many people to blame for Smith's predicament that no one person or agency can be held responsible for the entirety of her mistreatment. 

The judges ruled that the booking officer Smith named in the suit, Michael Bortner, only supervised her detention for a little more than four hours and that he and other officers tried to make her stay more comfortable but were hampered by problems beyond their control. 

For example, the three cells in the precinct were filled with men, so there was simply no place to put a woman other than a bench in the hallway outside the fingerprint room. The judicial branch, not the cops, is responsible for determining the legitimacy of a warrant. And officers twice called their city counterparts to pick her up, but they never showed. 

The judges unanimously ruled against Smith, even as they conceded: "We believe appellant's situation was very regrettable." 

Smith, who lives in Pennsylvania, couldn't be reached for comment, and her two attorneys were not available. 

Smith's ordeal began in 2001 when she accepted probation for failing to pay a $215.61 bill to a Rent-A-Center in Baltimore City. She wrote a check the day of her court hearing. But for some reason, authorities couldn't find a record of the payment and requested an arrest warrant. The judge at first issued one, then pulled it back after realizing that Smith had in fact paid. But the recall notice never got into the official record. 

And so the warrant lingered until a Baltimore County police officer stopped Smith for speeding on Interstate 83 on March 26, 2005. He took her away, leaving her two daughters, ages 9 and 17, in the car in a Park-and-Ride, even though the teen didn't have a driver's license. 

Bortner fingerprinted and photographed Smith, then put her on a bench near a wall, cuffing her left wrist to a pole above her seat and shackling her ankles to a pole running parallel to the wall, according to the court's ruling. 

Police then called Baltimore City, where the warrant had originated, and asked someone to come and pick Smith up. At 2:15 p.m., a city officer said the 4 p.m.-to-midnight shift would get Smith. At 5 p.m., a city officer said the midnight shift would handle the call. 

At midnight, a county officer finally drove Smith to the city, where they quickly determined that the warrant was an error and released her. She later sued. 

But Baltimore County Circuit Judge Judith Ensor ruled that Smith's claim must "shock the judicial conscience," a legal standard for excessive force, and she decided "that Bortner's conduct did not rise to that level." 

The Court of Special Appeals ruled that Smith "has not shown a due process violation committed by the single person she has sued." The judges thought the cops made great efforts to get Smith through the process. 

"More importantly," they wrote, "numerous actions taken by the county police belie an intention to punish appellant." 

Thursday, July 8, 2010


LeBron James signs with Miami Heat. Rejects Knicks

LeBron James spurns New York Knicks, the King will join Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh with Miami Heat

Kevin Armstrong


Thursday, July 8th 2010, 10:06 PM


LeBron James, the former star of the Cleveland Cavaliers, will be joining the Miami Heat.

Shamus/GettyLeBron James, the former star of the Cleveland Cavaliers, will be joining the Miami Heat.

 James arrives at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, Conn.

Keivom/NewsJames arrives at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, Conn.


If LeBron James is to build himself into a billionaire, he will do so elsewhere. 

Despite the years of clearing cap space, rearranging their roster to mirror his needs and eventually sending former coach Isiah Thomas as the closer, the New York Knicks' investment of time into James ended Thursday with no return. James, a lifelong Ohio resident from Akron, uprooted from his home state when he announced that he will sign a contract with the Miami Heat. He will join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. 

The protracted process lasted eight days and nights. James, who had not spoken publicly since becoming a free agent on July 1, revealed his selection during an hour-long episode on ESPN. He chose to do so at a Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn. 

Guessing James' destination became a parlor game in recent days. At times, media reports mapped James' escape route to Chicago, New York and New Jersey. Others felt that James would not be able to overcome the pull of staying put in Cleveland. 

In seven seasons, James has twice won the NBA's MVP award, yet has never won a championship despite reaching the NBA Finals in 2007. The Cavaliers' attempts to revamp their coaching staff with new hire Byron Scott were not enough to placate James, who maintains a mansion in Akron. 

New York invested the most hype in its search. For several seasons, Knicks strategized how best to attract James, but as the announcement drew near, it became clear that their efforts had fallen short.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Serial burglar steals pill bottles filled with candy from pharmacy

Edmond Pharmacy Burglar Steals Pill Bottles Filled with M&M's

Jul 06, 2010 11:29 AM EDTpdated: Jul 06, 2010 6:45 PM EDT

EDMOND, Oklahoma – An Edmond pharmacist got back at a serial burglar by filling the wanted bottles with candy, police said.

According to police, officers responded to an alarm going off at the Clinic Pharmacy, 120 N. Bryant Avenue, at about 5:30 a.m. Sunday. When they arrived, they found the front glass doors of the pharmacy had been broken and four bottles of hydrocodone were missing. The pharmacist informed officers that due to recent burglaries he had filled the bottles with M&M's.

"Hopefully this will be the last time since they realize all they're gonna get is M&M's. They got something. They didn't go away empty handed so it's sort of like sweet revenge on his part," said Glynda Chu, Edmond Police Department spokesperson.

No suspects have been identified.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Deficit hits $1 trillion in June for second year straight

Deficit hits $1 trillion in June for second year

Walter Alarkon 
The Hill
07/08/10 10:46 AM ET

The federal deficit in June surpassed the $1 trillion mark for the second straight year, but it's on pace to be slightly lower than last year.

The deficit was $1.005 trillion at the end of June for fiscal year 2010, which is $81 billion less than it was after nine months of fiscal 2009, according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released late Wednesday.

Tax revenues, due to improved corporate tax receipts, are slightly up while spending is slightly down compared to last year.

If that trend holds, the 2010 deficit would be slightly lower than last year's $1.4 trillion budget shortfall, a record in nominal dollars, and lower than CBO's earlier 2010 deficit projection of $1.5 trillion.

Revenue from corporate income taxes grew 31 percent over the same period in 2009, to $133 billion.

"That increase reflects higher taxable profits in 2010, resulting both from improved economic conditions and from lower depreciation charges," the CBO report said.

The improved revenue from corporations in June could bode well for corporate tax receipts for September, the final month of the fiscal year, CBO said.

The gain from corporate receipts, however, was virtually offset by a 4 percent decline in individual income and payroll taxes. Total tax revenue only improved by 0.5 percent, to $1.597 trillion.

Overall federal spending has dropped this year by about 3 percent, to $2.6 trillion.

That's largely due to about $350 billion less in spending on bailout programs for financial firms in 2010 than last year.

Spending on entitlement programs, the military and unemployment benefits has risen by about 9 percent.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


$200 Million GOP Campaign Avalanche Democrats Stunned

Sam Stein 




$200 Million GOP Campaign Avalanche Planned, Democrats Stunned

First Posted: 07- 8-10 10:09 AM   |   Updated: 07- 8-10 12:54 PM



White House Salaries

Over the past few weeks, top Democratic Party strategists have been passed a chart by a concerned, well-respected operative underscoring the daunting task they face in the 2010 elections. 

On the left hand side of the chart is a list of ten Republican aligned institutions, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the Family Research Council. Next to it is a column listing the amount of money each group has pledged to spend by Election Day. A third column on the right details what those groups actually spent in 2008 on federal elections. 

The number at the bottom delivers the key message. If their pledges are fulfilled, these ten groups will unleash more than $200 million in election-focused spending -- roughly $37 million more than every single independent group spent on the 2008 presidential campaign combined. This time around, almost every single penny will be going to Republican candidates or causes.




(Update: A Democratic operative makes the case that the total could rise to roughly $300 million if it includes additional pledges for campaign spending from Americans for Prosperity, promising $45 million, the Club for Growth, $24 million, the National Rifle Association, $20 million, and the Susan B. Anthony List, $6 million) 

Democrats who received the chart -- which include staff at both congressional committees, the major unions, and many of the most respected campaign hands in the party -- have admitted to greeting it with nervous expletives. It has been passed along to big fundraisers in hopes that they will be compelled to open up their checkbooks. 

One top-ranking Democratic operative involved in crafting campaign strategy said he "wouldn't be surprised" if outside groups on the Republican side "outspend us four-to-one." Another top official at a campaign committee called it "one hell of a wake-up call to the left." 

"Despite accomplishing much of the check list on the progressive agenda," the official added, "they risk losing it all unless they come together and put their money on the table."

Special interest groups have long tried (with some success) to tip the scales of political election results. But what seems in store for 2010 is historic in nature. The chart was updated late last week after it was reported that the Chamber would make a $75 million commitment to the upcoming elections -- more than twice the amount it had spent in the 2008 cycle (which was then a high-water mark). 

The business lobby's expenditures -- done almost exclusively for the benefit of Republican candidates -- would alone have a profound impact on races across the country. But the Chamber is being accompanied by a host of other, ideologically-aligned groups promising to empty similarly deep pockets. American Crossroads, the outlet run by former Bush strategist Karl Rove, has pledged $52 million in expenditures. American Action Network, which is headed by a host of high-ranking GOPers, is promising another $25 million. 

"In the context or recent history, it is unprecedented, but speaks to how much is at stake in Washington: power, money and access will be awarded to the winning party," said Craig Shirley, a biographer of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich and a longtime adviser to conservatives. "Everyone in America now has some sort of stake or interest in the affairs of the national government." 

Can the money be used effectively? The traditional conduits for cash are the campaign committees which recruit donors through promises of organization, coherent messaging, and effective leadership. But as Shirley notes, activists may end up circumventing the Republican National Committee out of concerns about the competency of its chairman, Michael Steele. The National Republican Senatorial Committee hasn't been treated with similar skepticism by the party's base, but it has only $18 million cash on hand at this point in time. 

In interviews with the Huffington Post, several high-ranking Republicans expressed confidence that the outside groups could effectively fill the void the RNC (and, to a lesser extent, the NRSC) was creating. Leadership at these institutions, one operative said, are all veterans of recent high-stakes campaigns, if not well respect tacticians in their own right. Federal law does not, moreover, explicitly prohibit them from coordinating messaging or target lists. They simply can't do so with the campaign committees. 

As for the capacity of these groups to actually raise the cash, that too is debatable. It's one thing to promise $52 million in expenditures, as Rove has. It's another thing to deliver. American Crossroads was mocked for raising practically nothing in May 2010, then returned in June claiming $8.5 million in new donations. 

Democrats, while predicting that the $200 million objective likely won't be reached, are prepping for an avalanche nonetheless. "It is just one more chess piece on the board," said J.B. Poersch, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "Today, I assume, at least the Chamber's money is real because it was real before. If they say they are going to spend $75 million, I have to assume it is real." 

"There's no doubt the Bush boys and big corporate interests -- those who lost the most in the last two years -- are going to try to buy their way back in to power," said Hari Sevugan, press secretary for the DNC. "We are confident that Democrats, as well independents, who don't want that to happen, will put up the resources to ensure that it doesn't." 

That confidence is far from universally shared. While it's anticipated that both parties will be able to maintain approximate parity in the amount of money they can spend on congressional races, top strategists are resigned to the likelihood that Democratic interest groups won't match their Republican counterparts. So far this cycle, the activist base -- personified by groups like -- has been motivated by issue-advocacy and primary challenges, not the Democratic Party's well being.

The major unions are pledging massive resources for the 2010 elections. To this point, they've outspent corporate groups. But their priorities aren't necessarily in line with the campaign committees and the White House. And in interviews with the Huffington Post, top officials held no illusions that they can go cent-for-cent with the Chamber, let alone the nine other Republican-leaning groups. 

"Typically, labor unions are outspent by corps around 3 to 1 on elections," said the SEIU's national political director Jon Youngdahl. "We fear that due to Citizens United [the Supreme Court case allowing unlimited spending on campaigns] those numbers are only going to grow. I fear these are the first signs of that growth." 

"Will the labor movement be able to match corporate money? No. We never have been and never will," said Karen Ackerman, political director of the AFL-CIO. "But that is not the strength of the labor movement. Our greatest strength is union members and their families." 

Faced with a potentially deep financial deficit, grumbling has started to intensify. In private, White House officials are accusing unions of wasting money on fruitless primary challenges; congressional officials are accusing the White House of not doing enough fundraising on their behalf (Obama has done 49 events so far, including two on Thursday, raising over $46 million dollars for candidates and committees); and union officials are blaming congressional Democrats for not passing an agenda that could motivate voters. 

It's a far cry from two years ago, when the Obama presidential campaign had a unifying influence on the entire party. The growing concern among strategists is that it could end up producing a self-fulfilling prophesy in which each faction -- convinced about forthcoming midterm losses and skeptical of each other -- can't generate a comprehensive counter-campaign. The one glimmer of hope is that the GOP, even with its deep pockets, could stumble.

"Nature hates a vacuum," said Douglas MacKinnon, a longtime Republican hand and former spokesman for Senator Bob Dole. "And right now the country is taking it out on Democrats to a certain extent. But the country is also looking to Republicans for leadership... and what they are seeing is next to silence because the GOP is just waiting for democrats to self-destruct. Some of the air is coming out of the Republican balloon because they are not stepping into that vacuum or offering solution."

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Michael Steele in 2012? Not so crazy


Steele in 2012? Not so crazy
Roger Simon
July 8, 2010 04:31 AM EDT


Republican Party chief Michael Steele is either crazy like a fox or a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

His comments since assuming the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee have been weird, his actions crazy and his behavior indefensible. Which leads me to believe he is preparing a run for president.

It is not unthinkable. A demographic plan exists:

The Democratic candidates who win the presidency never win the white vote. Jimmy Carter didn’t, Bill Clinton didn’t (twice) and Barack Obama didn’t. What they do to gain victory is win enough of the white vote and an overwhelming minority vote.

As a black Republican nominee, Steele could get many of the white votes a Republican usually gets while cutting into the Democratic black vote. In this manner, he could defeat Obama in 2012. And that would be his pitch for getting his party’s nomination.

There is a problem with this scenario, however: Is there anyone — black, white, Republican, or Democrat — goofy enough to vote for Michael Steele?

Maybe not. But November 2012 is a long way off. And Steele is staking out his own territory.

Take Steele’s recent comment that Afghanistan is a war “of Obama’s choosing.” There is not a crowded field of people who believe that, considering it was a war of George W. Bush’s choosing, and one designed to keep Al Qaeda from launching further attacks on the United States.

But, according to Steele, Obama failed to understand that “the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan.”

Maybe he is right, but because of Bush and Obama, Al Qaeda has been forced to fight for its own survival rather than launching fresh attacks on U.S. soil. (Steele’s follow-up comment issued last Friday — “the stakes are too high for us to accept anything but success in Afghanistan” — hardly cleared things up.)


Some Republican leaders were outraged by Steele, something they have gotten used to since Steele was elected to his two-year term on Jan. 30, 2009, on the sixth ballot. (Some would think that a sixth-ballot victory would call for a quiet consolidation of power. But Steele interpreted it as a call to throw hand grenades. Such is the ambition of future presidents.)

On “This Week” last Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told ABC’s Jake Tapper that Steele’s statements were “wildly inaccurate and there is no excuse for them.”

On “Face the Nation With Bob Schieffer,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) decried Steele’s “uninformed, unnecessary, unwise, untimely comment” before Graham ran out of “uns.”

Dan Senor, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, told Tapper, “What’s striking about Steele is how fundamentally unserious” he is.

Senor is 100 percent correct. But this is the best thing Steele has going for him. Do serious candidates always win the presidency? Did Michael Dukakis? Did Al Gore?

Sure, Obama was serious in 2008, but he sold himself as an agent of change to an unhappy America. In 2012, Obama is going to have to defend the past four years to a (probably) unhappy America.

And how “serious” is politics today when people who believe Obama was born in Kenya, Indonesia or Transylvania are considered a real political movement?

No, serious is not always what you want to be if you want a future in politics.

So when you look at Michael Steele, you are not seeing a man wildly blundering. You are seeing at a man running for president. It just looks like the same thing.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Sarah Palin puts out campaign style video

Palin puts out campaign-style video
Andy Barr
July 8, 2010 07:30 AM EDT


Sarah Palin released a video Thursday that has the feel of an early campaign spot.

The video, titled "Mama Grizzlies," is produced by her political action committee and splices shots of Palin speaking and appearing with supporters and at tea party rallies.

Palin’s remarks in the video, which borrow heavily from her speech to the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, touts this year as the year of conservative women.

“This year will be remembered as a year when common sense conservative women get things done for our country,” Palin says at the beginning of the nearly two-minute video. “All across this country, women are standing up and speaking out for common sense solutions.”

As Palin speaks, the video shows images of women young and old watching the former Alaska governor and holding signs protesting the Democratic majority in Washington.

One elderly woman in the video is making her way through a tea party rally in a wheelchair with a “Don’t Tread on Me” sign on back.

Another sign reads: “Annoy Liberal: Work Hard & Pay Your Own Bills.”

“These policies coming out of D.C. right now, this fundamental transformation of America — well a lot of women concerned about their kids' futures are saying we don’t like this fundamental transformation and we’re going to do something about it,” Palin says. “It seems like it’s kind of a mom awakening in the last year and a half where women are rising up and saying ‘no, we’ve had enough already.’ Because moms sort of just know when something is wrong.

“We’re going to turn this thing around. We’re going to get our country back on the right track,” she continued. “Look out Washington, cause there’s a whole stampede of elephants crossing the line and the e.t.a. for them stampeding through is November 2, 2010.”


Thursday, July 8, 2010


Judge orders couple to split canine

This puppy’s not property in divorce case

8:11 pm Tue, July 6, 2010
Steve Lash
Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer


Lucky will spend six months a year with each of his owners after a judge refused to order the dog sold. 

Call it the Calvert County Canine Custody Case.

As they headed toward divorce, Gayle and Craig Myers had only one bone of contention: Who would have the right to keep Lucky, their 16-pound gray-black Lhasa apso.

Under Maryland law, family pets — unlike, say, children — are treated as jointly owned marital property and sold if the divorcing couple cannot agree on who gets to keep them. The parties then split the proceeds of the sale.

But the standard resolution did not seem right to retired Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Graydon S. McKee III.

The judge, presiding over the limited-divorce proceeding by special assignment, decided on his own last month that Gayle and Craig, who have no children, would split custody of Lucky. The dog will alternate spending six months with each party; Gayle’s turn began on July 1.

McKee rendered his decision after hearing testimony from Gayle, who lives in Alexandria, Va., and Craig, who resides in Dunkirk. 

“It was very clear that both of them love this dog equally,” McKee said. “The only fair thing to do was to give each one an equal chance to share in the love of the dog.”

Had either side objected to his unusual resolution, McKee said, he would have applied the law and might have ordered the dog put in the care of a trustee, sold and the proceeds divided.

The judge, 72, said he has owned dogs but that his affection for them did not enter into his decision.

“I really applied good old common sense that my grandmother taught me when I was a little kid,” said McKee, who retired in 2007 as chief judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, which includes Calvert County. “Treat other people the way you would want to be treated if you were in that situation.”

McKee’s resolution drew praise from Peter Petersan, litigation director of the Humane Society of the United States. Ordering a sale of the dog “clearly would not have been a just result in this situation” when you have two loving owners, Petersan said. “The judge thought of everyone involved, including the dog, which is fantastic.”

Animal-law attorney Jan Berlage said McKee recognized that dogs and other pets are “family members” and not mere property.

“The judge seems to be taking into account that the common law is changing,” said Berlage, who chairs the Maryland State Bar Association’s Animal Law Section. “Pets have a different role in our lives than farm animals that are fungible and can be replaced.”

Berlage, who said he was speaking for himself and not the section, is with Gohn, Hankey & Stichel LLP in Baltimore.

Attorneys for Gayle hailed what they characterized as McKee’s humane compromise in not requiring the divorcing couple to part with their beloved pet.

“This judge understood the role of pets, and particularly dogs, in the fabric of the American family,” said attorney James S. Maxwell. “The judge appropriately elevated the status of a dog to a member of a family.”

But Maxwell added that only a similar ruling by Maryland’s top court or a change in Maryland law will ensure that McKee’s decision to treat dogs as more than marital property takes root in Maryland.

“Until we have an appellate ruling or legislative change, it’s just one judge’s opinion, one judge’s attempt to do the right thing,” said Maxwell, of Maxwell & Barke LLC in Rockville.

Craig’s attorney, Mark W. Carmean, said McKee’s ruling made for “a rather unique case, and certainly one I’ve never had before.”

Carmean voiced doubt that the judge’s order marks the start of a trend toward pet-custody rulings.  “We have a court system that deals with a lot of child-custody cases,” said Carmean, of Lamson, LeBlanc & Carmean LLC in Prince Frederick.

Treating pets in a similar fashion “would take up a lot of judicial time and energy,” he added. “I will leave it to family-law scholars to determine if you can have a visitation schedule for an animal.”

Prior to McKee’s order, Gayle’s lead attorney had offered two alternatives to selling Lucky and splitting the proceeds. The first was a coin toss. Under the second, Gayle and Craig would write on separate sheets of paper the amount they would be willing to pay for Lucky, with the high bid winning custody, said the attorney, Brian M. Barke, Maxwell’s law partner.

“Our client just could not bring herself to have a trustee take her dog and sell her dog,” Barke said.

He added that McKee’s solution was unconventional but correct.

“I don’t think what he did is entirely legal,” Barke said. “He did the right thing.”

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Man used Chinese food to smuggle drugs into jail

Georgia man charged with using Chinese food to smuggle drugs into jail

Matt Elofson

Dothan Eagle 
July 7, 2010

Pike County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Georgia man over the Fourth of July weekend on a charge he tried to smuggle marijuana in to a jail inmate with a container of Chinese food.

Court records show deputies arrested Edward Ridley, 41, of Cordele, Ga., and charged him Saturday with felony promoting prison contraband. Records show Ridley apparently entered the Pike County Jail with a styrofoam container with Chinese food inside, including rice and shrimp, for inmate Vincent Thomas. A jailer at the facility used a fork to search the food and found a bag of marijuana. 

If convicted of the class C felony charge, promoting prison contraband, Ridley faces one to 10 years in prison. He was being held in the Pike County Jail on a $7,500 bond.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Man holds mom hostage because she won't iron his clothes

Metro Atlanta / State News  6:39 p.m. Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Cops: Man holds mom hostage because she won't iron his clothes


Alexis Stevens


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


A 29-year-old Villa Rica man apparently expected his mother to iron his clothes for him. And when she wouldn't, he pulled a gun and held her hostage for several hours, police said. 

Carroll County Sheriff's Office Robert Edward Tyrrell Jr. faces aggravated assault and false imprisonment charges.

Robert Edward Tyrrell Jr. remained in jail Wednesday without bond, Sgt. Marc Griffith with the Carroll County Sheriff's Office told the AJC. Tyrrell faces aggravated assault and false imprisonment following the June 30 incident, Griffith said. 

"He wanted her to do some ironing, and when she said ‘no,' they got into an argument," Griffith said. "He told her ‘ironing is woman's work.' " 

Tyrrell, who lives with his parents, then pulled out a gun and took his 51-year-old mother's keys and cellphones, Griffith said. The man refused to let the woman leave for at least six hours, investigators said. 

“Mama finally said, ‘I’m not ironing your clothes,' and he went cuckoo on her," Griffith said. 

The woman was later able to get out of the home and drive to a police station to report the incident, and deputies were dispatched to the home. Eventually, Tyrrell surrendered without incident, Griffith said. 

Carroll County Sheriff's Office Robert Edward Tyrrell Jr. faces aggravated assault and false imprisonment charges.



Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Democrats digging harder for dirt on Republicans

Democrats digging harder than ever for dirt on Republicans

Philip Rucker
Washington Post

Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 7, 2010


The Democratic Party is moving faster and more aggressively than in previous election years to dig up unflattering details about Republican challengers. In House races from New Jersey to Ohio to California, Democratic operatives are seizing on evidence of GOP candidates' unpaid income taxes, property tax breaks and ties to financial firms that received taxpayer bailout money.

In recent weeks, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has circulated information to local reporters about Republican candidates in close races. Among the claims: 

-- That Jim Renacci of Ohio once owed nearly $1.4 million in unpaid state taxes. 

-- That David Harmer of California received $160,000 in bonus and severance pay from a firm that got a federal bailout. 

-- That Jon Runyan of New Jersey got a legal break in property taxes for his 25-acre homestead by qualifying for a farmland assessment thanks to his four donkeys. 

Renacci's campaign said the candidate did not believe he had tax liabilities for a trust fund and eventually paid all that he owed. A spokesman for Harmer said criticizing him for the money he lawfully earned is a "severe twist of the facts." Runyan's campaign said his actions were legal. 

Jon Vogel, executive director of the DCCC, said Democrats are merely pointing out that some Republican recruits in competitive House races are "flawed candidates." 

He added, "We have made this election a choice. . . . They're trying to run this national message in part about fiscal discipline, but they've recruited a number of candidates not credible to carry that message." 

Opposition research has been a part of political campaigns for decades, but the 2010 cycle is different. In many states, Republicans have steered clear of candidates with long political track records -- eschewing state representatives and veteran city council members who have cast thousands of votes ripe for scrutiny -- in favor of political outsiders. The top GOP recruits include several former professional sports stars, as well as doctors and businessmen. 

Democratic leaders are trying to frame the November midterm elections not as a national referendum on the party in power but as local choices between two candidates. 

"We can win the contrast, but not the referendum," Democratic strategist Steve Murphy said. "What is critical in this election cycle is for Democratic candidates to hold Republican candidates accountable for their views." 

Republicans see the Democrats' strategy as a sign of weakness. 

"When the issues are cutting against you, it is typical for a party in trouble to resort to other means," said Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "With the unemployment rate unacceptably high and President Obama's approval rating falling, they have nothing left to run on other than character assassination." 

Democratic officials are advising campaigns to hire trackers to follow their Republican opponents to public events with video cameras, ready to catch any gaffe or misstatement. And the Democratic National Committee last week issued a call to the public to submit any embarrassing audio or video of Republicans, as well as copies of their direct-mail advertisements. 

Party officials would not say how many staffers are working on opposition research. Such work used to be farmed out to campaign consultants, but the DCCC brought research operations in-house in 2008 to be more nimble. "It may appear to be more aggressive this cycle because what we're finding on Republicans is so rich," Vogel said. 

In Ohio, Democrats are trying to exploit Renacci's business record in his race against Rep. John Boccieri (D). Renacci, who owns a Chevrolet dealership, nursing homes, real estate investments and sports teams, among other interests, has faced a string of lawsuits related to his businesses.

Democratic operatives circulated a report in April that Renacci owed nearly $1.4 million in unpaid state taxes, interest and penalties. Renacci fought the assessment, believing the money he was holding in a trust was free of state tax liabilities. But after losing a dispute over his liability, Renacci paid everything he owed, said his campaign manager, James Slepian. 

"This is a story that the DCCC was pushing pretty hard," Slepian said. "It's unfortunate that John Boccieri has chosen to conduct his campaign by slinging mud from behind Nancy Pelosi's desk rather than talking about the issues that really matter." 

But Democrats say the strategy paid dividends in the May special election for the Pennsylvania House seat of the late Democrat John P. Murtha. Republican Tim Burns framed the race as a referendum on Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), both unpopular in a district that Obama lost to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008. But Democrat Mark Critz won handily after tailoring his message to local concerns and attacking Burns for saying he would protect tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. 

"Some years you ride the wave, and other years you paddle your canoe," Democratic strategist Paul Begala said. "Democrats, they've got to paddle like hell. So what you do when you're paddling is, as the Republicans seek to nationalize, you localize and personalize."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Keith Olbermann Begs Oprah Please Crush Racist Limbaugh

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Woman, 31, poses as boy 14 to get girl 16

Woman allegedly poses as boy, solicits sex from Springboro teen

Lawrence Budd

Dayton Daily News

Staff Writer

9:36 AM Wednesday, July 7, 2010

LEBANON — A Franklin woman pretended to be a 14-year-old boy named Matt Abrams to get close to a Springboro girl, authorities said.

Patricia Dye, 31, of Franklin, remained in the Warren County Jail on Tuesday, July 6, charged with unlawful sexual conduct with and corruption of a 16-year-old Springboro girl in late May at the girl’s home.

Dye, who used the alias Matt Abrams, is 4 feet 11 inches tall, smaller than the 5-foot-5 victim, according to police reports.

“They were boyfriend-girlfriend,” Sgt. Bob Marchiny said. “(Dye) looks just like a boy.”

Police began investigating Dye after the girl ran away from a hotel where they had been living together for three days in June. The girl did not realize Dye was a woman, Marchiny said.

“We realized the person she was with wasn’t who we thought she was,” Marchiny said.

Dye, arrested on June 30 in Franklin, admitted to pretending to being a boy, Marchiny said.

“It’s not an easy thing to do,” Marchiny said.

Dye is charged with corruption of a minor and unlawful sex with a minor. A charge of importuning, or soliciting sex with the girl, was dismissed after a pretrial hearing Tuesday, according to prosecutors.

On Tuesday, Judge Donald Oda sent the case to a grand jury after a pretrial hearing in Warren County Court. Dye remained in the Warren County Jail on $100,000 bond.

Dye, who lived with her parents at a hotel in Franklin, has no local criminal record. No other charges have been filed.

Police are investigating whether there are other victims, Marchiny said.



Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Lindsay Lohan's Special Message To The Court 'F-U'

Lindsay Lohan's Fingernail Painted With 'F**k U'

07- 7-10 07:33 AM

Lindsay Lohan had a special message for the court on Tuesday, and she painted it on her fingernail. The eagle eyes at WWTDD noticed that on Lohan's middle finger, often held to her lips, was the message " U."

She was sentenced to 90 days in jail at the probation violation hearing. In addition bursting into tears, Lohan covered her face at one point with the paper she took notes on. That's below the finger photo, rotated so you can read her list of excuses and explanations.




Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Levi Johnston issues apology to Sarah Palin

Levi Johnston issues apology to Sarah Palin and family for his 'youthful indiscretion'

Leo Standora


Tuesday, July 6th 2010, 7:03 PM


Levi Johnston is the one-time boyfriend and baby daddy to Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol.

Sullivan/GettyLevi Johnston is the one-time boyfriend and baby daddy to Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol.


Now he's sorry.

After six months of bad-mouthing Sarah Palin and the rest of Alaska's former First Family, Levi Johnston is apologizing - hoping to thaw his icy relationship with them.

"After Bristol and I broke up, I was unhappy and a little angry." Johnston told People magazine. "Unfortunately, against my better judgment, I publicly said things about the Palins that were not completely true.

"Since my statements were public, I owe it to the Palins to publicly apologize," he said.

"So to the Palin family in general and to Sarah Palin in particular, please accept my regrets and forgive my youthful indiscretion. I hope one day to restore your trust."

Johnston said he privately apologized to Sarah Palin and hubby Todd, but didn't mention how they took it.

Johnston's plea for forgiveness comes more than a year after he and Bristol Palin called off their engagement and only a couple of months after she said he was "a stranger to me."

But a sign things were warming up between the 20-year-olds came last month when Bristol said she and Johnston will work together to raise their 1-year-old,Tripp.

Yesterday, Bristol said, "Part of co-parenting is creating healthy and honest relationships between the parents. Tripp one day needs to know the truth and needs to know that even if a mistake is made the honorable thing to do is to own up to it."

But it's likely Levi will have to work harder to win over mama Palin.

During their war of words, Levi told the Early Show he knew "huge" things about the Palins that could get Sarah "in trouble, and could hurt her. Will hurt her."

He also claimed there was a lot of "talk of divorce" in the Palin household and more than once heard Sarah Palin use the word "retarded" to refer to her son with Down Syndrome.

Palin fired back that Levi's remarks were "mean spirited, malicious and untrue" and ripped him for posing nude in "Playgirl" and talking abut sex on "The Tyra Banks Show."


Read more:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Priest stole $1,000,000 spent it on male escorts

Catholic priest Kevin Gray stole $1M and spent it on male escorts: police

News Wire Services


Wednesday, July 7th 2010, 4:00 AM


Rev. Kevin Gray

Waterbury PD/APRev. Kevin Gray


A disgruntled Catholic priest was charged Tuesday with raiding church coffers to finance a double life befitting a mogul - and to pay for male escorts. 

The Rev. Kevin Gray, former pastor at Sacred Heart in Waterbury, Conn., was charged with first-degree larceny, which carries up to 20 years in prison. 

He allegedly stole $1.3 million over seven years and spent some of the cash on designer duds and luxury Manhattan hotels and restaurants. 

Gray, 64, stayed at the W Hotel and the Waldorf-Astoria, ate at Tavern on the Green and bought Armani and Brooks Brothers suits, cell phones and laptops, said Waterbury police Capt. Christopher Corbett. 

He opened credit card accounts for two men he had met - one at a male strip club and another through a male escort service, according to court papers. 

One of them racked up $67,000 in charges - including $5,410 for tuition at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. The other charged almost $50,000 to the card, including Louis Vuitton merchandise and $9,000 in Crunch gym fees.

A third man he met in Central Park said Gray paid for his classes at Harvard, piano lessons and veterinarian bills - claiming he was a lawyer who had won big cases. 

"The life he was leading in New York City was much different than the life he was leading in Waterbury as a priest," Corbett said. 

"He's certainly an example of someone who was leading a double life." 

A police affidavit says Gray admitted he swiped about $1 million and told investigators did it because he hated being a priest and got lousy assignments from the Archdiocese of Hartford. 

He was Sacred Heart's pastor from January 2003 until April 15, when he was granted a medical leave. 

He told the congregation he was battling cancer, but detectives have determined that was a lie. 

Read more: 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Joe Biden thrives as war grinds on

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Fox News Host Glen Beck starts online university

Glenn Beck starts online 'university'

ANDY BARR | 7/6/10 10:34 AM EDT

Fox News host Glenn Beck announced Tuesday that he has launched an online 'academic program.' | AP Photo

Fox News host Glenn Beck announced Tuesday that he has launched an online 'academic program.' AP





Fox News host Glenn Beck announced Tuesday that he has launched an online “academic program” teaching classes in “religion, American history and economics.” 

“School may be out for the summer, but for Glenn Beck class is just starting,” reads an announcement on Beck’s website. “This July, while others are relaxing poolside, head back to the classroom — from the comfort of your own home. That may sound like an oxymoron, but Glenn’s new academic program is only available online.” 

The site explains that “Beck University is a unique academic experience bringing together experts in the fields of religion, American history and economics.” 

“Through captivating lectures and interactive online discussions, these experts will explore the concepts of faith, hope and charity and show you how they influence America’s past, her present and most importantly her future,” the announcement promises. 

The classes are available to anyone who signs up for Beck’s “Extreme Insider” package, which costs $6.26 per month. 

A Forbes analysis in April of Beck’s many business ventures estimated that the conservative radio and talk show host made $32 million last year — mostly through his website, magazine, books and many promotional deals.

Read more:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Justice Clarence Thomas's wife takes on Obama

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Wife Virginia 'Ginni' Thomas attend an event.
Ginni Thomas has to partisan politics as a fully engaged opponent of the president.

Read more:

Secret donors make Thomas's wife's group tea party player
Kenneth P. Vogel
July 6, 2010 06:31 PM EDT


When Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife announced in 2008 that she was going to help run Washington operations for a Michigan college once described as “a citadel of American conservatism,” she said the move was her “way of pulling away from politics” and the “safest place for me to be when it comes to conflicts” with her husband’s position on the court.

But, less than two years later, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas has returned to partisan politics as a fully engaged opponent of President Barack Obama, whom she has described as “hard left” and steering the nation “for tyranny.” As founder and president of a think tank and advocacy group called Liberty Central, she quickly established herself in the tea party movement by drawing on her longstanding ties to Washington’s conservative establishment and by landing two big donations — one for $500,000 and another for $50,000 —that put her group on the map.

The two donations are the only sources of money the group, which she established in November, reported to the Internal Revenue Service in 2009, according to a recently released report, which blocks out the donors’ names, as allowed by the section of the tax code under which the group is registered, 501(c)4. Yet, its size sets Liberty Central apart from other new tea party groups that have struggled to raise money from mostly small, grass-roots contributions.

In interviews with popular conservative media outlets, Thomas described her still-evolving vision for Liberty Central, which she recently said she envisions forming a bridge between the conservative establishment and the anti-establishment tea party.

“I’m getting to know the Tea Party groups and the new citizen activists,” Thomas told Human Events late last month. “What I think I can bring to the table is a connective (t)issue between the new people and the old people.”

The group appears to be positioning itself as a hybrid think tank/advocacy group/campaign arm for the tea party movement. Last month, it endorsed its first candidate, Mike Lee, who defeated incumbent Sen. Bob  Bennett of Utah in a Republican primary, and it intends to roll out a larger round of endorsements this month, according to Sarah Field, its policy director and general counsel.

In the meantime, it’s been providing legislative analysis intended to help tea party activists lobby Congress against initiatives pushed by the Obama administration.

Neither a Liberty Central official, nor a Supreme Court spokeswoman would say whether the group would disclose the names of its donors to the Supreme Court legal office or to Thomas’s husband so he can avoid ruling on cases in which a major Liberty Central donor is a party.

“Liberty Central has been run past the Supreme Court ethics office and they found that the organization meets all ethics standards,” Field said. “As she has throughout her 30-year history in the policy community, Ginni will address any potential conflicts on a case-by-case basis.”

As Ginni Thomas has begun to emerge as a high-profile political player in her own right, friends and allies say has bristled at the focus on her husband, and questions about whether her involvement with Liberty Central could compromise his impartiality.

The Thomases last faced conflict questions in 2000 when Ginni Thomas, then working for the conservative Heritage Foundation, solicited resumes for potential transition team members for George W. Bush, while Justice Thomas was part of the court majority that sided with Bush over Democratic rival Al Gore in the historic case of Bush v. Gore.

While she brushed off those questions as well the ones about Liberty Central, it is clear that her famous husband has helped distinguish the group from the crowd of organizations jockeying for prominence in the new conservative order.

“Her association with Justice Thomas clearly provides a level of credibility that others wouldn’t be able to have, just because of the beliefs that he has and the stands that he has on the different positions that align with our own,” said Carl Graham, president of the Montana Policy Institute, one of the more than 30 state and national think tanks and advocacy groups listed as partners in Liberty Central’s fledgling network.

Before affiliating with Liberty Central, Graham said his group “looked at their mission and we looked at the people involved and we looked at how they are going to try to appeal to people, and it’s similar to what we do.” But, he added, the connection to Justice Thomas “gets you to open the e-mail, if nothing else, as opposed to some other one that you may not even open.”

Liberty Central spent $27,000 last year developing its website, according to its IRS report, and officially launched in May touting partnerships with a slew of prominent establishment groups and the backing of big-name conservatives including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Federalist Society executive Leonard Leo, who serves on Liberty Central’s
and who Justice Thomas has called “my good friend.”

As the group prepares to ramp up its profile even more in the coming weeks, it has relied on the services of CRC Public Relations, a top conservative Beltway communications shop, and CMDI, a leading political data firm that has reaped at least $15 million in the past decade from clients including the top national Republican Party committees and the presidential campaigns or political committees of George W. Bush, Mitt Romney and John McCain, among others.

“Ginni was able to raise the seed capital to have a real launch” because of her connections in small-government conservative circles, said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, a small-government non-profit that pre-dates the year-old tea party movement, but has positioned itself as perhaps the leading national tea party group and has partnered with Liberty Central.

“In my experience working with her, people usually didn’t know (she was married to Clarence Thomas), because she doesn’t wear it on her sleeve,” said Kibbe, who worked with Thomas at the right-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce while her husband was a federal appeals court judge rumored to be on then-President George H.W. Bush’s shortlist for the Supreme Court.

After the Chamber, Ginni Thomas, who has a law degree, went on to work for Bush’s Labor Department and later for then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a Texas Republican who now chairs Kibbe’s group, as well as the Heritage Foundation, a pillar of the Washington conservative establishment. That was followed by the job as a Washington coordinator for Hillsdale College.

Thomas, who declined to be interviewed for this story and has mostly limited her media interaction to conservative outlets, explained to the Washington Examiner last month that she decided to start Liberty Central because she “realized I needed to get closer to the front lines, that there was a more short-term crisis — and that unless we have a big impact in November and again in 2012, we wouldn't recognize the country we're living in.”

She also explained to the Examiner, “My favorite times are when people who have worked for me for over 10 years come to understand only later that I am the wife of Justice Thomas.”

In an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show — arranged after she and her husband ran into Hannity at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding last month in Palm Beach, Fla. (Justice Thomas performed Limbaugh’s previous wedding, in 1994, at the couple’s Northern Virginia home) — Thomas suggested that in her new role she’s drawing liberal criticism in much the same way her husband did during his Supreme Court confirmation battle.

“They're after me now sometimes,” she told Hannity. “And so, we're not going to be dissuaded. We are in the fight for our country's life.”  But she said she would “watch for conflicts” between Liberty Central and her husband’s post. “There's a lot of judicial wives and husbands out there causing trouble. I'm just one of many,” she said.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg told POLITICO that “Mrs. Thomas had reviewed her involvement (in Liberty Central) with the Supreme Court legal office.” But Arberg would not say whether Clarence Thomas had participated in the discussion, nor whether Liberty Central had agreed to reveal its donors to him or the court’s legal office.

Thomas has compared her situation to that of Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, whose wife Marjorie Rendell is a federal appeals court judge. But Steven Lubet, a Northwestern University law school professor who studies judicial ethics, said the analogy is flawed because lower courts “just aren’t as important as the Supreme Court” and because another appeals court judge can replace Rendell on a case.

“Should Justice Thomas disqualify himself, the court
goes ahead shorthanded,” Lubet said.

Additionally, donations to Rendell’s campaigns or committees are legally required to be disclosed.

As for whether Ginni Thomas should disclose Liberty Central’s donations, Lubet said, “there are arguments both ways. One can see a certain logic on both sides of that issue.”

But, Lubet cautioned that disclosure could be “a slippery slope. Lots of judges are married to lots of people who work for lots of non-profits, and there’s a real Pandora’s Box there.”

And, he said, “if he’s not going to disqualify himself, then it’s best that he not know. If she keeps
her political life separate from her personal life, that is permissible and ethical.”

FreedomWorks’ Kibbe said Thomas’s connections in Washington’s conservative scene or her status as a Supreme Court spouse would not help with tea party activists, who tend to be leery of anything that smacks of a political establishment they see as corrupt and free-spending.

“There is sort of this anti-establishment thing going on,” Kibbe said. “Just because you’re related to somebody famous, these people are not necessarily going to be impressed.”

Beth Martin, an Atlanta tea party activist who co-founded the influential national coalition group Tea Party Patriots, said Thomas has used her insider connections to help the movement, volunteering since December as sort of a Washington shaman for the Patriots, and “helping to navigate some of the waters in D.C.,” partly by making introductions.

“She’s been kind of a mentor, and when we had questions about things that we were doing, we bounced a few of the ideas off of her and also off of a few other people in D.C. just to make sure that what we were doing made sense,” Martin said.

And, in the run-up to the House’s passage of the Democratic health care overhaul in March, in the weeks before Liberty Central’s roll-out, Thomas baked homemade cookies for tea party leaders organizing activists’ visits to congressional offices to lobby against the bill, said
Debbie Dooley, a national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots.

“She’s just that type of personable lady,” Dooley
said. “She’s very intelligent, very educated — and she is very well connected.”

Dooley and Martin have reciprocated by vouching for Thomas and her new group, arranging for Thomas to deliver the keynote address at an April tax day tea party in Atlanta (her first major tea party speech) and sending a May e-mail to the Patriots 500,000-address list of activists calling Thomas “a fellow Tea Party Patriot in heart and spirit” and lauding Liberty Central.

“When we wrote that e-mail, I didn’t introduce it as ‘this is the wife of a Supreme Court Justice’s group,’” Martin said. “When she spoke in Atlanta, we didn’t introduce her as ‘this is the wife of a Supreme Court Justice.’ It’s my impression that she wants to stand on her own with this.”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Judge sends Lindsay Lohan to jail

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Tea Party = Republican party?

Tea Party = Republican party?

Is the "tea party" just a wing of the Republican party?

AP Photo

The scads of media coverage about the burgeoning "tea party" effort has focused heavily on the idea that those who identify themselves as part of the movement are political free agents -- dismissive of both parties and Washington in general. 

New data out of Gallup suggests that premise isn't right, as nearly seven in 10 tea party supporters describe themselves as "conservative Republicans." 

All told, nearly 80 percent of tea party supporters describe themselves as Republicans, while 15 percent say they are Democrats and just six percent are, in their own minds, "pure independents."

The numbers between tea party supporters and conservative Republicans also track closely on other measures, including the image ratings of President Obama. Fifteen percent of tea party backers have a favorable view of the president, while 11 percent of conservative Republicans say the same. Those numbers are strikingly dissimilar from the poll of all Americans -- 53 percent of whom view Obama favorably. 

Asked whether they would support a generic Republican or a generic Democrat for Congress this fall, 80 percent of tea party supporters chose the GOP candidate, while 15 percent opted for the Democrat. While the loyalty of tea party supporters to Republican candidates is lower than that of self-identified "conservative Republicans" -- 95 percent of whom back the GOP candidate in the generic ballot -- it is still heavily weighted toward candidates of a certain ideological proclivity. 

"Their similar ideological makeup and views suggest that the Tea Party movement is more a rebranding of core Republicanism than a new or distinct entity on the American political scene," Gallup Poll director Frank Newport wrote in an analysis of the results, which were culled from national surveys conducted in March, May and June. 

The Gallup findings generally affirm findings by Resurgent Republic, a conglomerate of GOP polling firms, in five states over the past weeks. 

"This is a group that is organically more Republican," said GOP pollster Glen Bolger, who conducted several focus groups of tea party backers. "They have turned the page on Obama."

The Gallup data, when combined with the Resurgent Republic findings, suggests that the constant comparisons between today's tea party voter and the supporters of Ross Perot in the early 1990s are simply wrong. 

The Post's Dan Balz debunked that comparison several months ago. Wrote Balz:

"The Perot voters were a disparate group, ideologically diverse, with generally secular views. The tea party movement is far more cohesive. If anything, it is simply an adjunct of the conservative wing of the Republican Party, even if many of its supporters say they hold no particular allegiance for the GOP and are critical of party leadership."

That final point is the most important one when it comes to assessing the tea party's influence in the midterm elections. As victories by Rand Paul in Kentucky and Sharron Angle in Nevada show, the tea party crowd doesn't take its marching orders from the national Republican leadership. 

But, in the fall campaign, when faced with a choice not between two Republicans but between a Republican and a Democrat, the Gallup data seem to suggest that the tea party crowd will opt for the GOP candidates in large numbers. 

Why? Because they are, at heart, Republicans -- only by a different name at the moment. Or, as, Newport puts it: "Republican leaders who worry about the Tea Party's impact on their races may in fact (and more simply) be defined as largely worrying about their party's core base." 


Chris Cillizza  |  July 6, 2010; 3:24 PM ET

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Woman sues church to get donations back after church performs gay...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Justice Department Files Lawsuit Challenging Arizona Immigration Law

Justice Department To File Lawsuit Challenging Constitutionality Of Arizona Immigration Law

BOB CHRISTIE | 07/ 6/10 11:44 AM | AP


Illegal Immigration
The U.S. Justice Department is filing a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's new law targeting illegal immigrants, aa Justice Department official recently reported.


PHOENIX — The U.S. Justice Department is filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's new law targeting illegal immigrants, setting the stage for a clash between the federal government and state over the nation's toughest immigration crackdown.

The planned lawsuit was confirmed to The Associated Press by a Justice Department official with knowledge of the plans. The official didn't want to be identified before a public announcement planned for later Tuesday.

The lawsuit will argue that Arizona's new measure requiring state and local police to question and possibly arrest illegal immigrants during the enforcement of other laws, like traffic stops, usurps federal authority.

Tuesday's action has been expected for weeks. President Barack Obama has called the state law misguided. Supporters say it is a reasonable reaction to federal inaction on immigration.

The law requires officers, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if there's a reasonable suspicion that they are in the country illegally.

Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law in April, and it was set to go into effect July 29. The lawsuit could delay implementation of the law.

Arizona passed the law after years of frustration over problems associated with illegal immigration, including drug trafficking and violent kidnappings. The state is the biggest gateway into the U.S. for illegal immigrants, and is home to an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants.

The lawsuit is expected to be announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, a former Arizona governor.

President Barack Obama addressed the Arizona law in a speech on immigration reform last week. He touched on one of the major concerns of federal officials, that other states were poised to follow Arizona by crafting their own immigration enforcement laws. 

"As other states and localities go their own ways, we face the prospect that different rules for immigration will apply in different parts of the country," Obama said. "A patchwork of local immigration rules where we all know one clear national standard is needed."

The law makes it a state crime for legal immigrants to not carry their immigration documents and bans day laborers and people who seek their services from blocking traffic on streets.

The law also prohibits government agencies from having policies that restrict the enforcement of federal immigration law and lets Arizonans file lawsuits against agencies that hinder immigration enforcement.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


The World's Happiest Countries

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Woman lived with corpses of husband and twin

She lived with corpses of husband, twin

Michael Rubinkam
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

null Michael

Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press - Ap


Jean Stevens, 91, holds a photograph from the 1940s of herself and her late husband, James, outside her home in Wyalusing, Pa. Authorities say Stevens stored the bodies of her husband, who died in 1999, and her twin, who died in October 2009, on her property.


WYALUSING, Pa. -- The 91-year-old widow lived by herself in a tumbledown house on a desolate country road. But she wasn't alone, not really, not as long as she could visit her husband and twin sister.

No matter they were already dead. Jean Stevens simply had their embalmed corpses dug up and stored them at her house -- in the case of her late husband, for more than a decade -- tending to the remains as best she could until police were finally tipped off last month.

Much to her dismay.

"Death is very hard for me to take," Ms. Stevens told an interviewer.

As state police finish their investigation into a singularly macabre case -- no charges have been filed -- Ms. Stevens wishes she could be reunited with James Stevens, her husband of nearly 60 years who died in 1999, and June Stevens, the twin who died in October. But their bodies are with the Bradford County coroner now, off-limits to the woman who loved them best.

From time to time, stories of exhumed bodies are reported, but rarely do those involved offer an explanation. Jean Stevens, seeming more grandmother than ghoul, holds little back as she describes what happened outside this small town in northern Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains.

She knows what people must think of her. But she had her reasons, and they are complicated, a bit sad and, in their own peculiar way, sweet.

Dressed smartly in a light blue shirt and khaki skirt, silver hoops in her ears, her white hair swept back and her brown eyes clear and sharp, she offers a visitor a slice of pie, then casts a knowing look when it's declined. "You're afraid I'll poison you," she says.

On a highboy in the corner of the dining room rests a handsome, black-and-white portrait of Jean, a stunner in her early 20s, and James, clad in his Army uniform. It was taken after their 1942 marriage but before his service in World War II, in which he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, James worked at a General Electric Corp. plant in Liverpool, N.Y., then as an auto mechanic. He succumbed to Parkinson's disease on May 21, 1999.

Next to that photo is a smaller color snapshot of Jean and June, taken when they were in their late 80s.

In many ways, Jean shared a closer bond with her twin than with her husband.

Though June lived more than 200 miles away in West Hartford, Conn., they talked by phone several times a week, and June wrote often. The twins -- who, as it happened, married brothers -- were honored guests at the 70th reunion of the Camptown High School Class of 1937.

Then, last year, June was diagnosed with cancer. She was in a lot of pain when Jean came to visit. The sisters shared a bed, and Jean rubbed her back. "I'm real glad you're here," June said.

June died on Oct. 3. She was buried in her sister's backyard -- but not for long.

"I think when you put them in the [ground], that's goodbye, goodbye," Ms. Stevens said. "In this way, I could touch her and look at her and talk to her."

She kept her sister, who was dressed in her "best housecoat," on an old couch in a spare room off the bedroom. Jean sprayed her with expensive perfume that was June's favorite.

"I'd go in, and I'd talk, and I'd forget," Ms. Stevens said. "I put glasses on her. When I put the glasses on, it made all the difference in the world. I would fix her up. I'd fix her face up all the time."

She offered a similar rationale for keeping her husband on a couch in the detached garage. James, who had been laid to rest in a nearby cemetery, wore a dark suit, white shirt and blue knitted tie.

"I could see him, I could look at him, I could touch him. Now, some people have a terrible feeling, they say, 'Why do you want to look at a dead person? Oh my gracious,' " she said.

"Well, I felt differently about death."

Part of her worries that after death, there's ... nothing. "Is that the grand finale?" But then she gets up at night and gazes at the stars in the sky and the deer in the fields, and she thinks, "There must be somebody who created this. It didn't come up like mushrooms."

So she is ambivalent about God and the afterlife. "I don't always go to church, but I want to believe," she said.

Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a psychiatry professor at UCLA who researches how the elderly view death and dying, said people who aren't particularly spiritual or religious often have a difficult time with death because they fear that death is truly the end.

For them, "death doesn't exist," she said. "They deny death."

Ms. Stevens, she said, "came up with a very extreme expression of it. She got her bodies back, and she felt fulfilled by having them at home. She's beating death by bringing them back."

There was another reason that Ms. Stevens wanted them above ground.

She is severely claustrophobic and so was her sister; she was horrified that the bodies of her loved ones would spend eternity in a casket in the ground. "That's suffocation to me, even though you aren't breathing," she said.

So she said she had them dug up, both within days of burial.

She managed to escape detection for a long time. The neighbors who mowed her lawn and took her grocery shopping either didn't know or didn't tell. Otherwise forthcoming, Ms. Stevens is vague when asked about who exhumed the bodies and who knew of her odd living arrangement. She blames a relative of her late husband's for calling the authorities about the corpses.

"I think that is dirty, rotten," she said.

State police -- who haven't yet released the identities of those who retrieved the bodies -- soon will present their findings to the Bradford County district attorney. A decision on charges is expected in a few weeks.

Ms. Stevens has talked extensively with both the police and Bradford County Coroner Tom Carman, who calls it a "very, very bizarre case."

But the coroner has nothing but kind things to say about the woman at the center of it.

"I got quite an education, to say the least. She's 100 percent cooperative -- and a pleasure to talk to," Mr. Carman said. "But as far as her psyche, I'll leave that to the experts."

Read more:



Monday, July 5, 2010


Thousands Of Non-Residents Taking Advantage Of Utah's Gun Laws

Utah’s Gun Permit Popular With Nonresidents



July 5, 2010


James Roe, a 64-year-old computer consultant from rural Pennsylvania, spent a recent Saturday in a Pittsburgh suburb learning about riflings, hangfires and powder charges. The gun safety class was for people seeking a concealed-firearm permit in Utah, some 1,500 miles away. Never mind that Mr. Roe has not been to Utah in 20 years and has no plans to visit anytime soon.

Like thousands of other gun owners who will most likely never set foot in Utah, Mr. Roe wants a permit there for one reason: It allows him to carry his semiautomatic .45-caliber pistol in 32 other states that recognize or have formal reciprocity with Utah’s gun regulations. 

“I think that all states should be as broad based with reciprocity and as careful as the state of Utah is,” said Mr. Roe, who wants the option of taking his handgun with him when he visits his son in Ohio, both for protection and for target practice. (Ohio does not honor Pennsylvania’s firearm permit.) 

With the Supreme Court ruling last week that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual’s right to bear arms applies to state and local laws, Utah is a popular player in Americans’ efforts to legally obtain firearms. The state is issuing what has become the permit of choice for many gun owners. 

Fifteen years after the Utah Legislature loosened rules on concealed firearm permits by waiving residency and other requirements, the state is increasingly attracting firearm owners from throughout the country. Nearly half of the 241,811 permits granted by the state are now held by nonresidents, according to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification, which administers the permits. 

In 2004, Utah received about 8,000 applications for the permits. Last year, 73,925 applications were submitted — with nearly 60 percent coming from nonresidents. 

Laws for carrying concealed firearms vary widely by state, as do issuing standards for permits. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut do not honor other states’ permits. Some states, like Florida, allow nonresidents to qualify for permits. Utah stands out because its permit is relatively inexpensive and is broadly accepted, and the requisite safety class can be taken anywhere. 

By passing the class and the background check, and paying a $65.25 fee, the applicant receives what many consider to be the most prized gun permit in the country. Permits are good for five years and cost $10 to renew. 

Some Second Amendment proponents argue that people with permits are more likely to be law abiding because they have undergone at least some form of background check. 

“The spirit of self-defense should not stop at a state’s border,” said Clark Aposhian, a Utah gun lobbyist who sits on the state’s Concealed Firearm Review Board, which helps regulate the permitting process. “Not once has there been a pattern of problems with Utah permit holders in other states.” 

But Utah’s permit program has its critics. Peter Hamm, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, asserted that Utah’s policy was dangerous because many states were lax in submitting felony and mental health records to the federal database used for background checks. 

“I think it’s absolutely shameful and ludicrously irresponsible to say that anybody anywhere who wants one of our concealed-carry permits, and thus will be able to carry legally in dozens of states, can just log on to our Web site and pay 60 bucks and that’s all she wrote,” Mr. Hamm said. 

As more people have turned to Utah for permits, the demand for instructors who teach Utah’s gun safety class in other states has increased. Of the 1,097 instructors certified by Utah, 706 are in other states. Advertisements for classes held throughout the country appear widely on the Internet. 

Another source of contention is that the class does not require any actual shooting. One could conceivably obtain a Utah permit without ever having fired a gun. Nevada and New Mexico recently stopped honoring Utah permits because the class does not meet its live-fire requirements. 

“Residents of other states should be aware that people who have a Utah concealed-weapon permit may not have actually fired a weapon,” said Dee Rowland, chairwoman of the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah. “I think that would be quite shocking to members of the public.” 

Supporters of Utah’s policy counter that the state’s 50-page curriculum on gun safety, and background checks that are updated every 24 hours, ensure that the system is safe. 

“We teach passive defense in Utah,” said State Representative Curtis Oda, a Republican from Clearfeld. 

“We have no idea what could have happened had there been an armed defender at Columbine and Virginia Tech,” Mr. Oda said, “but we know with absolute certainty what happens when there’s not.”

Monday, July 5, 2010


Ex-Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell arrested on drug charge

Monday, July 5, 2010


Punishing the Jobless

Punishing the Jobless


The News York Times

July 4, 2010


There was a time when everyone took it for granted that unemployment insurance, which normally terminates after 26 weeks, would be extended in times of persistent joblessness. It was, most people agreed, the decent thing to do.

But that was then. Today, American workers face the worst job market since the Great Depression, with five job seekers for every job opening, with the average spell of unemployment now at 35 weeks. Yet the Senate went home for the holiday weekend without extending benefits. How was that possible? 

The answer is that we’re facing a coalition of the heartless, the clueless and the confused. Nothing can be done about the first group, and probably not much about the second. But maybe it’s possible to clear up some of the confusion. 

By the heartless, I mean Republicans who have made the cynical calculation that blocking anything President Obama tries to do — including, or perhaps especially, anything that might alleviate the nation’s economic pain — improves their chances in the midterm elections. Don’t pretend to be shocked: you know they’re out there, and make up a large share of the G.O.P. caucus. 

By the clueless I mean people like Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate for senator from Nevada, who has repeatedly insisted that the unemployed are deliberately choosing to stay jobless, so that they can keep collecting benefits. A sample remark: “You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job but it doesn’t pay as much. We’ve put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry.” 

Now, I don’t have the impression that unemployed Americans are spoiled; desperate seems more like it. One doubts, however, that any amount of evidence could change Ms. Angle’s view of the world — and there are, unfortunately, a lot of people in our political class just like her. 

But there are also, one hopes, at least a few political players who are honestly misinformed about what unemployment benefits do — who believe, for example, that Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, was making sense when he declared that extending benefits would make unemployment worse, because “continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.” So let’s talk about why that belief is dead wrong. 

Do unemployment benefits reduce the incentive to seek work? Yes: workers receiving unemployment benefits aren’t quite as desperate as workers without benefits, and are likely to be slightly more choosy about accepting new jobs. The operative word here is “slightly”: recent economic research suggests that the effect of unemployment benefits on worker behavior is much weaker than was previously believed. Still, it’s a real effect when the economy is doing well. 

But it’s an effect that is completely irrelevant to our current situation. When the economy is booming, and lack of sufficient willing workers is limiting growth, generous unemployment benefits may keep employment lower than it would have been otherwise. But as you may have noticed, right now the economy isn’t booming — again, there are five unemployed workers for every job opening. Cutting off benefits to the unemployed will make them even more desperate for work — but they can’t take jobs that aren’t there. 

Wait: there’s more. One main reason there aren’t enough jobs right now is weak consumer demand. Helping the unemployed, by putting money in the pockets of people who badly need it, helps support consumer spending. That’s why the Congressional Budget Office rates aid to the unemployed as a highly cost-effective form of economic stimulus. And unlike, say, large infrastructure projects, aid to the unemployed creates jobs quickly — while allowing that aid to lapse, which is what is happening right now, is a recipe for even weaker job growth, not in the distant future but over the next few months. 

But won’t extending unemployment benefits worsen the budget deficit? Yes, slightly — but as I and others have been arguing at length, penny-pinching in the midst of a severely depressed economy is no way to deal with our long-run budget problems. And penny-pinching at the expense of the unemployed is cruel as well as misguided. 

So, is there any chance that these arguments will get through? Not, I fear, to Republicans: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something,” said Upton Sinclair, “when his salary” — or, in this case, his hope of retaking Congress — “depends upon his not understanding it.” But there are also centrist Democrats who have bought into the arguments against helping the unemployed. It’s up to them to step back, realize that they have been misled — and do the right thing by passing extended benefits.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Heroin addicted, convicted sex offender father awarded custody of girl, 5

Outrage as five-year-old girl's custody awarded to convicted sex-offender father

Sherry Mazzocchi


Monday, July 5th 2010, 1:51 PM


Child advocates say the choice is 'outrageously dangerous.'

Gould/GettyChild advocates say the choice is 'outrageously dangerous.'


Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.


 A court in Australia is under fire for awarding custody of a five-year-old girl to her heroin-using, sex offender father it deemed a better option than her opiate-addicted mother, who is also a prostitute.

Outraged at the Federal Magistrates’ Court ruling, child welfare advocates described the decision as “defying logic.”

“There’s no way staying with either parent should have even been an option,” child protection supporter Hetty Johnson told Australia’s Herald Sun. “This isn’t in the best interests of the child.” 

According to the newspaper, the child’s mother has a rap-sheet of shoplifting and prostitution related convictions. The court was also told the mother, who has a history of drug abuse, left the maternity ward to buy heroin not long after giving birth.

The father was previously convicted of willful and obscene exposure, which caused him to be put on the nation’s sex offenders list. He also reportedly has a history of drug abuse. 

Joe Tucci, of the Australian Childhood Foundation, told the Sun “the decision should be made about whether or not a child is safe or not, not which parent is the better to look after them.” 

The young child has a history of behavior problems and suffers a speech impediment. She has also suffered from a series of significant injuries. 

Last year the Department of Human Services was notified the girl had been treated for a serious burn on her buttocks. Both parents blamed the other as the cause of the burn. 

The child also had a dog bite and was once injured from being hit with a shoe. 

The parents parted soon after their daughter’s birth. The mother is reported to have been the victim of domestic violence by the father. 

The father provides calmer parenting and more clearly set boundaries than the mother does,” the magistrate said. “A history of inadequate supervision combined with heroin and marijuana use create a serious concern that (the girl) may be neglected by her mother.” 

The court also accused the girl’s mother of being “dishonest with the court,” but allowed the child to spend two out of every three weekends with her mom. 

The Department of Human Services said on Monday that it will monitor the young girl through regular visits after the report of the court’s decision appeared in the Herald Sun. 




Read more:

Monday, July 5, 2010


Jelly made from Princess Diana's hair sells on eBay

Get a piece of royalty: Jelly made from Princess Diana's hair sells on eBay

The Associated Press


Monday, July 5th 2010, 4:00 AM


Jelly made from Princess Diana's hair was sold on eBay for $10.

Monaster/NewsJelly made from Princess Diana's hair was sold on eBay for $10.

LONDON - It's art you can eat - if you dare.


Jelly made from what its maker claims is one of Princess Diana's hairs is on sale in London at a Surrealist art show. The $7.60 jar of jam was made by infusing a speck of the late Princess of Wales' hair with gin, which is then combined with milk and sugar to create a product that tastes like condensed milk, said creator Sam Bompas of Bompas and Parr caterers. 

The hair sold on eBay for $10. 

The bizarre product is meant to provoke thought about food marketing and how language enhances the eating experience. "We thought about it and the most mundane food of all is jam. So we made it a surreal object," Bompassaid.


Read more:

Monday, July 5, 2010


Joe Biden flexes muscles as dealmaker

Joe Biden flexes muscles as dealmaker


Joe Biden sits next to Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad.

Vice President Joe Biden (left) meets with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (right) in Baghdad. AP



BAGHDAD – Vice President Joe Biden is using his political capital with Iraq’s leaders to urge them in starkly personal terms to break the four-month stalemate that followed their parliamentary elections. 

In detailed talks that accompanied feel-good photo ops during his surprise Fourth of July visit to the war zone, Biden was unyielding on U.S. plans for a dramatic drawdown, but promised not to abandon Iraq and even to step up non-military engagement with the struggling democracy.

“I’m not lecturing, I’m not imparting any great wisdom that you don’t already know,” Biden said at an Independence Day reception at the U.S. embassy. “But the concept of subordinating your individual interest is fundamental to the success of any nation. … So my plea to you is, finish what you started — a truly legitimate and representative government that meets the needs and aspirations of all Iraqi people.” 

Biden drew laughter when he added: “As a piece of American history, when our Founders did it, when they signed that Declaration, many of them did not even like one another. You think I’m joking; I’m not. … I’m absolutely confident you will do it.” 

The vice president’s trip was designed partly to showcase progress. During a citizenship ceremony for U.S. military members at the Al Faw Palace on Fourth of July morning, Biden said: “Here we are in the hunting lodge of a dictator who subjugated a people; who, in fact, stood for everything that we don’t stand for. And we’re in the middle of this marble palace, making a lie of everything that he stood for. I find it delicious that that’s happening.” 

But as a reminder of how dangerous Iraq remains, a huge explosion could be heard Sunday night inside the $700 million, 100-acre U.S. embassy compound, where Biden’s press corps was staying. Police said at least five mortar rounds had been fired in the Green Zone, which includes the embassy. No one was hurt, but three “duck and cover” sirens within a few hours – one at 4:46 a.m. — rattled even the locals. 

Administration officials traveling with Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, made it clear throughout the visit that they have no plans to deviate from President Barack Obama’s plan to end the U.S. “combat mission” in Iraq on Aug. 31. 

There’s always been a catch: About 50,000 U.S. troops are staying behind as a sort of insurance policy – with combat capability, but a primary mission of training, advising and supporting the Iraqi military. 

And now there’s a hitch: The Iraqi government is not where U.S. officials hoped it would be at this stage. 

Enter Biden, whose main purpose on the trip was to nudge Iraqi leaders toward forming a new government – but without, his aides repeatedly insisted, putting his thumb on the scale for any particular solution. 

In back-to-back meetings at regal but heavily fortified residences, Biden and his advisers sat down with the two front-runners for prime minister – Iyad Allawi, whose Sunni-backed coalition Iraqiya won the most seats in the March 7 election but fell short of gaining control, and the current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

Read more:

Monday, July 5, 2010


Ronald Reagan's 100th Birthday National and International Celebration

State gets set to celebrate Reagan's centennial

Wyatt Buchanan

Chronicle Sacramento Bureau


San Francisco Chronicle

July 4, 2010 04:00 AM

(07-04) 04:00 PDT Sacramento --

Ronald Reagan, or at least the legacy of the former president and California governor, is set to make a major return to the state and country next year. 

February marks the 100th anniversary of Reagan's birth, and events are planned both nationally and internationally. Last week in the state Legislature, lawmakers passed a bill to permanently declare Feb. 6 Ronald Reagan Day in California. Schools would be encouraged to teach students about him on that day, Reagan's birth date.

Only two other Californians, naturalist John Muir and gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk, are commemorated with such a day. 

The Legislature also passed a bill to create a special commission to coordinate events in the state to honor Reagan throughout the year. 

"Certainly under the criteria that we have in trying to help young people in schools to understand the heritage and important contributions by people, ... Ronald Reagan as a Californian is at the top of the list," said Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster (Los Angeles County), who sponsored the bill to create the state day. 

Both bills are expected to be signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

The commission, which would be known as the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission, would have five members appointed by legislative leaders and the governor along with two people that served in Reagan's administration in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., and a former governor. 

It would be prohibited from spending any taxpayer dollars and would be privately funded. 

'Exceptional career'

Assembly Republican Leader Martin Garrick of Carlsbad (San Diego County) wrote the bill to create the commission and said he envisions the state holding an elaborate dinner and other events. 

In addition to raising a family here and a career in Hollywood, Reagan is "the first Californian ever to be elected president of the United States and governor of this great state," Garrick said. "Obviously (these are) exceptional career accomplishments." 

He was governor from 1967 to 1975 and president from 1981 to 1989. Reagan died in 2004. 

While the measures passed with unanimous and bipartisan support, some members of the Legislature criticized the proposals and abstained from voting. 

Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, D-San Diego, said that while the commission would be privately funded, the state already has spent tens of thousands of dollars in staff time and other resources to pass the bill through the Legislature. 

"He was a man who in his inaugural address in 1981 declared that in a time of crisis government is not the solution, government is the problem," said Saldana, who noted that Reagan was born in Illinois and said she didn't think Reagan himself would approve of the commission. 

"We're in a financial crisis. We don't want to be expending resources on things that aren't absolutely necessary," she said. 

Delicate issues

It is not clear whether or how controversial pieces of Reagan's legacy, including the Iran-contra scandal and his virtually ignoring the AIDS crisis as it ravaged gay communities and gained a foothold in the country, will be included in the events. 

Beyond California, President Obama has set up a special commission to commemorate the anniversary, and the Ronald Reagan Foundation, which is part of Reagan's presidential library, is planning nationwide and even international events throughout 2011. 

"We're doing something at every stop at just about every city and town in America," said Robert Bauer, spokesman for the Ronald Reagan Foundation in Simi Valley. Reagan's Feb. 6 birth date is the same day as the Super Bowl and - in addition to events at the library in the morning - Bauer said officials are trying to make that part of the celebration. 

In addition to the United States, events throughout 2011 will take place in Berlin, London and some Eastern European cities. While 2011 will be a focus, Bauer said it also will serve as a launchpad for future work. 

"The Reagan legacy will live on, but this is a special opportunity for Americans and others as well," he said.


Read more:

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Midterm Elections Favors GOP

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

Voting Intentions Even, Turnout Indicators Favor GOP

Older Americans Eager to Vote…Republican, That Is

July 1, 2010



With four months to go before Election Day, voting intentions for the House remain closely divided, and neither party has gained or lost much ground over the course of 2010. However, Republicans are much more engaged in the coming election and more inclined to say they are certain to vote than are Democrats. This could translate into a sizable turnout advantage for the GOP in November that could transform an even race among registered voters into a solid victory for the Republicans. 

Fully 56% of Republican voters say they are more enthusiastic about voting this year than in previous elections - the highest percentage of GOP voters expressing increased enthusiasm about voting in midterms dating back to 1994. While enthusiasm among Democratic voters overall is on par with levels in 2006, fewer liberal Democrats say they are more enthusiastic about voting than did so four years ago (52% then, 37% today). 

The Republican Party now holds about the same advantage in enthusiasm among its party's voters that the Democratic Party held in June 2006 and the GOP had late in the 1994 campaign. Moreover, more Republicans than Democrats are now paying close attention to election news (64% vs. 50%). At this stage in previous midterms, news attentiveness was about the same for voters in both parties. 

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted June 16-20 among 1,802 adults and 1,496 registered voters reached on cell phones and landlines, finds that the Republicans also continue to hold a substantial advantage in the proportion of their party's voters who say they are "absolutely certain" to vote. Currently, 77% of Republican voters say they are absolutely certain to vote compared with 65% of Democratic voters.

The new survey finds that 45% of registered voters say they support the Republican in their district while the same percentage favors the Democrat. While Democrats have a substantial advantage among the least engaged group of voters -- young people -- Republicans have a large advantage among the age groups that are most committed to voting - those ages 50 and older. 

Voters younger than age 30 favor the Democratic candidate in their district by a wide margin (57% to 32%). Yet only half of young voters say they are absolutely certain to vote. Voters ages 50 and older favor the Republican candidate in their district by double digits (11 points) and roughly eight-in-ten (79%) say they are absolutely certain to vote. 

In June 2006, Democrats held significant leads among both younger and older voters. Their advantage among voters under age 30 was about the same as it is today (56% vs. 36%), but they also held a 14-point lead among voters 50 and older (52% to 38%). 

The GOP also is benefiting from a change in voting preferences among independents. Currently, Republicans have a slight edge over the Democrats among independent voters (44% to 36%). At this stage in 2006, independents backed the Democratic candidate in their district by a wide margin (47% to 32%). 

Equally important, independents who say they will support the Republican candidate this November are much more engaged than those who favor the Democrat in their district. This pattern is evident across several measures - enthusiasm about voting, attentiveness to campaign news and intention to vote.

More than half of independent voters (55%) who back the Republican candidate in their district are more enthusiastic than usual about voting this year; that compares with 36% of independents who prefer the Democratic candidate. While 63% of independent voters who favor the GOP candidate are closely following news about the election, just 48% of independents who support the Democratic candidate say the same. And 77% of independent voters who support a Republican say they are absolutely certain to vote, compared with 62% of independents who back Democrat.

The 2010 Electoral Landscape

In many ways, the 2010 campaign is shaping up as a mirror image of the midterm election four years ago. In June 2006, more Democratic than Republican voters said national issues would have the biggest impact on their vote. Anti-incumbent sentiment also was much stronger then among voters who planned to vote for a Democratic candidate than among those voting Republican. 

This year, more voters who plan to vote Republican than those who intend to vote Democratic say national issues will make the biggest difference in their vote for Congress (by 43% to 34%). And fully 44% of Republican voters oppose their own member's reelection, compared with just 22% of Democratic voters. In June 2006, these figures were nearly reversed (39% of Democratic voters vs. 22% of Republican voters). 

The issue of which party controls Congress is as big a factor today for Republicans as it was for Democrats four years ago; 66% of those planning to vote for a Republican say the issue of which party controls Congress will be a factor in their vote, compared with 57% of Democratic voters. Four years ago, 68% of Democratic voters cited party control of Congress as an influence on their vote as did 55% of Republican voters. 

Barack Obama is not as big a negative factor for Republican voters as George W. Bush was for Democratic voters four years ago. Currently, 52% of Republican voters think of their vote as a vote against Obama. In June 2006, 64% of Democratic voters said that about Bush. And there are now more pro-Obama Democratic voters than there were pro-Bush Republican voters four years ago (44% vs. 34%). 

As was the case in 2006, voters take a dim view of both parties' congressional leaders -- just 34% of voters approve of the job performance of Democratic leaders while 31% approve of the job of GOP leaders. While Republican voters are highly enthusiastic about the election, they are not very impressed with the party's congressional leaders. Just 48% of voters who favor a GOP candidate in their district approve of the job of Republican congressional leaders while 43% disapprove. Far more Democratic voters (63%) approve of the job their party's congressional leaders are doing. 

Somewhat fewer voters say that Congress has accomplished less than did so in June 2006 (35% today, 45% then). But Republican voters are currently about as critical of the accomplishments of the current Congress (52% accomplished less) as Democratic voters were four years ago (57%).

Looking Ahead to Nov. 2

Fully 72% of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters expect that the GOP will do better than it has in recent elections. This is similar to Democratic expectations during the 2006 election. In June of that year, 62% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters anticipated that their party would make gains - a figure that grew to 72% by the end of the campaign. 

However, Democratic voters this year are not particularly pessimistic about the election: 29% expect the Democrats to do better in this year's midterm, far more than the percentage of GOP voters who said that four years ago (16%). Nearly half of Democratic voters (48%) expect the party to do about the same this fall as in recent elections, while just 18% say it will do worse. 

The optimism of Republican voters about their party's chances this fall is one factor - though hardly the only factor -- boosting their enthusiasm about voting. Among the voters who favor the Republican candidate in their district and expect the party to do better than in recent elections, 63% are more enthusiastic about voting. That compares with 45% of voters who plan to vote Republican and expect the party to fare about the same as it has in recent elections. 

The high level of enthusiasm among Republican voters also is linked to strongly negative opinions about Barack Obama. Fully 62% of Republican voters who think of their vote as a vote against Obama are more enthusiastic about voting than in previous elections. By comparison, fewer than half (45%) of those who say Obama is not a factor in their vote are more enthusiastic about voting. There is a similar gap in enthusiasm between Republican voters who say party control of Congress is a factor in their vote and those who do not (60% vs. 45%). 

Republican voters who agree with the Tea Party movement - about half of all GOP voters - also are more enthusiastic about voting this fall than are Republican voters who have not heard of the Tea Party or have no opinion of the movement (66% vs. 45%).

GOP Image Still Weak

Despite the Republican Party's favorable electoral prospects, its image with the public is still relatively weak. The public views the Democratic Party as more concerned about the needs of "people like me," more able to bring about needed change, and as governing in a more honest and ethical way.

These opinions are little changed from February of this year. The Democratic Party's lead on some traits is smaller than it was in October 2006, near the end of the previous midterm campaign. At that   time, 55% viewed the Democrats as more concerned about the needs of average Americans, while just 27% said the GOP was more concerned.

Notably, the Republican Party holds a slight edge over the Democratic Party as better able to manage the federal government. Currently, 41% choose the Republican Party while 37% choose the Democratic Party. In October 2006, the Democratic Party held a 10-point lead as the party better able to manage the government (44% to 34%).



Sunday, July 4, 2010


Sarah Palin's Foreign Policy Manifesto By Facebook

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Internet products ready to challenge cable TV

Internet products ready to challenge cable TV

James Temple

Chronicle Staff Writer


July 4, 2010 04:00 AM


It's not just about dogs on skateboards anymore. 

Internet television is fast coming into its own, as high profile players have announced a series of products and initiatives that promise to fundamentally alter the way consumers digest video content. 

Google Inc. is rolling out services with partners like Sony Corp. this fall that will blend streams from the Internet and broadcast programming on television screens. Hulu, the popular online video site, last week unveiled plans for a paid service that will deliver broadcast shows over the Internet to computers, TVs, the iPhone and iPad, as well as several gaming consoles. 

Meanwhile, Sonic Solutions of Novato struck a deal with Sears Holdings Corp. to provide its retail customers online rentals and downloads of movies and TV shows over an assortment of Internet-connected devices. 

The approaches vary, but they all present alternatives to what most of us have come to think as normal: Paying $50-plus a month to pipe in a handful of channels we want - along with hundreds we don't - in order to watch the few programs we're interested in, largely at the time we're told. 

These new services allow consumers to pick from a broader array of content options, enjoy online programs through the so-called lean back experience of full-size TV screens or across various mobile devices, choose when they'd like to view without having to remember to set a recording and, particularly in the case of Google TV, take advantage of new interactive features. 

Most of the companies enabling what's known as "over the top" services stress they're looking to augment rather than displace the offerings of cable or satellite companies. But analysts think the additional power offered to consumers will leave the legacy companies with a stark choice: progress or perish. 

"The future of Internet-enhanced TV starts now," said James McQuivey, media technology analyst at Forrester Research. "It's really forcing cable ... to be more focused on consumer control and access across multiple devices." 

More cutting the cord

There's already a growing phenomenon of what's known as cord cutters and shavers, who cancel or scale back television subscriptions as they consume more online. 

Some 800,000 U.S. households have already snipped that cable, as they come to rely exclusively on online services, according to an April report by the Convergence Consulting Group. The Toronto firm predicts that could reach 1.6 million by the end of 2011. 

The Yankee Group estimates that as many as 1 in 8 consumers will unplug or downgrade paid TV service by April, as they take advantage of over the top options. 

But cable and satellite companies aren't sitting idly by. Time Warner Inc. and Comcast Corp. are pursuing "TV Everywhere" strategies that deliver their vast content to already paying customers over the devices of their choosing. They're also supplementing offerings with on demand services and digital video recorders, which share some advantages of online TV. 

The networks are also forging ahead, as channels like ABC and NBC deliver more content directly on their Web sites. Today, however, most of these approaches leave the companies with less revenue, because they pack in fewer ads. 

Ultimately, the companies must deliver more targeted ads, which are more lucrative, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. Internet TV could make this possible in ways that Nielsen ratings never could. 

Bay Area firms' role

Other Bay Area companies are also busy in this field. 

Netflix Inc. of Los Gatos was a pioneer in delivering movies online, allowing consumers to watch them over TV through partnerships with various gaming console, Blu-ray player, Internet TV and digital video box companies. 

The latter category includes Roku Inc. of Marin, which sells hardware starting at $79.99 that also feeds online content from Amazon,, UFC and other sources to televisions. Apple Inc. introduced the Apple TV set-top box in 2007, which allows customers to enjoy movies and music downloaded through iTunes on their living room screen. 

To date, these initiatives haven't exactly upended the industry. But analysts say that Internet TV momentum is clearly building, driven by the increasing adoption and speed of broadband as well as the widening availability of these services. 

Moreover, some believe that Google TV could represent a watershed moment.

"It's the first one I would say that represents a brand-new model," Bajarin said. 

Notably, it's not restricted to a particular set of services like many of the Internet TV attempts to date, instead incorporating the Internet at large. In addition, it's based on an open platform, Google's Android operating system. 

The Mountain View company hopes this will help create an industry standard that propels adoption and innovation, said Rishi Chandra, product manager for Google TV. 

Out of the box, the Google-powered Internet TVs and set-top devices will allow users to tap into the company's highly developed search capability to find video, music and other content not just among their cable programming but across the Internet. 

Meanwhile, the picture-in-picture capabilities could enable them to, say, pull up sports statistics as they watch the Super Bowl, chat live about World Cup matches with viewers on the other side of the globe, or click to buy that ironic trucker hat Judah Friedlander is wearing on "30 Rock." 

Google TV is crucial

The open source platform could also enable developers to invent tools and toys that can't be predicted today, much as Apple's App Store did for smart phones.

Google is providing the platform free, but anticipates making money from advertising within Google TV. It won't take a cut from the ads in traditional programming, but will employ information gleaned from the ways consumers use the service to improve ad targeting on the interactive side. 

As with all behavioral advertising, this is bound to raise the hackles of privacy advocates. But, as with most Internet services to date, consumers are likely to decide the trade-offs are worthwhile, McQuivey said. 

"Ask 400 million people on Facebook whether the concerns outweigh the benefits," he said.





Read more:

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Two tea party groups challenge each other's creditability

State tea party groups challenge each other

Two groups are in conflict, challenging the other’s creditability

Bill Torpy


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


What’s in a name? Everything when it comes to the Tea Party of Georgia. 

Sixteen months after its birth, the national tax movement that arguably got its biggest boost in Georgia is now splintered into several organizations that are competing for recognition. 

There’s the Georgia Tea Party Patriots. There’s The State of Georgia Tea Party, LLC. There’s Georgia’s Tea Party, which is also known as The Tea Party of Georgia, Inc. 

They might all sound like they’re the same group. But they’re not. In fact, the organizers of those first two groups don’t much like each other. 

Bill Evelyn, an Air Force vet who started the State of Georgia Tea Party group in May, said he founded the group because the Georgia Tea Party Patriots have lost their way. They “have become an appendage of the Georgia GOP,” he said. 

Evelyn said he has been disparaged as a fringe player by leaders of the Georgia Tea Party Patriots, which was one of the first such groups in the nation. “I’m representing the mainstream” of true conservatism, Evelyn said. “They are representing the fringe, the fake and phony conservative candidates.” 

Debbie Dooley, a coordinator of the Georgia Tea Party Patriots, contends the other similarly named groups are Johnny-come-lately fronts for candidates trying to get Tea Party cred. Or they say the groups are ego-driven vehicles for the founders to get their 15 minutes of fame. 

Dooley is a part of Tea Party lore. She was one of 22 angry activists and concerned citizens who met each other in February 2009 while participating in a national conference call set up to address the growing deficit. That call spurred the Tea Party movement. Dooley said she has concerns about the new groups: “False tea parties. Fake tea parties. Tea party fronts. 

“This is a problem,” she said. “People are trying to hijack our group. I think they cause confusion. People see ‘Tea Party’ and they think all tea parties are the same.” 

But should it be surprising that groups started by citizens who were “mad as hell and not going to take it any more” are now turning on each other? Probably not, said Merle Black, an Emory University political science professor. 

“There’s no platform or recognized leaders,” said the professor. “It seems like a battle of what constitutes the essence of the movement. I suppose they’ll be fighting it out for a while.” 

Evelyn said the essence is that the movement is open to ideas. He was angered in May when a debate organized by some leaders of the Patriots and another organization invited just the four “top-tier” Republican candidates — insurance commissioner John Oxendine, former congressman Nathan Deal, former secretary of state Karen Handel and former state Senator Eric Johnson. Raymond McBerry, a “state’s rights” candidate, was left out of the debate, proof enough for Evelyn that the Patriots were fronting for the RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). 

Patriot leaders claim Evelyn is using the Tea Party “brand” to give McBerry’s candidacy credibility and to attract other Tea Party members who now align themselves with the Patriot movement. 

Joy McGraw, a state Patriots coordinator, said Evelyn’s group has become an anchor for several local Tea Party organizations that have members supporting McBerry. 

Part of the reason for starting other groups is ego, McGraw said. “It’s human nature. You want to get the publicity, to be the leader,” McGraw said. “He’s bad mouthing us to get ahead.”

Another group, Georgia’s Tea Party, was created in May by a Dahlonega resident with ties to Oxendine to push his candidacy, Dooley said. The group’s “Favorite Pages” box has just one offering — John Oxendine’s page. 

The site’s founder, David Hayes, an insurance appraiser and former volunteer fireman, said he’s not a proxy for the insurance commissioner nor is he doing anything underhanded. He started the site , he said, because he wanted to get involved in politics but a degenerating spine has left him unable to easily leave the house. The Internet makes it easy to organize and make one’s views known, Hayes said. 

He wanted to call his site the Lumpkin Party Tea Party but found that name taken. So he settled for Tea Party of Georgia Inc. A techie friend suggested “Georgia’s Tea Party” would be more catchy. 

“The nice thing about the Tea Party is it’s getting a lot of attention,” said Hayes, who called himself “just a small little guy stuck in [his] house.” 

Hayes said some of the attention he received was unwanted. He was contacted by Dooley, who accused him of starting the group specifically to back Oxendine. 

Hayes believes the Patriots want all the glory, all the recognition. He acknowledged people might confuse the groups. 

“But it’s too late,” he said. “We’re here now.”

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Couple faces cruely charges after tattoing six kids

Georgia couple faces child cruelty charges after tattooing six kids with home made device

Sherry Mazzocchi


Sunday, July 4th 2010, 1:02 AM


Jacob Edwards Bartels, Patty Jo Marsh were released on bond after charged with child cruelty.

Fox 5 NewsJacob Edwards Bartels, Patty Jo Marsh were released on bond after charged with child cruelty.


 The couple tattooed their six children with a homemade tattoo gun.

Fox 5 NewsThe couple tattooed their six children with a homemade tattoo gun.

A Georgia couple is facing child cruelty charges for tattooing six of their children with a crude device made from a guitar string, says reports. 

Patty Jo Marsh and husband Jacob Edwards Bartels were arrested late last year after the biological mother of some of the children found that markings on their hands wouldn't wash off. 

They were each charged with three counts of illegal tattooing, second degree child cruelty and reckless conduct. The couple was released Friday after posting a property bond of $10,000 each. 

Both unlicensed tattooing and the tattooing of minors are illegal in Georgia. 

Five of their six children, ages 10 to 17, received small cross tattoos on their hands. Another child had "mom and dad" lettered on a hand. The youngest child was left unmarked. 

Police described the home-made tattoo gun as a plastic pen with a needle made from a guitar string that was connected to an electric motor. 

Marsh thinks the public overreacted to the tattoos.

"We would never do anything to hurt them," she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after her arrest. "I don't understand why this is getting blowed up so big."

John Everett, Chattooga County Sheriff, told the local paper that the case is unusual. "I've never seen parents tattooing their kids like that." 

Read more:

Sunday, July 4, 2010


John McCain slams RNC Steele for Afghan war remarks

John McCain Slams Michael Steele link

Prominent Conservatives call for Steele to step down link

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Tiger Woods' Wife Divorce Settlement Worth $750,000,000

Jul 01, 2010 @ 04:31PM 

Tiger Woods' wife Elin Nordegren has been in marathon final meetings with her divorce lawyer this week, has learned exclusively.

Elin met with one of her attorneys for several hours on Tuesday, and again with the same lawyer on Wednesday.

"They spent a long time together on Tuesday," a source close to the situation told "He came from out of town and they were meeting again for hours on Wednesday.

"The divorce is very close to being finalized."

The meetings took place in the house Elin is renting in Isleworth, Florida. She moved into that house after Tiger's secret life of cheating was exposed.

Tiger has remained in the home they once shared in Windermere, Florida, a suburb of Orlando.

"They have agreed to almost everything," the source said. "And when they file the papers there will not be a lot of detail in the public documents. They've worked everything out so that the financial details can remain private."

After Tiger's affair with Rachel Uchitel was exposed, he was romantically linked to more than 12 women, all during the course of his marriage to the Swedish beauty.

Tiger went for sex rehab treatment in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Elin participated in his therapy.

But things fell apart when Tiger announced his return to golf, prompting Elin to believe her husband didn't really want to change.

Now, they barely talk.

As was first to report - with photos and video - Tiger and Elin were together for the first time in a very long while on June 26 when they threw a birthday party for their daughter Sam. Tiger missed her birthday because he was in California playing in the U.S. Open. 

His main concern has been that Elin will try to take the kids and move to Sweden but the source says that is unlikely.

Elin will reportedly walk away with approximately $750 million.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


26% of U.S. don't know who we declared independence from

26% of U.S. don't know who we declared independence from: Marist poll

Aliyah Shahid


Saturday, July 3rd 2010, 1:02 PM


Roughly one-fourth of people in this country don’t know that the U.S. declared its independence from Great Britain, according to a recent poll.

JOEL PAGE/APRoughly one-fourth of people in this country don’t know that the U.S. declared its independence from Great Britain, according to a recent poll. 

At least according to a new Marist poll, which says 26% of people in this country don’t know that the U.S. declared its independence from Great Britain.

That includes 20% who were unsure and 6% who thought the U.S. separated from another nation.

So what country do people think the U.S. achieved its independence from?

Among the countries mentioned were France, China, Japan, Mexico and Spain.

The poll surveyed 1,004 Americans in June and had 3% margin of error.

But hey, even our founding fathers made mistakes.

Preservation scientists recently discovered Thomas Jefferson had originally referred to the American public as “subjects,” then changed it to read “citizens” before the ink dried.



Read more:

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Woman arrested linked to Vanilla Extract

Germantown woman's arrest linked to Vanilla Extract, Drug Counselors say it's not uncommon

April Thompson


5:46 PM CDT, July 2, 2010



(Arlington, TN 7/2/2010) - Forty-eight year old Kelly Moss appears in court Friday and gets a 4-thousand dollar bond for what happened on this Arlington Street.

Sam Palmer saw her car.

"It was jumped up over the curb. She had driven it up on the curb. In fact I went to see if she had hit the telephone pole. She hadn't hit that, but she had both wheels on the curb," says Palmer.

Police say Moss had a strong odor of vanilla on her breath and was unsteady on her feet.

They found a nearly empty bottle of vanilla extract and a partially empty bottle of diet coke in her car.
The vanilla extract said 35-percent alcohol.

Moss was arrested.

Sam Palmer doesn't know her, but as a recovering alcoholic, he knows abusers find ways to get their drug.

"Mouthwash, Geritol, Robitussin," says Palmer.

As a drug addiction counselor, Dr. Carolyn Bryant has seen it too.

"Instead of the drug that may be their drug of choice, that may be they have been arrested for or got in trouble about, they take something that will give them that same effect," says Bryant.

She counsels women to admit their problem and seek help.

"I hope she gets in a treatment program or a 12 step program," says Palmer. "She could have hit a telephone pole, could have wiped somebody else out."

This was Kelly Moss' third DUI arrest. No one answered the door at her Germantown home when we stopped by.

She will be back in court August 19th. 



Saturday, July 3, 2010


Wealthy property owner receives welfare benefits

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Gov Jindal says oil spill should be combated like a war

Jindal says oil spill should be combated like a war

Saturday, July 03, 2010, 12:21 PM


Allison Good

The Times Picayune


Gov. Bobby Jindal and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser called on the federal government Friday to treat the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico as a war. 

"We saw a lot of the boom rendered ineffective, and a lot of it was washed ashore and broken apart," said Jindal, who arrived at the news conference at Cypress Grove Marina in Venice following a boat tour of Redfish Bay. "With Hurricane Alex, we saw oil go above that boom, so we need to fight this 15 to 20 miles off the coast before it gets into the wetlands."

Jindal also said the federal government must approve rock jetties to protect Barataria Bay and the other passes, which were left defenseless during the hurricane.

"It's taken them over a month to decide whether rocks in the water is dangerous," he said. "Somebody in Washington, D.C., needs to understand that rocks in the water is less dangerous than oil in the water."

Additional frustrations caused by the federal government's decision to halt the construction of sand berms one week before Hurricane Alex were only augmented by idle skimmers.

"We know there are redundant booms and skimmers sitting there because of the red tape," Jindal said.

He also announced a new initiative intended to make the process of deploying skimmers more effective by holding the Coast Guard more accountable. National Guard teams will assist the Coast Guard deploy skimmers in Terrebonne, Jefferson, Lafourche, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and St. Tammany Parishes, he said.

Nungesser said new skimmers will be tested on the water next week.

"We will ask BP to approve 300 new skimmers to be attached to fishing vessels," he said.

At the news conference, Jindal also called on President Barack Obama to "get in this war to win it," because the reality is that even if the leak is capped, oil will be hitting Louisiana's coastline for "months, not days and weeks."

"Our message to the federal government is lead or get out of they way," he said.

While Jindal focused on the long-term, Nungesser worried about how current weather patterns will affect the cleanup efforts.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Blind drivers coming soon

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Walmart fires employee for using medical marijuana

Walmart fires employee for using medical marijuana in Michigan, worker and ACLU sue retailer

Aliyah Shahid


Friday, July 2nd 2010, 8:59 AM


Joseph Casias, 30, who uses medical marijuana to treat symptoms of an inoperable brain tumor and cancer claims in a lawsuit that he was wrongfully fired from a Walmart store in Battle Creek, MI. Lassen/APJoseph Casias, 30, who uses medical marijuana to treat symptoms of an inoperable brain tumor and cancer claims in a lawsuit that he was wrongfully fired from a Walmart store in Battle Creek, MI.




Joseph Casias might just feel like a dope for doping -- even though it was legal.

The Michigan father of two sued Walmart this week for firing him after he tested positive for marijuana -- which he was using to alleviate pain from a brain tumor and sinus cancer.

Casias, 30, was canned late last year after five years on the job in Battle Creek.

According to the complaint, Casias tested positive for marijuana in a drug test administered after he injured his knee at work, under a Walmart policy that requires employees injured on the job to take the test.

Casias, who won an associate of the year award at the store in 2008, has been using marijuana on his oncologist's advice after Michigan voters passed a law approving the drug's medical use in 2008.

“Joseph is an example of a patient for whom marijuana has had a life-changing positive effect,” the complaint states.

A Walmart spokesman said he sympathized with Casias, but defended the dismissal.

"Like other companies, we have to consider the overall safety of our customers and our associates, including Mr. Casias, when making a difficult decision like this,” said Greg Rossiter.

The American Civil Liberties Union also has filed a lawsuit against the nation’s largest retailer.

"No patient should be forced to choose between adequate pain relief and gainful employment," Scott Michelman, a staff attorney with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project told CNN. “And no employer should be allowed to intrude upon private medical choices made by employees in consultation with their doctors.”

Michigan is an at-will employment state, which means employers can fire a worker for any reason unless it falls under a federally protected category such as race, gender and religion. The ACLU is arguing legal medical marijuana users also should be included.

According to the complaint, Casias wants to be rehired and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.


Read more:

Saturday, July 3, 2010


July 4th Weekend: World Cup, Wimbledon, Twilight, And More

Saturday, July 3, 2010


The hidden hand of Joe Biden

The hidden hand of Joe Biden
Glenn Thrush
July 2, 2010 04:27 AM EDT


President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, concludes his statement on the change in the Afghanistan war command. | AP Photo 
Having Vice President Joe Biden (left) around is critical for President Barack Obama, a relative novice on foreign policy.


When President Barack Obama announced in the Rose Garden last week that he had sacked Gen. Stanley McChrystal, he also made a point of telling his fractious Afghanistan team that he welcomed “debate” but would not abide “division.”

The poster child for that all-for-one approach was standing directly on the president’s right: Vice President Joe Biden.

On Afghanistan, Obama’s most problematic foreign policy issue, Biden has earned the president’s respect and confidence by being both private skeptic and public cheerleader for administration policy. With a combination of subtlety and discretion that belie his reputation as a glad-handing chatterbox, Biden has parlayed the tricky dual role into a steady — if somewhat improbable — path to power in the Obama White House.

“He’s a total team player,” says White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, the member of Obama’s inner circle who has most forcefully pushed the idea of expanding Biden’s role as a foreign affairs troubleshooter.

“His job is to help the president to weigh these competing equities. There’s not good and bad choices here; it’s all these complexities, and he helps him think through all these equities,” Emanuel said.

The sudden firing of McChrystal — whose staff, according to Rolling Stone, nicknamed Biden “Joe Bite Me” — marked another milestone in the role Biden has embraced as what he calls “the skunk at the family picnic.”

Biden joined other top advisers in the Oval Office on the morning of McChrystal’s forced retirement for the final debate over McChrystal’s fate. He also was one of the first to suggest Gen. David Petraeus as McChrystal’s replacement, despite occasional clashes with the general over Afghanistan and Iraq war policy, according to a senior administration official.

Later that day, Biden pulled Petraeus aside after a meeting Obama convened in the White House Situation Room to say that he was “100 percent” behind the new Afghanistan commander and the counterinsurgency approach he initially questioned last fall.

Biden then suggested that the two have dinner. Could Petraeus come to Wilmington that weekend? No, the general said. But when he heard Biden planned to travel to Pensacola for an inspection tour of the Gulf oil spill, he invited the vice president to Tampa, which, until this week, was his home base as head of the U.S. Central Command.

Tuesday night, hours after his confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, Petraeus served Biden and his aide Tony Blinken sea bass, cucumber soup, Florida salad and banana flambé during a genteel, mostly social dinner that concluded with a tour of the general’s library.

No heavy discussion, a person familiar with the meeting told POLITICO — just a general conversation about the sacrifices being made by the troops and their families.

Biden’s theme: We’re all on the same page.


But the gestures masked a more complex reality. Last fall, as Petraeus and McChrystal were pushing for an increase of as many as 80,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Biden proposed an alternative strategy that focused on hunting Al Qaeda along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border with far fewer troops. And while supporting Obama’s eventual decision to deploy more troops, Biden apparently remains deeply skeptical that President Hamid Karzai can ever run a functional state.

Obama, who has mandated the start of troop withdrawal in July 2011, has quietly encouraged his vice president to challenge existing assumptions about the war, even if it means rattling the military and the administration’s own officials.

“That’s what the president wants, and if he didn’t want [Biden] to do it, he’d shut it off,” Emanuel said.

Having Biden around is critical for Obama, a relative novice on foreign policy who was in high school when Biden was clambering up the seniority ladder on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Biden’s the voice of experience in the White House on this stuff,” said Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, who once co-authored a plan with Biden to divide Iraq into three ethnically based federal districts.

“Biden’s got far more experience than all of them over there in the White House put together — and experience is more important than intellect on foreign policy. For all his Biden-isms — and they are inevitable with Joe — he knows this business, and people can’t dismiss him very easily.”

Petraeus, whose reputation rests on the success of the Iraq surge, “didn’t like” the Biden-Gelb plan when it was proposed a few years ago, according to Gelb. But reports of a Petraeus-Biden clash are overplayed, he added, and the vice president is willing to give the general time to make his Afghanistan plan work before passing judgment.

Other rifts within the administration’s Afghanistan team are more pronounced, most notably the split between Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and State Department envoy Richard Holbrooke — the intended recipients of Obama’s get-along-or-else message in the Rose Garden.

In the past, Emanuel — whose office sits near Biden’s in the West Wing — has asked Biden to go on quiet peacekeeping missions to defuse such conflicts. Last year, for example, Biden went to Baghdad to help mediate a simmering dispute between the top Iraq commander, Gen. Ray Odierno, and Ambassador Christopher Hill, according to administration officials.

That, in turn, has led to an ever-expanding role on Iraq. With the help of Blinken, a former aide from his days as Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Biden runs the administration’s monthly meeting on Iraq. He frequently confers with a variety of experts on the conflict, including former Ambassador Ryan Crocker and former Bush aide Meghan O’Sullivan, and sits down for breakfast with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, although their schedules often get in the way.

Administration officials say Biden’s influence rivals Clinton’s on foreign policy issues in part because he’s learned to play by Obama’s rules: Be loyal and discreet.

“He’s not off the leash,” says an official who has worked closely with Biden.


But, alas, this is still Joe Biden, who regards the imperative of self-expression as second only to breathing and who can still annoy Obama with his off-script public ramblings and tendency to bloviate at big White House meetings.

Obama’s aides had to scramble recently when Jonathan Alter, in a new book on Obama’s first year in office, cited Biden as saying that a significant number of troops would begin leaving Afghanistan when the July 2011 target date arrives.

“Bet on it,” Biden said.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs questioned the context of the statement, Defense Secretary Robert Gates doubted its veracity, and Obama was forced to tell reporters he had no intention of “turning out the lights” in the region when the date arrived.

But more often than not, the White House has been able to leverage Biden’s skepticism to its advantage, especially when it comes to pushing back against the Pentagon’s efforts to pressure the president into accepting a more open-ended military commitment.

Last fall, when word leaked that McChrystal would request as many as 80,000 new troops for a stepped-up counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan, someone in the administration responded with a strategic counterleak: Biden was pushing for a scaled-down surge, accompanied by an accelerated effort to combat Al Qaeda with drones and troops along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

That leak publicly established Biden’s role as what a senior administration official calls “the in-house skeptic.”

Several officials told POLITICO the leak didn’t come from Biden’s office but from someone in the White House who wanted to make it clear that the McChrystal plan — backed by his boss Petraeus — was too radical. “It was a train headed 80 miles an hour, and it needed to be slowed down,” one official said.

Obama eventually opted for a middle path in a speech last December at West Point, when he announced a surge of about 40,000 troops, renewed counterinsurgency efforts against the Taliban and a new timetable for withdrawal.

The decision was portrayed as a defeat for Biden. But if Petraeus is unable to show significantly more progress than McChrystal did, many observers believe that Obama’s only choice will be to adopt some form of Biden’s scaled-down strategy.

In other words, “Joe Bite Me” may bite back.

“He’s now a major player,” says Steven Clemons, a foreign policy expert at the nonpartisan New America Foundation. “The proof of his influence is the level of disdain he generated in the McChrystal camp.”

Friday, July 2, 2010


Michael Steele GOP Chairman in another controversy


RNC's Steele backtracks after Afghan war remarks

The many mishaps of Michael Steele

Before the current flareup over the war in Afghanistan, Chairman Michael S. Steele has often found himself in the spotlight -- and not in a good way. 

Perry Bacon Jr.

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 2, 2010; 5:58 PM



Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele is trying to quell controversy over his comments that the war in Afghanistan was of "Obama's choosing" and his suggestion that it may not be winnable, remarks that put him at odds with much of his party.

This Story

On Friday, after a video surfaced of Steele's remarks at a Connecticut fundraiser the night before, some conservatives fumed and Democrats pounced.

A spokesman for Steele quickly issued a statement clarifying that the chairman supports the troops, and Steele himself soon followed up by saying that "for the sake of the security of the free world, our country must give our troops the support necessary to win this war."

Steele's tenure at the helm of the RNC has been marked by controversies, including over his criticism of -- and subsequent apology to -- Rush Limbaugh and the committee's spending money at a bondage-themed nightclub in California to entertain donors.

But his war remarks were a rare instance in which Steele articulated views on a key policy issue that differed from the party line. Most Republican members of Congress strongly supported President George W. Bush's decision to start the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and have backed funding and troop increases there, even as many Democrats have cast doubt on the war policy.

On the video, Steele is seen saying of Obama: "It was the president who was trying to be cute by half by flipping a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should be in Afghanistan. Well, if he's such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that's the one thing you don't do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right, because everyone who has tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan."

In a piece on his magazine's Web site, William Kristol, editor of the conservative magazine the Weekly Standard, wrote: "There are, of course, those who think we should pull out of Afghanistan, and they're certainly entitled to make their case. But one of them shouldn't be the chairman of the Republican party."

"The war in Afghanistan was not 'a war of Obama's choosing,' " he added. "It has been prosecuted by the United States under Presidents Bush and Obama. Republicans have consistently supported the effort."

Democrats gleefully circulated both video of Steele's remarks and the criticism from Kristol.

"Michael Steele would do well to remember that we are not in Afghanistan by our own choosing, that we were attacked and his words have consequences," said Brad Woodhouse, the Democratic National Committee spokesman.

Erick Erickson, who runs the influential conservative blog Red State said: "Michael Steele must resign. He has lost all moral authority to lead the GOP."

Former South Carolina GOP chair Katon Dawson, who finished second to Steele in the race for the chairman's post early last year, said Steele should now be ousted, CNN reported. Dawson is a frequent critic of Steele but has not until now called for him to resign.

"The RNC should do the responsible thing and show Steele the door," Dawson told CNN. "Enough is enough."

No prominent conservative lawmaker or member of the RNC has called for Steele's resignation. The former Maryland lieutenant governor is one of the most prominent African- Americans in the GOP, and Republicans have seen major electoral success since he became chairman.



Friday, July 2, 2010


CNN's Disappearing Act The 7 Big Anchors Who Left

Friday, July 2, 2010


FDR Still Ranked #1

In a new hard time, FDR's aura endures

Depression-era leader still tops in Siena survey
Staff writer
Friday, July 2, 2010


COLONIE -- An unsurpassed ability to take risks, communicate, lead his party and handle the nation's economy helped keep President Franklin D. Roosevelt in first place in a ranking of the country's 43 presidents.

The Siena Research Institute's 2010 Presidential Expert Poll ranked FDR number one. His cousin and fellow New Yorker, Theodore Roosevelt, came in second, ahead of Abraham Lincoln for the first time.

President Barack Obama came in 15th, within the range of where the country's sitting chief executives show up in the poll.

"The respondents have been very cautious so new presidents are between 15th and 20th. They don't want to anoint someone who's been in office less than a year," said Tom Kelly, Siena College emeritus professor of history and American studies, and co-director of the study.

Rounding out the top five are Lincoln in third, George Washington in fourth and Thomas Jefferson in fifth. The same five presidents have held the top positions with FDR always in first and Washington always in fourth. The others have moved up and down.

While the 238 presidential experts have remained consistent in each of the five polls held in 1982, 1990, 1994, 2002 and 2010, the rankings can reflect what's happening today.

TR's move past Lincoln itself may show what concerns people today.

"Teddy was a trust buster, the opponent of the malefactors of great wealth. There's a resonance" with current-day issues, Kelly said.

John F. Kennedy moved up to 11th, Kelly said, most likely helped by the death of his youngest brother, Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Ranked last at 43rd is Andrew Johnson. Filling out the rest of the bottom five are James Buchanan, 42nd; Warren Harding, 41; Franklin Pierce, 40th; and George W. Bush, 39th.

Martin Van Buren, the Capital Region's hometown president from Kinderhook, ranks 23rd.

Richard M. Nixon has the lowest ranking for integrity at 43rd. Harding was 42nd and Bill Clinton was 41st.

The experts ranked the presidents in 20 categories.

The luckiest president was Washington, while Herbert Hoover had no luck at all. Hoover also ranked last for handling the economy.

The rankings for every president can be seen at the SRI website at


Top 5 presidents?

1. Franklin D. Roosevelt

2. Theodore Roosevelt

3. Abraham Lincoln

4. George Washington

5. Thomas Jefferson


Read more:

Friday, July 2, 2010


Governor cuts 200,000 state workers wages to $7.25/hour

Schwarzenegger orders minimum wage for workers

Wyatt Buchanan

Chronicle Sacramento Bureau


Friday, July 2, 2010


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger


(07-02) 04:00 PDT Sacramento - --

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered the state controller to cut the pay for most state workers to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour due to the lack of a budget being in place by the start of the fiscal year, which began Thursday.

The governor was expected to make that order, which affects about 200,000 state workers, though the timing was uncertain. 

State workers who experience pay cuts would be reimbursed once a state budget is in place. Most state employees are paid monthly at the end of the month, so if a budget is in place before the end of July, they would not receive a reduced paycheck.

Administration officials maintain they are required by law to reduce worker pay in the absence of a budget. 

In a letter to Controller John Chiang, Debbie Endsley, the director of the Department of Personnel Administration wrote, "Today is July 1, 2010, and there is no state budget. Regrettably, we must take the steps ... to adjust wages and salaries during this budget impasse." 

The administration made a similar order in 2008, but Schwarzenegger waited until the end of July to do so. Chiang defied that order and was sued by Schwarzenegger, but the budget impasse was resolved before a judge made a ruling in favor of the governor.

Chiang appealed the judge's decision and oral arguments were heard last week. A subsequent decision could still be appealed to the state Supreme Court. The administration has argued that it is bound by law to slash pay to the federal minimum wage without a spending plan in place, while Chiang has countered that doing so is actually a violation of the law. 

In response to the administration's actions Thursday, Chiang released a statement saying he would not comply with the request until the courts make a final ruling and calling Schwarzenegger's order "political tricks." 

"Because of the limits of the state's payroll system, there is no way that his order can be accomplished without violating the state Constitution and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act," Chiang said in a statement. "In short, his demands will do nothing to solve the budget deficit, but will hurt taxpayers by exposing the state to billions of dollars in penalties for those violations." 

Six public employee unions that represent about 37,000 workers would be excluded because they have agreed to contract concessions that gave them an exemption from such an order. However, those contracts have yet to be approved by the union membership or the Legislature. 

In her letter, Endsley wrote, "We anticipate passage of a continuous appropriation (from the Legislature) for these bargaining units before the end of the month." 

Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, said he was "deeply disappointed" by Schwarzenegger's order. 

"This is not a realistic proposal to save the state cash any more than his budget plan, which kills 430,000 jobs, is a realistic proposal to close our deficit," he said in a released statement. "Using working families as leverage is not the kind of leadership we need to get through this budget process." 

The state's largest public employee union, SEIU Local 1000, along with the union representing prison guards, have yet to reach agreement on contracts. An SEIU spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Police taser granny in her bed on oxygen

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Woman uses granddaughter to shoplift

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Michael Vick might have broken his NFL rules

Michael Vick might have broken his NFL rules, if not the law

Published: Thursday, July 01, 2010, 11:08 AM   

Updated: Thursday, July 01, 2010, 2:50 PM

John DeShazier

The Times-Picayune

No law enforcement official is alleging that Michael Vick committed a crime in Virginia Beach, Va., as he celebrated his birthday Friday night. 

The possible contradiction in his timeline isn't evidence that he broke any laws; his lawyer said he left 10 to 20 minutes before a shooting occurred outside the nightclub where his celebration was held, while a spokesman for the nightclub said a videotape showed Vick actually departed about three minutes prior to the shooting.

But you can bet NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn't pleased that, perhaps, Vick was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And you can bet that Goodell will have something to say - again - to the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback about the company he keeps and the fact that, of all people, Vick has to appear to be beyond reproach.

Now, maybe that doesn't sound like it's totally fair to Vick. He served his time for his role in a dogfighting operation, and lost tens of millions of dollars - and likely at least as many fans - while he sat behind bars and surveyed his actions. He has paid his debt, and he paid dearly and significantly.

But his re-admission to the NFL came with some caveats, and he knew exactly what those stipulations were. And, obviously, one of them was that he wouldn't be given much benefit of the doubt, that he'd better not even look like he's been anywhere or in any situation that possibly would cause embarrassment for the league.

Being at a party, after which a man is shot, isn't exactly a situation the league will take pride in.

It's even worse when the guy who was alleged to have been shot was Quanis Phillips, a co-defendant in Vick's dogfighting case and, assuredly, a person Goodell warned Vick to not allow to be caught in the same area code as Vick.

True, Vick reportedly wasn't involved in any altercations inside or outside the club. He's not a suspect in the shooting. Phillips wasn't an invited guest and whether Vick left three minutes or 20 minutes before the shooting, the bottom line is that he left before the shooting.

And still, it's hard not to figure that Goodell just might decide that Vick again has brought unwanted and unflattering attention to the NFL shield, and that Vick still doesn't quite understand how important it is for Vick to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Does that mean Vick has to avoid being a "regular" person and that he is shackled by the fact that he can't enjoy simple, lawful pleasures like the rest of us?

That's exactly what it means if he wants to play in the NFL, especially if there's a possibility that something bad could break out. That's the position he put himself in as a convicted felon, and it's the rule he's going to have to abide by - the one he undoubtedly agreed to abide by - until he leaves the NFL.

Just because he didn't commit a crime to Virginia Beach law enforcement officials doesn't mean he didn't slip up in the eyes of Goodell. And right now, the latter probably should be more feared by Vick than the former.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Extreme Makeover Tea Party Edition

Sharron Angle's Tea Party Agenda Gets A Drastic Makover

First Posted: 07- 1-10 05:58 PM   |   Updated: 07- 1-10 06:06 PM

Sharron Angle

Elyse Siegel

In early June, Senate candidate Sharron Angle spoke emphatically on her website about abolishing the Department of Education, having Social Security "transitioned out" to the private sector, and repealing legislation that prohibited offshore drilling.

But today, if you visit the Nevada Republican's website, you'd have no indication that any of these positions were planks of her agenda.

After three weeks of rewrites, the Angle campaign has released (with little publicity or fanfare) a new and improved campaign website. It was done with obvious care, and tailor-made to pitch the Tea Party favorite as a mellow-minded conservative alternative to her Democratic opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

A comparison of the content from both websites shows dramatic, fundamental shifts in her policy platform. For instance, the candidate has gone from calling for the "repeal" of "regulations that prohibit off shore drilling" to a position that is, simply put, the exact opposite.

"America's policy should be to enforce the rules and regulations currently on the books with respect to off shore drilling," her new site reads. "The recent oil blowout in the Gulf occurred because BP took a high risk approach in its drilling program while cutting corners, as opposed to the low-risk approach other companies also drilling in the Gulf have taken without incident."

Likewise, on the old website, the Senate candidate said she thought "the Federal Department of Education should be eliminated" because it "is unconstitutional and should not be involved in education, at any level."

Currently, however, all Angle lists under her Education section is that "decisions are best made at the state and local level by parents and teachers..."


That scrubbing is mild, however, when compared to Angle's makeover of her policy prescriptions for border security and immigration. In her old policy platform, Angle touted the endorsement she received from the controversial anti-immigration group, The Minuteman PAC. That endorsement has disappeared from the new site.

Also gone is Angle's stance calling for "an intensive physical presence on borders, including military assistance to help the Border Patrol do its job effectively," and her claim that "The intentions of these illegal aliens are unknown and there are no means to track their activities."

Today, the "Border Security/Illegal Immigration" section of her issue page is the slimmest of all. Here is that section, in its entirety: "The United States must secure its borders immediately." Nevada's large Hispanic population is undoubtedly weighing on the author's mind.


Asked about the website alterations, the National Republican Senatorial Committee -- which spearheaded the re-launch -- said that it was a normal upgrade for any candidate transitioning into a general election.

"Many campaigns revamp and re-launch enhanced websites over the course of an election season," said NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh. "Sharron Angle's positions have not changed though and she remains committed to reversing the economically disastrous policies of Harry Reid while offering Nevada the fiscally responsible leadership they deserve."

But even if the revisions offered to Angle's record don't represent position changes (though with respect to offshore drilling, a clear change was made), they do reflect a decidedly tone-downed candidate. No longer does her bio list the endorsement from the "birther" organization, "Declaration Alliance PAC." Gone, likewise, is her call for "free market alternatives" to Social Security as that system is "transitioned out." In its place is a short section that calls for the country to "keep the promise" of Social Security and redeem the IOUs.

There are other obvious changes that, under normal circumstances, would seem like drastic attempts to dilute a legislative platform. Angle no longer refers to a cap and trade proposal as "unscientific hysteria over the man-caused global warming hoax" that stepped "over the constitutional boundaries of the federal government and is merely another way to tax the people."

As for her reference to the United Nations as an institution "captured by the far left and has become ineffective and costly," that's gone too.

Her new website does not, like the old one, call for abolishing the "67,000-pages of IRS code," or for making the "death tax cuts permanent." Nor does it mention her proposal to require that a "supermajority two-thirds requirement" be instituted for passing tax increases.

The totality of the changes is enormous and a real reflection of the extent to which Angle was a decidedly non-mainstream candidate who has been thrust into a high profile race. It's also no small illustration of how willing the candidate has been to compromise her Tea Party principles for the purposes of the general election.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


No Reporters Allowed At Federal Clinic Treating Oil Spill Responders

Oil Spill Media Access: Reporters Still Given The Runaround Even As Public Health Concerns Mount

First Posted: 07- 1-10 12:28 PM   |   Updated: 07- 1-10 02:53 PM




The latest chapter in the media's ongoing struggle to cover the Gulf Oil Spill comes courtesy of PBS Newshour's Bridget Desimone, who has been working with her colleague, Betty Ann Bowser, in "reporting the health impact of the oil spill in Plaquemines Parish." Desimone reports that on the ground, officials are generally doing a better job answering inquiries and granting access to the clean-up efforts.

But Desimone and Bowser have encountered one "roadblock" that they've struggled to overcome: access to a "federal mobile medical unit" in Venice, Louisiana: "The glorified double-wide trailer sits on a spit of newly graveled land known to some as the "BP compound." Ringed with barbed wire-topped chain link fencing, it's tightly restricted by police and private security guards."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set up the facility on May 31. According to a press release, the medical unit is staffed by "a medical team from the HHS National Disaster Medical System -- a doctor, two nurses, two emergency medical technician paramedics (EMT-P) and a pharmacist."

For over two weeks, my NewsHour colleagues and I reached out to media contacts at HHS, the U.S. Coast Guard and everyone listed as a possible media contact for BP, in an attempt to visit the unit and get a general sense of how many people were being treated there , who they were and what illnesses they had. We got nowhere. It was either "access denied," or no response at all. It was something that none of us had ever encountered while covering a disaster. We're usually at some point provided access to the health services being offered by the federal government.


From there, Desimone describes the runaround she and Bowser were treated to, in terms with which you are no doubt familiar with by now. When Desimone finally got to speak with Ron Burger, the "Medical Unit Operations Chief for HHS's National Disaster Medical System," she was told that the facility had been treating responders and could not or would not confirm or deny that any area residents had been treated there or turned away.

Concerns over public health in the Gulf region run high. Experts in the field have called for a "coordinated approach to monitoring and researching affected populations." And residents of the region continue to worry about the near-term effects of the clean-up effort and the long-term health impact the oil spill will have on the seafood. They have good reason to be concerned:

One of the first things BP did after oil started gushing into the Gulf was to spray more than 1.1 million gallons of a dispersant with the optimistic name "Corexit" onto the oil. Then BP hired Louisiana fishermen and others to help with cleanup and containment operations. About two weeks later, over seventy workers fell sick, complaining of irritated throats, coughing, shortness of breath and nausea. Seven workers were hospitalized on May 26. Workers were engaged in a variety of different tasks in different places when they got sick: breaking up oil sheen, doing offshore work, burning oil and deploying boom. BP officials speculated that their illnesses were due to food poisoning or other, unrelated reasons, but others pointed out how unlikely these other causes were, since the sick workers were assigned to different locations.

Burger also told Desimone that the facility was being run under the auspices of the "national contingency plan." I'll remind you for the eleventy billionth time that National Incident Commander Thad Allen specifically directed officials on the ground to grant access to the media, in what appears to be the most widely unheard or ignored set of orders in the world.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Giants legend's son busted for driving on drugs

Chris Simms, NFL quarterback & son of Giants legend Phil Simms, busted for driving on drugs: police

Alison Gendar and Jonathan Lemire


Thursday, July 1st 2010, 12:54 PM


Titans backup quarterback Chris Simms, son of Giants Super Bowl hero Phil Simms, was busted Thursday morning for driving while under the influence of pot, police sources said.

Russell/APTitans backup quarterback Chris Simms, son of Giants Super Bowl hero Phil Simms, was busted Thursday morning for driving while under the influence of pot, police sources said.


The son of former New York Giants legend Phil Simms was busted in Manhattan Thursday morning for driving while on drugs, police sources told the Daily News. 

Chris Simms, a backup quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, was pulled over at a DWI checkpoint on W. Houston St. at 1:30 a.m., the sources said. 

One source said Simms, 29, was slurring his speech, his eyes appeared red and his face was flushed. 

He confessed to cops that he smoked a joint inside his 2009 Mercedes-Benz earlier in the night, a source said. 

"He was so stoned he couldn't keep his mouth shut, and admitted he smoked a joint in the car," said the source. "The smell of pot just came off his clothes and out of his car." 

Simms, who walked erratically when he stepped out of the luxury car, was charged with operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs, police sources confirmed. 

He is expected to be arraigned at Manhattan Criminal Court later Thursday. 

Simms signed with the Titans in April after being released by the Denver Broncos. He only played two games with Denver last season. 

A former third round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Simms's career - and life - were in danger when he ruptured his spleen after a hit in a 2006 game. 

His father, who now works for CBS Sports, led the Giants to a victory in the 1987 Super Bowl and remains the franchise's all-time leading passer.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Barack Obama on the New Dollar Bill and Wacky Pictures,0,2433389.photogallery

Thursday, July 1, 2010


New report slams White House spill response

New report slams White House spill response

Ben Geman
The Hill
07/01/10 06:11 AM ET

The top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee plans to release a report Thursday that he alleged would blow holes in White House claims about its command of the oil spill response and the amount of assets deployed.

Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) report on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is titled “How the White House Public Relations Campaign on the Oil Spill is Harming the Actual Clean-up.”

“The evidence on the ground suggests that the White House has been more focused on the public relations of this crisis than with providing local officials the resources they need to deal with it,” he said in a prepared statement.

The report alleges that committee staff interviews with local parish officials in Louisiana paint a picture at odds with White House claims. Here’s a blurb:

"Parish officials maintain that the federal government has not been in control since day one. In four separate interviews, senior-ranking Parish officials described how, until the President’s visit on May 28, 2010, BP was in charge. According to one official, “until two weeks ago [after the President’s May 28, 2010, visit], BP was in charge and the Coast Guard looked to them for direction.” Furthermore, “Coast Guard asks BP,” not vice-versa. When specifically asked to agree or disagree with the assertion that the federal government had been in control since day one, another official firmly disagreed.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Guard shoots escapee who would had been let go in hours

Guard shoots escapee who would have been let go in hours

Man was on work release, set to be freed anyway

Peter Hermann
The Baltimore Sun
6:51 p.m. EDT, June 30, 2010



Typically, prisoners who are on work release get to leave the inside of the jail to work outside the fence, and then must return.

David Newton, on home detention awaiting trial on drug and burglary charges, had an opposite course. He would leave his home to go to work inside the jail, and would then return to his house at the end of the day, as a condition of his pre-trial release.

So prison officials were perplexed Wednesday afternoon when they said the 19-year-old Newton, who was not cuffed or shackled, ran from correctional officers who were escorting him to the laundry room at the Baltimore City Detention Center.
Authorities said Newton scaled one fence and was climbing over a second along East Monument Street when a correctional officer shot him twice in the leg. He was only hours away from the end of his shift, at which point he would have climbed into a prison van and been driven home.

"He woke up in his own bed, and he could've gone back to his own bed tonight," said Rick Binetti, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Binetti stressed that extenuating circumstances could have prompted Newton to bolt — an open warrant, perhaps, or fear that he'd be locked up on another charge. But as of Wednesday evening, Newton's reasons for running remained a mystery.

Binetti said the correctional officer who opened fire and another officer who participated in the chase have been placed on desk duty while internal investigators probe the shooting. Binetti refused to identify the officers.

According to Binetti's statement, the correctional officer shot Newton after he refused an order to stop as he tried to flee by climbing over the second fence. The statement does not say whether the officer felt in danger or whether it is permissible for officers to shoot escapees who are running away.

Newton had been on home detention since January, and his trial on drug and burglary charges is scheduled for August. He now faces an additional charge of escape. Newton was treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital.


July 2024   June 2024   May 2024   April 2024   March 2024   February 2024   January 2024   December 2023   November 2023   October 2023   September 2023   August 2023   July 2023   June 2023   May 2023   April 2023   March 2023   February 2023   January 2023   December 2022   November 2022   October 2022   September 2022   August 2022   July 2022   June 2022   May 2022   April 2022   March 2022   February 2022   January 2022   December 2021   November 2021   October 2021   September 2021   August 2021   July 2021   June 2021   May 2021   April 2021   March 2021   February 2021   January 2021   December 2020   November 2020   October 2020   September 2020   August 2020   July 2020   June 2020   May 2020   April 2020   March 2020   February 2020   January 2020   December 2019   November 2019   October 2019   September 2019   August 2019   July 2019   June 2019   May 2019   April 2019   March 2019   February 2019   January 2019   December 2018   November 2018   October 2018   September 2018   August 2018   July 2018   June 2018   May 2018   April 2018   March 2018   February 2018   January 2018   December 2017   November 2017   October 2017   September 2017   August 2017   July 2017   June 2017   May 2017   April 2017   March 2017   February 2017   January 2017   December 2016   November 2016   October 2016   September 2016   August 2016   July 2016   June 2016   May 2016   April 2016   March 2016   February 2016   January 2016   December 2015   November 2015   October 2015   September 2015   August 2015   July 2015   June 2015   May 2015   April 2015   March 2015   February 2015   January 2015   December 2014   November 2014   October 2014   September 2014   August 2014   July 2014   June 2014   May 2014   April 2014   March 2014   February 2014   January 2014   December 2013   November 2013   October 2013   September 2013   August 2013   July 2013   June 2013   May 2013   April 2013   March 2013   February 2013   January 2013   December 2012   November 2012   October 2012   September 2012   August 2012   July 2012   June 2012   May 2012   April 2012   March 2012   February 2012   January 2012   December 2011   November 2011   October 2011   September 2011   August 2011   July 2011   June 2011   May 2011   April 2011   March 2011   February 2011   January 2011   December 2010   November 2010   October 2010   September 2010   August 2010   July 2010   June 2010   May 2010   April 2010   March 2010   February 2010   January 2010   December 2009   November 2009   October 2009   September 2009   August 2009   July 2009   June 2009   May 2009   April 2009   March 2009   February 2009   January 2009   December 2008  

Powered by Lottery PostSyndicated RSS FeedSubscribe